From The Adam Smith Institute

So it’s official. As of today we are no longer a libertarian think tank. We’re neoliberals. And maybe you are too.

Here is the link.  Here Sam Bowman, the Executive Director, explains:

And I think to most people in Britain the word libertarian connotes a sort of unflexible extremeness – a preoccupation with hard-and-fast rules over policies that actually make people’s lives better. It was this misconception that allowed the Prime Minister get away with equating the libertarian right with the socialist left, as if the two were somehow comparable…

So in embracing the term neoliberal, we’re hoping that we’re being a little clearer about what we already believe in and do. We fight for free markets, property rights, globalisation and an open society, all based on real-world evidence. Those are what have given us the rich, peaceful, prosperous world we live in, and with more of them we can help to make things even better. It’s time for us neoliberals to start going on the offensive and fight for the world we have helped to create.

I do not have sufficient background on the situation to parse this, but perhaps it is also one way of signaling that they are anti-Brexit, and the word libertarian would not do that, and might even suggest they favored Brexit as a means for arriving at a more libertarian society (which by the way is not how things are running).  A neoliberal one would think favors arrangements for free trade and migration.

Addendum: Here is their home page.

Comments

Tyler, I think your extrapolation is to a particular, not the general message, which is they're adapting to the terminology of the current time. An example would be the terms Liberal and Conservative, in the USA, today, mean the exact opposite of what they did in John Locke's time.

"the terms Liberal and Conservative, in the USA, today, mean the exact opposite of what they did in John Locke’s time"

I think it is more a 90º rotation than the "exact opposite" (in the Nolan Chart, probably old Whigs will be in the Libertarian quarter and old Tories in the Authoritarian quarter).

The endless spawning of political labels is much like the endless splintering of religious factions... as adherents obsess over trivial ideological issues.

The longstanding Left/Right labeling still serves extremely well in correctly categorizing a person's basic point of view (collectivist versus individualist). Finer distinctions are much less significant.

Even simpler is the dividing line between those who generally trust government... and those who do not.

Ideologies mostly seem to be neurotic ways of chasing idealistic fantasies, avoiding reality, ignoring the tiresome details of what is actually going on around us, and bashing one's political enemies.

Most people don't trust government in the U.S. now. Most, but not all, of that is a result of Right Wing anti-government propaganda that started decades ago, with Newt Gingrich. It inevitably ended up with the candidacy of Donald Trump-- which has no consistent policies whatsoever, but consists mostly of angry bashing of the political establishment.

http://www.vox.com/2016/5/6/11598838/donald-trump-predictions-norm-ornstein

Your second paragraph is hilarious in light of your first.

I thing that I wrote some time ago:

«Decades of movies from "liberal" directors and actors, showing conspiracies of the CIA, cops framing innocents, tyrannical prison directors, and corrupt local mayors (probably connected to powerful corporations) perhaps created more public distrust in government than the papers by conservative and libertarian economists about the inefficiencies of state intervention»

I am aware that they can seem contradictory to a Right Wing ideologue. And yet they are both true. Right Wing ideologies, as well as other ideologies, do ignore the tiresome details of what is actually going on around us, and do bash their political enemies. In fact, the Right Wing is far better at doing that than the Left is. The biggest fault of the Right is that it is toxic, rageful, vindictive and obnoxious-- like Donald Trump, although he is just a bit more extreme than the average. The biggest flaw of the Left is that, with the exception of a few SJWs, the Left is so nice as to be doormat like.

I am sure you did not read the article I cited. Because hey, why look at realities, history, details etc., right? You know your own ideology is perfect, and that any criticism of it must be wrong.

I'm changing my political label to "ipsum liberal" or actual liberal. So yes I am in favor of all peoiple bashing the government for whatever reason...government deserves it.

A man was standing off the edge of the Sydney Harbour Bridge --about to jump. A passer-by tried to talk him down; he asked: "well, are you a Christian?" to which the man answered "Yes."

He exclaimed: "Great, me too; what kind of Christian are you? Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant?" The answer was: "Protestant."

"Me too; what kind of Protestant? Anglican, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Pentecostal?" The man said Pentecostal, and the traveller got excited: "Me too; are you an initial evidence or a third wave Pentecostal?" "Initial evidence."

"Me too; what kind of initial evidence? Are you a AOG, CRC, COC, CCC?" "AOG."

Now, he got really excited: "Me too; are you Premillenial, Post Millenial or Amillenial?" The guy on the bridge said: "Amillenial" and with that the passer-by, becoming very angry, screamed: "Die, heretic!" and pushed him off the bridge.

Good one there, Sam.

Gabe, you will be a member of a larger group, if that appeals to you, if you just call yourself Bashist. Almost everyone is a Bashist nowadays-- a person who thinks that problems are best solved by just generally bashing a person or an institution, like government or media, rather than by getting into the details of what is wrong and how to fix it..

Shows what they know, it's possible to fall from that bridge and live; it happened to one of the construction workers.

Sam, you know its impossible to 'push' someone off the Harbour Bridge

http://i.stack.imgur.com/Nqiw8.jpg

"The longstanding Left/Right labeling still serves extremely well in correctly categorizing a person’s basic point of view (collectivist versus individualist)"

The longstanding division where you have, in one side, anarchists, communists, social-democrats ("liberals" in USA) and anti-clerical republicans, and on the other side, classic liberals, christian-democrats, Burkean conservatives, "throne-and-altar" traditionalists, ultramontan Catholics, fascists and national-socialists?

There's a reverse causality here I think. The "longstanding Left/Right labeling" works well mostly because we've for a long while had two large political organizations whose main goals were to get people to identify along that spectrum as strictly as possible. People then choose a side and for things they don't really have a strong opinion about, they form an opinion in line with their "side". And now there are media organizations that also largely benefit from people identifying along that spectrum, so they push it as well.

