It is clear after watching Edward Snowden on Joe Rogan’s Podcast why Malcolm Gladwell might be jealous of a principled libertarian who gets more attention than he does. Apparently his criticism comes down to a comparison of Daniel Ellsberg (a real whistle blower) who had a PhD and was part of the political class and Snowden (not a real whistle blower) who was a college dropout and JUST a technician. (See endnote for the actual quote). I laughed out loud; it’s the most outlandish thing I’ve heard since Trump’s fake news declarations. The Right and the Left, ugh! Snowden was trapped in Russia by American design and you should recall Proust’s immortal quote: “There is no such thing as a beautiful prison.”
Gladwell seems likeable but Steven Pinker probably does have something important to say in regards to Malcolm’s many theories. Sometimes you should stay inside your comfort zone; (Gladwell’s books are eminently entertaining and often enlightening); i.e., you should shut up and not blog 24/7. I for instance wouldn’t dream of giving a televised statement on anything, being that I have no talent for public speaking and would sound like a boring old fool: a book called, No Such Thing as Overexposure about Trump written in 2005 makes my point; when I read it at the time (in some American airport waiting for a connecting flight to the Caribbean) I thought, how stupid, of course there such a thing as over-exposure.
Gladwell should take note: for intellectuals who claim evidence-based conjecture, this flaw is deadly. You can’t run off at the mouth 24 hours a day and be right about everything. Humility and knowledge are a duality; proof: Trump is becoming the laughing stock of the whole world, not unlike Putin. He’ll crash and burn the Republican Party just as Brian Mulroney destroyed the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and took it into oblivion that lasted over a decade back in the early nineties. He quadrupled Pierre Trudeau’s 125 billion dollar public debt, alienated the Prairie Provinces and Quebec over the Meech Lake Accord and reduced his party to two seats (of their original 156 majority out of 296) in a devastating general election with a voter turnout of almost 70 percent. That’s real anger in Canada. Trump is not making America great again—he doesn’t have the skill set to do this even if it could be done—he’s making America look like a jackass. He’s insulted almost every democratic leader in the free world; even our own prime minister. Being mean to Justin Trudeau is like lashing out at an autistic waiter for not having polished the silverware.
BUT, this is an article about Empire (with a capital E) (and isolationism, conservatism and libertarianism), and although Gladwell is a leftist academic and a member of the political class who doesn’t know he is thoughtlessly a part of knee-jerk globalism (and who thinks isolationists are the most dangerous individuals in the political spectrum) and wouldn’t see a train wreck racing down the track if he was on it, he is still marvellously entertaining to read.
BTW, the Libs and the Cons built this train wreck over the Cold War period delivering to us the enormous bloated welfare state—Cons were the gate keepers and failed—and are now running terrified, many blindly disowning their part in it, after a nationalistic narcissist hijacked it. If it wasn’t so pathetic it would be a Netflix Live Comedy Special. To paraphrase G K Chesterton: “the whole modern world has divided itself into conservatives and liberals; the business of liberals is to go on making huge mistakes and the destiny of conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from ever being corrected.”
Libertarians are not in conflict with the wise concord between human nature and civilization promoted by Edmund Burke who cautioned against any abrupt revolution and countered with a modest agenda of reform and the ordered advance of human liberty. "There is no safety for honest men but by believing all possible evil of evil men." Edmund Burke.
The political philosophy of libertarianism only seems revolutionary; there is a simple reason for this artificial appearance: in the last two centuries, the expansion of the Western welfare states around the globe with the continued assistance of conservatives has ballooned into Platonic and Marxist’s dystopias and so now personal liberty at the expense of the collective seems like a selfish vice, especially a return to the original relationship between the individual and the state, i.e., a Night Watchman State. FYI: What such a minimalist state ushers in is community over commutes; family and friends over mobility; a variety of lifestyle-choices over xenophobic religions and low government standards; actual higher-learning versus the current education from belligerent, unionized teachers who warehouse young people and phoney-baloney, wokie-pokie, tenured-professors of the political-class; traditional living-settings with aesthetic appeal over ugly evil fast-food and overpriced arcades; and even community centers and parks over sprawl and super malls. Libertarianism is the only true liberalism and the only honest conservativism.
If you go back to the fountainhead of modern conservatism, you always find Birch and if you go back to the first libertarian you find Locke. So, if we compare the depth and breadth of these two thinkers, there is undisputed historical conclusion that although Birch showed much insight and wisdom in matters of ethics, religion, politics and culture, Locke is considered one of the most eminent philosophers of the Enlightenment, writing on physics, metaphysics, epistemology, morality, politics, government, republicanism, art, science, empiricism, liberalism, trade, religion and tolerance.
So?
