Thursday, May 25, 2006

Column on Being a Globalist

Am I a Globalist?

Tibor R. Machan

Over the years?ever since I was persuaded by the classical liberals among
political economists?I have championed certain (few) universal principles
of social organization, including some that identify the free marketplace.
In time, after the Cold War wound down, it became more acceptable than
before to defend these principles?privatization, globalization, and the
spread of infrastructures that stress the right to private property and
the value of freely formed contracts.

Those who have been hostile to freedom have regrouped and instead of
advocating an alternative political economy, such as socialism, communism,
fascism, the welfare state (?the third way?), have penned reams of pages
and taken part in innumerable protest marches (how do they get the time
for this has always puzzled me) in opposition to what I have found only a
most natural way of life, without any restraint on trade or any other
peaceful conduct, period. And these critics have in fact come not only
from the Left, where opposition to capitalism anywhere and everywhere had
been a steady theme. They also include many from the Right, where there
used to be, at least in the U.S.A., some sympathy for the free economy. As
understood nowadays, this merger of Left and Right regarding the global
expansion of the regime of liberty rests on certain similarities between
the two groups regarding cultural diversity.

It used to be popular among Leftists to denounce capitalism because it is
supposed to be, based on Hegelian and Marxist notions, only a temporary
phase of humanity?s development. To believe it should be the basic
standard of human political economy was deemed to be a mistake. Kind of
like thinking that adolescent psychology is actually psychology per se.
This is what amounts to the historicist criticism of capitalism. It sees
the human race in a process of development which will culminate in
communism, so those who champion capitalism are simply way off about what
system of economy ultimately best suits human beings.

Rightists, in turn, have always felt uncomfortable about principles?too
rationalistic for them, too much a result of Socratic or Enlightenment
hubris, they have argued over the years. Powerful human sentiments such as
tribalism and nationalism, ethnic and racial solidarity, and so forth are
deemed to be superior human impulses to the universalism of reason and
freedom. People also need to be kept in check, otherwise their baser
inclinations will win out, so a mighty government needs to have a strong
hand in our lives. Many on the Right regard these ideas unjustly played
down by supporters of universal liberty.

So, even though the global statism of communism is no longer a widespread
theme among critics of capitalism, there are plenty who still regard the
classical liberal, libertarian polity misguided. The fact that it accords
best with human nature, as most reasonably conceived in the tradition of
such thinkers as Aristotle, Locke, von Mises, and Rand, leaves these
critics unimpressed. So they have come forth with the label ?globalist?
with which to tar and feather those who support freedom for all human
beings in all of their communities.

Well, then I must confess to being a proud globalist myself. I consider
it well established that human beings, anytime and anywhere, live better
if their right to liberty, including free trade and property, is widely
respected and well protected. The essential creative nature of human
beings, whereby they must choose to exercise the proper functions of their
minds and act accordingly, requires for everyone a condition of individual

Communities are only as good as long as they rest on this idea, stated so
succinctly in the Declaration of Independence, by those revolutionary
globalists, the American Founders. We all, by our very nature, have the
rights to life, liberty and pursuit of our happiness and those who would
violate them are bent on criminal conduct, period. And this isn?t some
glitch in human history on the way to some ?new man? envisioned by
communists, nor some imperialist concept that destroys or erases
particular cultures. Within the framework of a free polity there is ample
room for diverse forms of human living. But all of that must happen
without breaching the principles of liberty.

If that?s being a globalist, bring it on, I say.

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