Modern libertarianism is the disguise adopted by those who wish to exploit without restraint. It pretends that only the state intrudes on our liberties. It ignores the role of banks, corporations and the rich in making us less free. It denies the need for the state to curb them in order to protect the freedoms of weaker people. This bastardised, one-eyed philosophy is a con trick, whose promoters attempt to wrongfoot justice by pitching it against liberty.
Every now and then, you run across something that underlines the need to be vigilant about the meanings of words. Tonight it’s this essay from Monbiot.
One of the reasons public discourse has become so debased, I’d submit, is because that vigilance hasn’t been there. It’s because of this that it’s become so easy for words to be stripped of their meanings and then repurposed in the service of destructive and antisocial agendas. This, in turn, enables the anti-intellectual and authoritarian currents so much in evidence everywhere from City Hall to Ottawa and beyond.
The antidote, one can only reiterate, is a recommitment to traditional notions of citizenship, civic engagement, and enhanced public discourse. Redefining and reclaiming the linguistic turf makes it that much harder for those who would debase the conversation or reduce it to mindless sloganeering.
In that light it’s worth noting, once again, that we needn’t apologize for wanting public affairs conducted in an intelligent, thoughtful way by educated people capable of seeing nuance, of deliberate reflection, of holding complex and occasionally contradictory thoughts. It starts with a commitment to accuracy and clarity.
I’ll say it again: elitism in the conduct of civic affairs isn’t a bad thing. And by the same token: stupidity is not a civic virtue.