TaraElla Themes 2017-18

A Liberal and Truly Intersectional Feminism, no GLIF
Only Liberal Feminism is Truly Intersectional Feminism. Learn more here.
Both the Ideas Lab and The TaraElla Show aim to advance liberal intersectional feminism.
To learn more about how other 'intersectional' feminists are doing it wrong, read The Disappointment of G.L.I.F.

More Music
More new work will be added to the catalog of TaraElla's Music.

A Moral Liberty
Contrary to popular (American) belief, real liberals are not Left (or Right), but pro-liberty.
The Ideas Lab is on a campaign to revive Moral Liberalism.
For more about Moral Liberalism, read TaraElla's book Liberal Revival Now.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Moral Libertarians should Fight Political Correctness from both Left and Right

Many people say they hate political correctness. Of course, moral libertarians naturally hate political correctness too. The principle of equal moral agency requires that everyone be able to express and promote their moral views, which means that free speech is needed. Furthermore, we believe in the free market of ideas, which requires a lack of impediment to free speech to function properly.

Among people who say they hate political correctness, however, many fail to oppose all forms of political correctness, or worse, fail to even recognize all forms of political correctness. For example, in last year's Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, the 'no' camp said that extending marriage rights to same-sex couples was political correctness. But was that really true? After all, same-sex couples already lived in committed relationships recognised by society, and often had legally unrecognised wedding ceremonies. Same-sex couples already lived in marriage-like relationships, and their relationships were generally regarded across Australian society as not different in nature from heterosexual marriages, as evidenced by the landslide victory of the 'yes' camp. Hence the idea of marriage being a relationship between two people regardless of gender was already de-facto correct, it just wasn't legally correct, i.e. politically correct. Amending the law would bring legal and political correctness in line with the reality. Conversely, the idea that marriage could only be between a man and a woman had already become only politically correct, because it did not line up with lived reality in Australian society anymore. Hence, the 'no' camp was the politically correct camp, hoping to maintain a standard of political correctness that deviated from reality. As you can see, conservatives are not free from political correctness either, they are just blind to it: so blind that they often accuse the other camp of being politically correct instead.

In fact, the left is also responsible for some of the right's attitude that political correctness is whatever they don't like. A substantial part of the left have bought the idea that political correctness is who they are, so much that when former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders blamed Donald Trump's victory on political correctness, the comment were controversial within the left. In this case, the political correctness Sanders was referring to surrounded the lack of criticism of pro-corporate policy in mainstream media and politics, something both socialists and libertarians alike have been complaining about for quite a long time. Therefore, there was no reason why the left would disagree with him here. In fact, the left didn't disagree with Sanders at all, they were just not used to describing their opponents as politically correct. But Sanders was clearly correct here. Mainstream politics had presumed a 'correct' point of view and failed to represent other points of view, and this is political correctness by definition.

Having discussed two examples of right-wing political correctness, I believe I need to provide some balance here. Of course, the left is not without problems of political correctness either, to put it mildly. In recent years, the left has indeed taken leftist political correctness to new heights, with concepts like no-platforming and safe speech. Politically incorrect speech is now deemed unsafe, and must be no-platformed, i.e completely disallowed. This attitude, formerly believed only to exist in fascist dictatorships, is invading progressive circles at a worrying pace. Reviving the free speech culture and upholding the free market of ideas has arguably become our most urgent imperative, as moral libertarians. As a former US president liked to say, freedom is never more than two generations from extinction.

In conclusion, political correctness comes from both the left and the right, and perhaps even other directions too. To oppose political correctness sincerely is to oppose all forms of political correctness consistently. We cannot allow being against political correctness to become just a brand politicians use to attack opponents, or a slogan the right use to attack the left.

Moral Libertarian Perspective: Power, Oppression and Liberation

Political philosophers throughout history have pondered questions of power, oppression, and how to liberate people from oppression. In recent years, such topics have also entered mainstream consciousness in an unprecendented way. There's one thing everyone can agree on: wherever there is power, there is great potential for oppression. And as Focault and many other philosophers have noted, power and power dynamics are to be found everywhere in life. Therefore, oppression is potentially everywhere. However, just how to liberate people from oppression is still one thing that we cannot find consensus on yet.

