The right says political intolerance isn't new. Now that it afflicts the left too, we need unity among all who value liberalism.
Alright, go ahead and merge Persuasion, Quillette and Reason together and save me the three trips every day.
Great article. I would not however back away from the terms centrist or moderate. Centrism is not trying to find a muddled middle way. A lot of us who call ourselves Centrists in fact have a variety of extreme positions that average out to moderate. The defining characteristic of the center against the extremes is in fact the liberal values that Tracinski champions. Liberal tolerance is baked into the logic of not taking your worldview off the menu and wanting to work out each issue by itself. That process inherently requires the openness to discussion that a liberal society protects. Only the moral certainty of an extreme and simplistic ideology can coexist with the desire to stamp out competing ideas
Thank you for this. These are the kind of articles and conversations that we should be bringing to the foreground.
Robert, she barely mentions the common man,(I have read every word of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged)her characters seem to be only white middle aged and either female sycophants of the fabulous handsome genius corporate gods, or slimy and ugly corrupted businessmen. No children, older folks or even working cass characters of any depth.
I know I can't convince you and I promise to make an effort to get your book and read it.
Definitely think we need to strive to find common ground.
Great article. What many on the left don't understand is that they are on the losing side now - the hard left has been winning by censorship instead of argument for so long they are not going to stop now. The only real chance we have is a new political realignment.
As Texas freezes, what I see is not neo-classical liberalism but two elite camps arguing to protect positions in society that entail economic privilege, legal immunity, and criminal impunity. This cannot continue, so it won't.
What I would like to see is republican (egalitarian) democracy (majority rule) from one responsible party, since we only have one at the moment. The other party are just a return of the Federalist-Whig thread in our history. It now calls itself "conservative" but it is actually just a radical liberal elite with some reactionary followers.
What is missing here is a party both republican and democratic at the same time, something the Democratic Party was for a very brief time, about the time Lafayette toured all 24 states.
One aspect of that would be universal suffrage rooted in a uniform military obligation (with the usual exceptions). Instead, we have a credit-scored franchise lodged in a surveillance state.
Or, here in Texas, a bipartisan legislative duopoly including ...
(a) center-left minority-majority perpetual office-squatters who reject market regulation out of tender compassion for their top-ten concession-tending donors and, also, including ...
(b) far-right career political operatives organized around a revolving door of public/private office-shuffling organized by many of the same top-ten concession-tending donors and rejecting state regulation.
The result is "deregulation" which is to say lots and lots of petty regulation bought and paid for by top-tend concession-tending donors in their professional capacities as, increasingly, just contingent-fee transaction lawyers substituting for well-regulated public and private financial institutions.
This is not socialism or capitalism. It is state-sponsored political rot punctuated by economic catastrophe leading to militarization of everything except, of course, no draft. That would be "slavery", which we cannot tolerate unlike the forms of slavery we do not just tolerate but exploit.
The problem is a simple yet intractable one: Support liberal speech, which is in fact disruptive, or reject liberal free speech for safety? Is protecting the First Amendment more important than protecting us from social prejudices, or not? If racism is more dangerous than liberal open discourse is beneficial, then sacrifice free speech to protect us from racism. Illiberalism wins.
The logical fallacy of our time is Circumstantial Personal Attack: "Who you are determines what you are allowed to know and say." But that is absolutely absurd, since a true statement is true independently of the speaker of that statement... Nazi or Saint. Yes, even Trumpist white men can say some true things about race and gender, but it is very irritating when they do, since the left so cherish their own religious presumption of the evil of those speakers.
Yes, all political speech has all fallen into the category of religion: Blind faith in our political gods and the required sacrifices those gods demand bind us, not open discourse. Sacrifices to our own political gods are required for our safety and the safety of our secular religions, and reason is irrelevant. Free liberal speech must be sacrificed if our own political religions are to be protected. Copernicus be damned!
I always come back to JS Mill: "It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question." And I fear we have all become quite porcine religious fools these days.
As an elderly moderate Democrat, I completely agree with the core of your argument. I am however skeptical of your apparent suggestion that "sane Democrats" (my shorthand term for Democrats who adhere to Enlightenment values espoused by classical liberals) team up with "sane Republicans (ditto) to form a new party. Perhaps that is not your suggestion and I misunderstand? I do think that reasonable people spanning a broad spectrum of beliefs should acknowledge their shared values and beliefs and listen to each other. I feel that most of our current problems originate from small but shrill and bizarrely influential groups of fanatics.
1) Would Tracinski be open to the idea that it's possible for economic freedom and the sort of government programs which give people a security that markets don't to work together rather than against each other? (Classic example: a would-be entrepreneur is more likely to take the risk of quitting his job if it doesn't mean giving up his health insurance.) If he's a Rand fan, I'm not optimistic.
