"The real reason liberalism is susceptible to illiberalism is because liberalism tries to achieve both freedom and equity and ends up sacrificing the former to try to achieve the latter. "

Relative to the rest of your essay, this comes out of nowhere. And I don't agree with it. The weakness of liberalism is that the natural human inclination is "freedom for me, but not for thee." There is what I call FOOL (Fear Of Others' Liberty). In a liberal society, people with high status overcome their inner FOOL, and everybody else goes along. Liberals are losing out in contemporary America because too many Midwit FOOLs have obtained high status, especially in academia and media, and they are crowding out the liberals.

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Why do liberals keep losing out to Midwit FOOLs? Why do they lack the anti-bodies to leftist ratchet?

And shouldn't we fear others liberty sometimes. People do bad stuff with their liberty to both themselves and those around them. To take an example, I know you are skeptical of the freedom to use hard drugs because it tends to have negative externalities.

It seems like even liberals have to judge when they should or shouldn't be FOOLs.

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Aug 29, 2023Liked by Erik Torenberg

Thomas Sowell was sounding this exact alarm in the 80s. I was genuinely shocked when I saw that “Conflict of Visions” was written in the 80s. He basically laid out all of this nonsense at a time no one was aware of it

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Came here from Arnold Kling's substack, so I'm not familiar with all of Torenberg's work. However, I must take vigorous exception to one aspect of this post, which appears to have occurred in others as well.

My complaint is with the casual use of the word "equity" as a synonym for "equality". "Equity" has to do with fairness and justice: per Oxford's definition, "the quality of being fair and impartial". Progressives have elected to redefine the word as meaning something like "equality of outcomes", without reference to the efforts, accomplishments, or deserts of the people harmed by or benefiting from the bringing about of that equality. That's understandable, because from their point of view, fairness and justice means equality of outcomes. But for those who don't embrace their philosophy, it's wrong and dangerous to accept their definition.

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Interesting. I wonder if the opposite is more true: It's dangerous to try to use the word to mean what you want it to mean instead of what its current institutional usage. When you do that, you give more power to the people who are using it in the way you don't like by enabling the Motte and Bailey to persist.

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