register now
+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 22 12311 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 212

Thread: Horowitz on the Paul newsletters and the left/progressive roots of libertarianism

  1. #1
    J.Anderson's Avatar
    J.Anderson is offline Classical Liberal
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    3,851
    Political Views
    *Survey*
    Threads
    239
    Mentioned
    15 Post(s)

    Horowitz on the Paul newsletters and the left/progressive roots of libertarianism

    A very fine piece by economics professor and writer for The Freeman, Steven Horowitz: How Did We Get Here? Or, Why Do 20 Year Old Newsletters Matter So Damn Much? | Bleeding Heart Libertarians

    Horowitz traces libertarianism from its leftist roots in classical liberalism to its unfortunate and disgraceful collaboration with racists during the paleolibertarian movement.


    Classical liberalism started as a movement of the left, with folks like J.S. Mill being our standard bearers against the forces of reaction and conservatism in England, especially over issues of race. We were the “progressives” of that era, viewing the market as a force for progress for all, especially the least well-off, and as a great equalizer. It was Mill who argued that it was a good thing that markets would lead to racial equality in opposition to people like Carlyle and Ruskin who rejected markets because they wanted to maintain racial hierarchy. The liberal revolution was a revolution against privilege and the old order. It was the radical progressivism of its day.
    Unfortunately, classical liberalism never figured out how to respond to the development of socialism, and especially the state socialism of the Soviets and others in the early 20th century, in a way that maintained our progressive credentials. By default, we moved from the “left” to the “right,” thrown in with the conservative opponents of the growing socialist wave. From the Old Right of the 1940s through the Reagan era, libertarianism’s opposition to socialism, especially interferences in the market, led us to ally with the forces of reaction. But even with the demise of really-existing socialism, we have been unable to completely break free of that connection to the right, though things are better than they used to be. . .

    The paleo strategy. . . was about appealing to the worst instincts of working/middle class conservative whites by creating the only anti-left fusion possible with the demise of socialism: one built on cultural issues. With everyone broadly agreeing that the market had won, how could you hold together a coalition that opposed the left? Oppose them on the culture. . .

    The paleo strategy was a horrific mistake, both strategically and theoretically, though it apparently made some folks (such as Rockwell and Paul) pretty rich selling newsletters predicting the collapse of Western civilization at the hands of the blacks, gays, and multiculturalists. The explicit strategy was abandoned by around the turn of the century, but not after a lot of bad stuff had been written in all kinds of places. There was way more than the Ron Paul newsletters. . .What the media has in their hands is only the tip of the iceberg of the really unsavory garbage that the paleo turn produced back then. . .

    Through it all though, Ron Paul was a constant. He kept plugging away, first at the center of the paleo strategy as evidenced by the newsletters. To be clear, I am quite certain he did not write them. There is little doubt that they were written by Rockwell and Rothbard. People I know who were on the inside at the time confirm it and the style matches pretty well to those two and does not match to Ron Paul. Paul knows who wrote them too, but he’s protecting his long-time friend and advisor, unfortunately. And even more sadly, Rockwell doesn’t have the guts to confess and end this whole megillah. So although I don’t think Ron Paul is a racist, like Archie Bunker, he was willing to, metaphorically, toast a marshmallow on the cross others were burning. . .

    It’s time to reclaim our progressive history from the hands of the right: from the Old Right of the 40s, to the Reagan era LINOs, to the paleolibertarianism of the 1990s. As many of us have argued. . .the heritage of libertarianism is properly a progressive one. Our roots are in the anti-racism and proto-feminism of J.S. Mill and others in the 19th century. We believe in peaceful exchange, voluntary cooperation, progress, enlightenment, tolerance and mutual respect, and openness to change. That is our heritage and that’s the libertarianism that I grew up with in the 1970s and 1980s, and that’s the progressive libertarianism I want to proudly enter into the debate over the future of human social organization.



  2. #2
    aveskde is offline Banned
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    683
    Political Views
    *Survey*
    Threads
    2
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    I think he was heading in a good direction, but this sentence stood out:
    Unfortunately, classical liberalism never figured out how to respond to the development of socialism

    It is more correct to say that Classical Liberalism never figured out how to accept elements of "socialism" (where it appears by context, socialism means state-intervention to this author). It instead rebelled against necessary state intervention and split off into modern conservatism versus the newer left, which was Social Liberalism.

  3. #3
    J.Anderson's Avatar
    J.Anderson is offline Classical Liberal
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    3,851
    Political Views
    *Survey*
    Threads
    239
    Mentioned
    15 Post(s)
    I think he was heading in a good direction, but this sentence stood out:
    Unfortunately, classical liberalism never figured out how to respond to the development of socialism

    It is more correct to say that Classical Liberalism never figured out how to accept elements of "socialism" (where it appears by context, socialism means state-intervention to this author). It instead rebelled against necessary state intervention and split off into modern conservatism versus the newer left, which was Social Liberalism.
    This is inaccurate. Horowitz is almost certainly using the term "socialism" in the sense that it was used by Hayek: i.e., as a state-managed economy. This is what he means when he writes of the "demise of really-existing socialism"; the idea of the state-managed economy is not an idea anyone takes seriously anymore. This is also what he means when he talks about how "the market had won"; the idea of a Soviet or Maoist-style planned economy has been completely discredited.

