Libertarian Polarisation

GBandLM Graham at
Sat Aug 28 17:40:01 MDT 1999

One trend to emerge from the recent controversy arising from mentions of
libertarianism, Ayn Rand and LM magazine on the list is a tendency to pose
things in mutually exclusive terms. Without taking up bandwith by snipping
exact citations, it is clear that today a libertarian position is
identified more or less exclusively with 1980s- style economic law of the
jungle by some of its opponents.

Leaving aside the way that moralising about the 'greedy eighties' has held
an important place in Clinton/New Labour rhetoric, the haste to dismiss
libertarianism's emphasis on the individual is problematic.  Strong
individuals are logically - although not chronologically - prior to the
development of any meaningful solidarity.  The mirror image of this
observation is that an anti-regulatory emphasis in progressive politics,
for instance opposition censorship, assumes that individuals are
sufficiently robust to conduct their own affairs.  This assumption does
more than just fuel individual autonomy: it also promotes trust, again a
precondition to any worthwhile form of solidarity.

Graham Barnfield

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