I always feel like the word “liberal” should be put into quotes these days. A classical liberal, of which I count myself one is for the Enlightenment, the actualization of the individual, respect for the individual in the face of state force, small government and a very limited bureaucratic class. In many respects what is called “liberal” in this country is mostly the opposite of these things. “Liberals” of the modern variety are very enamored with the state and the force it brings to create a vision of the world they like. They are generally for more government. The individual is secondary at best to the collective. Human actualization is generally OK so long as the collective is actualized primarily and the individual does not stray too far from the collective or cause any problems for the collective.
This generally authoritarian disposition is one which is also very friendly to crony capitalism and corporatism. The collective wealth is gathered, regulation spread for the powerful who buy into or co-opt the “liberal” narrative. Think GE. Think GM. Think Boeing. Think the big banks. All of these companies are very friendly with “liberals” because a large state is beneficial to them. Many “liberals” who like to think of themselves as anticorporatists have yet to come to terms with this.
Modern liberalism (as defined above) facilitates crony capitalism.
I miss the liberals of past years, the ones who still had little bits and pieces of the classical liberal in them. The “free speech” student activists. The “back to the land” hippies. The DIY punks. People who legitimately believed that questioning authority was a good thing. The people who read 1984 and felt dread. The people who read Fahrenheit 451 with the same dread.
Now though, those people seem gone from the scene. Consider this famous quote from liberal Berkley activist Mario Savio:
Do you think many people on what is called the “Left” would voice this kind of sentiment today? Likely not. I think many of our liberal friends are happy being part of the machine. One of the gears. One of the cogs.
I wish I didn’t think this. It’s sad and depressing.
Not that many “conservatives” are much better. The only political high ground these days appears to be on Libertarian Island. (It used to be called Liberal Island.)
(From the Daily Beast)
This could be how our experiment with grassroots democracy finally ends. World leaders—the super-rich, their pet nonprofits, their media boosters, and their allies in the global apparat—gather in Paris to hammer out a deal to transform the planet, and our lives. No one asks much about what the states and the communities, the electorate, or even Congress, thinks of the arrangement. The executive now presumes to rule on these issues.
For many of the world’s leading countries—China, Russia, Saudi Arabia—such top-down edicts are fine and dandy, particularly since their supreme leaders won’t have to adhere to them if inconvenienced. But the desire for centralized control is also spreading among the shrinking remnant of actual democracies, where political give and take is baked into the system.
The will to power is unmistakable.California Gov. Jerry Brown, now posturing as the aged philosopher-prince fresh from Paris, hails the “coercive power of the state” to make people live properly by his lights. California’s high electricity prices, regulation-driven spikes in home values, and the highest energy prices in the continental United States, may be a bane for middle- and working-class families, but are sold as a wonderful achievement among our presumptive masters.