OTOH, if you look at people that have heterogeneous views and ask how well "longstanding Left/Right labeling" describes those, it doesn't look very useful. Basically, lots of people conform to the Left/Right spectrum but that's mostly tribal stuff. You actually struggle to find philosophical view points that make sense when interpreted along that axis. The choosing of labels like "neoliberal" is a deliberate attempt to break away from that spectrum.

"Basically, lots of people conform to the Left/Right spectrum but that’s mostly tribal stuff."

Yes, whether Right, Left, or neoliberal, it's all about identifying with tribes. And in order to identify with your tribe, it helps to have spokespeople who tell you what to think about things you didn't have an opinion about before, and to direct your feelings of frustration, resentments etc. in life toward your enemy tribe.

YEs, neoliberal would be a smaller more narrowly defined tribe tribe than Right Wing. Humans love to keep fragmenting themselves into various groups which may not be very different from one another at all– like the Sunnis and Shias.

doesn't work so good though...do you favor giving weapons deals to the House of Saud? both the democrats and rethugs do. and they team up to create debates where this type of issue is not discussed.

Jill...I see where you are going. At heart I am a believer in positive thoughts and the amazing power of compassion and love. Therefore I take back what I said about bashing...it is kinda negative...but I will not join in the politically correct consensus of bashing the bashers.

I think they are mostly bashing because they see something is wrong and have not been able to identify exactly what is going on.

I do encourage them to continue the struggle, hopefully in a more uplifting and positive way!

Most importantly I hope they stay true the the truths they have seen though. The MSM and government lie quite a bit and this fact is becoming more widely understood. For that I am thankful to the internet.

a person’s basic point of view (collectivist versus individualist).

except for abortion and national defense and drug legalization

(collectivist versus individualist) which side believes we should just pretend the government doesn't lie about bellus causi? Ipsum liberals are strongly against governments lying about false flag attacks. I don't see that come up much in the current debates.

I like the idea of calling myself something new. I am now neo-liberal...harder to be falsely typecast be the MSM when we change our name ourselves...the old way was to let the MSM label us and just use what we are given.

Oh ya, also I am cool with the people of UK to choose Brexit. Doesn't matter how it works out or is not implemented...probably a false choice offered by the elite and cognitive infiltraion puppet "leaders"...but it is usually good to annoy the NYT.

In Locke's time 'liberal' meant free in giving, free from restraint, suitable for someone of a superior class, large, or loose.
In his time, 'conservative' meant preservative, as in something that preserves something else.

Neither word was primarily political.

Isn't that interesting?

"We fight for free markets, property rights, globalisation and an open society"

They should add "BORDERS" to the list. Afterall they claim it is based on "all based on real-world evidence", and not just magical thinking.

Only in fantasy are ideologies imgined to be about the real world. They actually have very little to do with it. They are much more satisfying, and addictive, than the real world.

I agree Jill

One should listen to the addict to learn about the addiction.

Oh, now I get it. Hence your imaginary comment above:

"The biggest flaw of the Left is that, with the exception of a few SJWs, the Left is so nice as to be doormat like."

Only in some final utopia scenario could this make any sense. Otherwise, there are many current real world examples where the left has proven to be as evil as any of the other factions in their pursuit of the "common good".

create your own label and you can define it anyway you want....OR just vote for the lesser of two evils...Trump and Hillary probably work great for someone like you.

Hillary works, in some ways, for most people, which is why she'll likely win. If you're a Dem, she's your tribe, so no need to look too closely into the details of her policies and record. If you're GOP or otherwise Right Wing, Hillary might still work for you. Because politics today is about bashing. It's about who you are against, not who you are for. And the non-deplorable Right Wing is going to look at Trump and think "That's not me" and then will vote for Hillary, or at least not vote for Trump.

And then there are the people who actually look at policies. Although Trump has no consistent policies, a number of the policies he has flitted through are more Left Wing than Hillary's are.

Hillary's public policies are all lies, as she told GS.

Look more at what a politicians has done than at what she says, if you want to know her policies. Trump has done nothing in government, so he is a closed book there. But the policies Hillary has followed are sometimes to the Right of the policies that Trump claims at times to have.

Trump supporters love to talk about Hillary lying. The fact of the matter is, she lies far less than Trump.
http://politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/
http://politifact.com/personalities/hillary-clinton/

But, hey, voters aren't interested in fact, are they?

Most Republicans will tell you a major problem they have with Trump is that he's not particularly conservative. Jill's right about this one thing. In many respects, particularly social policy, Trump is to the left of Clinton.

And clearly Trump is considerably more dovish than Clinton, although that isn't really a left/right thing. The centerpiece of her tenure as Secretary of State (aside from all the scandal) was the Libya campaign, which Obama called the worst mistake of his presidency.

To Britons, "libertarian" signifies one of the following, more often than not: - gun fans (the UK is very tough on guns); - a person who doesn't know where Aleppo is; - its traditional meaning, a socialist position close to anarchism.

How can socialism be "close to" anarchism?

Well, look at Venezuela or very late USSR. It gets there eventually.

Caplan's http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/anarfaq.htm does a decent job of steelmanning left-anarchism.

How does "steelmanning" differ from "strawmanning"?

(PS -- I love it when you talk working class.)

A straw man is a misrepresentation of someone's position or argument that is easy to defeat: a "steel man" is an improvement of someone's position or argument that is harder to defeat than their originally stated position or argument. (sourced from http://lesswrong.com/lw/85h/better_disagreement/)Jul 21, 2013
Steel man - Lesswrongwiki
https://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Steel_man

What makes it "left"?

It certainly isn't "socialist" which means government controls the means of production, right?

I don't think Libertarian signifies that much to that many Britons, to be frank. I think if anything it signals people who care a lot about liberty, in theory and don't have a lot of interest in listening to people about the sort of societies they prefer to live in, in practice. Or much interest in other people, period.