I believe the moral libertarian principle of equal moral agency should be central to any sincere attempt to liberate everyone from oppression. Under the principle of equal moral agency, nobody can have power over anybody, and hence there is no oppression. In other words, as long as we strive to achieve the principle of equal moral agency, we will be heading in the right direction to liberate everyone from oppression.

It is also therefore, the more we care about liberating everyone from oppression, the more we must oppose everything that runs contrary to the principle of equal moral agency. To this end, we must oppose all government policy deciding top-down for everyone that certain citizens shall be second class and afforded less rights, for example laws against the religious freedom of certain religious groups, or laws against the equal rights of LGBT individuals. We must also oppose structures that allow some people to control what others can say (or even preventing them from speaking up in the first place), like so-called safe speech and the so-called progressive stack. For those who believe in true liberation from oppression, there are should be no excuses for refusing to uphold the principle of equal moral agency.

Some conservatives may argue that certain 'traditional' policies are needed to uphold tradition, or to stop what they consider to be the left's 'long march through the institutions'. However, they clearly have too little faith in the free will and moral compass of the many individuals that exist in every society. Would they just sit there and allow a 'long march through the institutions' to occur? In fact, if somebody wanted to initiate such a 'long march', they would most likely start with the government, and then use government power to forcibly change every other institution. Weakening the ability of governments to define societies certainly prevents this approach.

On the other hand, some progressives argue that we need to give certain groups priority to speak up, and remove the ability of other groups to have a voice, to achieve equality. This view not only doesn't respect individuals as individuals rather than just members of groups, this view is also deeply misguided from a power and liberation perspective. Because such arbitrary systems by definition require policing by certain individuals, they effectively help create a power differential, and hence great potential for oppression. Some may think that this temporary inequality will help end oppression, but this idea has never worked in history. Rather, it just changes the oppressors to people who happen to identify as 'progressives'.

In conclusion, sticking to the principle of equal moral agency is the only way we can head in the right direction to end all power dynamics and oppression. Anything else is simply 'some are more equal than others', and will inevitably create dynamics of power and oppression.

Moral Libertarian Perspective: The Question of Private Property

NOTE: This article represents ONE moral libertarian's thinking on the issue of private property. It does not represent all moral libertarians' thinking on this matter. In fact, I accept that moral libertarians can be as pro-property as Rothbard or as anti-property as Marx, as long as their case rests on liberty, because moral libertarians must accept the equal moral agency of each other.

Is private property good for liberty? Modern political libertarianism's answer on this issue is clear. For most contemporary political libertarians, whose thinking have been most strongly influenced by the views of thinkers like Hayek, Rothbard and Nozick, liberty means absolute private property rights, and where private property rights are even just a bit compromised, there is no true liberty. On the other hand, socialists and social liberals (left-liberals) claim that it would mean those who have no means of acquiring private property, most often due to being born into poverty in the first place, are effectively left without even basic liberties. In fact, their line of argument is also backed by historical thinkers, from Rosseau to Marx, who believed that private property should be abolished for the sake of liberation. A third approach is that of John Locke, often considered the father of classical liberalism. While Locke strongly supported private property rights, he thought that there also needs to be enough and as good left over for others to use. This is clearly quite different from some modern libertarians, whose ultimate visions involve every part of the world being held as private property without exception.

Let's start from the modern political libertarian view, because that seems to be the default position in the discussion about property and liberty. Modern libertarianism is based on the non-aggression principle (NAP), which holds that no individual can commit aggression against another under any circumstances, unless they have broken the law through aggression against another in the first place. It logically follows that the government cannot take away any individual's private property under any circumstances, because, even if an individual refuses to pay taxes, they haven't committed aggression against any third party, and therefore the government dragging them to jail at gunpoint for refusing to pay taxes violates the NAP. However, this view of property rights is ultimately impractical, because no matter how small the government is made, some amount of taxes still have to be paid, and where the government jails individuals for not paying taxes it would still violate the NAP, meaning one could argue that the NAP-based property rights logic ultimately leads to anarchism. Furthermore, other people may argue that this logic depends on a particular definition of 'aggression'. For example, taking another view, merely trespassing into private property is not an act of aggression, therefore neither the government nor property oweners should be able to use violence to prevent trespassing. Allowing law enforcement against trespassing but not allowing law enforcement against tax evasion thus would be a double standard. This logic essentially leads to no effective property rights for anybody! It is therefore not surprising that the vast majority of people do not see the NAP as a practical basis to resolve the issue of property rights.

