Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Democrats, Liberals, and Libertarians

Meyerson responding to Kos, where liberals and libertarians meet and where they don't.
As for pure libertarianism, by denying a role for the state and dismissing the threat to liberties increasingly posed by the dominant corporate sector, it is about as germane to the American future as Trotskyism.

Markos quotes an entry that a reader posted on his Daily Kos blog in which the reader cites his realization that “corporations are becoming more powerful than governments” as the key to his switch to a neo-libertarianism concerned with regulating corporations. But surely, concern over disproportionate corporate power has been a main concern, if not the main concern, of populism, progressivism, and liberalism dating back at least to the 1890s. Americans railed against the railroads and the oil trusts and Wall Street long before they railed against government regulations, for the simple reason that government regulations didn’t seriously begin to curtail the abuses of the rails, of oil and of Wall Street until the New Deal. If libertarians see their mission as defending freedom, liberals, seeing freedoms in conflict, have defined theirs as balancing those freedoms, and regulating their excesses, in the cause of a greater social good. The moral calculus that liberals have used in weighing one freedom against another, to be sure, has often been at odds with the moral calculus of conservatives and the conceptual calculus of libertarians. Liberals, for instance, insisted that the right of a black person to equal access exceeded that of a property owner to discriminate on racial grounds, which upset racist traditionalists, as well as libertarians such as Barry Goldwater, who privileged the property owner’s right above the black person’s.
BTW - The new documentary on Goldwater is very good. It does hint at things critics would explore more in depth, but hey, its family.

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