Sunday, February 22, 2015

Salon interviews David Boaz

“That’s something that should make libertarians nervous”: Inside the tumultuous rise of an American ideology - - Elias Isquith:

"'Libertarianism,' like its ideological cousin neoliberalism, is one of those words that people in the political world use a lot without establishing whether everyone agrees on its meaning.... But as support for libertarian-backed causes like marriage equality, opposition to the war on drugs, and resistance against the rise of mass incarceration become ever-greater parts of U.S. politics, the definition of libertarianism will matter more, too....

"Salon recently spoke over the phone with David Boaz, longtime member of the influential and Koch-founded Cato Institute think tank and author of Libertarianism: A Primer, which was just updated and rereleased as The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom. Our discussion touched on the big issues mentioned above, as well as Boaz’s thoughts on what liberals and conservatives misunderstand about libertarianism, and why he thinks his favored political philosophy’s future is so bright.... 

"If you had to pick one defining or differentiating characteristic of the libertarian mind, what would it be? 

"The first line of the book says that libertarianism is the philosophy of freedom, so what distinguishes libertarians is their commitment to freedom. That can manifest itself in lots of different issues, from marijuana and gay marriage to smaller government and lower taxes, but the fundamental idea of freedom as the proper political condition for society is the thing that unites libertarians....

"I do think that is a difference between libertarians and liberals or conservatives who value freedom but also value other things. Modern American liberals would say, I believe, that they value equality along with freedom. Libertarians would tend to respond, 'well, in the real world you get more equality when you have freedom and free markets', though libertarians certainly believe in equal rights and equal freedom. Some conservatives value doing God’s will or maintaining social order or maintaining tradition along with freedom.

"In that sense, I do think libertarians put freedom at the center of their political philosophy in a way that many liberals and conservatives do not."

"If you had to pick one thing about libertarianism that liberals misunderstand the most, what would it be? 

"I think there is first a misunderstanding that libertarians are conservatives — and I think that’s wrong. Libertarians are classical liberals. We trace our heritage back to, not the aristocracy or established church, but to the liberal thinkers and activists who challenged those institutions. 

"Secondarily, I think liberals overlook how many issues libertarians and liberals share even today: religious freedom, freedom of speech, First Amendment issues, concerns about surveillance, opposition to endless war, marriage equality, opposition to the drug war, etc. There are a whole lot of such issues and my sense is that a lot of American liberals don’t see those very specific connections between libertarian and liberal interests."

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