Progressive Libertarianism

2002-02-23

Until reading Will Wilkinson's blog entry Libertarianism: Left and Right just now, I didn't know that he had used the term "progressive libertarian". Great minds think alike? I made up the term on the spot to describe what I think is common between his approach and mine. As I've mentioned before, I'm uncomfortable with the conservative bias of many libertarians and of the Libertarian Party. What in an earlier blog entry I called urban libertarianism is better labelled progressive libertarianism. Many libertarians, Ayn Rand included, hearken back to a supposed golden age (usually the 19th century) when all was right in the world (or at least in America). Um, hello? The 19th century wasn't a bad time to be alive for the most part, but even in the U.S.A. it was not an ideal society -- especially not if you were black, Hispanic, Asian, or even Italian or Irish -- let alone a woman!

Despite the protestations of libertarian traditionalists, we have made great progress in the last 100-150 years, not just technologically but also socially and ethically. And a great deal of that progress has been brought about by folks who used to be called "progressives" -- abolitionists, suffragists, civil rights advocates, and the like. The fact that some of those movements became stale and in some cases positively regressive does not discredit the progressive impulse -- in fact, it leaves the door open to a new kind of progressivism: a libertarian progressivism which recognizes that personal freedom is the most radical progenitor of human progress. The old-line progressives used to argue that "If you want peace, work for justice." The new, libertarian progressives take that one step farther by proclaiming that "If you want justice, work for freedom."


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal