ThoughtStorms Wiki

AgainstLiberalism for some critiques

HEUpchurch has a good push-back against those of us on the extremes who accuse centrists / liberals of trying to avoid politics.

Palladium is a magazine about "post-liberalism"

Initially it's unclear whether it's some kind of right-communitarian / PeopleOfSomewhere critique of liberalism. Or liberals trying to save liberalism.

Quora Answer : Why did liberalism develop first within the U.K.?

Jul 29, 2018

Because the UK had some historical culture and tradition of individualism, which it probably shares with other "germanic" / "norman" / Scandinavian cultures.

Then it became a Protestant country. Protestantism killed off some of the more Communitarian norms that Catholicism encourages.

Finally it was the birth of the industrial revolution. Much of liberalism reflects the struggle of the new industrial class against traditional land-owners. Eg. arguments about Free Trade in the early 19th century were very much between urban industrialists wanting cheap food from importing Polish wheat, and conservative land-owners wanting protectionism to maintain the price of their own wheat production.

The industrial revolution creates the contours of our modern political landscape. And modern liberalism is one way of positioning yourself in that landscape.

Quora Answer : Why is the philosophy of classic liberalism now associated with "conservative" political movements?

Mar 16, 2016

It's a historical aberration which may well be ending.

Conservatives believe in caution, stability and respect for tradition.

"Classical liberals", ie. economic liberals, believe in a system that rewards innovation, risk-taking and "creative destruction".

These are diametrically opposite positions. And that's how they were understood in the 19th century. (Conservatives were Tories, Classical liberals were Whigs.)

However, in the 20th century they found a common enemy in the form of Communism, and even in social democracies that gave the government enough power to significantly shape the economy.

This was coupled with the fact that most "conservatives" tend to be nostalgic for a past that's recent enough that they have a folk-memory of it. So by the late 20th century, conservatives became nostalgic for the 19th century including its economic liberalism.

By the end of the 80s, right-libertarianism had fully infused right-conservatism as its official economic orthodoxy.

However, this was always an aberration or strange marriage of convenience.

As the threat of communism and a common enemy has receded, the fundamental fault-lines between conservatism and classical liberalism become harder to paper over.

This is why, for example, you hear the Republican right so vociferously denouncing pretty much anyone from the Democrats as closet socialists / communists. It's not just that they're prone to froth-mouthed hyperbole. It's that THIS, the danger from communism, is one of the articles of faith that holds the fragile right-wing alliance together. The "culture wars" are another example : there's no reason for either conservatives or classical liberals to support racism or homophobia or environmental destruction. But the fact that racial and sexual equality and environmental protection have been championed successfully by the left in recent times, makes them evidence for an overbearing left-wing world order which requires both social conservatives and right-libertarians to stand-together to resist.

In the UK, the argument about Europe that consistently splits the Conservative party is really the fault-line between a party of free-markets and maximizing trade and a party of national sovereignty and tradition.

I see this coalition of conservatives and economic liberals as a kind of "lichen" : two entirely different species with different world-views and objectives, that nevertheless form a strong and successful symbiosis.

In the US, though, the symbiosis is being tested, possibly to breaking point, by Trump. I don't want to exaggerate this : Trump can appeal to both conservatives (with grandiose stories of reclaiming America's glorious position in the world) and some of the "classical liberals" (he is, after-all a very rich businessman, and extreme right-libertarians can be rather sentimental about such people.) Trump is undoubtedly shaking the foundations of the old symbiosis (for example, by explicitly opposing free-trade and promoting protectionism to help working class conservatives) but he may well find a new symbiosis that can keep both conservative and right-libertarian wings happy.

(See also LibertarianToFascistPipeline)