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 it away 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”

Repost-‘Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’

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Friedman doesn’t dispute that people have responsibilities to other people, but rather that the government is simply an inefficient means to meet those responsibilities (by interfering with the free market, which Friedman asserts has been the best way to lift the greatest number out of poverty).  Furthermore, he argues that the government causes and maintains poverty in the case of black teenagers by failing to provide a decent education so that they fail to learn basic skills in government-run schools, and through the minimum wage which distorts the market, preventing more opportunities for work.

On the other hand, one of the moral cornerstones of the progressive movement is that but for the Civil Rights Act among others, and building the Great Society (and but for a group of people acting on principles, and eventually making those principles into laws and institutions) black folks would have remained not only excluded from the job market, but from the legal rights granted to citizens and held in slavery and bondage by the laws.

Here is Thomas Sowell (heavily influcenced by the same Austrian School Of Economics) debating welfare and schools with the then State Of Pennsylvania Secretary Of Welfare:

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Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Addition: It just occurred to me that Friedman’s view of liberty is one of voluntary cooperative action.  Anything more is an injustice to the individual and a serious threat to individual liberty (transferring too much power to the State through social programs like Social Security, Welfare etc and the injustice of taxation upon individuals and the dangers of the well-intentioned and do-gooders from the New Deal on).  The voluntary exchanges that occur between people pursuing their own self-interest in the marketplace has been the greatest driver of human freedom and the greatest liberator from the natural human conditions of poverty, privation and want.  Friedman merges Adam Smith’s invisible hand and Thomas Jefferson’s separation of powers:  Free To Choose 

Noam Chomsky also shares a view that the individual ought to be free to enter into voluntary cooperative action (community councils or faculties in universities), but believes that to be achieved by perhaps only anarchy (where he retreats) or anarcho syndicalism, or libertarian socialism.  I don’t find anarchy to be tenable in protecting individual liberty.  Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge.

Leo Strauss may not have been a believer, but he did want the individual to be free from the structures that developed in Europe these past centuries.  The triumph of Reason (historicism and positivism which lead to relativism and nihilism) over some form of Revelation, or revealed truth. Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Food for thought.

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Robert Nozick merged elements of Kant and Locke into a strong, libertarian defense of the individual, and also responded to Rawls distributive justice: A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”From Slate: ‘The Liberty Scam-Why Even Robert Nozick, The Philosophical Father Of Libertarianism, Gave Up On The Movement He Inspired.’

A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

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