Or either making compromises in traditional party politics to obtain and use power. The article's accurate in this (Libertarianism = inflexible ideologues formulation), and I think they are restyling themselves in response to a climate that see Libertarianism as a separate party identity and not something that can any longer be subsumed and influential within mainstream Toryism or Republicanism any more. Whether Gary Johnson polls better numbers than any Libertarian presidential candidate in the US, that's not a mark of greater public acceptance of Libertarianism so much as a sign that Libertarians cannot really operate within the Republican Party as much any more.

So ASI's strategy is to seek an identity which is ostensibily compatible with membership in the traditional party institutions (because that's the only way they can see a sniff of power).

I agree. Neoliberal is more useful a label than Libertarian, for sucking up to the Powers That Be.

>free markets, property rights
>against brexit

???

There's something to the notion of confusing national individualism and personal individualism. Forcing national individualism requires a different mental energy than allowing a free society. I think that's at the heart of the statement.

Why not use the term classical liberal? Neoliberal is meant as an insult from the extreme left...

http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/coming-out-as-neoliberals

So why not ‘classical liberal’? We think that the world is better now than it ever has been, and that markets and property rights are to thank for that. (...) The massive reductions in poverty across the developing world and rise in wealth in places like China and India are thanks to the neoliberal order of sound government and free trade, and we want to defend that.

The classical liberal heroes we admire - Adam Smith, of course, but also people like John Stuart Mill and David Hume - are the progenitors of this order, but our policy programme is updated for the modern world. You might say that neoliberals are classical liberals with smartphones, internet access and frequent flier miles.

And then, of course, is the fact that ‘neoliberal’ is already in use today, but almost exclusively as a slur. For a large number of people (mostly on the left), neoliberalism describes the modern world order and the fact that nobody self-describes as a neoliberal is proof that nobody is willing to defend that order. Well, not any more.

This is a clever rebranding.

Neoliberal is everywhere as a term of abuse, but not as an identity. By adopting the word (see also, Whig, Tory, Suffragette) they position themselves as the main spokesmen for opposition to the Left in particular.

Agree and amplify, as some might say.

Yep, they're doubling down. Compromise and humility is out the door in the current political climate around the world.

Terrible idea, in my opinion. Why adopt a term that the left coined and loaded with baggage, nevermind the irritating "neo" prefix.
Why not "Classical liberal" or "internationalist libertarian" , if you want to distinguish yourself from anti-immigrationist forces?

Possibly the worst move since libertarians decided to champion "captialism" a word invented by Marx.

Label <- What people who don't spent a lot of attention on these things will think
“Classical liberal” <- "That thing you think of when you think of a liberal, which is basically the Left"
“internationalist libertarian” <- "I stopped listening after the 7th syllable"

Whoa, the formatting there got gooned up. Let's try that again:

Label <- What people who don't spent a lot of attention on these things will think.

“Classical liberal” <- "That thing you think of when you think of a liberal, which is basically the Left."

“internationalist libertarian” <- "I stopped listening after the 7th syllable."

«“Classical liberal” <- "That thing you think of when you think of a liberal, which is basically the Left."»

I am not sure if this is the case in the UK.

Yeah, in Europe, "liberal" basically means free-market. Not left at all. It only ever meant left in America and I'm not even sure that's true anymore. The Left are all calling themselves "progressive" now.

My impression (by my reading of british blogs and articles) is that in UK it has even a third meaning - someone who is "liberal" in "social issues" (immigration, civil liberties, gay marriage, criminal justice), independently of his positions in economic issues.

I stand corrected! ^_^

Distinguishing their views from Open Borders Libertarians is likely one of the reasons for adapting the term Neoliberal.

"but perhaps it is also one way of signaling that they are anti-Brexit, and the word libertarian would not do that"

is there a camp of anti-Brexit, anti-immigrationist libertarians I am unaware of?

Immigration is clearly a wedge issue within the libertarian camp, so you get both sides there.

Naively, I'd expect most libertarians to be pro-Brexit (it's basically about self-determination), but our esteemed host suggests otherwise. So there's definitely a set of anti-Brexit libertarians, at least to the extent you can call Cowen a libertarian.

It's probably hard to be in favor of rationalized immigration _and_ continued EU membership. Do you realistically think you can fix the EU? But there are probably some advocates.

Of course you can't fix the EU. Its 28 Shades of Grey. Countries torturing one another.

Non sequiter, Jill.

Hazel asked a question about libertarians, and there's not a lot libertarian about the EU.

(it’s basically about self-determination),

Self-determination for who?
The collective entity known as the British nation-state?

Interesting. Yes, whose self-determination are we talking about, is the crucial question there.

Self-determination of British citizens. Who else would we be talking about?

You might be talking about self determination of individual British citizens, of immigrants, of the nation state of Britain, or of the "free markets" of the whole world, or of the whole world in some other context. You might equate some of these with each other. E.g. some globalists religiously believe that free trade among all the countries of the world without tariffs etc. always leads to more freedom for every individual within a particular country, as well as for every individual anywhere in the world.

Lord Action, you asked : Do you realistically think you can fix the EU? I answered your question. Hardly a non-sequitur.

WTF? When people say self-determination, they mean the right of exit, the right to determine your own laws and control your own borders. It was kind of a big deal in international affairs post WWI, WWII, and the collapse of the Soviet Empire.

It's not a weird concept: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-determination

"The right of nations to self-determination (from[citation needed] German: Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Völker) is a cardinal principle in modern international law (commonly regarded as a jus cogens rule), binding, as such, on the United Nations as authoritative interpretation of the Charter’s norms.[1][2] It states that nations, based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity, have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no interference.[3]"

It is a little weird that some ostensible libertarians have come out strongly against it. I get that there are some trade arguments for the EU, but really, how important are they?

Anyway, when I vote to make decisions for you about your stuff, that's tyranny not self determination. When I vote to make decisions for me about my stuff, it's self-determination.

"Lord Action, you asked : Do you realistically think you can fix the EU? I answered your question. Hardly a non-sequitur."

You made a joke that I didn't understand. I still don't understand it. Is your answer "No, the EU is not libertarian and is unlikely to become more libertarian even if the Brits stay"?

