sexta-feira, 23 de março de 2007

Estratégia Liberal

O assunto começa agora a objecto de reflexão, incluindo a velha questão "partidária". Coloco este texto para discordar (mais tarde comento), mas parece-me importante como ponto de discussão.

Libertarianism or Liberty?, Tom Palmer

"Brian’s book is a remarkable accomplishment and I salute him for it. It’s serious social history (although I do have a few reservations). It offers a satisfying mix of political history, biography, intellectual history and exposition, and evaluation of impact. And it’s fun to read.
Brink and Tyler have pointed out the challenges libertarians face in the first decade of the 21st century. I’ll be a bit more confrontational and start by strongly disagreeing with the conclusion to Brian’s essay, according to which

Leonard Read was right: Ultimately, we will have a libertarian world when most people want one (not to say that educated elites cannot make decent progress in a libertarian direction without prior mass support).

If that were true, liberty would certainly be doomed. (I’ll set aside – but only for the moment – the semantic distinction between a world in which people enjoy liberty and a “libertarian world.”) The claim that you can only achieve liberty when most people consciously want liberty is, in my opinion, as misguided as the claim that markets only function effectively when people understand how they work. The remarkable thing about market processes is that they economize on knowledge; they don’t require the participants to know how the system works for them to make use of it. If markets were effective at promoting coordination only if all of the participants were economists, human beings would still be living in small hunter-gatherer bands, or extinct.

At the root of what I see as Brian’s error is a confusion of two related projects: the promotion of liberty and the promotion of libertarianism, i.e., the theory that liberty should be the primary (or overriding) goal of a political order. The latter, to the extent one should want to promote it, would be valuable not for its own sake (unless promoting political theories were one’s hobby), but solely as a means to the end of promoting liberty, the value that is at the center of libertarianism. One way to promote liberty is surely to promote libertarianism, but it’s surely also not the only way.

The question of whether one is promoting liberty or libertarianism has been with libertarians for some time. Is it “selling out” one’s principles to promote incremental moves toward liberty without announcing at the same time one’s commitment to a world completely free of coercion, or of the institutions of coercion? (I was a participant in that debate [pdf] — somewhat to my embarrassment three decades later — when I wrote several essays on the topic in various 1970s journals, including the Libertarian Forum.)

Some libertarians were unhappy admitting it (notably Murray Rothbard, who promoted a “cadre” theory of social change), but the libertarian movement can indeed be successful in promoting liberty without at the same time making libertarianism, as a consciously held doctrine of justice and political and social order, the dominant ideology of a time or place. "

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