Feel free to scrape the question-begging faux neutrality off your shoes
June 9, 2014 § 99 Comments
 And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns, like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon.  And he executed all the power of the former beast in his sight; and he caused the earth, and them that dwell therein, to adore the first beast, whose wound to death was healed.  And he did great signs, so that he made also fire to come down from heaven unto the earth in the sight of men.  And he seduced them that dwell on the earth, for the signs, which were given him to do in the sight of the beast, saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make the image of the beast, which had the wound by the sword, and lived.  And it was given him to give life to the image of the beast, and that the image of the beast should speak; and should cause, that whosoever will not adore the image of the beast, should be slain. – Revelations 13:11-15
However, many of those same reactionaries openly embrace the core liberal tenet of political freedom. Reactionary blog titles and subtitles invoke liberal slogans like “liberty” this and “anarcho” that, seemingly without irony. Putative reactionaries argue in my own comboxes for “freedom of association” as some sort of absolute right that renders actions motivated by “freedom of association” intrinsically morally just. Liturgical alternatives to democracy are proposed to preserve worship of the secular god Liberty. This appears to be a function in part of folks failing to scrape the libertarian fecal matter off their shoes when they supposedly leave their liberal indoctrination behind. So lately I’ve been focusing somewhat on the comparatively neglected freedom horn of the liberal beast.
In the previous post I proposed a definition of the liberal slogan “freedom”:
Comprehensively enforced societal approval of a particular permutation space of preferences, along with the claim that this particular set of preferences is metaphysically neutral.
Offhand this seems like the sort of thing with which a libertarian would agree: that is, the libertarian would agree that liberals do this and disapprove. I think that is probably because consistent loyalty to libertarianism requires a rather acute lack of introspection, perhaps even moreso than other kinds of liberalism. Another possible explanation is that because the American republic was founded on classical liberal ideals, and classical liberal capitalism has been around a bit longer than newer forms of liberalism, libertarians are as incapable of seeing the decidedly non-neutral ‘particular permutation space of preferences’ which they want government to initiate force to impose as a fish is of seeing water.
But psychological explanations aside, the particular permutation space of preferences that libertarians initiate force to impose on everyone is, obviously, the preferences of owners in the property regime of capitalism. Many aspects of this property rights and contract regime represent novel, modern sets of liberal preferences (including such ‘innovations’ as usury) quite distinct from a classically grounded understanding of property as stewardship. And the notion that capitalism is something which emerges spontaneously from nature, that it is not something built and sustained by big government, is as risible as the Marxist fantasy that the State will just ‘fade away’ once the class war ends and freedom and equality have been achieved.