Tag-arkiv: ideologi

Drømmer jeg? Eller er jeg død? II

Forleden havde Michael Lind fra tænketanken New America Foundation en tankevækkende, omend for mange af os meget deprimerende artikel i Financial Times: “The unmourned end of libertarian politics”. Budskabet (der nedenfor gengives in extenso) er i sin enkelhed, at den klassiske liberale/nyliberalisme/libertarianisme–kald det hvad I vil–som har præget megen politik i de seneste årtier (og de fleste læsere af denne blog) er afgået ved døden som politisk kraft.  Den bliver presset af centripetale kræfter langs den traditionelle højre-venstre skala og af en centrifugal kraft på en ny globaliserings/anti-globaliserings dimension, og i dét slagsmål er der ikke plads til, hvad man her på stedet nok kunne kalde Mises-Hayek-Friedman-Rand-Nozick-Rothbard tænkning eller for den sags skyld Goldwater-Thatcher-Reagan retorik.

Jeg køber ikke selv ræsonnementet, og det hører med til historien, at Michael Lind ikke er, hvad en af vor tids største filosoffer–Tony Soprano–ville kalde “a friend of ours”; han er en slags Clintonistisk “third way” skribent, og der er i hans artikel alt for meget deterministisk “Titanic-logik” (som vores værdsatte eks-punditokrat Mikael Bonde Nielsen ville kalde det).  Men han er ikke dum, og der er noget om snakken.  Så giv artiklen en læsning og find på nogle gode svar …

“The unmourned end of libertarian politics

The most epochal event in world politics since the cold war has occurred – and few people have noticed. I am not referring to the conflict in Iraq or Lebanon or the campaign against terrorism.

It is the utter and final defeat of the movement that has shaped the politics of the US and other western democracies for several decades: the libertarian counter-revolution.

Between the 1930s and 1960s, the US and other liberal democracies adopted their own versions of modern welfare state capitalism. By the mid-20th century, in every western democracy, the legitimacy of the welfare state was accepted by mainstream parties of the right as well as the centre and left. But not by the libertarians. Unlike Eisenhower, Nixon and other “modern Republicans”, America’s libertarians did not seek a more fiscally responsible welfare state. They wanted to abolish the welfare state altogether and replace it with an “opportunity society” or “ownership society”. They were revolutionaries – or more precisely, counter-revolutionaries, seeking to restore an idealised Victorian world of laisser faire capitalism.

The libertarians launched a massive intellectual and rhetorical assault on modern government from the 1970s onward. Their formidable forces included influential economists such as Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize winner, and Martin Feldstein, who chaired Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers; think-tanks such as the Cato Institute; and affluent pressure groups such as the Club for Growth and Americans for Tax Reform, whose leader, Grover Norquist, famously said that government should be shrunk until it can be drowned in a bathtub.

Libertarians proposed to privatise Social Security, replacing government pensions with individual savings accounts. Healthcare, too, would be provided by individual “health savings accounts”. Public education, a legacy of the 19th century, was another target of the libertarian counter-revolutionaries, who proposed giving citizens vouchers for private schools. The libertarians also targeted labour market regulation, calling for abolition of the minimum wage. This would be combined with mass immigration, which would drive down wages further.

In the mid-20th century, welfare-statism was the “third way” between democratic socialism on the left and big-government conservatism that accepted the welfare state but sought to limit its costs. But in the 1970s and 1980s, the political spectrum shifted to the right. Not only communism but also democratic socialism vanished as plausible options because people no longer believed that the nationalisation of whole economies made any sense. At the same time, moderate conservatives who had made their peace with the welfare state were outflanked on the right by the radical libertarians.