(Several libertarian thinkers have proposed that property owners instead be able to hire private police services and private militaries to protect their property. But firstly, such services would be very expensive, and out of the reach of the average property owner. Secondly, the authority of a private police service would not be recognised by another, resulting in such services acting like rival gangs where there are disputes. Investing in the wrong police service would therefore result in loss of property. Police services with proven track records will also therefore be able to raise prices to sky-high levels. Therefore, in the real world, there is no alternative to government regulation to maintain property rights. Leftist anarchists are at least right about one thing: no government, no private property, and no free market capitalism either.)

But let's imagine a society there the NAP approach to property rights has taken hold. Every bit of the world is now privately owned. People are born into vast privately-owned lands, sort of like the nation states that used to exist a few centuries ago. Since every bit of this land is owned by the CEO, he makes all the decisions, and the people who live there have to obey his orders, or else face eviction, probably into some wasteland near the North Pole that nobody wants to own. Those who disagree with the CEO and can afford to rent property in another CEO's land can move, but those who cannot afford to move must just obey. In fact, at one point in history, people lived in similar circumstances: it was called the middle ages. In this kind of world, there is very little liberty for the vast majority of people. If this is your ideal world, then you might actually fit right into the Neo-reactionary crowd. But for us moral libertarians, there is clearly nothing like the equality of moral agency we so insist on here. In fact, it demonstrates why John Locke, though a strong supporter of property rights, believed that there must be enough and just as good left over for everyone else.

Now, let's think about another solution: what if there was no private property? This could theoretically be achieved overnight by the government simply refusing to enforce property rights. If, at the stroke of the clock at midnight the government stopped enforcing property rights, what do you think would happen? Chaos would probably take over by five minutes past midnight, with thugs breaking into properties and taking what they want everywhere across the country. After all, it's legal now. Of course, in this kind of society, there wouldn't even be basic safety and security for most people, let alone liberty and equal opportunity. In fact, there are several places around the world right now which are experiencing a total breakdown of law and order, so one does not even need to imagine how such a society would look like. I don't know anyone who would like to live in one of those places.

Thus, when the far-left proposes there be no private property, they don't generally mean the abolishment of all regulation of property rights. Rather, they seek to collectivize the ownership of property as much as possible, using their own words. But what does this collective ownership look like? How can I collectively own a house, for example, with the four million other people who live in the same city? Who gets to decide what can be done about the house? Or even who can live there? Of course, to answer all this would require heavy-handed regulation from the government. In fact, in practice, collective ownership has always meant government ownership, because no other form of collective ownership is practically possible. Where the government owns all the property, they effectively have all the liberty and moral agency, because they get to make all the decisions: not unlike the kings and nobles of centuries past! Modern western democratic socialists often insist that, where the government is democratic, the decisions are effectively made by the people. But anyone with any experience in politics can tell you that politics is a game of powerplay, where alliances, strategies and deceit is the order of the day, meaning that 'representative' democracy is not always truly representative. Short of having a referendum on every decision to be made, there is no way to ensure that every decision truly reflects the will of the people. Therefore, a lot of the moral agency of making political decisions still rest on the hands of the politicians themselves. Giving government too much power effectively means that politicians have a lot more moral agency than private citizens, something that is unacceptable from a moral libertarian point of view.

