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Friday, June 18, 2010

RAW: The original 'liberaltarian'?

There's been some discussion in the blogosphere lately about "liberaltarianism," attempts to forge an alliance between libertarians (or "classical liberals") and the more common left-wing liberals. This would involve, as I understand it, making common cause over civil liberties and foreign policy. The libertarians would agree to government policies that make provisions to aid the poor and the liberals would agree to support free trade, the free market and economic literacy in general. One of the leading proponents of this fusion is Will Wilkinson.

In an essay, "Ecology, Malthus and Machiavelli," reprinted in the book RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE SITTING NOW, Wilson explains how he wound up voting for John Anderson, the independent candidate. "Ideologically, of course, I should have voted for Ed Clark, the Libertarian Party candidate; but I am not that kind of Libertarian, really; I don't hate poor people."

I didn't understand what Wilson meant when I first read that, but I think I do now; he was generally a libertarian, but he also was concerned for all of his life with civil rights for unpopular minorities and with the plight of the poor, two concerns which don't often resonate with many libertarians.


michael said...

I don't think you're drilling in a dry hole here, TJ. The topic of RAW's economic and political thought deserves a book of its own...or at least a long trippy essay, eh?

To see RAW at his dialectical best, see _Natural Law_, where he demolishes some prominent right wing Libertarians. It's funny, Wilson's rhetorical style is at times dazzling in brilliance, and one can see how RAW seems to be at one remove - at least! - to almost any Thinker on political economy the Reader has read...or even "read about."

Eric Wagner said...

Hey, Dr. Johnson, I would love to read a book or a long trippy essay by you on RAW's political and economic thought. I enjoyed Bob's Non-Euclidian Politics class at Maybe Logic.

Eric Wagner said...

What a long strange trip.