"It is a little weird that some ostensible libertarians have come out strongly against it. I get that there are some trade arguments for the EU, but really, how important are they"

This is a little strong on my part. I recognize that there is a difference between being against a right and thinking that exercising that right in this specific instance is a bad idea.

For example, you can believe a clear right to bear arms is a good thing for a nation to have, and still think having a bunch of firearms in your suburban home where you live with young children is a bad idea.

When pressed, I wonder if Cowen et al would admit self-determination is an important principle? Maybe not, because it is somewhat at odds with open borders. But I'm honestly not sure.

When pressed, I wonder if Cowen et al would admit self-determination is an important principle? Maybe not, because it is somewhat at odds with open borders. But I’m honestly not sure.

Of course not, It requires recognizing and having loyalty to a collective other than a professional guild, something Caplan in particular derides. There's a reason Mr. Sailer refers to libertarianism as 'applied autism'.

"It requires recognizing and having loyalty to a collective other than a professional guild"

Open borders is just recognizing and having loyalty to another collective. It expands the set of people you ostensibly owe something to.

In any event, I strain to imagine an anti-Brexit stance that is even vaguely libertarian. And were it not for people like Cowen shouting it, I'd have difficulty believing it existed.

Open borders is just recognizing and having loyalty to another collective. It expands the set of people you ostensibly owe something to.

What does not having any loyalties to any collectives look like?
I doubt it looks like nation-states preciously guarding their arbitrary lines on maps lest some people sneak out and trade with people in different arbitrary lines on maps. Or sneak in and do work (gasp! working without permission from the collective!) for people in theirs.

"What does not having any loyalties to any collectives look like?"

It looks like acquiescing to how other people want to run the country. You can't take your ball and go home. There's no home to go to where people leave you alone. Taxes see to that.

And claiming to not be on Team America is unlikely to garner many votes from Team America. Rationally I think.

"Or sneak in and do work (gasp! working without permission from the collective!) for people in theirs."

People also sneak in and receive services like medical care, schooling, policing, and defense from an expensive government. And that gets paid for by citizens. You can't pretend that it's all benefit and no imposed cost.

We have the government of a much richer nation than the one we actually have. Most citizens are not paying their own way, and it's much worse with immigrants, at least on average.

Most people don't care about people "sneaking in" to trade and work. They care about a permanent underclass migrating into the U.S. and electing a new political class that suits them.

A) The only thing making them a "permanent underclass" is their indefinite disenfranchisement caused by the laws, which you support, that declare their presence here unlawful and cause them to live in fear of the government.

B) If you're against immigrants driving on roads, then you should be against the children of other people who happen to have been born within the same arbitrary lines from driving on those same roads. An immigrant and a baby born to some random person are economic equivalents.

"If you’re against immigrants driving on roads, then you should be against the children of other people who happen to have been born within the same arbitrary lines from driving on those same roads. An immigrant and a baby born to some random person are economic equivalents."

No they aren't. I have an existing commitment to the children of citizens. It's part of the citizenship deal. If I decide to stop paying into it, they'll put me in prison for tax evasion.

I don't have that commitment to the children of potential immigrants. I don't owe them anything. You want to impose that commitment on me and that's a terrible, illiberal thing. It is the opposite of libertarian.

"The only thing making them a “permanent underclass” is their indefinite disenfranchisement caused by the laws, which you support, that declare their presence here unlawful and cause them to live in fear of the government."

You could solve this with a points based system or an immigration price. But obviously, the immigration system exists to serve current citizens. If current citizens are better served by admitting only high quality immigrants, then that's what we should do.

"An immigrant and a baby born to some random person are economic equivalents."

Maybe you're young. Maybe you don't make a lot of money. Maybe all this stuff seems free to you.

But I assure you, after a little while paying for all the goodies people in this country get, you're going to feel a lot less eager to start adding to the set of people you're obligated to support.

28 year-old PhD chemical engineer? Let him in. Heck, pay him to come. 58 year-old illiterate laborer? If he wants to come he should pay his future costs up front.

I have an existing commitment to the children of citizens. ...
I don’t have that commitment to the children of potential immigrants.

I don't. Or at least I deny that I have any greater moral obligations towards children born within the same arbitrary geographic boundaries as me than to those born outside those arbitrary geographic boundaries.

You could solve this with a points based system or an immigration price.

And I'm sure you are advocating for just that, right? The current immigration system is unjust in that it provides no legal path to immigration for a large class of immigrants. This is the root cause of the problem, and yet nobody on the right has suggested changing that. And it has nothing to do with welfare, it has to do with competition for jobs among low-skilled labor. Immigration law is tuned to prevent foreign labor from competing with working class US citizens for jobs. But they come here anyway, and end up becoming a disenfranchised underclass.

But I assure you, after a little while paying for all the goodies people in this country get, you’re going to feel a lot less eager to start adding to the set of people you’re obligated to support.

And why are babies born to welfare mothers any different from immigrants again?
IMO the right to self-determination of one's individual destiny trumps the right to procreate new people. In other words a person who dreams of coming to American and starting a business ought to have more right to pursue that dream than an American citizen on welfare who wants to have a 3rd or 4th baby.

"And I’m sure you are advocating for just that, right?"

Don't impugn me with motives I don't have. You're attacking a straw-man. I've been a constant voice around here for an immigration price. I _am_ an immigrant for criisakes. I am equally happy to attack the zero-quantity set for a missed opportunity and the zero-price set for imposing their will on others.

Regarding the rest of that paragraph, the obvious solution to illegal immigration is deportation. If the immigration of somebody is bad for citizens, it should not be allowed. The immigration system is like the post office. It exists to make citizens better off.

"I deny that I have any greater moral obligations towards children born within the same arbitrary geographic boundaries as me than to those born outside those arbitrary geographic boundaries."

Tell it to the IRS. They don't care about your morals: they care about whether or not you pay. That obligation is very real.

