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We Liberals / A Conclusion

Anno XXXI, n. 137, novembre-dicembre 1996
Centro Einaudi


Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
This article by the first editor of "Biblioteca della libertà" concludes the series of interventions which began in issue 135 and continued in issue 136. In the author's view, however sound it may be in terms of the philosophy of values and ends, modern liberalism is weak in terms of the "culture" of means. Liberal realism does not impose fatalistic resignation in the face of the natural laws of the market as it stands – neither ideologically or empirically. On the contrary, a drive to discipline the dynamics of the market comes from an element intrinsic in liberal thinking: namely, its pessimism about human nature, and the consequent need to prevent man from becoming his own executioner. Liberalism is opposed to the ethical state, but is neither indifferent nor neutral vis-à-vis the need to confer an ethical character on collective choices. The point is whether it is up to us – that is, to politics, to the peaceful, liberal, democratic handling of conflict – to decide our present and future, or whether it is up to Chance, the invisible hand of the market, actually the extremely visible hand of the men who hold political-economic power. Or whether liberalism has anything to say on the matter or not.