2) When was the first time you were called a Nazi for saying something ordinary and reasonable? I'm sure everyone who ever refused to give Israel blind unquestioning support can tell you stories about that. Zionism has always played the Holocaust card as shamelessly as O. J. 's lawyers played the race card.
Fortunately, one doesn't have to be an objectivist to agree with all or most of what Robert Tracinski says here. For many years, I've taught college students about a range of different political philosophies, and I've challenged them on their assumption that only people like them--often conservative in my original discipline and progressive in the discipline of women's studies where I've ended up--are correct thinking. I know that conservatives have often felt unwelcome in certain sectors of the academy. But it's really only been in recent years that a mere suggestion that conservative ways of thinking or points of view may have some merit has been grounds for swift punishment. Something has changed, and it's not only that liberals are now being subjected to the same treatment conservatives were treated to in the past. Who knows? Maybe progressives got tired of being called moochers, looters, and second handers, though in my experience young people are the most fervent of all Ayn Rand fans.
Reading this article, as well as a bit of the comments that follow it regarding The Left and “cancel culture”, reminds one of Lynne Cheney being thrown under the bus. Republican Senators being censured by the GOP. Secretaries of State being threatened with harm. A Speaker of the House of Representatives threatened with assassination along with a few and sundry other congresspeople. A Vice President escaping a lynching.
Yup...the Left better get their act together.
Great peace Robert, Thank you 🙏🏼. As centrist in a liberal county I censor myself often and would never consider speaking openly of my political views except with those of my own persuasion for fear of being shamed from my community. Negative I am a bit resentful of the left because of their political intolerance. Positive when I risk sharing my views with others (typically white males, I apologize I am a successful white male forgive me please) I find not a few who share my views. It would seem to me sense I am just an average guy that others share this position and I find that interesting in how it will play out in “our society” as whole.
I do admit to a grain of salt whenever I read a Randocrat expressing concern over the public square. Especially when that concern isn't a cost-benefit analysis of the available retail square footage. Still, I'm better for reading Tracinski's piece.
Doing away with cancel culture involves:
- An adherence to growth-expansion-profit as the only motivations a private enterprise allows itself, and with that excising any inclinations towards human empathy from the business model. Basically, rewriting the "corporations are people" mantra in pure transactional binary code.
- The protection of net neutrality - at least its principal tenets - beyond the self-policing variety. My guess is the ideologues in the think tank would go for it, but I'm not so sure the folks paying to furnish the tank would give as much as 1/16 an inch. Premium service rewards are a big bargaining chip, especially when the rewards go the way of the ISP shareholders.
There's also the matter of cancel culture on the playground, in the locker room, and around the holiday table. There isn't the financial implications of losing a publishing deal or a recurring role in a franchise film, but the experiences of ostracism and unpersonhood are first encountered in those times and places.
I'd go so far as to say the impact is sharper, more crippling, and longer-lasting during those times and places. I should know, being both a canceller and one of the cancelled. Here's the questions I face:
1) How do I go about the business of uncancelling myself and my friends and family members, despite none of us having the cachet of a major movie studio or a SAG member?
2) Is it that important for us to address cancel culture, when none of us have a social media reputation or a six-figure standard of living at stake?
3) It's just a once-a-year Thanksgiving dinner, so is it really a big deal if you or I feel banished or want nothing to do with each other?
1) Swallow your pride, deal in good faith, and if you must then bring along a mutual friend to intercede.
2) Yes, because there's more day-to-day folks than there are Lucasfilms and Gina Caranos.
3) What you bring with you to the mirror you look into every morning is possibly life's biggest deal, no matter who you are or if the side of the commuter train is the only reflection at your disposal.
You write .."This caused a lot of conservatives to see no enemies to the right, until they were blindsided by the realization that a large number of their supposed allies do not really value freedom—no matter how loudly they may chant the word."
Please help me understand where you see the largest threat to freedom on the right?
I'd gladly sponsor an article to be researched & written that compares quantitatively the political violence on the left to that of the right, using data and specific examples. Detailed comparative analysis.
So, we need a union of true intellectuals, who can read opposing opinions without clutching their pearls, and do not believe that citing confabulated buzzwords constitutes actual argument. By this, I exclude highly educated, bookish ideologues who are not intellectuals in any true sense.
What happens if our emerging political realignment is along the lines of class or elite/non-elite? In that case the Dems assumption that changing demographics benefit Dems over the long-term might not be valid. At that point I think the new Liberal party would be more likely Center-Left than Center-Right because decent majorities (>60%) of Americans support more gov't in terms of health care & taxes & minimum wage & civil rights. Center-right liberals would have to bite their tongues and try to negotiate the boundaries of increasing gov't power. That's not a bad thing, given that we are culturally attracted to libertarianism, so our increase in gov't power will likely end up just a little to the right of Western Europe.