Blogs > Liberty and Power > Seeking Input and Comments

Jun 17, 2009 4:11 pm


Seeking Input and Comments



I have been rethinking the relationship of liberalism in the broad sense, libertarianism included, freedom and human well being. The past eight years of so very many classical liberals, including more than a few libertarians, signing on to significant parts of Republican politics prompted this rethinking. Especially my experience at the Mt. Pelerin meeting in Salt Lake City a few years back, where I heard little critical of Bush but several people accusing Rache Carson of genocide.

Given so many strengths to classical liberal and libertarian thought, why the toleration for Republicans and the ultra thin skin for Democrats and the lunacy towards environmentalists?

The answer I arrived at has two dimensions. First, and least important in the long run, was a flawed political analysis on the part of classical liberals who allied themselves with conservatives after WWII. This matter was made worse by the shift within American conservatism from a quasi-Burkean approach more or less compatible with classical liberalism to a Southern based approach rooted in the only culture within our country to explicitly repudiate the liberal principles underlying our Declaration of Independence.

More importantly in the long run, over time liberal thinking in all its forms has developed ever narrower conceptions of what matters for human beings. This includes classical liberals, who have tended to reduce human beings to consumers and entrepreneurs in their analysis. Second, the classical liberal insight about spontaneous orders, developed by Mises and especially Hayek, was never seriously investigated as a tool for understanding the world. It served primarily as a (very good) weapon against socialist planning rather than an indicator that there might be something new about liberal societies.

The result of my musings is a paper somewhat over 20 pages long, space and a half per line. I want to make this paper available to any one on this listserve, asking only that if I send it to you at your request, you do me the kindness of sending me as thoughtful a reaction as you have time to give. It is a primarily internal critique of classical liberalism, and liberalism more generally, in an effort to re-establish liberal thinking on a sounder foundation than is presently the case.

My email is ‘gdizerega’ followed by that little connector symbol, and then 'gmail.com.'


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