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LeftishBrit's Journal
LeftishBrit's Journal
August 23, 2013

I think the real issue is...

that many right-wingers spread the view that civil libertarianism and economic libertarianism go together. As one of their sayings goes, 'the freer the markets, the freer the people'.

In the UK in the past, the two were not equated, and indeed different terms were used. 'Libertarianism' generally meant 'civil libertarianism' and economic libertarianism was called 'laissez faire economics'. But with increasing collaboration between British and American right-wingers, the term libertarian is now used in the same way here.

The danger of that is that right-wingers can use it as propaganda to persuade people that 'free market' right-wing economic policies are essential for people's freedom. And this can have negative effects at all levels. Centrists and even centre-leftists may be persuaded that it is possible and desirable to be 'socially liberal but economically conservative' - in fact, this is not even IMO truly possible, let alone desirable, as the threat of destitution is just as coercive as the threat of legal punishment. Anti-establishment leftists may be persuaded that collaboration with anti-establishment right-libertarians is acceptable. Etc. More generally speaking, even people who are not highly political can be affected by the discourse. In the UK, surveys suggest that younger adults are more socially liberal than their elders, but are more right-wing and anti-welfare-state economically - the propaganda seems to have had some effect.

In my view, social and economic progressivism; civil liberties and the social safety net; are really indivisible, and the attempts on the right to divide them have been very pernicious.

In the UK, a lot of the obsession with 'official secrets' and anti-civil-libertarian policies such as the 'sus laws' actually began or worsened under the free-marketeering Thatcher government.

Civil libertarianism is great and has been undermined too much. Economic libertarianism is not and has been promoted too much.

And the real danger of Republicans and other right-wingers calling themselves 'libertarians' is that it's a way of persuading some people that economic right-wing policies are necessary for our freedom.

ETA: Being an economic libertarian or even a Republican or Thatcherite is very regrettable, but is not a criminal offence or an aggravating circumstance in criminal law. The fact that a whistleblower is a libertarian or Paul supporter is a good reason for voting against them if they stand for political office, but does not justify putting them in prison. And I have been arguing vehemently on this board since at least 2007 against right-libertarianism and any political collaboration of lefties with right-libertarians!

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Gender: Female
Hometown: Oxford
Home country: England
Member since: Thu Jun 24, 2004, 06:32 AM
Number of posts: 41,166

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