Episode 61: Defending Liberal Democracy: On What Grounds?

The co-hosts and Anne Jaclard, MHI’s organizational secretary, discuss Andrew’s recent article, “On What Grounds Should We Defend Liberal Democracy?” The discussion, like the article, focuses on defense of individual rights and freedoms that liberal democratic regimes protect––against the heightened attack on them in the US and abroad––not on classical liberal ideology or democracy “as such.” This stance is contrasted to the ambivalence, in theory and practice, toward individual rights and freedoms that prevails in parts of “the Left,” and to the “economistic” outlook in which that ambivalence is often rooted.

The co-hosts and Anne review several “pragmatic” reasons to defend liberal-democratic rights and freedoms; Andrew explains why he agrees with them but finds them insufficient: the ultimate reason to defend individual rights and freedoms is that they are good in themselves. The discussion explores the roots of this idea, in Marx’s historical-materialist conception of human development sketched out in the Critique of the Gotha Program, in his fervent support for voting rights and freedom of the press and opposition to authoritarianism, and in Raya Dunayevskaya’s Marxism and Freedom. In addition to the source materials linked to in the article itself, reference is made to Marx’s essay “Private Property and Communism.”

Plus current-events segment on the book banning surge, driven by right-wing, racist, and anti-LGBTQ ideology, that is sweeping the US. In the discussion, the co-hosts refer to a New York Times report, and Yahoo! News interview with censorship expert Emily Knox.

Radio Free Humanity is a podcast covering news, politics and philosophy from a Marxist-Humanist perspective. It is co-hosted by Brendan Cooney and Andrew Kliman. We intend to release new episodes every two weeks. Radio Free Humanity is sponsored by MHI, but the views expressed by the co-hosts and guests of Radio Free Humanity are their own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and positions of MHI.

We welcome and encourage listeners’ comments, posted on this episode’s page.

Please visit MHI’s online print publication, With Sober Senses, for further news, commentary, and analysis.

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February 4, 2022

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