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Letter to the New York Times Books Review

A theme that runs with approval throughout Jonathan Alter’s review of recent books on modern “liberalism” is that “liberals,” in contrast to their mindless Cro-Magnon opposites, overflow with ideas (“The State of Liberalism,” Oct. 24).

Indeed they do.  But these ideas are almost exclusively about how other people should live their lives.  These are ideas about how one group of people (the politically successful) should engineer everyone else’s contracts, social relations, diets, habits, and even moral sentiments.

Put differently, modern “liberalism’s” ideas are about replacing an unimaginably large multitude of diverse and competing ideas – each one individually chosen, practiced, assessed, and modified in light of what F.A. Hayek called “the particular circumstances of time and place” – with a relatively paltry set of ‘Big Ideas’ that are politically selected, centrally imposed, and enforced not by the natural give, take, and compromise of the everyday interactions of millions of people but, rather, by guns wielded by those whose overriding ‘idea’ is among the most simple-minded and antediluvian notions in history, namely, that those with the power of the sword are anointed to lord it over the rest of us.

Donald J. Boudreaux

H/T Cafe Hayek


  1. steng says:

    Indeed yes. The ‘Big Idea’ for the libs is always to control others, so that the person who has the ‘idea’ will be duly praised, pampered and ultimately get someone else to do the shit for them.

  2. Lynne says:

    I say we should all take up our Cro Magnon clubs, spears and axes and beat the shit out of them…

  3. Is this the current US meaning of “liberal”? If so, they should be congratulated on managing to turn a word into its opposite.

  4. Paul Marks says:

    Endivio Roquefort – it is, and has been for many decades.

    However, I think too many pro freedom people waste their lives trying to communicate with the New York Times (and other such).

    Do not waste time reading their stuff or watching their shows (on “mainstream” television). Concentrate on reading what is worth reading and engaging in discussion with people who are broadly pro freedom (although we differ with each other on X, Y, Z, points). Do not concentrate on reaching out to the elite.

    They are statists and we are not – they see the world their way and we see it our way.

    We are not going to convince them (about anything) – so the whole thing is a waste of time and effort.

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