In the marketplace, profits come from voluntary exchange, which requires that buyers and sellers freely choose to transact business. Why would they do that? They do it because each party expects to benefit — to be made better off — by giving up something they own for something that they would rather own.
Strictly speaking, the libertarian philosophy offers no solutions to specific problems. That’s not what it does. It is not itself a solution. Rather, it describes an institutional environment in which imaginative people are free and motivated to discover innovative solutions to individual and collective problems.
Some elements of the right-wing are spreading the fear that Democrats are engineering a take-over of America by replacing white voters with nonwhites through liberal immigration policies. It’s come to be known as “the great replacement,” and in its ugliest form, it is said to be a Jewish conspiracy. Remember the sickening chant at the 2017 right-wing Charlottesville rally: “Jews will not replace us”? I wish this fear-mongering could be ignored, but since a few fanatics have committed violence apparently to prevent the “great replacement,” it needs to be discussed.
Loury is a neoclassical economist who is generally pro-market. He harbors some doubt about government solutions to social problems. But judging by what he says about immigration, his political theory is appallingly collectivist.
“The main point about liberalism,” Hayek wrote, “is that it wants to go elsewhere, not to stand still.” My sense is that in the last few years, elements of the right have come to appreciate Hayek’s point. They became fed up with mere holding actions and have resolved to push a “positive” program. Unfortunately, it’s a state-saturated program that ought to make genuine liberals sick.
In his recently leaked first draft of an opinion that would reverse the abortion-rights cases Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito gives Americans a choice between judges who read their personal preferences into the Constitution and judges who recognize only rights that they find “rooted in [our] history and tradition” and deem “essential to our Nation’s ‘scheme of ordered Liberty.’” Is that it? Neither choice seems an adequate safeguard for individual freedom.
Under the best of circumstances, conventional political systems are dodgy places to seek the protection of liberty, even in matters of public health, where property rights, contract, and voluntary community should reign supreme.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, as if we needed another demonstration, that little stands between the government and our liberty. Champions of individual freedom have been properly disturbed by how much power governments at all levels have seized since the pandemic hit in 2020.
Collective security, the official goal of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, seems plausible on its face. A group of nations ostensibly concerned about a common threat agree to defend one another in the event of an attack. “All for one and one for all,” as the Three Musketeers said.
If you’re looking for morality tales — clashes between the clearly good and the clearly bad — I suggest you look elsewhere than to the geopolitical theater. There we find only conflicts between shades of darker gray.