Tuesday, July 19, 2005


We concur with Amit that there's a great deal of intersection between our notion of secular-right and libertarianism.

Both believe in limiting government to only such areas whose scale requires that it alone can do the heavy lifting. Because individual freedoms are the fundamental reality of the universe, power has legitimacy only if it flows from free choice of individuals -- and is subservient to their needs, not vice versa.

Indeed our secularism emerges from precisely this expectation of small government. We aren't secular because we deny the validity of faith, nor driven by Western motives to separate church & state. We believe in a secular state because we see no value in having (a usually inept) government meddle around in something so fundamental as people's faith. To the extent the government is best kept away from faith, there is consequently no reason to inject faith in politics (since, ideally, the politician has no power to grant favors on the basis of faith).

Having said all this, we are less sanguine about the fundamentalism of some libertarians. For example, we are perfectly happy to dilute some civil liberties (on the edges & carefully) so that terrorism and terror exhorters are snuffed out. Unyielding battles on abstract principles of civil liberties when our lives are at stake are silly. Too many libertarians lose the forest for the trees on such issues.

We also dispute the bogus denunciation of democracy by some libertarians.

Bottom line, there's sufficient common ground (a very practical standard) for secular-right and libertarian Indians to collaborate on. This is a very good thing.


amit varma said...

PR, the bogus denunciation of democracy is by a bogus libertarian. You can't judge a school of thought by its extremists, surely. (Or by crackpots who pledge allegiance to it.) I agree with you about the fundamentalism of some libertarians, but fundamentalism of any kind is wrong, surely.

There is also, you should note, a difference between what a libertarian may believe to be an ideal system in theory, and the policy prescriptions he would recommend keeping context and present circumstances in mind. A sensible anarcho-libertarian, for example, would not argue for government to suddenly be removed overnight. (I am a minarchist, btw, and believe in minimal government.)

I suspect that on economics, secular-right and libertarian positions would be very similar. The difference between the two notions probably lie in the social sphere, though. A libertarian would favour euthanasia, for example; would a secular-right person? I'm unclear on this subject, to be honest.

Gaurav said...

Yes, what is the Secular-Right position on personal freedom and civil liberties when there is no security threat or terrorism?

What about social issues like euthanasia, legalisation of suicide, legalisation of drugs, legalisation of prostitution, legalisation of porn, etc, measures which really have no connection with security..... unless one believes that idiot R.R.Patil who says dance bars should be banned because they offer a breeding ground for crime.

phucker said...

Yes, these are good points - what would be the secular-right position on Euthanasia and legalisation of Prostitution?

I would (simplistically) argue that being Secular-Right would mean being FOR the legalisation of prostitution - let the market decide. But how do you balance minimal government with legal prostitution?

Euthanasia on the other hand, I think secular-rightists, libertarians and communists can all be on either side of that one...


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