Monday, June 14, 2010

The New Libertarian Generation?

Mark Lilla is a professor of humanities at Columbia University, where he specializes in the history of ideas — in particular, the intellectual legacy of the Enlightenment. Now, one of the principal intellectual legacies of the Enlightenment is the libertarian tradition, so it was not at all inappropriate that Lilla's article in the May 27, 2010, issue of The New York Review of Books is on the growing influence of libertarian ideas in American society. Lilla writes of the "libertarian impulses that have unsettled American society for half a century now." He writes of "the libertarian spirit [that] drifted into American life [over the past 50 years], first from the left [during the 1960s], then from the right [during the Reagan '80s]." He writes pessimistically of how this "libertarian spirit has spread to other areas of our lives," but he reserves his main pessimism and hand wringing for the impact of this libertarian spirit on our national political life. "Welcome," he writes, "to the politics of the libertarian mob."...more

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