Blogs > Liberty and Power > Orwell and Guiliani

Aug 12, 2007 3:32 pm

Orwell and Guiliani

Given Randy Barnett's claims to still be a libertarian and also to like Giuliani, I wonder what he and those who defend him think of the following quotation by hizzoner:

“Freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.”



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Gus diZerega - 8/13/2007

Rudy is giving us a false dichotomy on freedom - a prime tactic of fascists and other totalitarians. Extreme license or havi8ng authority severely limit your choices.

These are exceptionally dangerous times with a significant internal totalitarian movement in this country. I think ANY so-called classical liberal or libertarian who plays any kind of footsie with these people should be censured as strongly as possible. That someone with Barnett's reputation could first publicly support the war in the way he did, and second, say nice things about Giuliani, is one of the reasons I think there is something fundamentally incoherent in much classical liberal thought. My post on hierarchy - expanded on my own blog here:

and here:

is my best effort so far to understand what went wrong.

My guess is the roots of the problem lie in the period when classical liberals allied themselves with conservatives during the Progressive era and immediately after. Liberalism split then, and I t5hink no side of the split has been a reliable defender of liberty since then.

Tim Sydney - 8/13/2007

About the only positive thing I can say about Rudy is that he is weirdly consistent, afterall his doublethink rudyspeak is perfectly matched by his doublethink private life. After all marrying someone and then "discovering" some time later that she was your cousin, and thus due for an enulment and replacement by a younger model, must require some kind of special mental faculty. So does being a public war hawk and private draft dodger. And so does, I suspect, being Mr. Law and Order in public but having a cousin shot by the cops.

See 'The Smoking Gun' here.

Steven Horwitz - 8/12/2007

Well, Gus...

First, just because someone "defended" Randy hardly means he or she agrees with Randy's views about Rudy. One could have defended Randy's substantive argument about the war (I did not) or have defended the point that he should still be counted as a libertarian (which I did). And the latter position is irrelevant to Randy's views on Rudy, so the implication in your post that the "defenders" have something to answer for here is off base.

Second, although I think Rudy is pretty awful there, I do think that it's true that "freedom" in the classical liberal sense does not mean the freedom to do whatever one wants. After all, our freedoms are limited by legitimate authority in the form of laws protecting person and property. And I would also argue that our metaphysical freedom is limited by social institutions that guide and narrow our behavior in all kinds of ways. I wrote about this in the context of "Hayek and Freedom" in the Freeman awhile back.

I'm not defending Rudy here, but I do agree with the idea that freedom in any meaningful sense does require that we "submit to the authority" of social institutions (and I don't mean the state here) that, by guiding and limiting our choices, enable us to better predict the behavior of others, enhancing our freedom in a larger sense.