An Illiberal Liberal

Brad DeLong writes that “America’s best hope for sane technocratic governance required the elimination of the Republican Party from our political system as rapidly as possible.”

There are two things wrong with that statement. One is that he wants a technocratic government. Top-down. Orderly. Planned. But we live in a bottom-up world. Everything from language to Wikipedia to the economy itself is is a spontaneous order. They grow and evolve despite, not because of, direction from above. The most beautiful designs have no designer.

The other flaw is that DeLong favors a one-party state. Such regimes have been tried many times over the years. The results have rarely been humane.

I am neither conservative nor a Republican. But I sure am glad that America has two parties instead of one. That second party is proof that some people can’t shut other people out of the political discourse simply for disagreeing. Freedom of speech and thought are thought are the cornerstones of a liberal society. DeLong rejects them at our peril.

On the traditional left-right spectrum, DeLong is on the left side. But that never has been an accurate way of identifying ideologies. A progressive should never be mistaken for a liberal. Yet most people make that mistake every day.

I’ve written before that Bush and Obama’s policies differ in degree, but not in kind. They are amazingly similar, both in domestic and foreign policy. Yet people insist on calling one a conservative, and the other a progressive. They are placed at opposite ends of the spectrum. How curious. How inaccurate.

A more accurate dichotomy than progressive-conservative is liberal-illiberal. I’m a proud liberal; DeLong might be surprised to find his illiberalism nestled right next to his detested George W. Bush.