When you ask about this very important distinction between Conservatism and Libertarianism, the fundamental divide is really only one thing: religion, and specifically, Conservative Christianity. Conservatives are likely to often embrace the supernatural, i.e., magic, and regularly as not reject reason and science when there is conflict between reason and faith. And that’s how you end up with a Trump; not because someone found Christ but from all the fools who think he actually existed and blindly vote Republican. (In fairness, much of the Trump vote was white blue-collared retaliation for decades of neglect from the idiot political class.) In a poor illiterate part of the ancient Arabian world two thousand years ago a sexless virgin gave an unrecorded birth in a manger to a white baby who turned out to be the son of god brought into being to die for our collective original sin. Sure. It sounds as stupid as the Angel Gabriel visiting an illiterate Arabian conqueror over and over again to give him piecemeal what would be delivered up a hundred or more years after his death as yet another bible with indisputable truth that thousands would be tortured and murdered over.
Consider Buckley and Rand in regards to this divide; a difference as large as Burke and Locke with Buckley one time mocking his intellectual superior’s rudeness, (which admittedly she almost always was), “There’s no got!”; (making fun of her thick Russian accent). But guess what? If there is no god, what’s left of the conservatives? Just Trump or some irrational Trump-like deceptacon! And there’s nothing else. I submit the conservative who follows reason and science and rejects magic is ipso facto a libertarian or classical liberal. The event of the eclipse of thinkers like Buckley (and religion) in American politics and the rise of ones like Rand (and atheism) followed by the conservative triumph of Trump, proves beyond dispute that the Dancing Sprigs in the Big Tents have lost even their commonsense; they can speak in all the tongues they can create. Defending reason, science, the theory of evolution, rule of law, world-peace, the Night Watchmen state, individual moral responsibility and individual health and wellness on the Right now falls to libertarian thinkers. If you are a sincere Christian intellectual, join the Left: there the Platonists, Marxists, collectivists and socialists who have joined forces to sacrifice the individual to the state; Christians, Jews and Muslims should be comfortable there. 
Perhaps though, one of the most irritating behaviours about Christian Conservatives is that they continue to suppose (and to propagate) that there are no scientific models on which to base a secular morality beside theirs (the religious model) and/or their foresworn enemies (utilitarianism with the Marxist/socialists/Platonist platform), that all alternatives to religious moral absolutism guaranteed by a god involve hopeless moral relativism. Why do they continue to pay no attention to the vast scientific data which proves beyond refutation the Theory of Evolution? For the same reason they close their eyes to the science on how the evolutionary process through the millions of years created (for our present day purposes) an immutable Human Nature which is the solid base to figuring out how humans must behave ethically; therefore, reason can and has found an objective morality for all humans. In the vast modern tracts of secular humanism which are now studying this puzzle, the conservatives have been lost in the confusion and so continue to tell the big lie (about how a life without religion is futile and a government without Christian-direction is immoral and purposeless).
The funniest new idiots though are the Never Trump Cons who are still in the Republican Party. Where were they when the most dangerous president ever (Nixon) was elected, or the down-home country bumpkin (or at least pretending to be), (George Bush Junior) or the endeared one who broke the bank on military spending (Ronald Reagan)? Modern Republicans belong to an organization dedicated to ending democracy in our lifetime.
The expression, Principled Conservative, is incongruous.
When Conservatives actually see real idealistic nationalists such as Thomas A Drake, William Binney, or Thomas Tamm, they throw them in prison and threaten to execute them as traitors. Furthermore, the fiscal austerity of the conservatives is a fairytale; they’re welfare-advocates for banks, the military, American corporations and billionaires. Conservatism is dead, found so, right beside the carcass of law and order. If you are an American conservative with principles and are not a Libertarian, then join the Democrats; otherwise, be quiet about your principles. You have none. If you didn’t have the courage to speak out against Trump and quit the Republican Party at the time of his rise any more than the German Conservatives did during Nazis ascension in the thirties, then you don’t have a say. This is a organization permanently rebranded as The Stupid Party and Rand Paul is their spokesman.
Currently, if you are a liberal Democrat and dismiss real courage coming from anywhere but a tenured professor, you get to slide down the fire pole both ways. You can talk, talk and talk like Trump tweets, tweets, and tweets: “By all means let’s protect the whistleblowers, as long as they are the right leftist types.” Proving that getting an education is not necessarily getting an education, 10,000 hours or otherwise.
The challenge of worldwide peaceful co-existence has theoretically been solved. John Locke’s A Standing Rule to Live By in combination with resolving The Problem of the Steppes together with a world monitory institution with significant military and police power to enforce individual and national borders could in theory end all war, genocide and democide. The Revolution of 1688 brought forth a manner in which all disputants became beholding to parliamentary supremacy. If it worked in all provinces of Canada, all countries in Great Britain, all states in America and so many other places in the world despite grievous internal conflicts, then why not a world at peace with a parliamentary world government? That this has not happened in the three centuries since the Enlightenment then speaks to the true deep-seated evil of Marxism and Platonism and its resultant anticommunist mindless conservative reaction. . . . so simply, the theory states that the problem with the hunter-warriors getting on their horses (or machines) and stealing the produce from defenceless farmers (crossing national borders such as Putin is doing to the Ukraine) and taking by force what their betters earned by honest toil (the market economy) has been philosophically resolved by the idea of modern human rights (individual human sovereignty): making everyone equal before the courts and using the law to resolve their disputes, rulings backed by the monopoly force of the state, the state protected by a military beholding to parliamentary authority. (For this to work, governments must be small and transparent). Moreover, MAD is still in play, conquest now often meets with fierce guerrilla pushback and digital and currency wars are more profitable than actual boots on the ground.