"And why are babies born to welfare mothers any different from immigrants again?"

To the extent that we subsidize child-having by people who can't plausibly afford it, we are hurting those people and we should stop doing it. Like in the run-up to the mortgage crisis, when you push someone into something they can't afford you are not doing them a favor. I am a frequent voice on here for a much-expanded but non-refundable child tax credit. We should encourage having children who can plausibly pay their own way.

The first rule of holes is to stop digging.

Is your answer “No, the EU is not libertarian and is unlikely to become more libertarian even if the Brits stay”?

Yes, it is. It's hard for me to imagine the EU being "Libertarian" because it restricts freedom of choice far more than it enhances it.

Sorry to be so obscure in my joke. I was comparing the EU to a book about sadomasochism, 50 Shades of Grey. Because the 28 EU countries seem to torment one another greatly, over their different ways of doing their budgets and economies-- something they wouldn't have that much of an urge to do if they weren't all stuck together in the EU, with an unnatural dependence on one another to make what look to other EU countries like sound economic decisions, regardless of what a country's own citizens want.

Okay, thank you for the explanation.

I (a centrist) find myself disparaged by my left friends -- sometimes in jest, often not -- as a "neoliberal" and a "neoconservative".

It's all in the neo! When did neo become so bad?

when the term neoconservative came into being. It meant lying about WMD in order to get the U.S. into a long bloody expensive war in Iraq, the repercussions of which (e.g ISIS) we are still dealing with today.

But everyone is required to bash everyone else who is not the same as they are politically, nowadays. That's just the custom in the U.S. We haven't found a way to change this yet.

Okay, well no one lied about WMD other than some Iraqi ex-pats. Congress approved of the military action including the Democrats so it's hard to see why you would blame neoconservatives for it. Bush certainly deserves blame but he's just one guy.

Yes, current politics is not at all about what you are in favor of. It's about who you are against.

Yeah. It's fun to play the villian on occasion, but I don't want to make it a lifestyle choice.

So yesterday I was listening to some Pacifica outlet talking about Trump and the the "jobs economy", and then the guy veered off and started praising essentially marxism, and thinking there was so much that libertarians and leftists could agree on if people on the left could just get over their retarded hatred of markets.

I don't want to position libertarianism as the enemy of the left. I want to teach people on the left that private property and free markets are not evil things they should hate and fear.

If you want people to be FOR stuff instead of AGAINST stuff, you have your work cut out for you, in today's politics, which is all about bashing, and not at all about what you are in favor of. It’s only about who you are against.

I think everyone see that now. In this election season where everyone understands that the only reason to vote FOR either candidate is that the other candidate is supposedly worse.

On South Park they have characters saying things like "I don't understand it! How could anyone vote against a Turd Sandwich more than a Giant Douche?"

Exactly, it didn't have to be this way. Perhaps this will be the high tide of awful nominees but I'm not holding my breath.

"Perhaps this will be the high tide of awful nominees but I’m not holding my breath."

Unfortunately, I worry that one lesson people could learn from Trump is that awfulness works. Being generally awful insulates you from trouble for those few times when you're just accidentally awful.

Gary Hart, Mitt Romney, Mike Dukakis? They had campaigns derailed by things Trump could laugh off.

I hope people are wising up. Another forum I visit, FARK, I've gotten into some good discussions with someone who'd identify as a socialist, and we had plenty of common ground - ranked choice voting, Universal Basic Income (or Universal employer), reduced military footprint, redistricting through a bipartisan committee to reduce gerrymandering, etc. Of course, I'm sure if you mention the bathroom bill, we'd both throw all that away to focus on a Really Important Issue.

There's a lot of common ground between the peasants, really. Our representatives do not represent us, in almost every sense of the word, including all this fighting. We the people are better than that, and it pains me to see us mirroring them now.

Sam, divide and conquer is the oldest trick, used to gain power, in the book. Get everyone to bash everyone else while you rob them all blind.

Our representatives do represent us, in that we elected them. But The Powers That Be have successfully gotten us to focus all our attention on bashing one another-- and not on what goals we have in common.

Msgkings, voters in the primaries voted these 2 nominees in, for a reason. Hillary is quite an experienced and knowledgeable nominee, although one may think that her policies are awful. And if one believes she is guilty until proven innocent, of everything any of her political opponents accuse her of, well, in that (imaginary) case she is Satan Incarnate. In reality, her flaws are quite ordinary.

But voters put these 2 people in. No one ever asks why or how we voters did this. Everyone just complains about the candidate they don't like, or about both.

In a democracy, bashing government is actually bashing yourself. Because who the heck do you think put these "awful" politicians in power, or gave them their party nominations?

@Jill: and voters put the non-awful nominees from the past up as well. I am hoping that this election will change voter participation and behavior (for the better) but of course I'm quite ready to be disappointed.

Nothing more libertarian then defending the status quo.

If the status quo is Liberty then yes.

If the status quo is liberty for mega-corporations, and not for individuals. And the status quo is exactly that.

"If the status quo is liberty for mega-corporations, and not for individuals. And the status quo is exactly that."

I have a right to speech, to petition, to assemble to bear arms, to freedom of religion, to a fair trial. Those are aspects of Liberty I have. Saying that the status quo is "liberty for mega-corporations" is wrong. It's simplistic propaganda that's more about scoring a rhetorical point than actually making an intelligent contribution to the conversation.

You are right. We do have some liberties, like the ones you mentioned. However, in any case where there is going to be a choice between your liberties vs. the liberties of mega-corporations, I guarantee you that the mega-corporations are going to win.

So I stand corrected. I should have said that the status quo is liberty for mega-corporations being prioritized far above liberty for individuals.

"in any case where there is going to be a choice between your liberties vs. the liberties of mega-corporations,"

Sure and if the choice is between your liberties vs. the liberties of mega-governments then I guarantee you that the mega-governments are going to win.

