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Credit Where Due


In order to maintain my centrist cred, I’ll agree with Matt and disagree with John Holbo on Rudy Giuliani’s ode to authority:

We look upon authority too often and focus over and over again, for 30 or 40 or 50 years, as if there is something wrong with authority. We see only the oppressive side of authority. Maybe it comes out of our history and our background. What we don’t see is that freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.

This seems, to me, to be almost self-evidently true. Moreover, it’s key not only to Hegel but to the entire tradition of social contract theory. Now, as Sully points out there’s something mildly scary about a man with Rudy Giuliani’s record making this argument, but I nevertheless strongly prefer a coherent defense of the role of authority in political community to the libertarian silliness that often seems to prevail in this kind of discussion.

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