Suddenly the former political “centre”, social democratic welfare-state capitalism, was redefined as the “left” and the former “right”, big-government conservatism, was now considered the “centre”. In the 1990s, the term “third way” meant, not Swedish social democracy, but the pro-market “neo-liberalism” of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, which would have been considered moderate conservatism in the 1950s . In the US, the Democratic Leadership Council echoed the free-market, small-government rhetoric of the libertarian radicals. “The era of big government is over,” Mr Clinton declared. But he spoke too soon. In the past decade, the US public has rejected every element of the libertarian counter-revolution. The first proposal voters rejected was the privatisation of schooling. Because US education policy is dominated by states and cities, this issue was fought at the local level. It turned out that most conservative Republicans as well as Democrats were content with their suburban public schools. Again and again, voucher proposals went down to defeat.

President George W. Bush made Social Security privatisation a central part of his legislative agenda. Americans, alarmed by the stock market slide, rejected the idea and frightened Republican politicians dropped it. Neither has the Bush administration exerted itself over another libertarian proposal, health savings accounts, which almost certainly would be rejected by risk-averse voters. Indeed, to the horror of libertarians, Mr Bush and the Republican Congress created the prescription drug programme for the elderly, the biggest expansion of socialised medicine in the US since Lyndon Johnson presided over the creation of Medicare in 1965.

And the labour market? Here again, the libertarians have been completely routed. Against libertarian opposition, Congressional Republicans recently sought an increase in the minimum wage, coupled with cuts in the estate tax. And against libertarian opposition, swelling popular demand for an end to illegal immigration has forced both parties to support measures to police America’s chaotic borders.

For nearly a decade, the Republican party has controlled Washington and most state legislatures. And yet every big proposal of the libertarians has been rejected by the public and their elected representatives. Their only temporary achievement has been tax cuts, which are likely to be rolled back at least in part to reduce the deficit in the years ahead. With the disappearance as a significant force of the libertarian right, the centre of gravity inevitably will shift somewhat left in matters of political economy. But we will not see a restoration of the mid-20th century pattern because there will be no revival of the socialist left. The demise of both socialism and libertarianism pretty much limits the field to moderate social democracy and big-government conservatism. The limitation of options on the horizontal left-right spectrum is accompanied, however, by a growing vertical, top-bottom divide between an elite committed to globalisation and mass immigration and a populist, nationalist majority. If this replaces the older horizontal left-right divide, then we may see a third, “third way” – one which positions itself between the crudest forms of populism and utopian forms of transnationalism.

The libertarian moment has passed. It will not come again, and its defeat as a force in US politics will change the definitions of right, left and centre – not just in the US but also, the world.”

Lad ideerne blomstre

I 80’erne lod mange borgerlige intellektuelle sig inspirere af de såkaldt nye franske filosoffer, fordi de forekom at være befriende direkte i deres kritik af totalitarismen. Det drejede sig bl.a. om Bernard-Henri Lévy, der med La Barbarie à visage humain (1979) for alvor manifesterede sig som en ledende kritiker af den røde fascisme. Hans tanker nåede ret hurtigt et dansk publikum, da hans bog samme år blev fornemt oversat til dansk af David Gress. Og hans ressonementer blev videreført og bearbejdet af André Glucksmann; en anden navnkundig fransk filosof, der med La force du vertige (1983) angreb de europæiske fredsbevægelsers naivitet og hyllede atombomben som en fredsbevarende indretning. Og det blev ikke ved bøgerne. De for datiden så provokerende tanker blev gjort til genstand for omfattende analyse og debat i Weekendavisen, under Jørgen Schleimanns ledelse, og i Tidsskriftet Epoke, der blev udgivet af Jyllands-Posten og redigeret af Flemming Christian Nielsen.

Lad det være sagt med det samme; jeg læste de omtalte bøger og opfølgende artikler med stor fornøjelse og glædede mig over, at der i det mindste kunne mobiliseres en anelse ideologisk engagement blandt borgerlige meningsdannere. Da Levy i 1984 romandebuterede med Le Diable en tête ventede jeg utålmodigt til den forelå i dansk oversættelse (I djævlens vold, 1985) og købte straks 5 eksemplar til uddeling blandt venner. For i denne formåede Levy på original vis at skildre den paradoksale kendsgerning, at nazisternes børn ? indlejret i terrorceller af venstresocialistisk tilsnit ? også søgte at eskamotere jøder fra jordens overflade, under dække af at det handlede om palæstinensisk befrielseskamp.

Den idétradition, der opstod i kølvandet på de nye franske filosoffer, rummede desværre også det fortvivlende budskab, at ideer er betænkeligt farlige. Og adskillige borgerlige intellektuelle stod da også nærmest i kø for at afsværge enhver tilknytning til ideologier, idealer eller utopier. Derfor blev borgerlighed synonym for anti-holdninger, hvis eksistens ene og alene var betinget af venstrefløjens idéudvikling. Da den gik i sig selv, døde den ideologiske debat, hvilket de teknokratiske 90’ere vel på mange måder er en bekræftende lære om.

De ny-gamle franske filosoffer er fortsat aktive. Men efter murens fald har de ikke formået at bringe sig selv ud af anti-holdningernes mentale spændetrøje. De berettigede fjendebilleder fra Den Kolde Krig er i stedet skiftet ud med enigmatiske og konspiratoriske modforestillinger om muslimer, hvilket delvist kommer til udtryk i Levy’s Who Killed Daniel Pearl? hvor det faktuelle er lige så formeligt som i The Da Vinci Code af Dan Brown.

Mit ærinde med dette skræp er ikke at problematisere anti-holdningernes lejlighedsvise behørighed, men at argumentere for ideernes og idealernes nødvendighed. For når jeg hører borgerligt sindede mennesker udtale, at de søreme ikke kan begribe, at intellektuelle er så venstreorienterede, så får jeg lyst til at skrige: “Det er fordi vi borgerlige har kriminaliseret enhver form for idéudvikling og overladt det til de røde at tænke stort”. Men der er en generation på vej, der har mod på at bryde med denne åndelige træghed; nerve og hjerne til at formulere et liberalt alternativ, der hviler på egne præmisser og som ikke er kritisk afhængig af socialismens dysfunktioner. Giv dem for pokker noget plads og lad ideerne blomstre.

Ugens citat: Andrew Sullivan om amerikansk konservatisme

Den britisk-amerikanske skribent og super-blogger Andrew Sullivan giver i artiklen “Crisis of Faith” i det nyeste nummer af sit gamle blad, The New Republic, denne opsang til amerikansk konservatisme:

“Conservatism isn’t over. But it has rarely been as confused. Today’s conservatives support limited government. But they believe the federal government can intervene in a state court’s decisions in a single family’s struggle over life and death. They believe in restraining government spending. But they have increased such spending by a mind-boggling 33 percent in a mere four years. They believe in self-reliance. But they have just passed the most expensive new entitlement since the heyday of Great Society liberalism: the Medicare prescription-drug benefit. They believe that foreign policy is about the pursuit of national interest and that the military should be used only to fight and win wars. Yet they have embarked on an extraordinarily ambitious program of military-led nation-building in the Middle East. They believe in states’ rights, but they want to amend the Constitution to forbid any state from allowing civil marriage or equivalent civil unions for gay couples. They believe in free trade. But they have imposed tariffs on a number of industries, most famously steel. They believe in balanced budgets. But they have abandoned fiscal discipline and added a cool trillion dollars to the national debt in one presidential term.
One reason for conservatism’s endurance in the face of such contradiction, of course, is the extreme weakness–intellectual and organizational–of the opposition.”

Så er dét sagt–men der er mere, og specielt Sullivans distinktion mellem “Conservatives of Faith” og “Conservatives of Doubt” er interessant og tankevækkende, og den kan uden store problemer læses som en slags advarsel udstrækkende sig til, hvad der kan ske med f.eks. danske borgerligt-liberale, når de sætter sig på statsapparatet.

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