On Liberaltarianism

However, various discussions in the blogosphere have piqued my interest in the debate about whether libertarians should try to associate more with American liberals, and so this is a little note on the progressive synthesis they call Liberaltarianism. […] You could argue in theory that libertarians should ally with Republicans and conservatives because of their shared beliefs in limited government, free markets, and the like.  But in practice, none of this is the case.  Republicans spend as much or more {depending on the administration} as Democrats do, and advocate for much much more defense spending.  Here’s a summary of the evidence from Lindsey’s article: 

“Despite the GOP’s rhetorical commitment to limited government, the actual record of unified Republican rule in Washington has been an unmitigated disaster from a libertarian perspective: runaway federal spending at a clip unmatched since Lyndon Johnson; the creation of a massive new prescription-drug entitlement with hardly any thought as to how to pay for it; expansion of federal control over education through the No Child Left Behind Act; a big run-up in farm subsidies; extremist assertions of executive power under cover of fighting terrorism; and, to top it all off, an atrociously bungled war in Iraq”. 

Wilkinson admits, shifting the Democratic voter in a more libertarian direction would be marginal, but “big effects are often an accumulation of small effects”.  We need big effects, and since, as Lindsey states, “the real problem with politics today is that the prevailing ideological categories are intellectually exhausted”, I think a new synthesis is brilliant.  So, rather than disparage good attempts as pandering to a resurgent and mistaken left, why not try the innovative suggestion and cross the line?

“Today’s ideological turmoil, however, has created an opening for ideological renewal–specifically, liberalism’s renewal as a vital governing philosophy. A refashioned liberalism that incorporated key libertarian concerns and insights could make possible a truly progressive politics once again–not progressive in the sense of hewing to a particular set of preexisting left-wing commitments, but rather in the sense of attuning itself to the objective dynamics of U.S. social development. In other words, a politics that joins together under one banner the causes of both cultural and economic progress”

Source: A Society Story

Dealing with the same subject, you may also read this article by Brink Lindsey.

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