Cato dialog on Tom Palmer’s new book

Here is a YouTube of Tom Palmer presenting his new book, with yours truly commenting, at the Cato Institute.  David Boaz summarizes part of my comment.  Here is my previous post on Tom's new book and the book, Realizing Liberty, is available for purchase on-line,  Tom points us to this podcast of him criticizing me; his comment reflects some of the differences in our points of view.

One question in the dialog was to what extent an adherence to liberty — at the level of an entire polity — is likely to be culturally specific.  I see pro-liberty ideas as more likely to be Anglo-American than Tom does or at least more northwestern European.  It is for this reason, I think, that he favors free immigration whereas I, although very pro-immigration relative to the political debate, favor legal limits in many cases, including the United States, Switzerland, and Iceland.  

A second question is to what extent ideas about liberty can be supported without encouraging "the paranoid style" in American politics.  Too often advocacy of individual liberty ends up bundled with the paranoid style of reasoning and overly simple good vs. evil narratives.  I have yet to see a good explanation for why.

Overall I am more suspicious of "ideology" than is Tom.  He sees ideology as having driven many very beneficial social movements, such as the abolition of slavery.  I accept that point but still fear that ideological reasoning is likely to end up biased away from an emphasis on abstract concepts.  That will mean ideology is often useful for ending very concrete social injustices, but that ideology is unlikely to bring people to a deep understanding of "better economics," especially when the distinction between the seen and unseen is important.  The strongest ideologies also tend to be nationalistic.


Comments for this post are closed