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Attn.: politicians of ‘liberal’ parties

What I argue for should not be misconstrued as a version of ‘libertarianism’, which is different from ‘liberalism’. By ‘libertarianism’ I understand an outlook that promotes the kind of absence of regulation cherished by right-wing, small government advocates who want not so much freedom as license to pursue their interests economically and politically without the inconvenience of too many obligations to think about others. I write as a ‘liberal’ in the European sense, that is, someone who places himself on the liberal left in political terms, meaning that I retain a commitment to ideals of social justice – a view with a number of definite public policy implications – my commitment to constitutionally en­trenched liberties and rights is very much one that has, at heart, the interests of those on whose heads ‘libertarians’ might trample on their way to getting an outsize slice of the pie. Libertarianism in this sense is close to theoretical anarchism, and is in fact not especially friendly to ideas of rights, because rights are obstructions to the libertarian’s desire that there should be as few restraints as possible on what he chooses to do. An advocate of civil liberties wishes to see everyone given a chance to choose and act, not just those with the advantage of strong wills or great wealth or power. [14]

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