But let's pretend that property can be effectively collectively owned, for example via a government that somehow always makes decisions according to the majority's wishes. In this way, all the collective decisions would be made by the collective moral agency of the people without the politicians having any extra influence, in line with moral libertarianism's demands. But moral libertarians should only support collectively making decisions that are unavoidably collective, because these issues metaphorically represent one single undivisible pie of which everyone owns an equal share, and the only way to make a decision about what to do with this pie that respects equal moral agency is by each person having an equal share of the decision. However, many issues are not unavoidably collective, and moral libertarianism demands that each person be able to make their own moral decisions and live accordingly. Extending the pie metaphor, everybody has their own pie, and should get to decide what to do with their own pie, and only their own pie. Here, collective ownership is incompatible with moral libertarianism, because if all pies are collectively owned, the majority also gets to decide what the minority can do with their own pies. Thus in any moral controversy, the majority, being the majority, have moral agency over everyone in a winner-takes-all fashion, and the minority have no moral agency at all. This kind of democracy would essentially be an illiberal democracy. Thus, even where collective ownership is possible, it would result in illiberal democracy at best.

Having looked at all the possible solutions for property rights, we can come to three conclusions. Firstly, private ownership of property is a necessary condition for liberty and equal moral agency, because 1) if there is no protection of private property, as in anarchism, then the physically strongest will rule over everyone else; 2) if all property is collectivized (i.e. government owned) politcians will practically rule over everyone else; 3) even if we could collectivize property in truly democratic way the majority in any dispute will effectively be able to take away all liberty and moral agency of the minority. Secondly, property cannot be too unequally distributed, because that will mean the haves can rule over the have-nots, effectively replicating the feudal system. Thirdly, there is really no objective reason why a government that maintains a system to protect private property via laws and policing cannot also demand some taxation for the purposes of wealth redistribution, as without government regulation in the first place private property cannot practically exist! If governments already tax individuals to maintain their private property (courts, militaries and police forces are expensive to maintain), and in the practical world owners of private property have to rely on this system to enforce their property rights, why can't the system be designed to include some wealth redistribution to ensure a more equal distribution of private property, and thus ensure actual liberty for all?

Moral Libertarian Perspective: Political Leadership is Overrated

In these times of uncertainty and crisis, there have been repeated calls for political leadership from many quarters of society. It is as though if our politicians would make some top-down decisions for us, everything will be alright again. Of course, those calling for political leadership from different parts of the political spectrum expect really different kinds of decisions to be made, so in reality, no political leader can hope to answer all these wishes for leadership satisfactorily. In fact, a leader that can unite the country and make strong decisions that most people can accept has always been an unlikely thing. Former US President Ronald Reagan was arguably the most popular Western leader in recent decades, but plenty of people strongly disliked him and his policies. Furthermore, the dream of unity behind a 'strong leader' is becoming increasingly impossible with the increasing fragmentation and polarization of our political landscape. But, a more fundamental question is, is this the right dream to have, in the first place?

At this point, I should perhaps declare my position upfront. As a moral libertarian who believes in all individuals having an equal amount of moral agency, I simply do not believe in governments and political leaders making top-down decisions for all. Therefore, of course I don't believe in all society uniting behind a strong leader. I do not believe in political leadership for most issues, simply. But since people with ideological beliefs must still try to make their case in the free market of ideas using facts and ideology-neutral logic, in the rest of this article I will focus on just that.

Those calling for political leadership usually do so for two reasons: 1) either they want something fixed but don't know exactly how to, or 2) they want certain things fixed a certain way, but believe that only a government can do it. In fact, political leadership may seem the most immediate solution for both scenarios, but it certainly isn't the best solution for either.

If you want something fixed and your first thought is to call on the government to provide a solution, it effectively means that you trust the 'wisdom' of politicians more than your own wisdom, your family and friends' wisdom, and your neighbours' wisdom. However, history has shown this to be an often incorrect call. In fact, since all human beings are imperfect, the politicians are bound to get some things wrong, and even if just by chance, you, your family and friends, and your neighbours are bound to get at least some of these same things right. Therefore, placing your trust in politicians is effectively letting other people make decisions for you, even though you could have done better yourself. Furthermore, politics is too often a game of power struggle, alliances and deceit, and politicians may make decisions that are not truly guided by their conscience. Placing your blind trust in politicians is something only fools do. Instead, the free market of ideas, being made up of the collective wisdom of many minds competing against each other, will always provide a much better solution.

