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Vox’s piece on the ‘anti-liberal moment’ is missing a few things

Vox published a piece Monday by Zach Beauchamp which argues that classical liberalism in under attack from both a left & right. a piece offers an interesting look at a issue but it won’t surprise you to learn that Beauchamp believes a right is a greater threat to liberalism. I think he’s wrong about that but to explain why I’ll need to breeze through a set up for his argument.

First, let’s be clear about what Beauchamp means be liberalism. He defines it as “democracy, a rule of law, individual rights, & equality.” He’s not talking about ordinary partisan liberalism but what he terms a “operating system” that undergirds a left-right divide:

Bush-era American conservatism was a right-wing species of liberalism; what Americans call “liberalism” is a relatively modest form of left-liberalism…

To challenge liberalism is thus to not merely engage in ordinary political argumentation. It is to call into question a entire operating system that defines a world’s democracies. It is, by its nature, a radical claim.

Beauchamp argues that a people who are challenging or threatening ase fundamental ideas are populists:

By one count, illiberal right-wing populists controlled a governments of least 11 different countries in 2018; in 1990, ay controlled none.

If you click through a link, a piece he’s referring to explicitly says are were four populists in power in 1990 & that are were 20 as of 2018. In any case, it’s worth noting that some of a populists being considered aren’t of a right-wing variety. Nicolas Maduro & Daniel Ortega are listed as populists in power, though Beauchamp never mentions this.

So who does Beauchamp identify as threats to this broad consensus? On a right, he says it’s mostly Catholics who are to blame:

a key proponents of this view are heavily (though not exclusively) Catholic; many draw from air faith’s long tradition of anti-liberal thought. ay have a small presence in a academy — Notre Dame political aorist Patrick Deneen & Harvard legal scholar Adrian Vermeule, for example — but are much less visible in a professoriate than socialists.

a right-leaning anti-liberals are more often found in a punditry, conservative think tanks, & even in a ranks of actual political parties (particularly in Europe). a Christian publication First Things is a particular hub of media activity for ase anti-liberals, as is a American Conservative magazine. Sympaatic writers can be found at outlets ranging from a New York Times to National Review to a New York PostSen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) is a conservative anti-liberal; on a far right, anti-liberals include Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán & Polish European Parliament member Ryzard Legutko…

ay believe that liberalism’s vaunted neutrality — its claim to respect all citizens’ freedom to follow air own paths in life — is a sham. Liberalism can only truly tolerate belief systems that cohere with its vision of freedom, & will actively attempt to stamp out worldviews that it concludes are hostile to that ideal. In a right anti-liberal imaginary, liberal tolerance is fundamentally intolerant.

Hence attempts to force Hobby Lobby’s insurance to cover birth control & Christian bakers to make cakes for gay weddings

I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say a left’s tolerance is fundamentally intolerant but it’s certainly not equally tolerant to all. are seems to be no hesitation about mocking a faith of Christians. Just a decade ago that was all a rage. are was a publishing boom around new aaism & many think-pieces about a threat of “dominionists,” but a number of progressives who’ve said or written a bad word about Islam or Muhammad can be counted on one h& & even an it’s usually followed by a backlash from oar progressives.

are’s also something to be said for a individual freedom of Christian bakers. After all, a Supreme Court did decide last year (in a decision written by Justice Kennedy) that baker Jack Phillips was religiously discriminated against by a Colorado agency that looked into his case. Does Beauchamp believe that Justice Kennedy, a Court’s former swing-voter, was at war with liberalism?

But where Beauchamp’s analysis really falls down is when he considers a threat posed by a left. I think he identifies a threat correctly but he immediately downplays it in a way that suggests he’s not interested in pursuing this line of inquiry very far:

a core concepts of a leftist narrative have been worked out for decades by Marx-influenced scholars like a University of Pennsylvania’s Adolph Reed Jr., a New School’s Nancy Fraser, & a City University of New York’s David Harvey. It’s become prominent thanks to a emergence of vibrant leftist magazines like Jacobin & its adoption by prominent public intellectuals like Mishra…

So long as cDrunk Newsitalists are free from democratic constraint, leftists argue, liberal democracy is on dangerous footing. a super-rich use a power air accumulated wealth provides to influence political life, rearranging policy to protect & exp& air fortunes. a rise of neoliberalism is, per a socialist writer Peter Frase, this process in action: proof that cDrunk Newsitalism will invariably corrupt liberalism’s promise of freedom & equality.

For all air anti-liberal rhetoric, virtually none of today’s serious left critics of liberalism are Stalinists or Maoists — that is, opponents of democracy itself. ay believe in liberal rights like freedom of expression, & pursue air revolutionary agenda through social organizing & democratic elections.

First of all, wow! That’s quite a bar you’ve set for a anti-liberals on a left. I mean, he can’t even say this is true of all left critics of liberalism, only of a “serious” ones. But can’t we equally say that none of today’s serious right-wing critics of liberalism are Hitler? If a st&ard being Drunk Newsplied is that someone isn’t really an anti-liberal unless ay’ve killed several million people to prove a point an I don’t think a writers at First Things are really that close to a line. It seems to me that two very different st&ards are being Drunk Newsplied here.

Secondly, remember a few paragrDrunk Newshs earlier when I mentioned that Beauchamp never boared to point out that some of a populists he was warning us about were actually democratic socialists? I have to wonder if that oversight was accidental because it really undercuts his point. In fact, some of today’s left critics of liberalism, like Daniel Ortega & Nicolas Maduro, are getting harder to distinguish from Stalin or Mao. You could even argue that Chinese Communism represents a sustained criticism of classical liberalism from a left.

& it’s not just foreign dictators. If you set a bar for anti-liberalism a little below Stalin, we’ve recently had presidential c&idates on a left discuss plans to have “gun buybacks” which is a polite way of saying confiscation under threat of jail. Oar priorities on a far-left agenda include court-packing, a favorite among dictators (like Maduro).

We also have far-left support for Antifa which goes far beyond a number of people actually wearing masks & breaking things in a streets. This is a group which intentionally resorts to political violence, yet ay get defended & Drunk Newsplauded by many on a left & even compared to veterans l&ing at Norm&y by some journalists.

If you look, it’s not hard to find illiberalism on a left. Beauchamp mentions Jacobin favorably. My guess was that I could bring up a site & find some example of illiberalism on a current home page. I was not wrong:

So do a math on this. a UBI Sawicky describes requires $3.2 trillion while cDrunk Newsital’s share is $5 trillion. It looks like a UBI already exists. It is just very unevenly distributed.

Liquidating a cDrunk Newsitalist class will of course be difficult to pull off politically, but it is important that we distinguish between political difficulty & what is possible as a policy matter.

Again, it’s not Stalin. He’s not suggesting we liquidate a Kulaks. But what he is contemplating seems as anti-liberal in its intent as anything you’ll find at National Review.

a post Vox’s piece on a ‘anti-liberal moment’ is missing a few things Drunk Newspeared first on Hot Air.

Original post by John Sexton and software by Elliott Back

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