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Liberalism in Peril

The great classical-liberal scholar, and network creator and maintainer extraordinaire, Walter Grinder earlier this evening sent to me the following e-mail. I share it here with his kind permission.

Dear Don,

The fight over the next four years and beyond will be what it has been since the nation’s founding–centralizers vs decentralizers [subsidiarists], Hamiltonians vs Jeffersonians, rationalizers vs spontaneous order folks, and so forth.

Everything I’ve read and heard today is all about praising to the hilt national plans and that there is extant across our fair nation a massive and unnecessary breakdown in coordination. This is not exactly Tom Sowell’s two different visions, but it is close to it. I keep hearing about the lunacy of not having a national plan to fight the coronavirus or a national plan to rejuvenate the US infrastructure, and so forth. Centralizers, rationalizers, central organizers, expediters, coordinators, standardizers, harmonizers–all in the name of efficiency and getting things done right! That itch, that urge to control!

This is very much another example of what Gabriel Kolko found in his studies of the ‘rationalizing’ of market forces [competition] during the first Progressive Era. It demonstrates, of course, a total misunderstanding of economic theory and history, but, nonetheless, here we are.

You will have to hammer away at this theme. The other side [consisting of both Progressives and mainstreamers] will not even listen to you let alone be convinced. It will be a long hard slog. I have no idea where it will end, but I am sure it will not end well, at least in our lifetimes. They will begin to listen only when things fall completely apart. We must prepare young folks to be ready when that happens. More writing and teaching and organizing and nonviolent demonstrating around issues that everyone can understand. The slog will get even ‘slogier.’

Warm regards,

DBx: Indeed.

Liberalism is today on the ropes – perilously so. It is not simply in disfavor. Liberalism is regarded as being worse than retrograde; it is regarded as evil. And we liberals are regarded as being beneath contempt – perhaps even as subhuman. The cause of liberalism – which is to say, the cause of the open society and of civilization itself – is today in serious peril. We liberals have our work cut out for us.