More commonly, people call for political leadership because they think they need the power of government to change things. In many cases, however, this lack of ability for change outside government is because governments have appropriated certain powers for themselves at some point in history, power that they should not have had in the first place. In many cases, community-driven change, inspired by solutions selected from the free market of ideas, would have provided both a more effective solution, and a smoother and quicker path to change, if not for the government being a roadblock. For example, governments decided that they should have monopoly control over marriage around the 18th century or so. Fast foward to more recent times, and any change to marriage laws, whether it be the introduction of no-fault divorce, or the inclusion of same-sex couples, have become something that needs government approval. Hence these issues also needlessly became political issues, and often political footballs used by politicians for various purposes. If the government had never appropriated marriage for itself, the community could have resolved these issues simply by vigorous debate in the free market of ideas. Therefore, next time you come across an issue that looks like it can only be solved by the government, you should think about if it is really that the government should give up some of its control over society and individuals.

Another area where government intervention is often called for is education. Specifically, what should be taught in our public schools forms a large part of the ongoing culture wars. Just in the West in the past ten years or so, there have been calls for and against things like environmentalism and climate change, indigenous history, colonial history, feminist and LGBT history, LGBT acceptance, competing versions of citizenship education, and competing theories of Darwinian evolution and intelligent design to be taught in public schools. In fact, so that governments and public schooling could be as value-neutral as possible, it should always be wrong to use public school teaching to advance any ideological agenda. Public schools should stick to teaching uncontroversial things, uncontroversial meaning almost universally accepted by consensus in the particular field of study. For example, Darwinian evolution is uncontroversial within the context of Biology, but some parts of feminist history remain controversial in the wider field of history. Proponents of views and theories still considered controversial should refrain from trying to make it into school curricula; they are instead welcome to spread their ideas in other ways. Under this doctrine, there should be much less need for 'political leadership' in what schools teach.

In conclusion, I strongly believe that asking for more political leadership is misguided. Instead, we should reflect on what further areas the government could give up its control, and let individuals and society have more freedom.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Moral Libertarian Perspective: The Thin vs Thick Libertarianism Debate

In recent years, libertarianism has become increasingly divided between thin libertarianism and thick libertarianism. Thin libertarianism only focuses on greatly reducing the size of government, upholding property rights, and upholding the non-aggressional principle (NAP), and is generally agnostic on all other issues. Thin libertarianism does not care about what attitudes people out there hold about social issues, and does not care about whether social liberties actually increase or rather become more restricted as a result of libertarian policies. Thick libertarians believe in the same governmental policies as thin libertarians, but they also insist on culturally encouraging everyone to adopt a live and let live attitude, and to rid society of traditional prejudices like racism, sexism and homophobia, so that individuals in society can truly experience an increase in liberty.

While moral libertarianism is not the same as political libertarianism, and indeed moral libertarians do not have to be, and are indeed sometimes not, political libertarians, moral libertarianism shares some of the core ideology and historical cannon of thought with political libertarianism. Therefore, moral libertarians can certainly be inspired by debates in political libertarianism, and vice versa. Looking at the matter from a basic perspective, it would appear that moral libertarianism shares some of the attitudes and goals of thick libertarianism. In particular, unlike thin libertarianism, both thick libertarianism and moral libertarianism share a concern about increasing individuals' liberty in practice. I believe that there is a lot in thick libertarian thinking that can inspire moral libertarians in this area, and vice versa. In fact, on social (non-economic) issues, moral libertarianism and thick libertarianism often take similar views.

Thin libertarians often accuse thick libertarians of taking the same stance as the increasingly authoritarian 'new left' on social issues. It is not uncommon to hear from conservative-minded thin libertarians accusing thick libertarians of having cultural Marxist sympathies. I believe that the moral libertarian principles, particularly the equality of moral agency (EMA), can help illustrate why the aforementioned observation is wrong. I have written extensively on how moral libertarianism almost never actually takes the same stance as 'new left' socialism on social issues. In fact, when explaining and promoting moral libertarian positions, I have encountered plenty of hostility from the left, thus proving how different our views really are. Moral libertarians support everyone in society having equal moral agency, i.e. to live as per their own moral compass, and oppose any kind of moral coercion. Therefore, by definition we have to oppose traditional prejudice taking away the fair share of liberty and equal opportunity due to women, racial minorities and LGBT individuals. However, an important thing is that we also hold the same attitude towards religious conservatives, for example, again because by definition we have to. We believe that the religious conservative should be able to hold, promote and live according to their views concerning marriage without prejudice from the rest of society under any circumstances, for example, and this right should have no expiry date. I don't think many 'authoritarian leftists' would hold the same view.

Thin libertarians also sometimes accuse thick libertarians of promoting social views that will inevitably lead to bigger government. For example, they sometimes say that thick libertarians promote libertine attitudes that cause family breakdown and increase drug and alcohol use, which will end up causing more welfare dollars to be spent, and therefore also more taxation. This kind of attitude is actually inconsistent with the general tradition of liberalism and libertarianism, in that we should not support restricting liberty just to pre-emptively prevent social consequences we may not like. Otherwise, it would be not be liberalism, but conservatism, socialism or something similarly authoritarian. Also, there is nothing under thick libertarianism that does not allow one to promote family values and clean living. Moral libertarianism goes even further: it insists that conservatives should have just as much right to promote their views as everyone else, without any social penalty.

In fact, a lot of conservative thin libertarians' accusations towards thick libertarianism betray their lack of faith towards liberty, towards what choices people would make if given full moral agency over their lives. There are even so-called libertarians who savour the prospect of a future where the complete division of the world into privately-owned gated communities (most if not all owned by conservatives, according to their logic) will mean that most people will live according to conservative rules, not because they want to, but because they are forced to by the property owners. How is this different from authoritarian conservatism? Both political libertarians and moral libertarians can support conservative positions, but they must still respect other individuals' equal liberty and moral agency in the process. Just like everyone else, conservative libertarians can make their case in the free market of ideas, and try to pursuade more individuals to live the way they want. Nothing more, nothing less.

Moral Libertarian Perspective: Why Identity Politics is Often Morally Questionable

Despite its controversial reputation, identity politics appears to be increasingly influential recently. Maybe the arrival of the new wave of feminism, or perhaps the increased awareness of racial disparities in society, is causing this identity 'awakening'. While I'm personally not a supporter of the identity politics way of looking at things, even I have to agree that identity politics sometimes helps to advance the rights of minorities. However, we also cannot overlook the fact that identity politics as it currently exists is problematic. But how is it problematic? And can we save the best features of identity politics while rejecting the problematic elements?

From a moral libertarian perspective, initially there appears to be no problem with identity politics per se. If everyone had equal moral agency, surely some individuals can use their moral agency to advance the rights of the minority group they belong to? There is surely nothing wrong with this. However, things are really not that simple. Identity politics, in practice, often means seeing the world in an in-group vs out-group perspective. This perspective can lead some to only care about the rights and liberty of the in-group, and diminish the need of people outside the group for similar rights and liberty. This us-vs-them mentality doesn't sit very well with a commitment to distribute liberty and moral agency equally among every human being.

In recent years, the rise of what I would call identity socialism has made identity politics even more problematic. Identity socialism is also often called cultural Marxism, but I will avoid that term here because it also refers to a right wing anti-Semitic theory about the Frankfurt School. Besides, identity socialism is really not similar to real Marxism in substance, even though it borrows a lot of Marxist language. Basically, identity socialism borrows the concepts of class consciousness and class struggle from old-school socialism, but applies these concepts to cultural and identity groups. Thus, women can be seen as an oppressed class, and so can LGBT people or ethnic minorities, and they should 'struggle' against the privileged classes (white, male, heterosexual, and so on). Like how some old-school socialists advocated taking away the rights and liberties of the bourgeois class at least temporarily so that the working class could be liberated, many identity socialists have no problems with reverse discrimination, as it's just all part of the 'class struggle' and 'liberation'. Identity socialists also demand that good allies in the privileged classes should 'check their privilege', which often includes accepting unfair treatment without complaint. If these supposedly privileged people dare voice concerns about being treated unfairly or vote at elections in a way that they think will end the unfair treatment, they can be labelled right-wing and reactionary. In fact, what I just said could make me a counter-revolutionary enemy in the eyes of identity socialists. An us-vs-them, all out culture war thus begins. (Meanwhile, I understand that actual socialists and Marxists are also upset at this situation, because for them class solidarity is the most important thing, and the division of the working class into identity sub-groups is to be strongly discouraged.)

