Saturday, June 24, 2017

Libertarians, conservatives, and progressives

The case for libertarianism in American politics | TheHill - David D'Amato:

June 8, 2017 - "Libertarianism is not conservatism, nor is it an offshoot of conservatism, a subset, or even a relative of common extraction ... because libertarian political philosophy is best understood as a radicalization of traditional liberalism.... The radical, going as she does to the root, hopes to provoke change at the deepest sub strata of society, motivated by the conviction that the political and economic status quo is fundamentally unjust.

"Libertarians believe that the best is yet to come, that history has been the bloodstained story of unscrupulous ruling thugs and their many misdeeds, their constant crimes against law, order, and justice....

"Historian Larry Siedentop goes so far as to argue that ... many of the concepts and modes of argument long credited to socialism were in fact 'introduced by liberal thinkers'.... For example, libertarians have been quick to call attention to the fact that early French liberals developed a pre-socialist (or perhaps proto-socialist) class theory, embedded in which was an argument for radical laissez-faire....

"In America, individualist anarchists like Benjamin Tucker explicitly identified themselves as socialists even as they advocated 'a perfectly free market,' in which only force or fraud would be out of bounds.... The capitalist, for Tucker, was 'guilty of criminal invasion,' of violating the central libertarian law against the use of aggression against the non-invasive individual. He worried that many of those employing what seemed libertarian-sounding language had actually become the mouthpieces of 'the capitalistic class.' That class had achieved wealth and power not by competing for consumers’ hard-earned dollars, but 'by abolishing the free market,' by using the coercive power of the state to artificially limit the range of competition.

"Throughout the 20th century, some stalwart proponents of the peaceful, cosmopolitan order produced by free trade and respect for private property rights have continued to identify as liberals.... Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, with whom modern libertarianism is so often associated, were such committed liberals, dependably opposed to conservatism and, in Hayek’s works, its 'propensity to reject well-substantiated new knowledge.'.... As a philosophy of universal individual rights, libertarian[ism] contemplates a deep break with centuries-old orders of power and privilege, in which a handful of political and ecclesiastical authorities made the rules and reaped the rewards....

"Because the dominance of today’s corporate powerhouses rests largely on government privilege, and thus violence — not voluntary, mutually beneficial trade — the anti-corporate rhetoric of progressives rings hollow; they emphasize wealth inequality and economic justice, yet they would expand the very power on which corporate abuses now rest. American political history finds self-described progressives among the most reliable guardians of corporate welfare.

"Libertarianism is a principled alternative to conservatism and progressivism, both of which, at base, represent authority against liberty."

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