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Free Liberal: Coordinating towards higher values

Free Liberal

Coordinating towards higher values

Best Enemies

"The best is the enemy of the good."

Thanks to Ali Massoud for this exposition on the differences between "classical" vs. "modern" liberals. I agree that modern liberals do tend to want to prescribe government force to social problems, while classical and free liberals prefer voluntary solutions. I understand his referring to modern liberals as "soft core fascists," though I'm pretty sure that they would bristle at such a suggestion. While fascists are nationalistic socialists, the term "fascist" these days evokes gas chambers and what not, so I might suggest more temperate language.

My progressive liberal friends might also take umbrage with his characterization that they are responsible for the wars on poverty, drugs, Iraq and terror. Poverty, yes. The rest, no. Nixon started the war on drugs, and Dubya the last two. I think they'd be right, as neither Republican president can be characterized as, on balance, progressive liberals.

Liberty has waxed and waned in the US since its inception. There was less liberty in 1790 than there is today. There was more liberty in the late 19th century and early 20th than there is today. Liberty surely has eroded since roughly 1930.

As I'd used the term "utopian" in an earlier blog, let me address it here. Anti-statists are not necessarily "utopian" in my view. However, anti-statists who are not mindful of Voltaire's "best" vs. "good" observation do run the risk of appearing "utopian," that is, far outside the mainstream of current social thinking. Calling for wholesale, dramatic change -- it seems to me -- runs the great risk of alienating and turning off public opinion, who are generally loathe to radical change. I prefer to build bridges with progressives and conservatives, finding common ground, and instituting "good" -- if not "best" -- solutions.

Classical and free liberals, IMO, sometimes forget that while the government grows, so does the private economy, generally at faster paces. That's good for everyone. We also sometimes miss the lessons of history, that social change is almost always done at the margins, which is not dissimilar from markets themselves.

Do we want a seat at the table, pushing for "good" solutions where and when we can get them?

-Robert Capozzi

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