Posts Tagged ‘Libertarians’

Liberals who fear the libertarian temptation

January 26, 2014

Every now and then I come across some liberal commentator who is mildly critical of abuses of power under the Obama administration, but warns against making too much of them, because you thereby create distrust of government and play into the hands of libertarians.

The reasoning is that if you make too much of an issue of preventive detention, undeclared wars, assassination lists and warrant-less surveillance, you’ll lead cause people to focus on abuses of power by government and forget about abuses of power by big corporations.  Never mind that corporate power is so closely linked to government power these days that this is a distinction without a difference.

As an example of this kind of thinking, click on Would You Feel Differently About Snowden, Greenwald and Assange If You Knew What They Really Think? by Sean Wilentz for The New Republic.   He does not rebut anything that Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald or Julian Assange have actually asserted.  Rather he speculates on their underlying philosophy based on thin evidence, and warns against playing into the hands of corporations and libertarians.

For a good response to Wilentz, click on The Liberal Surveillance State by Henry Farrell on the Crooked Timber web log.  For some more examples of strained reasoning,  scroll down through the comments section.

I am not a libertarian.   But I am a civil libertarian, and it is a fact that right now, many self-described libertarians are better defenders of basic civil liberties than pro-Obama liberals.

A recent study shows the pitfalls of thinking that you have to either be on Team Blue or Team Red.  Click The Depressing Psychological Theory That Explains Washington for a report on the study by Ezra Klein for the Washington Post’s Wonkblog.  It tells how people were for (or against) a set of proposals when told it was a liberal program, and against (or for) the same set of proposals when told it was a conservative program.

If what somebody says is factually correct and morally right, you shouldn’t worry about whose hands it will “play into.”

Can liberals and libertarians join forces?

September 26, 2011

This video shows a conversation between Paul Jay, CEO and editor-in-chief of the left-liberal Real News Network, and Matt Welch, editor-in-chief of Reason, a libertarian magazine whose motto is “free minds and free markets,” on what liberals and libertarians have in common.

Liberals and libertarians both oppose the United States drift toward militarism and a police state.  They agree in upholding basic human rights under the Constitution.  They both are appalled by the idea that a President can issue death warrants, order someone locked up without a criminal charge or trial, or make it a crime to reveal the government’s crimes.  They both want to scale back the open-ended so-called “war on terror” and bring the Defense and Homeland Security budgets under control.

So why don’t liberals support the libertarian Republican Ron Paul?   The problem for liberals is Ron Paul is opposed to civil rights laws, to health, safety and environmental laws, to the social safety net and to laws to protect labor’s rights to organize – virtually all the accomplishments of the Progressive era and the New Deal.

Matt Welch argues that if your first loyalty is to the Constitution, this should be an acceptable tradeoff, and that a Democrat should vote for Ron Paul rather than Barack Obama.  One might ask Matt Welch whether he would vote for the liberal Democrat Dennis Kucinich if hypothetically Kucinich were to run against Rick Perry or Mitt Romney.   Kucinich is just as strong an opponent of militarism and the emerging U.S. police state as Ron Paul.

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