    Nor is it true that classical liberals never accept state-intervention in the economy: classical liberalism isn't of necessity committed to laissez-faire; Hayek, for instance, is one of the more relatively statist classical liberals, as he openly denounced laissez-faire. Classical liberalism is a very diverse tradition, ranging from anarchists to figures who supported modest intervention in the economy, e.g.: Hayek, Mill, etc.

    What Horowitz means when he writes that classical liberalism didn't figure out how to respond to socialism while maintaining its progressive credentials is this: classical liberalism is, in its values, a leftist movement. It stood for working class liberation and empowerment, tolerance and privacy in the private sphere, and so forth. The challenge from socialism was to say that markets don't empower or liberate, but rather oppress, and that a managed economy is necessary for social justice. In opposing this view, classical liberals in the 20th century found themselves on the same side as their traditional enemies (conservatives).

    With the demise of socialism, Horowitz and other left-libertarians believe that it's time for libertarianism to reclaim its roots of standing up for the empowerment of labor through traditional liberal means (i.e., ending pervasive government interference which favors big business), and once again championing the idea that true free markets (not, mind you, the corporatism that conservatives try to pass off as "free markets") are the best way to accomplish left-wing goals.

  4. #4
    Fantasy Chaser's Avatar
    Fantasy Chaser is online now King Arthur of Clamalot...
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    37,933
    Political Views
    *Survey*
    Threads
    649
    Mentioned
    15 Post(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by aveskde View Post
    I think he was heading in a good direction, but this sentence stood out:
    Unfortunately, classical liberalism never figured out how to respond to the development of socialism

    It is more correct to say that Classical Liberalism never figured out how to accept elements of "socialism" (where it appears by context, socialism means state-intervention to this author). It instead rebelled against necessary state intervention and split off into modern conservatism versus the newer left, which was Social Liberalism.
    In terms of government social(ist) programs, this is oxymoronic.
    The enemy wants men to concern themselves with what they do. Our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them. -- Screwtape
    REAL men don't exploit girls and women. They protect them. -- Me
    Treat a lady like a lady, and treat a tramp like the lady who's inside of her, the lady who God made her to be. -- Me
    Keep the equality of people, and the hierarchy of ideas. -- Dr. Ravi Zacharias
    I don't believe in treatin' girls equal. I believe in lookin' up to 'em. -- Moose Mason
    Mister Sharp. -- Bovril

  5. #5
    Sway is offline Senior Operative
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    1,748
    Political Views
    *Survey*
    Threads
    12
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Libertarians got there by being irrelevant as an operational philosophy during a Cold War era. Libertarians could not philosophically support the Cold War, and since most otherwise libertarian inclined people had no doubt the Cold War needed to be fought, the movement languished. Co-opted by the Left on social issues, and co-opted by the Right on market issues, libertarianism, as an operational philosophy continues to struggle for relevance.

    I'd hate to rain on anyone's parade but, I believe that the death of socialism has been reported prematurely.

  6. #6
    J.Anderson's Avatar
    J.Anderson is offline Classical Liberal
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    3,851
    Political Views
    *Survey*
    Threads
    239
    Mentioned
    15 Post(s)
    Since when does the Right support free markets? I mean real free markets, and not "free markets with a wink to big business": the corporate nanny state. It's true that right-wingers often use the word "free market" and claim that it's something they support, but we have no reason to believe them at this point. Reagan, for example, engaged in more protectionism than any other modern president.

    Neither "side" has "co-opted" libertarian ideas on markets.

  7. #7
    J.Anderson's Avatar
    J.Anderson is offline Classical Liberal
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    3,851
    Political Views
    *Survey*
    Threads
    239
    Mentioned
    15 Post(s)
    Just a side-note; in pointing out that classical liberals weren't universally committed to laissez-faire, I was merely stating a historical fact. In the interests of "full-disclosure," I myself am committed to laissez-faire as an ideal toward which I believe we should work.

  8. #8
    Chief Dork's Avatar
    Chief Dork is offline Waiting for Krugman
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    1,153
    Political Views
    *Survey*
    Threads
    21
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    The author seems not to realize that the United States is wholly separated from Europe in terms of societal makeup, problems and affiliations.
    “Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.” George Orwell.

    "When the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier when it's called 'The People's Stick' ." Mikhail Bakunin

    "A citizen can hardly distinguish between a tax and a fine, except that the fine is generally much lighter." G. K. Chesterton

  9. #9
    Sway is offline Senior Operative
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    1,748
    Political Views
    *Survey*
    Threads
    12
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Chief Dork View Post
    The author seems not to realize that the United States is wholly separated from Europe in terms of societal makeup, problems and affiliations.
    That's a proposition in search of evidence.

  10. #10
    Sway is offline Senior Operative
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    1,748
    Political Views
    *Survey*
    Threads
    12
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by J.Anderson View Post
    Since when does the Right support free markets? I mean real free markets, and not "free markets with a wink to big business": the corporate nanny state. It's true that right-wingers often use the word "free market" and claim that it's something they support, but we have no reason to believe them at this point. Reagan, for example, engaged in more protectionism than any other modern president.

    Neither "side" has "co-opted" libertarian ideas on markets.
    The right is far more populated by small businessmen, and their supporters as the engines of economic progress, than it is by those running corporations. Nothing could be further from the truth than that the right is the cause or party of Big Business.

+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 22 12311 ... LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •