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Liberalism: Boogeyman to the Right

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  • Liberalism: Boogeyman to the Right

    If you're going to attack a boogeyman, you should at least know what you're talking about. Here's a good write up:
    http://www.princeton.edu/~starr/arti...alismWorks.pdf

    Liberalism is notoriously difficult to define. the term
    has been used to describe a sprawling profusion of ideas, practices,
    movements, and parties in different societies and historical
    periods. Often emerging as a philosophy of opposition,
    whether to feudal privilege, absolute monarchy, colonialism,
    theocracy, communism, or fascism, liberalism has served, as
    the word suggests, as a force for liberation, or at least liberalization—
    for the opening up of channels of free initiative.


    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    Modern democratic liberalism developed out of the more
    egalitarian aspects of the tradition and serves as the basis of
    contemporary liberal politics. The relationship between liberalism
    in these two phases has been predominantly cumulative: While rejecting laissez-faire economic policy, modern liberalism
    continues to take the broader tradition of constitutional
    liberalism as its foundation. That is why it is possible to speak
    not only of the two separately but also of an overarching set of
    ideas that unites them.


    -------------------------------------------------------------

    In describing these changes, I do not mean to suggest that
    liberals from the start had a clearly developed theory guiding
    reforms, much less all the right answers. Rather than formulating
    policy from speculative axioms, reformers beginning in
    the mid-19th century increasingly devoted themselves to the
    gathering and analysis of socioeconomic data. In America, the measures adopted during the Progressive era, New Deal, and
    Great Society were often ad hoc and experimental, and many
    failed. But partly through better knowledge, partly by trial and
    error, liberal governments discovered that certain forms of limited
    state intervention could help bring the promise of a free
    and just society closer to fulfillment while reducing the waste
    of human and physical resources and improving economic
    performance. Modern liberalism has never been ruled by a
    theory in the way that free-market conservatism and Marxian
    socialism have been. A pragmatic emphasis on experience and
    evidence—on how things work in practice—has been critical in
    making liberalism work.


    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    Conservatives and liberals have also responded differently
    to a phenomenon that did not exist in the 18th century when
    constitutional liberalism took shape: the modern corporation.
    While conservatives have treated private corporations as
    analogous to individuals and deserving of the same liberties,
    liberals have regarded corporations as a phenomenon of power,
    needing control like government itself.
    The discipline of power that constitutional
    liberalism imposes upon the state modern
    liberalism attempts to impose on the corporation,
    albeit not in the same way.


    -----------------------------------------------------------------


    Against all these reasons for redistribution, the liberal project
    has to weigh other values. Liberalism is egalitarian in the sense
    that it seeks to achieve a more equal distribution of income and
    well-being than would otherwise be generated in the marketplace.
    But it is not committed to achieving a perfect equality in the distribution
    of goods. Equity requires that those who work harder,
    take greater risks, or develop their talents to a higher degree be
    able to recoup a return from their efforts. This incentive is critical
    to innovation and prosperity, which redound to wider benefit.
    Liberalism regards the well-being of the least well-off as a central
    criterion for a just society, and it seeks to provide individuals with
    some degree of protection against risks beyond their control; but
    it accepts inequalities insofar as they are to everyone’s long-run
    advantage, and therefore aims for sustainable growth with widely
    shared gains. The pragmatic disposition of liberalism also implies
    that policies cannot be derived from moral principles alone, without
    regard to empirical realities. Experience shows that governments
    can bring about some results more readily than others.


    --------------------------------------------------------------

    Shrewd as they were in achieving political power, the
    Republicans of the Bush era have shown little of that genius
    in using it. A conservatism that does not want to hear about
    inequality or the sinking fortunes of the middle class, or about
    dangers to the global environment, or about unsustainable
    fiscal policies, or about gaping flaws in plans for war, may prevail
    in the short run, but the realities will sooner or later make
    themselves felt, as they did in 2006. A great nation cannot long
    be governed by wishful and simplistic thinking, denial, obfuscation,
    and deceit. Costs mount, grievances accumulate, and
    there comes a reckoning.


    And so on...



    We've had thirty years of conservatism. Look around. See the smoking ruin?

  • #2
    Really you guys should abandon the word "Liberal" so it can have its good name back.

    Maybe something more apt like "Fairitans" or something.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by BBII View Post
      Really you guys should abandon the word "Liberal" so it can have its good name back.

      Maybe something more apt like "Fairitans" or something.
      In other words, "Didn't read. Will post anyway."

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Rohirrim View Post
        In other words, "Didn't read. Will post anyway."
        I read it. Pretty consistent with wishful stuff I've read before.

        In reality, the only thing today's "liberals" have in common with the classical liberals of the nation's founding is the use of that word.

        But they stood for individual liberty in the face of royal privilege.

        The modern liberal stands for ethereal equality and fairness even if at the expense of individual liberty. Which is why they should relinquish the word. They defy it.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by BBII View Post
          I read it. Pretty consistent with wishful stuff I've read before.

          In reality, the only thing today's "liberals" have in common with the classical liberals of the nation's founding is the use of that word.

          But they stood for individual liberty in the face of royal privilege.

          The modern liberal stands for ethereal equality and fairness even if at the expense of individual liberty. Which is why they should relinquish the word. They defy it.
          You didn't read it all, or as usual, read it but didn't understand any of it. As the writer pointed out, classical liberalism didn't concern itself with inequality. For modern liberalism, that became a fundamental principle. And certainly not "...at the expense of individual liberty" which is just another Right Wing lie.

          Comment


          • #6
            BBIIFTL.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Rohirrim View Post
              You didn't read it all, or as usual, read it but didn't understand any of it. As the writer pointed out, classical liberalism didn't concern itself with inequality. For modern liberalism, that became a fundamental principle. And certainly not "...at the expense of individual liberty" which is just another Right Wing lie.
              You're failing to connect the dots here.

              Equality is not Liberty. At times they align. But at times they conflict. This can't be denied.

              If you choose equality over liberty, you are not a liberal in the classical sense at all. And for that reason you can draw no line from today's liberals back to those.

              The resemblance boils down to name alone. And only because common definitions tend to change over time.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by BBII View Post
                You're failing to connect the dots here.

                Equality is not Liberty. At times they align. But at times they conflict. This can't be denied.

                If you choose equality over liberty, you are not a liberal in the classical sense at all. And for that reason you can draw no line from today's liberals back to those.

                The resemblance boils down to name alone. And only because common definitions tend to change over time.
                Do me a favor, read the article or don't comment. Just bypass the thread.

                Liberalism is egalitarian in the sense
                that it seeks to achieve a more equal distribution of income and
                well-being than would otherwise be generated in the marketplace.
                But it is not committed to achieving a perfect equality in the distribution
                of goods. Equity requires that those who work harder,
                take greater risks, or develop their talents to a higher degree be
                able to recoup a return from their efforts. This incentive is critical
                to innovation and prosperity, which redound to wider benefit.
                Liberalism regards the well-being of the least well-off as a central
                criterion for a just society, and it seeks to provide individuals with
                some degree of protection against risks beyond their control; but
                it accepts inequalities insofar as they are to everyone’s long-run
                advantage, and therefore aims for sustainable growth with widely
                shared gains.


                And just to clarify, unequal economics can certainly determine a person's sense of their own liberty, and not only just their sense of it, but the reality. What is liberty to a starving man?
                Last edited by Rohirrim; 10-09-2013, 09:46 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Rohirrim View Post
                  Do me a favor, read the article or don't comment. Just bypass the thread.

                  Liberalism is egalitarian in the sense
                  that it seeks to achieve a more equal distribution of income and
                  well-being than would otherwise be generated in the marketplace.
                  But it is not committed to achieving a perfect equality in the distribution
                  of goods. Equity requires that those who work harder,
                  take greater risks, or develop their talents to a higher degree be
                  able to recoup a return from their efforts. This incentive is critical
                  to innovation and prosperity, which redound to wider benefit.
                  Liberalism regards the well-being of the least well-off as a central
                  criterion for a just society, and it seeks to provide individuals with
                  some degree of protection against risks beyond their control; but
                  it accepts inequalities insofar as they are to everyone’s long-run
                  advantage, and therefore aims for sustainable growth with widely
                  shared gains.


                  And just to clarify, unequal economics can certainly determine a person's sense of their own liberty, and not only just their sense of it, but the reality. What is liberty to a starving man?
                  Your problem is the same problem many (modern) liberals have with (modern) conservatives. You think we either don't understand what you want or want what you want. It's not that we don't understand what you want. Or want what you want. It's that we believe what you want isn't achievable by any artificial human construct.

                  And we believe that the effort to conform society to that artificial construct will do more harm than leaving each man (like your starving dude) to the pursuit of happiness, or ramen noodles, maybe some bread, or even a steak and baked potato.

                  Just as the Declaration worded it, and for good reason. Liberty frees you to pursue happiness. But it doesn't do free in-home delivery and setup.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by BBII View Post
                    Your problem is the same problem many (modern) liberals have with (modern) conservatives. You think we either don't understand what you want or want what you want. It's not that we don't understand what you want. Or want what you want. It's that we believe what you want isn't achievable by any artificial human construct.

                    And we believe that the effort to conform society to that artificial construct will do more harm than leaving each man (like your starving dude) to the pursuit of happiness, or ramen noodles, maybe some bread, or even a steak and baked potato.

                    Just as the Declaration worded it, and for good reason. Liberty frees you to pursue happiness. But it doesn't do free in-home delivery and setup.
                    Once again, you misunderstand. It has nothing to do with what anybody "wants." It has to do with what is best.

                    BTW, there is no government you can conceive of that is not an "artifical construct." For the last thirty years, America has stumbled and fallen under the supply side/deregulation/tax-cuts-for-the-rich artificial constructs of the Right. Every time in history that this type of conservatism has been tried, it has not only failed, but failed in the same way, creating massive inequality usually accompanied by greed-based market crashes.

                    As the professor who wrote this paper points out, to expect perfection out of government is a fool's errand. What you can do is create a society that simply does the best for the most. This is called "enlightened self-interest." That is not going to happen, ever, in a conservative/libertarian model where the basic theme is king-of-the-hill. Rational self-interest, also known as greed, is fundamentally immoral. So is simple selfishness. To establish a society, or a government, on either of those premises is self-defeating. Why? Because at their core (and behavioral science has proven this over and over again), human beings are altruistic.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Funny thing is liberals like to believe they are for equality, but even their own are sellouts to the big corporations they demean, but then turn around and do their bidding and make deals with them. Government is good, well only when democrats are in charge of course. War is bad, unless a democrat signs off on it of course. Today's liberals are more fascists than anything else.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Rohirrim View Post
                        Once again, you misunderstand. It has nothing to do with what anybody "wants." It has to do with what is best.

                        BTW, there is no government you can conceive of that is not an "artifical construct." For the last thirty years, America has stumbled and fallen under the supply side/deregulation/tax-cuts-for-the-rich artificial constructs of the Right. Every time in history that this type of conservatism has been tried, it has not only failed, but failed in the same way, creating massive inequality usually accompanied by greed-based market crashes.

                        As the professor who wrote this paper points out, to expect perfection out of government is a fool's errand. What you can do is create a society that simply does the best for the most. This is called "enlightened self-interest." That is not going to happen, ever, in a conservative/libertarian model where the basic theme is king-of-the-hill. Rational self-interest, also known as greed, is fundamentally immoral. So is simple selfishness. To establish a society, or a government, on either of those premises is self-defeating. Why? Because at their core (and behavioral science has proven this over and over again), human beings are altruistic.
                        I'm glad you framed it that way because it boils down to one of the best descriptions I've ever read about the most common core difference between a Liberal and a Conservative. I'll have to find out where I read it someday, I've looked for it again before and couldn't find it.

                        Anyway, it comes down to what you believe about humanity and human nature.

                        Liberals tend to believe in the possibility that society (and mankind with it) is on a journey towards perfecting itself. And that society released from the restraints of the past (ie tradition) will discover ever better ways to do things until eventually most of the problems today cease to exist, or at least dramatically improve. They tend to view tradition with skepticism, and often see them as plain mechanisms of social control.

                        Conservatives tend to believe human nature itself is flawed and that values and traditions often serve as a necessary check or balance on our innate flaws. Mankind released from the restraints of the past may well fall into the terrible consequence of his own ignorance. The traditions we have today are often based on the lessons hard-learned by those who came before. Venturing away from those traditions should usually be done with very careful caution and deliberation.

                        Now, as for the specifics about greed and immorality, you're right to say that there is immorality there. Unfortunately, mankind is always an ill-equipped judge. It's impossible as an individual for you to put yourself as the judge of your neighbor.

                        So you say we choose representatives, who should serve as the moral judges of society. Unfortunately, there are no truly objective judges. They're all human too. And given time and space, those judges will tend to find morality in their own interests, and immorality in the interests of those opposed to them. This is why socialist experiments always end in a favored political class. Trading the nobility for the politburo. It's the inevitable road.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by BBII View Post
                          I'm glad you framed it that way because it boils down to one of the best descriptions I've ever read about the most common core difference between a Liberal and a Conservative. I'll have to find out where I read it someday, I've looked for it again before and couldn't find it.

                          Anyway, it comes down to what you believe about humanity and human nature.

                          Liberals tend to believe in the possibility that society (and mankind with it) is on a journey towards perfecting itself. And that society released from the restraints of the past (ie tradition) will discover ever better ways to do things until eventually most of the problems today cease to exist, or at least dramatically improve. They tend to view tradition with skepticism, and often see them as plain mechanisms of social control.

                          Conservatives tend to believe human nature itself is flawed and that values and traditions often serve as a necessary check or balance on our innate flaws. Mankind released from the restraints of the past may well fall into the terrible consequence of his own ignorance. The traditions we have today are often based on the lessons hard-learned by those who came before. Venturing away from those traditions should usually be done with very careful caution and deliberation.

                          Now, as for the specifics about greed and immorality, you're right to say that there is immorality there. Unfortunately, mankind is always an ill-equipped judge. It's impossible as an individual for you to put yourself as the judge of your neighbor.

                          So you say we choose representatives, who should serve as the moral judges of society. Unfortunately, there are no truly objective judges. They're all human too. And given time and space, those judges will tend to find morality in their own interests, and immorality in the interests of those opposed to them. This is why socialist experiments always end in a favored political class. Trading the nobility for the politburo. It's the inevitable road.
                          That's a load of old codswallop, as our U.K. friends say.

                          Life goes forward - not backward.

                          Change is the only constant.

                          Point to any step forward in human evolution, in any arena, and some conservative or other has invariably opposed it.

                          The conservative mindset is fundamentally opposed to life on life's terms.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by L.A. BRONCOS FAN View Post
                            That's a load of old codswallop, as our U.K. friends say.

                            Life goes forward - not backward.

                            Change is the only constant.

                            Point to any step forward in human evolution, in any arena, and some conservative or other has invariably opposed it.

                            The conservative mindset is fundamentally opposed to life on life's terms.
                            Sorry man

                            The Survival of the Fittest highway does not end in Utopia. Hate to break that to ya.

                            Anyway. What I'm saying is that this is a fundamental difference in how you and I, liberal and conservative view the world. Its the point where debate is pointless because we'll never come to truly understand one another.
                            Last edited by BroncoBeavis; 10-12-2013, 04:28 AM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Conservatism is mainly about rationalizing privilege, accepting Original Sin, and enforcing tradition because it's tradition. Nothing Beavis wrote contradicts those statements.

                              Comment

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