Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wendy Kaminer: "progressive values don't include individual liberty"

From spiked, a lefty-libertarianish online journal: "Obama: selling out civil liberties."

"[P]rogressives revelling in Obama’s speech can’t claim ignorance... When they applaud the president’s ‘muscular liberalism’, without qualification, they’re effectively applauding his strong-arm security state.

That’s not entirely surprising, given his many nods to important liberal causes (which, in general, I support) and given the tendency of many liberal as well as centrist Democrats to ignore, trivialise or endorse the post-9/11 assault on liberty. When Democratic members of Congress talk about their party’s values, they sound just like the president; they talk about equality, social and economic justice, and immigration reform. They rarely talk about the preservation of liberty.

I doubt that either the president or the Congressional enablers of his anti-libertarian agenda consider themselves the enemies of freedom. Instead, I suspect, they define freedom differently than civil libertarians do."

This is from Wendy Kaminer, lawyer, writer, and lefty/progressive/feminist gadfly who has been a systematic and thoughtful critic of political correctness and leftwing authoritarianism for decades.  It's a very thoughtful piece.  A few other excerpts:

"When the subject is liberty, the egalitarian left mirrors the authoritarian right. ...freedom isn’t primary; it’s contingent on what they value most - authority and equality, respectively."

And "This president, announcing a moderately progressive second-term agenda, can perhaps be trusted with trying to advance equality. But he should never be trusted with freedom. Presidents naturally prefer their power to our rights."

Well, OK, but doesn't Obama believe in freedom too?

"Obama did make at least one passing reference to freedom from state control: 'We have never relinquished our scepticism of central authority', he observed. That, too, is partly true, and perhaps it’s why the administration insists that so many of its authoritarian executive actions and interpretations of law must be hidden from us."

Very good stuff, worth reading in its entirety.

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