Acton Institute Powerblog

Rearranging the Deck Chairs on the Good Ship Liberalism

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Over on the Library of Law and Liberty’s website, Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg reviews political philosopher John Tomasi’s new book Free Market Fairness:

Rather than attempting a synthesis of competing schools of liberal thought, Tomasi outlines what he is very careful to specify as a “hybrid” (87) political theory that draws upon classical liberalism and libertarianism on the one hand, and what he calls high or left liberalism on the other. Tomasi does not seek to somehow ground classical liberal institutions on the basis of left liberal moral imperatives, or vice-versa. Instead he argues for what he calls market democracy as a “justificatory hybrid . . . which combines insights from the classical and liberal traditions at the level of moral foundations” (95). Market democracy, as Tomasi describes it, reflects what he describes as his “simultaneous attraction” (xiv) to left-liberal and libertarian ideas. Free Market Fairness, however, also relies upon the insight that classical, libertarian, and left liberals may have more in common than they often realize or are willing to admit. This may explain why much of Tomasi’s book explicates in considerable and revealing detail the present “state-of-play” inside the sandpit of liberal political theory.

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Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).


  • DilloTank

    This a quote from the fascinating article linked below:

    “As socialists and Marxists strove to be taken more seriously, they fell upon the strategy of re-branding their movement. Banished were references to collectivism and other totalitarian theories, and in the place of these leftists began to refer to themselves as “Liberals.” And of course this change created much confusion.”

    Is Mr. Tomasi seeking to add to the confusion, are is he simply confused himself? Inquiring minds want to know.

    William F. Buckley always capitalized the word ‘Liberal’ because modern ‘Liberals’ are not liberal.

    They don’t like to be called Marxists, but they are constantly regurgitating Marxist drivel, like “The rich should pay their fair share”. Of course the ‘rich’ actually do pay their fair share. These people are simply confused. Modern ‘Liberals’ should be mocked and scorned. And the corrupt Marxist indoctrination diploma mills that we call universities should be closed.