James Leroy Wilson's blog

Saturday, April 08, 2006

More on Progressive Neo-Liberalism

I'm still thinking about the subject of my last post and the score I got on the moral politics quiz. I still don't like the questions given, and I'm still unconfortable with the connotations of both "progressive" and "neo-liberal" which the quiz says is my ideology.

(Progressive neo-liberal sounds to me like the warmongering wing of the Democratic party, who are arguably worse than the Busheviks and neocons because they celebrated our unprovoked war against Serbia and fault the war on Iraq only only because a Republican is waging it.)

Many of the names given ideologies in the quiz are strange. And what it means by "moral rules" and "moral order" is confusing, especially since it is evident that the horizontal axis is about individuality vs. conformity, and the vertical is about private ownership vs. communal ownership.

But I must give the designers credit. They are definitely on to something in how they conceived their political map and for correctly placing me on it (5.5 spaces down from the horizontal line, half a space left of the vertical line).

And their definition of liberalism appears right in line with Ludwig von Mises, who called liberalism "an ideology that advocates the preservation of private ownership of the means of production." The consequence of this - the minimal state - is how ultra-liberalism is defined in this quiz.

But some of Mises's intellectual heirs added a moral and philosophical dimension to his "economic" liberalism to create a moral individualism that veered left of Mises's own bourgeois outlook. They fall more into the "libertarian capitalist" area while Mises himself would probably remain somewhere in the "ultra liberal" area.

What I like about my placement is that I am definitely in the "economic liberal" area, but have enough enough concerns about the land monopoly and the disruptions caused by mass migration to be an ideologue.

And while I definitely endorse libertarian ends regarding individuality and non-conformity, I am also convinced that paleo-conservative means, such as judicial restraint, states' rights, and anti-globalist measures, are essential for preserving liberty. The test got that right: I managed to score right in between "libertarian capitalist" and "paleo-conservative."

I am also pleased that I haven't come out as a purist or dogmatist. I don't live in a world of absolutes. Instead of total belief in a particular system, or loyalty to a particular philosophy, I thnk it's better, after considering both theory and fact, to ultimately decide for myself:

1) What I honestly believe will make most other people better off overall.
2) What are the costs, who should pay them, and how.
3) What are the risks, who is put at risk, and how.

My conclusions are almost always in favor of much smaller government, but they are also almost never in favor of abolishing all government right now. Actual gains in shrinking government's size, cost,and power now mean more to me than conformity to libertarian doctrine.

The questions on the test do not, it seems to me, address any of these issues. But when it comes to who I agree with and why, and who I disagree with and why, this quiz has me pegged pretty well.

That doesn't mean I am not libertarian in my overall outlook. Throw any other quiz at me, and I'd come out strongly libertarian. (And this quiz has a very "libertarian" definition of liberalism.) But this shows that there is greater diversity and variation in our outlooks, even when we're largely in agreement about the main issues and are fighting for the same things.

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