And since mega-governments are far more powerful than mega-corporations then logically, they are a bigger threat.

FYI, I don't believe that the status quo is "liberty for mega-governments". I was just applying Jill's same reasoning to a different group. This is a quick check to see if someone is reasoning more from logical principles or from emotional principles.

Jill,

Care to explain what you are actually talking about? What is an instance of mega-corporation liberty being favored over individual liberty?

It's not really an opposition to the Left but the hard/populist left and right in general.

I think its also fair to say being a "neoliberal" can put you on the left-centre as well in some ways- the Voxites are sufficiently neoliberal (doesn't Ygelsias almost always get painted as one by the left?) with perhaps some areas of contention, as would be most democrats in Silicon Valley/tech sector, philanthropy/social enterprise, Economist-readers, Blairites, etc.

They are adopting the stance of building on the current system rather than seeking to break and remake it. It may be authentic; it certainly will not draw the ire of the increasingly nervous elites.

"And I think to most people in Britain the word libertarian connotes a sort of unflexible extremeness – a preoccupation with hard-and-fast rules over policies that actually make people’s lives better. It was this misconception that allowed the Prime Minister get away with equating the libertarian right with the socialist left, as if the two were somehow comparable…"

Fortunately, American-style paranoid hyper-ideologization of life is retreating all over the world, the same the old Communist parties in Eastern Europe as well as almost elsewhere (Italy for example) had to change names, official ideology or both. It is a failed, unnatural, inhuman, anti-life and ant-like intellectual/moral system, anthetical to the Weltanschauung and needs of most societies. We will crush it with our heels.
"So in embracing the term neoliberal, we’re hoping that we’re being a little clearer about what we already believe in and do."
Yeah, because the term "neoliberal" has such great press...

Maybe in England it does? Perhaps we in the U.S. can not imagine what the connotations of neoliberal are, in the UK, or what those connotations would be, if the term is now going to be more generally used.

And in ideologies, connotation is everything. People voting by some standard historical or dictionary definitions of liberal or conservative, would have no clue about who to vote for in the current U.S. election.

Face it, Sam. You're a neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie.

From Wiki:

"Neoliberalism - refers primarily to the 20th century resurgence of 19th century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism. These include extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy.
...
Scholars now tended to associate it with the theories of economists Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman.
"

It doesn't look like it's a stretch for a Libertarian organization to call itself neoliberal.

History is written by the victors. Note that the Wiki description presupposes both something resembling the ideas of Hayek and Friedman were actually implemented and that those ideas come from the 19th century.

No, history is written by the intelligentsia, who will whitewash the losers and slime the winners if they're the losers. See much of the writing on the Spanish Civil War.

Hmm. That is interesting. Must be an exception. Because I do see zillions of cases of history written by the victors, and almost none of it being written by the losers-- although some few accounts of U.S. history would indeed fit into that framework.

"...and almost none of it being written by the losers.."

You never read the "Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank, "Mein Kampf", "The Communist Manifesto", "The Population Bomb", etc. There are hundreds of books written by the losers.

Here's a hint. If they're the intelligentsia 50 years after the fact, they didn't "lose".

"History is written by the victors."

That's one of those trite phrases that might have been true at some point in the past, but hasn't been in the life time of anyone currently alive. And yet, people continue to use it.

Perhaps the greatest trick that the Left ever pulled was convincing the capitalists that they won.

"I do not have sufficient background on the situation to parse this, but perhaps it is also one way of signaling that they are anti-Brexit, and the word libertarian would not do that, and might even suggest they favored Brexit as a means for arriving at a more libertarian society"

Tyler, that looks to be incorrect. This is written on their home page:

"Brexit should be viewed as a long process, not a once-off event, and as such the UK would be wise to disengage slowly from the EU:

It should remain in the Single Market, including maintaining freedom of movement with EU member states.
It should make political disintegration the centre of its withdrawal from the EU. "Economic union, not political union" should be the mantra.
...
Read how Brexit gives us an opportunity to 'reboot' Britain with radical policy reforms to boost growth and freedom.
...
Read our 'Liberal case for Leave'.
"

The appear to be pro-Brexit.

They (the Adam Smith Institute) appears to be pro-Brexit.

@JWatts, good spot. BTW what do you think of the Krugman recent column on BrExit? It was very forceful, and quite provocative, with Krugman calling the UK London finance center the equivalent to the Dutch Disease (Holland oil revenue, which generally is thought to have made Holland 'fat and lazy' to their long term detriment, aka 'resource curse' common in Third World countries).

Hence, according to Krugman and possibly Adam Smith Institute is aping this, BrExit is a chance to wean the UK economy off finance, to the long term good of the UK (but short term bad). Bold stuff, no?

This reads like a bunch of verbal contortions. The U.K. should remain part of the Single Market and should have freedom of movement with EU member states but should "disengage" from the EU. That reads like the diplomat-speak about how Taiwan is not an independent country but should be perfectly free to maintain its own armed forces, legal and court system, immigration laws, overseas embassies called "Taiwan Cultural Centers" or some such and currency with no interference whatsoever from the government in Beijing.

They are basically saying the U.K. will likely have to reach an agreement with the EU in which it follows almost all of the rules of the EU but will get to officially say it is not an EU member. I suppose the biggest difference is that the U.K. would be free to negotiate free trade agreements independently of the EU. Is that really what Brexit is all about -- freedom for the U.K. to join TPP if it really wants to?

Interesting points and question. Food for thought. I am chewing over and eating your comment now.

We don't have an official line on Brexit. I voted to Remain as did most but not all of my colleagues. However we thought it was important that the Leave side had a liberal element to it so we hosted work by external pro-Leave writers who emphasised the need to stay in the Single Market if and when we left the EU. Staying in the Single Market (whether it's in name or through a fudged 'trade deal' that gives us essentially the same thing) is absolutely critical now.

I associate the term "neo-liberal" with Tony Blair.

You're not the only one.

