Tuesday, March 10, 2009

J. S. Mill Would Not Join The Liberal Party

I seem to have a habit of keeping low and corrupting company . Aside from my missionary work at Liberal Conspiracy I often read “Cicero`s Songs” . For some reason CS always puts me in mind of the “ Young Visitors “ and its immortal opening “Mr Salteena was an elderly man of 42 and was fond of asking peaple to stay with him.....”. he is indeed a kindly old gentleman in his 4os with a Casaubonish preference for ancient theory
A good read on “Abroad” , but hopelessly deluded about domestic Politics . This partly as a consequence of having to explain his membership of Labour –lite whilst espousing free market economics .
This thread brings out some of the main points of the Push-me pull-you at the heart of Liberal thinking . In his original post he argues that Liberal should not listen to the siren song of the Labour Party who , as he rightly points out , only sing when they are losing ( Hopi Sen follows the traditional , pattern here ..... ) I have edited to bring out the main doctrinal point which is , "Freedom from" versus "Freedom to"
Cicero Songs ....it would be crazy to compromise our ideology and principles by shackling ourselves to the political corpse of the Labour Party.
Newmania ....You do not have an ideology or if you do it is a closely guarded secret...
Cicero Songs .....If you want to know what Liberal ideology is, perhaps you might read JS Mill "On Liberty"- a first edition of it is the badge of office of the president of the Liberal Democrats. You could also read Hayek's "Why I am not a Conservative" or Popper's "The Open society and its enemies" or Joseph Stiglitz ...
Newmania Yes these are all texts that were used by the Conservative Party but chiefly only as a weapon against socialism in the 20th century when they confronted the Liberal Party as well as the Labour Party both committed to collectivist solutions. ...the Liberal Party were not to be found when the Miners were opposed, or when Nationalisation was being rolled back, or when the inexorable growth of the state was reversed during the Thatcher and Major period . Nor have they ever said anything about reducing tax that even admits it as a perennial policy objective ,and can usually be found on the fence when the subject arises .In fact the Liberal Party was a regional oddity until refreshed by the socialist SDP. .....You are away with the fairies but you seem to enjoy yourself and do little harm
Cicero Songs...As as a clear point of clarification, by definition Liberals are anti-Collectivist. You would not find one genuine Liberal Democrat who would not strongly disagree with the whole ideological basis of Socialism. ....

Newmania ... .I don’t think any reasonable person would deny that the Liberal Democrats have usually accepted more of the collectivist influenced idea of freedom . “Freedom to “ ,whereas Conservatives retain more of the negative “freedom from”.
Conservatism in this sense has far more in common with JS Mill. JS Mill had no post Marxist conception idea of allotting resources to individuals in order to enable them to express freedoms .He was a political theorist who drew a distinction between freedom and licence , that freedom which hurts others or takes their freedom, Conservatives would generally approve . Crucially he thought private property and the right to exchange as you wish was an inevitable and essential part of Liberalism. This is why it was called a “Bourgeois” ideology by the left in that it appeared a sugar coating for Capitalism . The Liberals problem then revolves around the “Free market “ which is at once a conclusion to Liberal thinking and yet disliked by the many who have accepted the Marxist insight into “Power “ to express freedom ,which the state may enable .
Extending JS Mills ideas into “economic licence “ and thereby into socialist territory is a sly and anachronistic trick allowing socialist answers from individualist ideas . JS Mill wrote in opposition to sovereign power and would prefer this country to be more like the US . The Liberal party have generally looked to the social democratic models of Europe with their collectivist ideas and weakly accountable democracies .We are all post Marx and Post JS Mill so in practice it’s a matter of emphasis but for Party a committed to “rationalism” and “universalism”… it takes a determined effort to look the others way when the doctrinal core is so obviously feeble .

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