In discussions at this blog I will generally employ the word “liberalism” to refer to a political-philosophical doctrine, rather than to liberalism as restrictively understood in contemporary American politics. In short, I am using the historically expansive but conceptually narrow definition of “liberal” to describe the doctrine of rights or freedoms of the individual human being as crystallized by early modern metaphysics, but under a practical awareness of the evolution of politicized liberalism to include “liberal democracy,” “social liberalism,” and “welfare state liberalism” as well as the pure or pre-socialized liberalism of “libertarianism” and the de-socializing orientation of “neo-liberalism.” American “constitutional conservatism” and “neo-conservatism” also lie within this same historical horizon, though they, like all other “real existing” liberalisms if perhaps sometimes more self-consciously, often seek to integrate diverse pre- or extra-liberal contents, such as traditional religion or a quasi-religious American nationalism, within a broadly liberal, modern, and democratic project: In the present era even those who seek to situate themselves beyond the liberal and chiefly liberal democratic horizon, but within the horizon of the evolving international system, must do so in relationship to liberalism, not merely as a philosophical or intellectual task, but in response to the political-economic and cultural influence of the liberal democratic states.
Libertarianism is infant liberal-democracy, the arrested development of the polity fixated at the level of the pre-socialized or socialization-resistant individual – the pre-dialogical, self-sufficient, natural “I-atheist.”
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In the libertarian imagination or, as Professor Hanley prefers, the libertarian psyche, the reduction in the power of government (or “government”) means an increase in power for each libertarian or for the individual, which latter, as individuality, is presented as an ideal, but which each individual knows exclusively and therefore universally only through and as him- or herself. The libertarians do not recognize popularly sovereign liberal-democratic government as an extension of themselves, or, put more precisely, of this self. They may exploit or even admire democratic impulses and particular constitutional traditions, but their views are in this sense profoundly anti-democratic and constitutionally anti-constitutional.
Preliminary list supplementing a set of posts at Ordinary Times, whose publication I expect to occur shortly, and which began as a comment on the question of a “libertarian moment” in American politics – whether it ever occurred at all and whether…
Libertarianism and the Left, and the more general problem for metaphysically individualist liberalism.
The necessary transtemporal and social re-construction of the identity of the individual is a process we conventionally define as a matter of “religion,” and a common materialist explanation of religion refers precisely its utility as coordination solution, and so we’re back to where we began, with the littlest possible story, of one person and his or her desires and needs somehow to be related to the self-organization of a global mass of 7 billion souls, via political theology.