Salvaging (Classical) Liberalism

Look…I know I have done more than my share of bashing liberalism, primarily along the lines of the idea that it views religion – specifically Christianity – as irrelevant to liberty or even an enemy of liberty.  We see today the inevitable end result of such thinking.  Liberty without God leads to hell – the hell of all of the isms of the last century and the abolition of man in this century.

The problem is most defenders of classical liberalism do such a rotten job of defending it.  Various forms of… “we just didn’t try hard enough”, or “look at the material progress,” or “modern dentistry.”  None of these get the classical liberal juices flowing again.  To say nothing of those who say that we haven’t done enough to get rid of religion yet.  Who are they kidding?

I will help them out.  Actually, Ludwig von Mises will help them out.  Do you want to salvage classical liberalism, and attempt to do so without God and without Christianity as it developed in the West?  Try this:

It has already been pointed out that a country can enjoy domestic peace only when a democratic constitution provides the guarantee that the adjustment of the government to the will of the citizens can take place without friction.

Now, don’t get all tangled up in your shorts about this “will of the citizens” stuff.  Give Mises a chance to develop his point.

[The liberals of an earlier age] believed…that to assure lasting peace it was sufficient to replace the rule of dynastic princes by governments dependent on the people.

Not enough.  It has only grown worse, and Hans Hoppe has ably explained why.

It must always be possible to shift the boundaries of the state if the will of the inhabitants of an area to attach themselves to a state other than the one to which they presently belong has made itself clearly known.

Malleable boundaries.  It isn’t the lines on the map that are important; it is the desire of those who live within any of these boundaries that matters:

The right of self-determination in regard to the question of membership in a state thus means: whenever the inhabitants of a particular territory, whether it be a single village, a whole district, or a series of adjacent districts, make it known, by a freely conducted plebiscite, that they no longer wish to remain united to the state to which they belong at the time, but wish either to form an independent state or to attach themselves to some other state, their wishes are to be respected and complied with.

In this you will see why many classical liberals and many libertarians don’t like this idea.  They see liberalism as the highest political form devised.  They see their project as a universalizing one.  So, why allow any group of people to escape?  Those who wish to escape don’t know what’s good for them – they are, after all, deplorable.

Mises will get even more granular:

If it were in any way possible to grant this right of self-determination to every individual person, it would have to be done.

He sees the stumbling block a technical one.  Precisely why is not clearly explained (or I may just not understand the explanation).  But I think it is something more than, or other than, technical.  People want to live in community with like-minded people.  I suspect very few people would choose a political unit comprised solely of themselves.

This is the only feasible and effective way of preventing revolutions and civil and international wars.

Crimea, the Donbass, Taiwan, Nagorno Karabagh, the State of Jefferson.  Problems peacefully solved if such rights were respected.

I haven’t heard Jordan Peterson offer this solution.  I haven’t heard Steven Pinker offer this solution.  As for Sam Harris?

“At that point Hunter Biden literally could have had the corpses of children in his basement, I would not have cared.”

Better murdered children than consider to allow a plebiscite, dissolution, and reorganization.  Based on the actions of today’s liberals, Harris does not stand alone.


The solution offered by Mises may not be perfect, but it is infinitely better than the current state of affairs.  It is also infinitely better than any of the impotent and even immoral pleadings of today’s classical liberal apologists.

And it is the only way to salvage the liberal experiment.

Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.