Exit or Voice, or, do you prefer your liberalism grape or cherry?
June 1, 2014 § 48 Comments
A while back a commenter asked me what I thought of the “Exit or Voice” discussion in the reactosphere. I responded as if the question were about what we human beings actually ought to do. But recently I stumbled on a statement of the “Exit or Voice” idea somewhere that made me realize that it was a technocratic discussion about designing civilizations. Folks are free to correct or clarify my understanding if I’ve got the ideas wrong.
“Exit or Voice” is supposed to be an alternative civilization design criteria to “Freedom or Equality”. This misunderstands the nature of liberalism from the get-go, since there are no free societies and equal rights is a self contradictory concept. So there is no “Freedom vs Equality” trade off to begin with as something distinct from a discriminatory, authoritative understanding of the good.
But granting that “Freedom or Equality” is incoherent, “Exit or Voice” should be examined on its own terms.
The idea here seems to be that there are two possible kinds of mechanisms available to make sure that modern people are equally free to get what they want. One mechanism is “Voice”, and democracy is an instantiation of this kind of mechanism. The other mechanism, “Exit”, involves ensuring that there is a free market of diverse polities so that folks are all equally free to “vote with their feet”. The only large-scale government allowed will have the sole purpose of ensuring the superman this universal equal freedom to choose the kind of society he wants to live in from the free market of available societies.
Setting aside the ludicrous positivism involved in thinking that civilizations are the kind of thing that can be designed, this is obviously just a call for a newer, better, more innovative and open-minded “tame” liberalism.