Libertarians vs Progressives

ED Kain thinks libertarians and progressives have a hard time understanding truly where the other is coming from.

One suggestion: I think we can do without knuckleheads babbling about the only role of the State is to protect property and enforce contracts vs knuckleheads babbling about the “Hobbesian State of Nature” and Rousseau’s “General Will.” We are long past any relevant debate between Locke’s Enlightenment Liberal distinction between civil society and State and Rousseau’s “Democratic Will” of the modest city-state.

Historically speaking, the libertarian vs progressive debate is not an 18th century product. It’s not a Locke vs Rousseau debate. It’s a 19th century product. It’s more along the lines of a Proudhon vs Saint-Simon debate, that is, Laissez-Faire vs Dirigisme. Frankly, the fact that both “Laissez-Faire” and “Dirigisme” are French terms and that, today, the people of contemporary France are more clueless about this debate than the Americans probably is a good indicator of just how relevant the historical debate is to the modern context.

The reality of today is the 21st Century Corporate State in the Global Capitalist Order. In this modern context, the libertarian vs progressive debate isn’t really much of a debate. The management rules of the corporate state are not going to be a product of American political debate. There are many progressives who dream of a referendum on “Neo-Liberalism;” they blame libertarianism for corrupting FDR’s New Deal State. But this is just a half-truth. The reality is that post WW II Bretton Woods was a paradigm for a global capitalist order. The distinction between “modern” and “neo” when it comes liberalism is a matter of semantics. When Bretton Woods broke down in the 1970s, it was supplanted by “Chicago,” but the “regime change” was merely in the rules; it was still the same system.

Progressive referendum on “Neo-Liberalism” is a fantasy; the delusion that the US can arbitrarily pull the rug out on the global system–that the whole world has been playing by–that the US itself invented and imposed. They typically trot out James K. Galbraith who reassures them that US military supremacy allows the US the privilege to rewrite the rules at will. Not quite, James. Expect some shit. And you can’t blame European and Asian push back on American right wing politics and Sarah Palin. And if/when the IMF comes calling, Galbraith’s coping mechanisms with irony, likely to be a combination of bourbon and Yeats, will be preferable to Krugman’s mechanisms, which appear to be war.

Progressives are delusional; but libertarians are incoherent. I can’t get over this latest comedy by Reason, casting Jeb Bush as an agent of disruption against the Status Quo. I don’t need to reference anything further.

The modern progressive vs libertarian debate is Delusion vs Incoherence…

Yes, I know that there are many progressives and libertarians who object to this casting. But that’s the thing…Progressive push back against delusion is a Progressive vs Progressive debate, and Libertarian push back against incoherence is a Libertarian vs Libertarian debate…

4 thoughts on “Libertarians vs Progressives

  1. This is one of the most interesting representations of my views I’ve seen. Where did it come from?


    1. Hi, Mr. Galbraith:

      so long as the economy is placed on a path to recovery, even a massive increase in public debt poses no risk that the U.S. government will find itself in the sort of situation known to Argentines and Indonesians. Why not? Because the rest of the world recognizes that the United States performs certain indispensable functions, including acting as the lynchpin of collective security and a principal source of new science and technology. So long as we meet those responsibilities, the rest of the world is likely to want to hold our debts.

      You are saying that US military supremacy/hegemony(“lynchpin of collective security” is just a more polite way to put it) allows the US to rewrite the rules. If,say, Argentina attempts your prescription, then it, of course, gets a visit from the IMF.

      The reference to Yeats is poetic license, but ,of course, it is a reference to the “Second Coming,” which in this context symbolizes global institutions of the American 20th century turning against their “creator” in the 21st century.

      Military power is never the salvation of bad economics; and judging by the reception of Europe and Asia to US “stimulus” and debt spending of 2008/2009, the rest of the world is losing patience with having to bear the brunt of US internal politics.

      1. I’m surprised Galbraith went that route since pretty much every other time I’ve seen him talk about the debt he gives the standard MMT/Neo-Chartalist arguments.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s