Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Classical Liberals and Social Liberals

Mickey Craig’s point about there being a difference between a classical liberal and a social liberal is well taken. Libertarians often refer to themselves as "economically conservative, but socially liberal" as a quick and dirty (too dirty) definition of their views. But my question is, how can we tell the difference as a practical matter? If a politician is pro-choice, might it not be on the classical liberal grounds that laws against abortion represent an infringement on the right to property (in this case the womb), rather than the from the social liberal’s insistence on "liberation" from responsibility for one’s actions? The same might be said of those who oppose sodomy laws. Libertarians and social liberals might agree on this issue, but for very different reasons, and unless the person advocating this position has expressed the thought processes behind it (as Arnold has, I believe, never done), how are we to assume that the Governor-elect is the latter rather than the former?

Moreover, I take issue with the statement "that those who indulge in drugs today, as a practical matter, become in one way or another wards of the state." As Jacob Sullum’s recent book suggests, there is (and long has been) a lot more drug use going on in America than statistics on "addiction" (which may or may not be a useful term) suggest. Drug prohibition, like that of the Prohibition of liquor and the modern crusade aganist tobacco was, in fact, the product of the same Progressive mentality that Craig denounces. Alas, the "marijuana industry" lacks the highly-paid lobbyists necessary to fight back.

Discussions - 2 Comments

I thought Moser and I agreed more than we disagree.

How do we tell the difference as a practical matter? The libertarian is irrelevant in practical politics while the social liberal is the greatest danger to our liberties with the possible exception of terrorism.

"If a politician is pro-choice, might it not be on the classical liberal grounds that laws against abortion represent an infringement on the right to property (in this case the womb), rather than the from the social liberal’s insistence on ’liberation’ from responsibility for one’s actions?"

To be Classical Liberal would preclude one from being "Pro-choice". The Classical Liberal philosophy is grounded in "Natural Law", and ordered "Natural Rights". As such, one’s property (or pursuit of happiness) right never "trumps" another’s "right to Life". Lincoln was very much a Classical Liberal. This is reflected by his distain for the Dred Scott decision (the 2nd worst Supreme Court decision in history, Roe v. Wade holding "top honors"). Lincoln knew that the slave master’s "property rights" did not "trump" the slave’s "right to Liberty".

BTW, the penubric "right of privacy", has nothing whatsoever to do with "property". Instead it is suppose to be an extension of the woman’s "Right to Liberty". As in "I have the ’liberty’ to do what I want with MY BODY, and it ain’t no business of the government to interfere with my ’privacy’ when I conspire with my doctor to murder my unborn child." Of course, as Bill Clinton might say, "It depends on how you define ’MY BODY’." What Roe did was in addition to discover a new "right of privacy" hidden amongst the Constitution’s "penumbra", they also "redefined" a "person". Until Roe, society in most common law countries look at all "human beings" as "persons". This was a straight-forward, objective definition, not subject the "fallibilities" of man. The Supremes that the NEW definition of "Person" would henceforth be "subjective", and they, our noble "Guardians" (see Plato) on the bench, would take it upon themselves to establish what it shall be. Of course, as soon as the definition of "person" changed from being "objective" to being "subjective", it became a "moving target". Originally, the Supremes stated that up to 3rd trimeister, the unborn child lacked "personhood". Now they say that as long as the head hasn’t fully popped out the unborn baby lack the "protection and respect" due a "person". I predict that it will not be long before Princeton’s Ethics Professor Singer’s 4th trimeister will become the new "personhood" benchmark.

Of course, when the State can "subjectively" define a "person", nifty things like the "Final Solution" are easily possible.

"how are we to assume that the Governor-elect is the latter rather than the former?"

Clue: His political heroes are Sargeant Shriver and Nelson Mandela.

"Moreover, I take issue with the statement ’that those who indulge in drugs today, as a practical matter, become in one way or another wards of the state’."

While possibly not totally "wards of the State", at least malleable enough to accept totalitarian rule of foreign rulers. Else how would you explain the British Empire’s intense interest in seeing that the people of China got sufficient opium that they would go to war to insure its unimpeded flow.

There were two Revolutions at the of the 18th Century - the American and French. The American Revolution was grounded in Classical Liberal concepts based on Natural Law, and ordered "Creator endowed" Natural "Rights of Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness". The liberties thus envisioned were so that a man may be free to "do good". The French took a different turn. There "Fraternity, Liberty, and Equality" lead to an anarachist libertine liberties and final to nihilism. The 1st Republic didn’t last long, and the French soon were cheering on their new dictator Napoleon. Other progeny of the French Revolution included over time Marxism, Fascism, Nazism, and Communism.

On the other hand, the American Republic bumbles along to this day. Of course, there are those who have in the last Century convinced the American people that our Revolution was really the French one. Slowly at first, and then more rapidly in the last half of the 20th Century our liberties have become more libertine. At the same time our society and people have grown less "moral and religious" as we have come to embrace the nihilism that cannot exist in a "virtuous" people. It wont be long before the old American Republic will be totally lost and the people will demand their dictator, to restore order, as did the French demand their Napoleon. "The more things chaange, the more they remain the same."

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