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Thread: Announcing the Death of Classical Liberalism

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    Announcing the Death of Classical Liberalism

    I add a few words in bold brackets for a reason. I'll finish quoting before I get to the reason for its failure, leaving that to reading or discussion. Oh, it's a review of Patrick Deneen's Why Liberalism Failed,

    Announcing the Death of Classical Liberalism

    ...But a warning is in order: American conservatives may be cheered by the appearance of a book entitled “Why Liberalism Failed.” But, in the sense in which Deneen is using “liberalism,” most American conservatives are actually liberals. Deneen’s use is in fact the one common among political theorists, many of whom argue that America does not have a conservative and a liberal party. Rather, it has a right-liberal party, focused on free markets and free trade, and a left-liberal party, focused on social issues. The United States, according to this view, has never had a “church and throne” conservative party such as those seen in many European countries.

    A second point that may puzzle some readers is the implicit assertion of the title: Deneen did not name the book, “Has Liberalism Failed?” or “Will Liberalism Fail?” His title—“Why Liberalism Failed”—is more bold. Elite opinion continues to hold that liberalism (in the above-noted political theory sense) is not only succeeding marvelously but is really the only political system even worthy of consideration or respect...

    ...A second point that may puzzle some readers is the implicit assertion of the title: Deneen did not name the book, “Has Liberalism Failed?” or “Will Liberalism Fail?” His title—“Why Liberalism Failed”—is more bold. Elite opinion continues to hold that liberalism (in the above-noted political theory sense) is not only succeeding marvelously but is really the only political system even worthy of consideration or respect.

    The two liberal parties in America compete by pointing to two seemingly opposed but factually reinforcing trends. The right-liberal Republicans warn against the dominance of society by the state, while the left-liberal Democrats point to the tyranny of the market as the greatest threat to human freedom. Thus each party inspires its partisan members by fear of the threat the other party represents. But despite appearances, both parties, in fact, jointly work to expand both the state and the market.

    As Deneen writes, “The insistent demand that we choose between protection of individual liberty and expansion [equality by means] of state activity masks the true relation between the state and market: that they grow constantly and necessarily together… modern liberalism proceeds by making us both more individualist and more statist.”

    ...
    I'm not so interested in its failure but in the inherent contradictions in liberalism.
    Edmund Burke: "In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!"

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    Mister D (01-09-2018)

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    It seems that liberalism is anything that will get democrats votes. If they can get a vote they are for it.
    "The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it"



    George Orwell

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    Captdon (01-10-2018)

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    Here's the author in interview, Classical Liberalism Strikes Out:

    RD: Let’s define an important term. You’re a conservative, but you have not written a book about why the philosophy that defines the Democratic Party has failed. What do you mean by “liberalism” here.

    PD: By “liberalism,” I am speaking of a longstanding political philosophy, not a narrowly partisan position. Liberalism is the modern political philosophy of the emancipated individual, defined in the “state of nature” philosophies of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke as a monistic and desiring self. The condition of the “state of nature” is the condition of absolute liberty: the capacity of the individual to achieve his or her desires without obstacle. But because such a condition gives rise to conflict, government is created to secure the rights of such individuals. Under liberalism the primary reason that we have a public order is to secure individual liberty.

    Liberalism is thus a political philosophy that rests upon the realization of the autonomous individual self. This means not only must such individuals be politically free from arbitrary government power, but they must be free from what come to be considered all arbitrary and unchosen relationships that include social and familial bonds. Not only must all relationships ultimately be the result of the free choice of the sovereign individual, but, in order to preserve the autonomy of the liberated self, those relationships must be permanently revisable and easily exited. Thus, liberalism not only shapes our public institutions, but our social and private ones as well, ordering society toward the sovereign choice and autonomy of the individual choosing self. We see the liberal human coming fully into being not only in our political domain, but in the breakdown of most of our social and familial institutions, including the rise of the “nones, “moralistic therapeutic deism,” and the deepening generational avoidance of commitment, marriage and children.

    We can say, then, that liberalism is the political operating system of America. Our different parties are like “apps” that operate on that liberal operating system, reflecting its deepest commitments in what are most often its main political agendas: on the Right, the picture of the emancipated individual chooser that animates libertarian economics; and on the Left, the vision of the emancipated individual chooser that animates their libertarian “lifestyle” aspirations, particularly relating to sexuality and abortion.

    You write that liberalism “has failed because it has succeeded.” Explain the paradox....
    Edmund Burke: "In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!"

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    Mister D (01-09-2018)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Common View Post
    It seems that liberalism is anything that will get democrats votes. If they can get a vote they are for it.
    See next post. There's liberalism as operating system, then conservative and liberal apps running on it.
    Edmund Burke: "In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!"

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    Classical liberalism per se didn't fail, it was simply abandoned. The sad truth is that most people are comfortable being enslaved so long as they have gewgaws and baubles to keep them distracted and placated.
    Last edited by Ethereal; 01-10-2018 at 09:10 AM.
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    There's an internal contradiction to classical liberalism something along the lines, following Rousseau or even Mill, that through reason you can free yourself from the past social order and constrain yourself in the design and re-engineering of a new social order.
    Edmund Burke: "In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    There's an internal contradiction to classical liberalism something along the lines, following Rousseau or even Mill, that through reason you can free yourself from the past social order and constrain yourself in the design and re-engineering of a new social order.
    I don't think classical liberalism was ever about "social order" per se, but about a particular social order at a particular time, specifically, monarchy and all its trappings. And in that respect, classical liberals were certainly reasonable in their desire to see that social order changed. That doesn't mean classical liberalism got everything right or that monarchy got everything wrong, but I think we should try to be as specific as possible when discussing their differences. By the way, I tend to put Locke and Smith at the top of the classical liberal hierarchy, and neither of them were advocates of what could be deemed social engineering. Quite the opposite, I would argue.
    Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.
    --Immanuel Kant

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    Any ideology that posits the autonomy of the individual is bound to end up in this position sooner or later. This diseased understanding of human liberty has seeped into our bones. I might be more aware of it but I am still affected by it. It was in my mothers milk, so to speak.
    Whoever criticizes capitalism, while approving immigration, whose working class is its first victim, had better shut up. Whoever criticizes immigration, while remaining silent about capitalism, should do the same.


    ~Alain de Benoist


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethereal View Post
    I don't think classical liberalism was ever about "social order" per se, but about a particular social order at a particular time, specifically, monarchy and all its trappings. And in that respect, classical liberals were certainly reasonable in their desire to see that social order changed. That doesn't mean classical liberalism got everything right or that monarchy got everything wrong, but I think we should try to be as specific as possible when discussing their differences. By the way, I tend to put Locke and Smith at the top of the classical liberal hierarchy, and neither of them were advocates of what could be deemed social engineering. Quite the opposite, I would argue.

    I think the key there is "classical liberals were certainly reasonable in their desire to see that social order changed" for the sake of liberty, at least freeing the individual from the collective, and then, via reason, institute a new social order., which would entail subsuming the individual under it, right-liberals to the free market and left-liberals to the modern state.

    As a free-market libertrian I find it difficult to say the free market is constraining but it can be.
    Edmund Burke: "In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister D View Post
    Any ideology that posits the autonomy of the individual is bound to end up in this position sooner or later. This diseased understanding of human liberty has seeped into our bones. I might be more aware of it but I am still affected by it. It was in my mothers milk, so to speak.
    Because we're not in fact autonomous but part of and even defined by society, as Eth says, "a particular social order at a particular time" and place.
    Edmund Burke: "In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!"

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