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Tag Archives: Liberalism

Deirdre’s Test

There is much in Deirdre McCloskey’s new book, How Liberalism Works.* As I’ve written in a previous post, this work is more about _politics_ and liberalism than McCloskey’s previous works. While McCloskey talks with her distinctive “Aunt Deirdre” voice, aiming at articulating a liberalism which is different than the “childish” libertarianism’s, or the anarchist’s, or the small government kind’s, she is not mincing words. Consider, this, which is her challenge to all...

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McCloskey on Liberalism and Democracy

I am reading Deirdre McCloskey’s Why Liberalism Works, which I shall confess I’ve started with some ambivalence. “Aunt Deirdre”‘s last book is a collection of essays and most of the time this genre is ill suited even for the most talented of writers. Occasional essays were meant for the occasion, indeed, and they do not always survive it brilliantly. Yet Deirdre has obviously worked a great deal on these essays, and they form a consistent and cogent whole. The title...

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What’s in a Name?

T.S. Eliot famously argued that: The naming of cats is a difficult matter, It isn’t just one of your holiday games; You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES. Given the challenges of correctly naming these famously independent and unpredictable animals, it can be no surprise that debate continues over what to call that group of famously independent and unpredictable humans known as libertarians, or classical...

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Why not ‘individualism’?

Daniel Klein has long been fighting an uphill battle to restore the word “liberalism” to “true” (that is: classical) liberals. Labeling in politics is always a complicated issue, and at the end of the day what really matters is how other people see you. In a sense, labeling someone, or even labeling yourself, is a “positional” effort: it is needed to put you in relation with others. You can use one word or another depending on how other people use them, and what...

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Commercial Republicanism: A New Center-Right Governing Philosophy

Editor’s Note: The following essay is reprinted with permission from the Niskanen’s Center “Defending the Open Society” series. Read more here. You can read more from Robert S. Taylor on republican political theory in his new book,Exit Left: Markets and Mobility in Republican Thought. The 2016 elections transformed the Republican Party—and not for the better. A party that had been deeply committed since Goldwater and Reagan to the open society, limited government, and global...

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Smashing Fences and Fascists

I’m excited to announce the publication of two new anthologies from C4SS (the Center for a Stateless Society): The Anatomy of Escape: A Defense of the Commons (357 pp.; buy at C4SS [$12 plus shipping] or buy at Amazon) and Fighting Fascism: Anti-fascism, Free Speech and Political Violence (479 pp.; buy at C4SS [$14 plus shipping] or buy at Amazon). The Anatomy of Escape explores the role of common property in a market anarchist system, while Fighting Fascism features debates over...

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Is Liberal Civilization a ‘Somewhere’?

Dan Klein continues his gallant battle to recover the word “liberal” for classical liberals. His last effort is “10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Call Leftists ‘Liberal’.” I have to confess that I am ambivalent about some of the arguments Dan makes here. He concludes his piece by writing that: In The Lion King, the spirit of Mufasa tells Simba: Remember who you are. You are not an “anywhere,” but a “somewhere”: a son or daughter of liberal civilization. This is consistent...

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Socialism: What’s in a Word?

Chris Feinman, following a suggestion by Jason Brennan, has just published a good post on socialism, showing that socialists are not entitled to define socialism by its goals and aspirations, because that allows them to immunize socialism from real-life catastrophic applications of it. I add, as an afterthought, that in these debates either we are entitled to use real-life examples or we are not. Critics of capitalism like to bring up the bad effects of capitalism and globalization....

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Toleration as a Public Good

Some speculation: Tolerance–of differing religions, behaviors, lifestyles, attitudes, political ideologies, speech patterns, languages, etc–brings a wide range of benefits. Tolerance facilities the free exchange of ideas and goods, and in the long run helps produce innovation and prosperity. Mill is basically right about all this. Of course, not everything should be tolerated–some things should be criminalized and some things should face social punishments. But without specifying...

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