L Duhs - ‘Freedom’ on the Road to Ruin: An Australian Apology to America’s Freedom-Loving Hard Right.

jpe:9763 - Journal of Philosophical Economics, November 30, 2022, Volume XV - https://doi.org/10.46298/jpe.9763
‘Freedom’ on the Road to Ruin: An Australian Apology to America’s Freedom-Loving Hard Right.Article

Authors: L Duhs 1

Contemporary America faces deep-seated problems - not least because so many Americans have lost respect for their own electoral system and democratic institutions. America suffers too from unrelenting right wing hyperbole in respect of significant social issues, including their conviction that only they understand, and value, freedom. Because of Australia’s restrictive responses to the covid-19 pandemic, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis – a potential Presidential candidate - denigrates Australia as ‘not a free country; not a free country at all’. Australians may dismiss Governor DeSantis’s comments as laughable, but a chorus of hard right comments in support of his view invites a comparison of the different ways in which ‘freedom’ is understood in Republican America and in Australia. One consequence of DeSantis’s conception of ‘freedom’ is the extraordinary American death rate from the Covid-19 pandemic, which in the case of Florida – which DeSantis celebrates as the ‘free-est State’ – stood at about 48 times the Australian rate when he scorned Australia as indistinguishable from communist China. Despite massive American spending on defence budgets, a domestic battle has been waged, and lost, in respect of the more prosaic defence of America’s traditional economic philosophy, and its defining institutions; and American conservatives are now divided even within their own ranks as to what it is that they wish to conserve, other than partisan advantage. The roots of America’s present malaise are to be found in the evolving (mis)understandings of a set of keywords including ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’, ‘tyranny’, ‘individualism’, and ‘society’. The radical right has impoverished the understanding of these keywords, and Australia’s pandemic response was in fact designed to give itself freedom from the ‘freedom’ that the Republican right now eulogises. In the name of an implicit and contentious teleological vision, the Republican understanding of ‘freedom’ has now descended to the point where America’s hard right perversely sees itself as actually now needing to save Australia from democracy, while simultaneously undermining its own democratic institutions. The need for a reinvigorated teaching of economic philosophy is plain to see.

Volume: Volume XV
Section: The Economists’ Philosophy Day – A Journal of Philosophical Economics celebration of philosophical reflection in the economic science
Published on: November 30, 2022
Accepted on: September 22, 2022
Submitted on: July 5, 2022
Keywords: [SHS.ECO]Humanities and Social Sciences/Economics and Finance

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