We want to make a quick Churchill-like assessment, if not about outright imperialism, then concerning the modern American Empire of the West and the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) on which it depends. Sometimes this is referred to as Pax-American or super-power by invitation; American troops are stationed in well over 150 countries. It provides a lot of employment in America and the Military Industrial Complex regime probably cannot ever be toppled anyway unless there’s a terrible global economic catastrophe; so, much of this conjecture I am attempting is wire-walking hypothesis.
The Empire of the West makes the world safe for freedom; well, I think it is not too contentious to say it makes the world secure for globalization.  GATT and WTO after 1945 seemed to support international contract law, free markets, democracy and world-wide security but which in reality, over the years since, promoted the political class around the globe at the expense of plain hard-working people, especially in America with the loss of its cherished manufacturing jobs which globalization (as well as automation) eliminated. Globalization is the upside of the (modern) Empire. Trump is all bluster though. These jobs aren’t coming back on his watch (or not). Perhaps a proper thoughtful nationalist could help here, but Trump has no moral compass, no experience and is not a team player. Furthermore he has allowed the Libs and Cons complete access to the Washington’s pork-barrel trough and the debt is absolutely soaring (i.e., the train’s picking up speed). Public debt to GNP in America is now 105 percent (2022), the third highest in the world only behind Japan (256%) and Greece (288%). Worse still, he has acquired a true taste for autocratic power.
We want to remark (in regards to the history of the British Empire), those countries settled by Great Britain versus all her colonial competitors, seemed to have fared better than under the French, Spaniards, Portuguese or Dutch, (i.e., being a colony of the British Commonwealth made a difference in the fate of many of those countries, especially whether the end result after independence from the colonizers) would be democracy or autocracy, the level of education of the oppressed inhabitants and as well whether they would have some respect for the rule of law. If this is indeed true, we need to ask, was this worth the price for much of the racism and savagery practiced by the Brits (even if admittedly less brutal perhaps than its challengers)?
The Second World War and the following Cold War—we need to jump ahead here so this article doesn’t bog down—ushered in American supremacy in arms in all branches of defense: Navy, Army and Air Force. And at sometime well before the fall of the wall (1991), they were the sole supreme military power in the world, and securely remain so today. Everyone has to be the judge of this mixed result. Alternative outcomes can only be controversially surmised. Worst case scenario to the globalists: Eisenhower somehow after WWII manages to shut down the Military Industrial Complex (just in the nick of time before its addictive-growing size economically forbids this action) and creates a market economy without it. Isolationists again become prominent in the U.S. House and Senate and start to be creative about protecting American interests abroad without the threat of military power. North America becomes energy sufficient; Western Intellectuals destroy Marxism and win the Cold War without CIA malfeasance or the Ronald Reagan Myth. America starts to partner with the other world powers instead of unilaterally being able to boss them around as the sole super power. (Due to energy self-sufficiency Islamic terrorism doesn’t arise).
Globalization has to be a shared partnership or it should end. If it ends, as I believe is happening all over the world today, the isolationists may again be empowered and libertarianism and classical liberalism could have a chance of intellectually reasserting itself as they did at the time of the Enlightenment. The greatest threat to democracy today is the engorged welfare state, not terrorism, and despite its facade most conservatives are indistinguishable from the socialists and liberals who have brought it about, many of them are of the oligarchic political class against the individual.
ENDNOTE: (From Gladwell’s lips to your ears): “Ellsberg was handsome and charismatic. He had served in the Marine Corps as a company commander in Korea. He did his undergraduate and graduate studies at Harvard, where he wrote a Ph.D. dissertation on game theory and collaborated with Thomas Schelling, who went on to win a Nobel Prize. He took a senior post in McNamara’s Defense Department, represented the State Department in Vietnam, and had two stints as a senior intelligence analyst at the Rand Corporation. Ellsberg knew about the Pentagon Papers because he was a member of the select team that wrote them, working on the section dealing with the very early nineteen-sixties. Before he approached the Times, he went to the Senate, where he tried to get someone to release the documents formally and hold public hearings. He walked the halls and dropped in on people he knew” . . . “But Snowden did not study under a Nobel Prize winner, or give career advice to the likes of Henry Kissinger. He was a community-college dropout, a member of the murky hacking counterculture. He enlisted in the Army Reserves, and washed out after twenty weeks. He worked at the C.I.A. for a few years and left under a cloud. He learned about the innermost secrets of American intelligence-gathering and policy not because he was personally involved with that intelligence-gathering or policymaking but because he was a technician who helped service the computer systems that managed these things. The élites, Snowden once said, they know everything about us and we know nothing about them—because they are secret, they are privileged, and they are a separate class. Had Snowden been a whistle-blower in 1967, at the launch of the Pentagon Papers, he would have blown the whistle on Daniel Ellsberg. The whistle-blower as insider has become the whistle-blower as outsider. That is a curious fact, and, as we come to terms with the consequences of Snowden’s actions, it may be an underappreciated one.” New Yorker.