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Monday, February 15, 2021

The Failure of Classical Liberalism and Libertarianism, Part I

Aristotle says that Socrates believed that the moral virtues are forms of knowledge, and that when men know what justice is, they will be just. But this point of view is not right. Aristotle says: “Yet where moral virtue is concerned, the most important thing is not to know what it is, but how it arises; we do not wish to know what courage is, we wish to be courageous.” I think, Aristotle’s critique of Socrates is applicable to the philosophers who identify themselves as classical liberals and libertarians and believe that once people know what rights, liberty, individualism, and rationality are, they will be motivated to fight for a free society. They believe that philosophical knowledge inspires political action—but this is not true at all. Knowledge of moral and political concepts is not enough to inspire people to fight for achieving those concepts. No one, except a tiny group of idealistic politicians and intellectuals, who despise the old order and are intent on overthrowing it, will risk his life to fight for mere concepts. Classical liberalism and libertarianism are a failure because their arguments are weak—in their works they give knowledge of rights, liberty, individualism, and rationality but they fail to explain how, and in what kind of society, these concepts arise. The masses will never be enthused by the ideas of the classical liberals and libertarians, so in a political sense, they are quite useless.

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