Anyone who is not stupid can see that there can be no compatibility between the identity socialists' version of identity politics, and the moral libertarian principle of equal moral agency. Moral libertarians believe that every individual in society should have equal moral agency (and hence liberty and political rights), regardless of their identity or cultural characteristics. A woman must not have less moral agency than a man, but then a man also must not have less moral agency than a woman. Therefore, a woman must not have less liberty or political rights than a man, but a man must also not have less liberty or political rights than a woman.

However, all this does not mean that moral libertarians cannot have some kind of politics informed by the lived experience of minorities. Unlike Marxists, who stress class solidarity above individual experience, or fascists, who stress national unity above individual experience, we liberals are individualists, i.e. we care most about the individual. Individual liberty, individual needs and individual lived experience serve as the ultimate guide for a truly liberal politics. Liberalism encourages each individual to make the most of their potential, and live their lives accroding to their own moral compasses. Therefore, it also encourages individuals to identify systematic barriers that prevent them from doing this. It is under the umbrella of liberalism that women, ethnic minorities and LGBT individuals first found the justification that they too deserved equal liberty and equal opportunity, and found the language to express it. While conservatives, socialists and nationalists alike dismissed their concerns as selfish demands that should give way to collectivist objectives, our liberal forerunners listened carefully and helped introduce reforms to make society more liberal for everyone. And in this best tradition, we should continue to listen to what minorities have to say. As moral libertarians, we should not rest until there is equal liberty, equal opportunity, and hence equal moral agency between every individual in society, no matter what minority characteristics they may have.

In fact, the liberal version of identity politics, which is all about letting minority voices and lived experience inform us of how to build a more liberal society for all, is much more effective in being truly inclusive than the us-vs-them, culture-as-class struggle version of identity politics. First of all, when we start to think of people collectively as groups rather than as individuals, a group dynamic builds up, where individuals in the group are expected to have primary loyalty to the group. This loyalty often effectively includes following the political agenda of the group leaders. Thus pro-life feminists often find it difficult to have a place in predominantly pro-choice feminist movements. Similarly, politically conservative or even centrist LGBT individuals often find themselves unwelcome in some activist groups led by socialist leaders. Thus such movements end up not serving all women or all LGBT people, they only serve those who politically conform to the activist establishment's wishes. First and second wave feminism often prioritized the needs and experiences of white women, and dismissed the voices of black, Latina and Asian women. Hence the introduction of intersectional feminism. But as much of feminism still has gatekeepers, the agenda of this so-called intersectional feminism is still limited by the agenda of the gatekeepers, making it effectively a Gatekeeper Limited Intersectional Feminism (GLIF). In the liberal version of identity politics, none of this would occur because everyone is welcome to add their voice to the free market of ideas; there simply is no group and therefore no leaders or gatekeepers. Secondly, group-based identity politics not only creates unequal moral agency between groups, it also creates unequal moral agency within groups. Those who do not conform to the activist establishment's agenda effectively have less moral agency, because they are often discouraged from speaking up or even semi-coerced into changing their views. Their disfavoured position within the movement also means that they may be excluded from activities of decision making. Thus they experience injustice within the movement itself, which further compounds the injustice they receive from the wider world as a result of their female or minority status. Unlike the group-based approach to identity politics, the liberal approach stresses equal liberty and equal opportunity for each individual, thus by design it will never make people excluded in this way.