Some libertarians, but of course not all, are political, not cultural, libertarians: they consider that state power should not be deployed to prevent individuals from selecting things to do. But cultural libertarians, on my view of things, consider that, even in the absence of state and statute, no social convention should prevent individuals from choosing things to do — with themselves and each other.
The distinction is crucial. On the first account, preventing the oppressive overreach of governmental tyranny — a unique power and danger in the world — is the goal, one that conservatives (sigh — generally) share. On the second, promoting the remissive outreach of personal autocracy — a unique power and danger in the world — is a goal no conservative can ever share, for once he or she does, he or she ceases to be a conservative in the decisive sense. Peisistratan tyranny may find even conservative sympathy; not so Calliclean tyranny. ~James Poulos
You would have a hard time convincing me that Peisistratos’ apparent maintenance of the Solonian reforms was the mark of bad government. An abiding concern of the Athenian aristocracy was a well-ordered polity, for whose benefit they laboured and donated a great deal of wealth. The sort of self-indulgence that today parades under the banner of “individual autonomy” and the idea of being autonomous from the political community were simply not considered legitimate or ethical alternatives in the life of the polis–this kind of apragmosyne had no place in the community.
If nomos is not our ruler, but each is a nomos unto himself, you have a recipe for social anarchy sliding towards despotism. Slavishness and passion truly are linked, and without restraint of the latter there is no way to escape the former. If no restraints are imposed from within, constraints will be imposed from without. Cultural libertarians are emancipating themselves straight into the prisonhouses of Leviathan.