They are all around me, and they don’t know they are liberals
August 11, 2014 § 75 Comments
There are objections floating around (see the post and comment thread here, for example) to the effect that in my posts criticizing freedom as a political priority I am just begging the question and pulling concepts out of a hat. Some of my vast body of readers might find the objections of interest.
For example, it is suggested that my understanding of freedom and its necessary connection to equal rights when made a political priority is something I just made up; and it is proposed that my suggestion, that the myriad social structures of genuine subsidiarity develop organically rather than as a top-down design by civilizational engineers pulling the levers of the state, is just begging the question against the reductionists.
Whether one agrees with me or not, though, the notion that I am just making this stuff up to beg the question doesn’t really pass the laugh test, and as usual Google is your friend. On the former, just as an example, there is this:
“Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law,’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.” –Thomas Jefferson to I. Tiffany, 1819.
And as far as the latter goes, there is this:
78. When we speak of the reform of institutions, the State comes chiefly to mind, not as if universal well-being were to be expected from its activity, but because things have come to such a pass through the evil of what we have termed “individualism” that, following upon the overthrow and near extinction of that rich social life which was once highly developed through associations of various kinds, there remain virtually only individuals and the State. This is to the great harm of the State itself; for, with a structure of social governance lost, and with the taking over of all the burdens which the wrecked associations once bore, the State has been overwhelmed and crushed by almost infinite tasks and duties. – Quadragesimo Anno, Pope Pius XI
Moving on to Lydia McGrew’s ugly tie test, it really has nothing whatsoever to do with making freedom a political priority. Observe that the test ‘works’ precisely because of the triviality of what is controverted. What is at issue is subjects making a federal case out of a petty insult and wasting the sovereign’s valuable time and resources with their pathetic squabble. If I were king both parties would spend some time in the stocks being pelted with rotten tomatoes, both for being jerks and for wasting my time; but certainly not because freedom is a political prior.