'Liberals' Aren't Liberal

Have you read Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom?  It is the little book that became a surprise bestseller and inspired Reagan and Thatcher.  In it, Hayek demonstrated that allowing the government to acquire increased control over the economy would inevitably lead to the loss of liberty.

Over at The Federalist, Robert Tracinski, without mentioning Hayek, makes Hayek’s argument in a few hundred well-chosen words. 

…the power to control our economic lives contains within it the power to control everything else.

Why does [a liberal] presume that the government has the right to force the Hitching Post in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, to perform gay weddings? Because it is a business rather than a non-profit organization. In the worldview of the so-called liberal, to engage in commerce is to deliver yourself bound hand-and-foot to the state.


All aspects of human life find an expression in commerce, so if you regulate that, you regulate everything. Which they are now happily proceeding to do.

That’s why it has been such a long time since I’ve encountered a “liberal” who is still liberal in any meaningful sense.

Tracinski is correct to put quotation marks around “liberal.”  Today’s “liberals” aren’t liberal; they are really progressives.  Progressives reject the Constitution and the limited government of the Founders.   

What inspired Marx was his apocalyptic vision of a violent revolution that would sweep away the social order he hated.  His muddled “scientific” economics was his rationale for the revolution that was his real passion.  The progressives decided that Marx was wrong that revolution was the way forward, at least in countries where people have the vote.  They decided that the better way was little by little – progressively.  As much as Bill Ayers loved the idea of a bloody revolution, he ended up working to overthrow the system he despises as a professor of education

The progressives have always understood that a government with the power to intervene in the economy is the most important prize.  That is why Nancy Pelosi was willing to sacrifice colleagues whose votes had given her the speaker’s gavel in order to impose Obamacare on America.

If you haven’t yet read Hayek’s book, perhaps Tracinski’s essay will inspire you to do so.  The good news is that the book is as readable and well-written as the essay.

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