Saturday, April 20, 2019

Authoritarianism vs Liberalism

Under two posts in August 2017 I wrote about the growing space between the politically strident Left and Right formations which might be an opening for a new Centrism: Libertarianism as Centrist ideology I also discussed a certain principle of convergence between the Alt-Left and Alt-Right which I characterized as "maternal politics" where the state is to take care of the righteous and pure ones: Left and Right and their maternal politics

Maybe this indicates that the political categories of Left and Right are becoming obsolete, but more accurately it is the case that they both fit neatly under a new Authoritarian formation. I think our current political factions are: Authoritarian and Liberal.

  • Authoritarianism = leftists (intersectional victimology) + rightists(ethno-nationalist victimology)
  • Liberalism = libertarians + statist liberals(*) + conservatives

Yes - indeed it seems that the old label of "liberal" should fit very well now. No need to call us centrists. The current problem in USA and many other Western countries is that the Liberals are unwilling to exercise power and defer political struggle to the various noisy Authoritarians. The weakness of the Authoritarian power is that it is divided and fighting internally - as for example the Trumpist Republicans with Clintonian Democrats, or Bernie supporters fighting with the sex-genderist victimologists. The danger is that a reaction to Authoritarian infighting and excesses could be unifying and lead to actual Fascism.

Why is it that the Liberal formation has trouble asserting itself in the current political climate? One reason is that it is a composition of ideologies that had not functioned together for a long time or perhaps never. Libertarians trust in individual freedom and in the right of individuals to act to solve their own and the society's problems. The statist liberals believe that the government has a significant organizing role in the economic and social life of the nation and a special mission to protect the weakest. Conservatives think that individuals deserve freedom only when they conform to norms of conduct (often enacted as legal limits) that have been historically proven to be beneficial to society. Classical liberals? -- I think they distribute themselves among all those groups.

How do we unify the Liberals - and that, in my view, also includes the conservatives and libertarians.
Let us note that the seeming strength of the Authoritarians is based on emotional arguments, which promote and create fragmenting forces and opens them to rational criticism. On the other hand, the Liberals can begin with rational arguments based on factual observations and objective judgment of the situation.

The way to achieve the unification of the Liberals is to blacklist certain issues - although dear to the Authoritarians - and assert that they are not worth fighting for - with rational justification why it is so. So Liberals should reject issues on this list:
  • patriarchy  - because not only men wield power
  • racism - because it is vestigial
  • sexism/gender - women and men are equally free under the law
  • anti-immigrant xenophobia - because US is a country of immigrants who want to become Americans (also its opposite pro-immigrant xenophilia)
  • oppression of groups of specific identity - see under racism
  • oppression by capitalist system - it is a system of voluntary participation in the economy
What issues should be deemed important?
  • US federal debt
  • incarceration levels and other criminal justice issues
  • drug war and criminalization of non-violent conduct
  • US foreign policy - with many issues of US and world security
  • federal interference with States' rights
  • regulation of free speech and surveillance by corporations on behalf of law enforcement  (relates to criminalization of non-violent conduct)

Special consideration needs to be given to the issue of climate change - which is a pet issue on the Left - in the authoritarian camp and in the liberal one as well. It is a valid issue - and there are problems with how it is currently raised. Climate change issue is not listed above as important because it does not rise to the level of catastrophic threat. The issues of US foreign policy and the mountain of debt present a more urgent threat.

(*) the term "statist liberals" sounds a bit unsavory to me, but, well, maybe it has to