Mercer returns to the fold

Several years ago Ilana Mercer, disgusted with the idiocies of her fellow libertarians, declared that she was not a libertarian but a classical liberal. In fact I think she said this to me herself at some point. Her main concern, as I remember, was the national question: libertarians were unwilling and unable to defend the nation. Therefore if she was to defend nationhood, she needed to identify with classical liberalism which, as she saw it, accommodated the nation instead of denying it. However, I now notice that in her weekly e-mail, which I receive, she describes herself as:

ILANA MERCER, libertarian thinker, essayist, columnist, author and blogger.

I went to her site, and the same logo and self-description are there as well.

Seems like a step backward to me. Declaring that you’re a libertarian is like saying, “I refuse as a matter of principle to understand the world as it is. I look at everything through the prism of an ideology that blocks out vast sectors of human reality.”

In any case, both classical liberals and libertarians are types of liberals. Classical liberals and libertarians are against big government because they see the state as the main threat to equal freedom. Progressive, New Deal, and Labor liberals support big government because they see it as the main guarantor of equal freedom. And modern liberals support the elimination of all discrimination because they see that as the main guarantor of equal freedom. All three types of liberal are primarily concerned with the advance of equal freedom, not with the culture, the way of life, and the transcendent moral order that makes freedom possible—the moral order without which freedom is nihilism.

In any case, Mercer had articulate reasons for ceasing to call herself a libertarian. I wonder if she has also stated her reasons for returning to her old label.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 17, 2009 12:13 PM | Send

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