Labels don't necessarily mean anything much. Or if they do, those meanings are culturally derived and have no basis in reality.

At least, in additon to their silly label, they have attempted to have a little clarity by naming what they are in favor of:
"free markets, property rights, globalisation and an open society, all based on real-world evidence"

Although they are most certainly fooling themselves when they claim "all based on real-world evidence." You can't believe in any such general things a priori, if you are going to be looking objectively at real world evidence.

I always thought it was the label for "Third Way" leftists.

Tyler,

Your friend Yglesias has lost his mind. You may want to encourage him to take a break from politics for a while. Get some air. Good for the nerves.

There are a lot of benefits, money, friends, and power to be had by going along with the status quo. And in Europe, globalization, including unlimited immigration, is the establishment and status quo. So libertarians who want to suck up to power, as most people want to, are wanting to be "neoliberal" which is what the EU establishment might be called.

Politics nowadays is more about who you hate and are against, than what you are in favor of. As someone else noted above, it works to take "neoliberal"-- which is the Left's derogatory label for the Right-- to emphasize that most important of all political things-- who you hate and who hates you. This uses the "common enemy" way of uniting people together under the establishment tent. Giving people a common enemy seems to work to unite them more quickly, easily and enthusiastically, than emphasizing common goals. It certainly makes for a more toxic political atmosphere though.

I keep wondering. What exactly does this prefix "neo" really mean? It seems to be a form of insult, like when the term "neoconservative" was used by socialist Michael Harrington to mock his opponents on the left. And now the word "neoliberal." Was George McGovern a liberal, or a paleo-liberal, or a new liberal. Is a new liberal different from a neoliberal?

William F Buckley sometimes described himself as "Liberal" with a capital L, to associate with British Gladstone Liberalism. Which is the opposite of an American liberal. How did the term "liberal" go so wrong in the USA? There is a journal article there somewhere. It may have been John Dewey who started this mess.

Same in economics. There is Keynesianism, and new Keynesianism, and neo-Keynesianism, and orthodox Keynesian, with is different from post-Keynesian, to which we must add Joan Robinson's term of "bastard Keynesianism." Is there a paleo-Keynesianism?

"William F Buckley sometimes described himself as “Liberal” with a capital L, to associate with British Gladstone Liberalism. Which is the opposite of an American liberal."

Like I wrote above, I think that is more a 90º degrees rotation than "the opposite" (in things like foreign policy or church-state relations, modern "liberalism" has some similarities with the traditional meaning); perhaps the modern opposite of classical liberalism is ... Trumpism (law-and-order, protectionist, no-cuts-in-social-security).

"How did the term “liberal” go so wrong in the USA? There is a journal article there somewhere"

Some time ago, I tried to understand (reading the relevant articles in wikipedia...) when "liberalism" changed of meaning in USA, but I did not discover (specially because the articles are more about history-of-the-ideology-that-today-is-called-"liberalism" than about history-of-the-word-"liberalism"). But perhaps the deep roots are there (even if this article are about Britain): http://www.libertarianism.org/publications/essays/new-toryism

LOL, interesting. Humans do seem to love to keep fragmenting themselves into various groups which may not be very different from one another at all-- like the Sunnis and Shias seem to not be. Maybe it's a reaction to overpopulation, where you want smaller and smaller groups/tribes to identify with?

Humans sure love to be in political or economic or other kinds of tribes-- even when such divisions make very little sense. Perhaps this is also why the meanings of group labels change, and even reverse themselves over time-- so that people can keep shifting into various tribes that keep re-inventing themselves for the purpose of imagining themselves to be very unique and very different from one another. Because how can you obtain the joys of identifying closely with your tribe and hating your enemy, if you admit that your tribe really isn't significantly different from the "enemy" tribe?

The People's Front of Judea strikes again. "Humans do seem to love to keep fragmenting themselves into various groups which may not be very different from one another at all– like the Sunnis and Shias seem to not be." OK, but are Catholics different from Protestants?

Not very much.

Are Trotskysts different from Stalinists and both different from Maoists and Hoxhaists?

LOL, I don't know if the 2 Trotskysts remaining in the world are different from the 2 Stalinists remaining in the world. Or if those are different from the 2 Maoists and the 1 Hoxhaist. But since there are so few of them, that they have zero economic or political power in the modern day world, it does not matter.

Actually, large numbers of these people do exist-- but only as straw men in the imaginations of their political enemies. So they so serve a function as imaginary constructs. Because politics today is all about bashing one's enemies, and very little else.

Is (was) a group of Trotskysts different from the other groups of Trotskysts (Brazil has at least two registered Trotskyst parties and some non-registered groups)? And the differences between Stalinists and Trotskysts (or Catholics and Protestants or any other groups that take their differences serious enough ro kill -- or have killed in their name-- doesn't depend -- or shouldn't depend-- of how influential and powerful they are.

Thaigo, I didn't know that about Brazil. I sure never meet any Trotskysts in the U.S.

If people are killing a number of other people based on what group they are in, the perpetrators of the murders do have power or else they wouldn't get away with it. And if the murders are great enough in number, and are known, the victims will have power soon, and will strike back. That's what happened with Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. There is an interesting account of that in the book David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell.

https://www.amazon.com/David-Goliath-Underdogs-Misfits-Battling/dp/0316204374/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476298898&sr=8-1&keywords=David+and+Goliath

I love Gladwell's books, even when he is dead wrong about certain subjects. Because they always stimulate my thinking in the areas he writes about.

"Thaigo, I didn’t know that about Brazil. I sure never meet any Trotskysts in the U.S."
I wouldn't say they have much power -- they seldom het their guys elected--, but they have several organizations (and have wings in several leftist parties). They just keep forming new groups ( hostile to one another).

"If people are killing a number of other people based on what group they are in, the perpetrators of the murders do have power or else they wouldn’t get away with it."
They have power, but power is not the reason, it is just a tool. Outsiders may consider the differences between Catholics and Protestants or Stalinists and Trotskysts meaningless, but the concerned parts may beg to differ.

