Sheldon Richman At Reason: ‘Classical Liberalism Vs. Modern Liberalism’

Full piece here.

The liberal/libertarian divide is a popular theme these days:

‘In The Future of Liberalism (2009), Alan Wolfe writes that the true heirs to the liberalism of John Locke, Adam Smith, and Thomas Jefferson are not today’s classical liberals (libertarians), but rather the other kind of liberals, those who would use government power to assure autonomy and equality for all’

On Richman’s view, it is necessary for some ‘modern liberals’, and people who might want to intellectually lead modern liberalism and/or provide a map for the democratic party is to steer itaway from the Austrians, the Chicago School, the Randians, and other assorted ‘classical liberals’ and free marketeers who tend to rise in political influence during liberal administrations in the U.S:

‘I also agree with Wolfe that equality is a core value of classical liberalism, but not as he means it. True liberal equality is not income equality; nor is it merely equality of liberty or equality under the law. The first would require continuous violent state interference with voluntary exchange, while the other two are inadequate in themselves. By equality, I mean what Roderick Long calls, per Locke, “equality of authority.” For Locke a state of equality is one in which “all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another, there being nothing more evident than that creatures of the same species and rank . . . should also be equal one amongst another, without subordination or subjection . . . .”

Many modern libertarians see themselves as one of the last lines of defense against really having imported the worst portions of the European-style State and its more radical definitions and excesses of liberty, its collectivist political philosophies, as well as its underlying authoritarian impulses across the Atlantic to our shores.  One way or another, such liberalism leads to a big-State and abridges personal liberty.  On Richman’s view, libertarians are the true classical liberals.  They gaze out upon modern liberalism in the U.S. and see a mishmash of competing interests, almost none of which hold aloft a social contract that really has any faith in inviduals to lead their own lives and pursue their own self-interest, especially economically.  Therefore thinkers like Milton Friedman, (who offered a mix of the Austrians, Jeffersonian separation of powers and definitions of liberty with Adam Smith’s fundamental insights) are quite necessary, as they had to deal with much the same problems, only much worse, on the Continent.

Richman finishes with:

‘If the alternative we face is between grappling with market forces and trusting a ruling elite to orchestrate just social outcomes, anyone concerned with autonomy and equality should choose the market. A benevolent, peaceful state is not on the menu.’

Feel free to highlight my ignorance.   Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Related On This Site:  Yes, religion requires the submission of will in faith to God, and to the earthly Church, and ultimately sacrifices much individual freedom, but do its traditions need to be thrown overboard…what is taking their place?   Leo Strauss may not have been a believer, but he did want the individual to be free from certain structures that developed in Europe these past centuries.  He has influenced conservatism  From Darwinian Conservatism By Larry Arnhart: “Surfing Strauss’s Third Wave of Modernity”

A Few Quotations From F.A. Hayek’s: ‘Why I Am Not A Conservative’

From Bloggingheads: “Michael Lind Discusses His New Book ‘Land Of Promise’”…Snyder is perhaps not a fan of libertarianism Timothy Snyder Responds To Steven Pinker’s New Book At Foreign Policy: ‘War No More: Why The World Has Become More Peaceful’From Slate: ‘The Liberty Scam-Why Even Robert Nozick, The Philosophical Father Of Libertarianism, Gave Up On The Movement He Inspired.’

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.New liberty away from Hobbes?: From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’…Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

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