A blog about problems in the field of psychology and attempts to fix them.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Libertarianism, Progressive Politics, and Humanism

Many around the world don't understand why American's like "Libertarianism," which they see as a weird brand of home-grown individualism. This might seem even more odd because the U.S. was, at many points, the seat "Progressive" politics. Some have claimed that the two groups are irreconcilable, while others have claimed that they make a natural alliance as the ideologies share crucial contrasts with the views of both of our two dominant political parties. That both Libertarian and Progressive views characterize U.S. politics can seem confusing, especially given the mythic origins of the movements. In the current myth, Libertarianism owes its origins to the enlightened selfishness of business tycoons, and Ayn Rand was a wise sage who showed us the benefits of their ways. However, while Rand surely influenced many prominent people who tout Libertarian ideas, she has little to do with the broad public support people show for similar ideas. We cannot understand why Americans embrace Libertarian ideas (I assert) unless we understand those ideas as grounded in American Philosophy---Pragmatism---as put forward by scholars like Peirce, James, and Dewey. I have speculated a bit about that here, and here. As a result I have been asked to prepare something for publication, and that requires being a bit more systematic. Here is the opening: