The Economist posts on Twitter, a September 4, 2021 essay, about the menace of the ‘illiberal left’. Anti-Left propaganda has a limited shelf -life?

Old Socialist comments.

Just the first paragraph of this essay proves to be instructive to The Critical Reader’:

Something has gone very wrong with Western liberalism. At its heart classical liberalism believes human progress is brought about by debate and reform. The best way to navigate disruptive change in a divided world is through a universal commitment to individual dignity, open markets and limited government. Yet a resurgent China sneers at liberalism for being selfish, decadent and unstable. At home, populists on the right and left rage at liberalism for its supposed elitism and privilege.

It seems that the writers/editors of this newspaper have missed ‘Liberalism A Counter-History’ by Domenico Losurdo ? The next paragraph shares the same celebratory cum apologetical mood:

Over the past 250 years classical liberalism has helped bring about unparalleled progress. It will not vanish in a puff of smoke. But it is undergoing a severe test, just as it did a century ago when the cancers of Bolshevism and fascism began to eat away at liberal Europe from within. It is time for liberals to understand what they are up against and to fight back.

The last sentence of the above quotation pronounces an imperative for ‘liberals’ , note the small caps, ‘It is time for liberals to understand what they are up against and to fight back.’ :

Over the past 250 years classical liberalism has helped bring about unparalleled progress. It will not vanish in a puff of smoke. But it is undergoing a severe test, just as it did a century ago when the cancers of Bolshevism and fascism began to eat away at liberal Europe from within. It is time for liberals to understand what they are up against and to fight back. Bolshevism and fascism are the twin enemies of a ‘Centrist Liberalism’ ?

But the immediate threat is from the ‘Trumpian right’ ! Yet the shift of focus, from the ‘Left’ as bad actor, to the ‘Trumpian right’, renders the argumentative force of ‘Illiberal Left’ to a position of lesser importance, this straw man of the ‘Illiberal Left’ is of primary importance, yet the argument wanders off from the issue of the primacy of ‘Liberalism’.

Nowhere is the fight fiercer than in America, where this week the Supreme Court chose not to strike down a draconian and bizarre anti-abortion law. The most dangerous threat in liberalism’s spiritual home comes from the Trumpian right. Populists denigrate liberal edifices such as science and the rule of law as façades for a plot by the deep state against the people. They subordinate facts and reason to tribal emotion. The enduring falsehood that the presidential election in 2020 was stolen points to where such impulses lead. If people cannot settle their differences using debate and trusted institutions, they resort to force.

The next paragraphs are not an argument, but a hopeless substitute for argument!

The attack from the left is harder to grasp, partly because in America “liberal” has come to include an illiberal left. We describe this week how a new style of politics has recently spread from elite university departments. As young graduates have taken jobs in the upmarket media and in politics, business and education, they have brought with them a horror of feeling “unsafe” and an agenda obsessed with a narrow vision of obtaining justice for oppressed identity groups. They have also brought along tactics to enforce ideological purity, by no-platforming their enemies and cancelling allies who have transgressed—with echoes of the confessional state that dominated Europe before classical liberalism took root at the end of the 18th century.

Superficially, the illiberal left and classical liberals like The Economist want many of the same things. Both believe that people should be able to flourish whatever their sexuality or race. They share a suspicion of authority and entrenched interests. They believe in the desirability of change.

This rambling from subject to subject, the focus on current political points of contention- the writer or writers, seek to explain what makes their defense of ‘Liberalism’ superior: to the self-serving mendacities of the both the ‘Illiberal Left’ and the ‘Trumpian right’. The essay’s author or authors continue to gather at will, components of a History Made to Measure. That by political necessity expands it’s explanatory reach outward, as their argumentative frame is diluted of its cogency.

But my Readerly patience is exhausted by this paragraph:

Milton Friedman once said that the “society that puts equality before freedom will end up with neither”. He was right. Illiberal progressives think they have a blueprint for freeing oppressed groups. In reality theirs is a formula for the oppression of individuals—and, in that, it is not so very different from the plans of the populist right. In their different ways both extremes put power before process, ends before means and the interests of the group before the freedom of the individual.

What has also has escaped the attention of The Economist writer/writers is that the Neo-Liberal Swindle collapsed, with a near World Wide Crash in 2008. Or the toxin of the Chicago Boys in Pinochet’s Chile! Yet there are 611 words to go…

Just as a reminder to The Reader of the self-serving mendacity of the writers at The Economist:

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2015/09/19/backwards-comrades

Old Socialist

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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