neo-classical liberalism: an idea whose time has come….

Classical libertarianism, per Wikipedia, “…is a political philosophy that upholds liberty as its principal objective. Libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and freedom of choice, emphasizing political freedom, voluntary association, and the primacy of individual judgment.”

By ann summers

What would a neo-classical libertarianism look like and could it resemble a neo-classical liberalism? Could some of us liberals, progressives, and democratic socialists be neoclassical libertarians(sic) since the use of state power for liberals and progressives is selective for many people in terms of consent and representation: a social safety net and the use of force (in all things, scale counts). This of course is in contrast to a RW conservatism so afraid of democracy that the US is a republic that is stood for by flags (as in the pledge of allegiance) and nativism rather than actions like compassion. Why else would they need to specify a “compassionate conservatism” implying one devoid of compassion.

If such a neologism works at all it is because the Left’s version of the use of state power to correct moral injustice is so clearly driven by democratic ideals of pluralism rather than the RW ideological mania over fetal personhood and fear of some imagined foreign Other by its principal agents: large capitalists and megalomaniacs. Those same RWNJs also seem to believe that suffrage was a bad idea and that apartheid wasn’t really given enough time.

Fracturing this dichotomous selectivity are those liberals who would demilitarize the police and disarm civilians and those who know that even in a just society at this moment in history, pathological hatred of race, class and gender can still breed. “Why can’t we all just get along” Or maybe we on the left are just Romantic “cock-eyed optimists”. Or just classical liberals. The issue is much like modernism, is neoclassicism a sequential, even stylistic category for time periods or taxonomies, or is it a way of thinking about our sense of a material world, conflicted by idealisms

An example of those who fail to understand the difference or play between literal and figurative have tried to even rehabilitate a libertarian use of neoclassical economics

Government cannot correct market failure reliably or systematically. In fact, it is a major source of inefficiency. Thus, the neoclassical concept of efficiency, rather than providing an open-ended justification for all sorts of government intervention, instead provides one of the most powerful and comprehensive objections to government coercion in general. http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1029&context=jeffrey_hummel

Not to be confused with neoliberalism which is what makes so many queasy with the putative Democratic nominee HRC as the anti-Warren what with HRC’s connection to centrists (the DLC connection), noting that progressives largely agree with this criticism of neoliberalism which more resembles the Bernie Sanders position:

The least controversial aspect of neoliberalism has often been presented by modern economists critical of neoliberalism’s role in the world economic system. Among these economists, the chief voices of dissent are Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman. Both use arguments about market failure to justify their views on neoliberalism. They argue that when markets are imperfect (which is to say all markets everywhere to some degree), then they can fail and may not work as neoliberals predict, resulting in some form of crony capitalism.

And neoclassical art is associated with many things not the least of which is violent revolution in France and the rise of a public, official art which in the case of the state power of public images and spectacle, signal the rise of political communication in the public sphere using public media.

Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the “classical” art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome. Neoclassicism was born in Rome in the mid-18th century, but its popularity spread all over Europe, as a generation of European art students finished their Grand Tour and returned from Italy to their home countries with newly rediscovered Greco-Roman ideals. The main Neoclassical movement coincided with the 18th century Age of Enlightenment, and continued into the early 19th century, latterly competing with Romanticism. In architecture, the style continued throughout the 19th, 20th and up to the 21st century.

Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825)
Les Licteurs rapportant à Brutus les corps de ses fils
(English: The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons)


(2004) Photographs of military coffins draped in the stars and stripes were today published in the US for the first time since the start of the war in Iraq following a successful legal challenge to a ban on publishing images of dead soldiers’ homecomings.

News organisations have been barred from showing images of the return of the bodies of soldiers killed in action since the start of the war in Iraq under a controversial government edict.

DOVER, DEL. An undated Defense Department photo released in 2004. Credit Thememoryhole.org, via Associated Press

DOVER, DEL. An undated Defense Department photo released in 2004. Credit Thememoryhole.org, via Associated Press



But the controversial ban was lifted temporarily this week after thememoryhole.org, a website dedicated to combating government secrecy, mounted a successful legal challenge under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Pentagon was forced to release hundreds of photographs, which immediately appeared on the site yesterday and quickly made their way to news organisations.

Two of America’s biggest broadcasters, ABC and NBC, featured the photographs on their news bulletins last night, and a hard-hitting image showing rows of military coffins is featured on today’s front pages of both the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The US government edict, issued at the start of the war last March, stated that there would be “no arrival ceremonies of, or media coverage of, deceased military personnel returning to or arriving from” air bases.

The Pentagon claimed a ban was put in place during the first Gulf war, although according to an article in today’s New York Times the policy was “not consistently followed” during that conflict.

But the secrecy surrounding the return of soldiers killed in Iraq over the past 12 months has been such that media organisations did not even know the photographs, taken by defence department photographers, even existed.

This entry was posted in American History, Art, Capitalism, Conservatives, Economic Policy, Economics, Enlightenment, History, Industrial Revolution, Liberals, Libertarians, Media, Neoconservatives, Neoliberals, Philosophy, Political Science, Politics, Renaissance, Socialism, United States, World History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to neo-classical liberalism: an idea whose time has come….

  1. Oro Lee,
    You don’t really want me to start in on State licensing and certification boards. I am good for a long and righteous rant about that. FWIW, the lawsuit against the Kentucky Psychology Board is still pending in Federal District Court. That is the one where the licensing board could not distinguish between a newspaper columnist and an out of state psychologist setting up a practice clinic.

    Also, I am still waiting for some kind of response from Bron regarding my hypothetical, which isn’t really so much a hypothetical as a mashup of the kind of cases that come through all Emergency Departments on a regular basis.

  2. Ann Summers and Chuck Stanley, from a political standpoint, I would classify myself as a Constitutionalist/Libertarian kind of guy. I believe in law and order, however, I don’t think we need to be micromanaged by our government.

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