LIBERAL-LIBERTARIAN cage fights can be fun, but Sean Wilentz's scattershot attack on Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange in this month's New Republic is pretty thin stuff. Fortunately, though, it has served as the pretext for an intriguing essay by Will Wilkinson (a fellow blogger on DiA). Mr Wilkinson wonders why some liberals have begun defending repressive government practices on the grounds that criticising such practices seems too libertarian. (This is a pretty good description of what was wrong with Mr Wilentz's article.) Even if liberals think the libertarian critique of the state is wrong, why would that lead them to defend state actions that liberalism should condemn? "There’s something about the libertarian-liberal dialectic that leads liberals to confuse the identification of the illegitimate, illiberal practices of the actually-existing state with the libertarian argument against the very possibility of [a] legitimate state," Mr Wilkinson writes.
This is an interesting argument, but I think Mr Wilkinson makes a few moves that...Continue reading