To the editors.
Your recent Conservative Feminist (how oxymoronic!) controversy, particularly Frank Palmer's letter (10/22/93) and Bryan Miller's reply (10/29/93) have crystallized some notions that I have been pondering of late: (1) Many--maybe most--feminist issues are in fact human, therefore liberal issues; and (2) the so-called libertarians are either dangerously shortsighted or willing dupes of the far right wing.
My second idea first: Back when I was a brave new voter, the Libertarian Party was what Lyndon LaRouche's outfit called themselves, and they spouted the current libertarian line: "We want to get government off our backs and out of our wallets." (I paraphrase Ms. Miller.) However, to abate or reduce government, as opposed to making it more responsive to citizens, is to leave a power vacuum. There are plenty of big players who would move right in--in our era they are transnational corporations, fundamentalist religions, and various Perot types to whom money is not enough. Republicans are against big government not on principle but because their backers can make ever greater profits unfettered by pesky laws that slow their ability to dump toxins cheaply and squeeze ever more labor for less and less pay from their employees. The free market (gag) is answerable only to the highest-end consumers, or corporate balance sheets. Democratic government has at least a paper duty to protect each citizen regardless of financial (or racial or social . . . ) status.
Meanwhile, fundamentalist monotheism, backing right wings all over the planet, seeks ownership of not just your pocketbook, but your womb and your mind. The Republican party cannot maintain or regain their power without continuing to sell out to the Religious Right on social issues, mainly abortion, women's rights, sex education, and recently, school vouchers.
They can't win without these crackpots, and the real danger to this nation and this planet is that the zealots will take over the GOP just as Hitler swallowed the industrialists and aristocrats who supported him for his antilabor pronationalist positions. (That was Germany. That was only 60 years ago. The Nazis were antiabortion and profamily too.)
So if a libertarian isn't a deliberate fascist s/he can certainly be an unconscious one.
I also note that conservatives, fundamentalists, and libertarians all seem to be inordinately fond of the same untruths, particularly lies of omission or by slogan. Quotes from Miller's interviewees ["Right Wing Feminists," October 1]: "The government welfare system has pretty well destroyed the extended family." (Not poverty? Not the mobility of jobs?) "Our tax system is so outrageous . . . our costs . . . are so high, because they're all taxed and taxed and taxed . . . " (We are the least-taxed citizens of any industrialized nation. Half the Fortune 500 companies pay no tax at all.) "The whole thing about teenage, pregnancies; we're paying these girls to have babies." (The high teen pregnancy rate applies across class and income lines. In actuality, the birth rate for women on welfare has dropped every year since abortion was legalized by Roe v. Wade in 1972.) And that's just the first three columns on p.25.
Back to my first idea: men have common interests with women on plenty of "feminist" issues. Both men and women can not want children--reproductive rights are thus everyone's issue, perhaps even an ecological issue. Both fathers and mothers may want decent day care for their children. Fathers who do pay child support may want to see their less responsible peers forced to pay up, to relieve the public burden. Rape is ultimately a crime issue, not too unlike armed robbery (turns out many rapists are armed robbers with sidelines). Equal pay for equal work is a labor issue, supportable by all workers.
Miller complained about men telling women what to do. Palmer's letter was mostly about economic theory and the balance of power between corporations and government. George Orwell once wrote: "Some things are true even if Lord Halifax says they are true." So perhaps Mr. Palmer can tell Ms. Miller what to do. Someone should talk sense to her.
Bryan Miller replies.
The most tedious part of this very tedious letter is the long-debunked and totally libelous equation of libertarianism with Lyndon LaRouche. Mr. LaRouche is an unrepentant Stalinist, who advocates, among other things, putting homosexuals in concentration camps. Libertarians are 180 degrees away from his views and those of his followers, and anyone who is even marginally well-informed is aware of the fact.