"William F Buckley sometimes described himself as “Liberal” with a capital L, to associate with British Gladstone Liberalism. Which is the opposite of an American liberal. How did the term “liberal” go so wrong in the USA?"
So he was not a Conservative, like Disraeli?

The joke is that neo- just means "Jewish", because of the preponderance of Jewish pundits and opinion makers that tend to adopt neo- labels. Jewish conservatism. Jewish liberalism. Jewish reaction. Etc.

A better way of phrasing it is to take an existing ideology and add a whole bunch of Vox style "you think XYZ is good/bad, but REALLY XYZ is bad/good" until you've come up with some tortured rationalized logic as to why the policies of your special interest happen to be in concordance with the ideology you just mangled. You don't have to be Jewish produce these verbal monstrosities, anyone with high verbal IQ and an amoral striver impulse will do. Plenty of WASPs get in on that gravy train too.

How about Catholics, any of them on the gravy train? Jains? Sikhs?

I like Vox.com But I do recognize what you are saying, as something they do at times. To be fair to them, ideologies, which have little relationship to the real world, are really easy to mangle. And since they have so little relationship to the real world, the mangled form usually makes no less sense than the straightforward version.

It is true that the libertarian/neoliberal/classical liberal (call it what you wish) community was divided between advocates of continued EU membership and advocates of a soft Brexit (Norwegian status was advocated by the Institute of Economic Affairs and by Roland Smith of the Adam Smith Institute). Reasonable arguments derived from libertarian first principles were advanced by both sides. No libertarian or classical liberal in the UK, to my knowledge hard Brexit (i.e., withdrawal from both the EU and the Single Market), since they correctly understood that such a move would result in a massive reduction in practical economic liberty.

I've blogged about the illiberal outcomes of Brexit here:

https://pastspeaks.com/2016/10/06/one-business-historians-thoughts-about-theresanomics/

US readers will be interested in Johan Norberg's explanation of why they should not celebrate Brexit

http://reason.com/archives/2016/07/12/why-libertarians-should-be-wary-of-brexit

I've encouraged EconTalker to bring Norberg on a guest to talk about Brexit.

since they correctly understood that such a move would result in a massive reduction in practical economic liberty.

Rubbish. Such a move would inhibit some corporation executives from landing a job in Milan. Screw 'em.

Interesting point. If you look at the details, I expect that Brexit would result in increased liberty for some, and reduced liberty for others. And then, to decide if Brexit is libertarian, or is freedom oriented, you would have to decide whose liberties were important and whose were not.

But U.S. libertarians decided that long ago. Since in the U.S., the most powerful Libertarians-- and 2 of the most powerful people overall-- are the Kochs, U.S. Libertarianism has obviously decided that freedom of corporations is what is important. And freedom is not important when it apples to workers, air breathers, water drinkers, property owners whose property is ruined by fracking etc.

" U.S. Libertarianism has obviously decided that freedom of corporations is what is important. "

As a non-US citizen that is confusing to understand. All the (not many) libertarians or "almost-libertarians" from the US I've heard of are against big corporations with government aid and are pro-individual person. Could you point me to a site that these kind of libertarians you mentioned have articles or something to read?

She's just making it up

And the above is one way in which Libertarians are identical to neoliberals in the U.S.

I couldn't get to your first link. I found it at:
http://reason.com/archives/2016/07/12/why-libertarians-should-be-wary-of-brexi
The link leaves off the t in brexit, for some reason.

I mean your second link.

Thanks Jill-- the link does indeed leave off the final T!

My bad.

Are you a descendant of Adam Smith, Andrew?

Not to my knowledge!

How about the term "Econotarian" to differentiate those who want to adopt economic science to improve humanity without being libertarian extremists (who are often right, but occasionally ignore economic science)?

Neoliberal has two problems, a link to foreign war fighting (Google search for "neoliberal Iraq war" yields 802,000 results) and also that word "liberal" means something very different in the US than Europe.

Maybe neoliberal got conflated with neocon, which is associated with the Iraq War. The 2 actually are related. A lot of the wars the U.S. gets into seem to be done for the purpose of neoliberal economics, which is all about mega-corporations ruling the world, and bribing governments to assist them in doing so. It's become easier since bribery of Congress or the president is perfectly legal now in the U.S. E.g. the military industrial complex mega-corporations profited handsomely from the Iraq War.

This makes sense to me. I identify Smith with free markets, but Hayek as more of a fan of self-organizing systems and the organic nature of society, which is often manifested by free markets.

If I understand it correctly, Hayek would have been more respectable of the organic guild system that Smith wanted to wipe away.

If Hayek is a standard-bearer of libertarianism today, it's distinguishable to me from "free markets".

Thanks BD. Nobody will read this comment but you, but either you have a deep understanding of Hayek, who I thought was a simple fan of small government (leaving aside his mistaken "Road to Serfdom" book, where he ran up the white flag of surrender on fighting socialism say reviews), or, you're a b.s. artist. A real b.s. artiste I say.

Hayekian and Smithian ideologies, like most ideologies, have little relationship to reality. But most of the people on this board probably have political or religious or economic ideologies they believe in. So Brian is no more of a bs artiste than anyone else here.

"Most ideologies have little relationship to reality" is a meaningless statement

The Left long ago stopped taking self-identified libertarians seriously. The Left instead is apoplectic about what those it labels neo-liberals -- and it projects views on what it calls neo-liberals which aren't views of sane supporters of free market. Sane supporters like the Adam Smith Institute.

I understand why in a vacuum it's an attract label for the Institute to embrace. I don't see how it won't add to the distortion of the Institute's views.

Here's an example of how neo-liberal is used by the Left:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/12/neoliberalism-creating-loneliness-wrenching-society-apart

The Left long ago stopped arguing with actual libertarians, and instead started arguing with the libertarians in their heads.

Still, I am not so sure the "neo" prefix will convey the right message, specially in Europe.

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