Thursday, February 23, 2012

Snippet: Left of Liberal

Because of my political views, both Democrats and Republicans routinely say that I’m left of liberal, and I must say that I agree with them, in a sense. I would say that I see myself as defending true liberalism, or at least what’s left of it. I even like the term, “left of liberal,” or “LOL.” Just those three letters alone pretty much sum up my views on American politics.


  1. ...true liberalism... interesting.

    I would like to hear your opinion on Walter Russell Mead's description of the various iterations of liberalism. If you can find the spare time, that is.

    I guess my question to you would be which version is "true?" 1.0 or 2.0 or 3.0 or 4.0 or 4.1 or (dare I say) 5.0? Or are they all bunk and Mead full of crap?

    1. Oh come on... you know I have the time.

      Expect a post on it tomorrow or possibly this weekend (since the article looks rather long, and I generally read something like this 3 times before I really understand it).

    2. My initial reaction:

      I have said for years now that Democrats aren't really liberal, they're conservative, while Republicans are regressives trying to drag us back to the 19th century. I was also reminded of how good it is to be liberal, since we're the only ones who have improved this country in any way, and our success is all but inevitable. Even though the particulars of liberal ideology shift with our development over time, the underlying ethos of liberal thought is always one of looking forward towards future goals, not backward into a nostalgic past.

      I think the author is a bit too enamored with WASPs, though. I'm not saying he's racist, he just seems pointedly Anglo-centric.

    3. Let me start with what made me laugh out loud:

      "I think the author is a bit too enamored with WASPs, though. I'm not saying he's racist, he just seems pointedly Anglo-centric."

      I would recommend you read a lot more Walter Russell Mead. BTW, he's a black conservative. Yes, they exist.

      "I was also reminded of how good it is to be liberal, since we're the only ones who have improved this country in any way, and our success is all but inevitable."

      I agree completely, liberalism has been good for the country and western civilization as a whole. My concern is that you identify with Mead's liberalism, and yet none of your current beliefs are consistent with Mead's liberalism. Yet you don't see it.

      "I have said for years now that Democrats aren't really liberal, they're conservative, while Republicans are regressives trying to drag us back to the 19th century."

      Agree that Democrats aren't really liberal, but they're not conservative either. Republicans have no desire to return us to the 19th century and we don't idealize the past. Remember, most conservatives are the ones who preach original sin and how human beings are inherently bad.

      It seems like you missed the basic point of the article: liberalism has evolved (five versions and counting), and today's liberals are never yesterday's liberals. So you really can't call yourself liberal today and claim the mantle of liberalism past.

      Well, you can, but it wouldn't make sense to.

    4. I didn't look before you commented, but I had to check after those statements...

      Walter Russell Mead is white and a self described centrist who is described by many as a progressive collectivist. He says publicly that he voted for Obama in 2008.

      And I think you missed what I said... I am not a Democrat, I don't identify with the old guard liberalism (or blue liberalism, as this author calls it).

      Democrats are conservatives (they are defending a dying system) and Republicans are regressives (they are defending a dead system). Those are just the facts.

    5. Okay, that's embarrassing. In my head I had mixed him up with Walter Williams.

      But my question was which version of liberalism you do identify with. You didn't answer. You claimed the mantle of liberalism and all the good that it's done, but you didn't really help me by pointing to one version or another.

    6. I just assumed you didn't see race :P

    7. Oh, and I am working on my second reading, with a third scheduled for later tonight, at which point I will write a post on it.

      The short answer: I'm none of the liberals mentioned (I mean come on... 4.1 was obsolete by the 70s, and I was born in '83... so... it wouldn't make much sense to espouse an ideology older than I am and then call myself "liberal.")

    8. And one last snide remark before I go back to reading the article again:

      Of course there are black conservatives. I mean come on... there was a group called "Jews for Hitler." If such a crazy, even more extreme mismatch of ideology could exist before, it's hardly surprising that there are black conservatives. There are also gay and female conservatives... and I hear rumors there might even be atheists who vote for the "religious right." Hard to believe, but it happens.

  2. Left - right, port -starboard, up - down, north- south... whatever. There is no left and there is no right. There is only liberty and tyranny.

    1. What about systems where there is limited liberty, and yet the leader isn't a tyrant? Or where liberty results in non-government tyranny?

    2. Then you have a hybrid system, with varying levels of liberty and tyranny. I never said it was black and white. Any limitation placed on liberty is tyrannical in some form. So of course the debate needs to be between the balance of liberty and tyranny, not that left-right baloney crap; that's just meaningless geometric jargon better suited for a kindergarten class than a world-class blog such as this fine media outlet.

    3. I disagree that there is such a dichotomy. Someone taking away my liberty to do something that is wrong is not tyranny. Having the liberty to own slaves isn't real freedom. Being able to economically exploit people is not real freedom.

      People deserve the liberty to be free from abuse, not just the freedom to do whatever they want. Liberty is an abstract, immeasurable, meaningless term thrown around by people who think saying they support "liberty" means anything at all. Tyranny is almost equally as meaningless, since tyranny is essentially defined as "anything the government does that I disagree with."

      Liberty and tyranny are used for propaganda, not discussing real political systems.

    4. Right, like Henry VIII wasn't a tyrant. My point is if you limit liberty by preventing people from doing whatever they want, however you want to call that, is tyrannical. It is an assertion of dominance, regardless of whether it is ill-intended or not. You can have a benevolent dictator who takes good care of his people, or you can have a really nasty one who feeds his people to lions. Either way, it's still a tyranny.

    5. Calling Henry VIII a tyrant doesn't make him a bad leader, his actions do. You might as well call him "evil." It doesn't mean anything concrete, it's just shorthand for saying, "He did awful things I'm not going to elaborate upon."

      And what do you call it when liberty runs amok? I would rather have a "benevolent dictator" than live under an anarchy. You seem to think the unfair use of power only happens at the government level.

    6. I think what you have confused is the dichotomy itself.

      The opposite of tyranny is not liberty, it's justice.

      The opposite of liberty is not tyranny, it's dependence.

    7. Remember that post where I wrote that anarchy doesn't exist because someone is always exercising dominance over someone else? So there is always that tendency towards tyranny. And I am well aware that abuses of power can happen at any level of social interaction; between siblings, between a student and a teacher, between a corporation and an employee, between a monopoly and a consumer, etc. So it's definitely not limited to government. You raise an interesting point when you write that the opposite of tyranny is actually justice, and that the opposite of liberty is dependence. I will have to meditate on that one.

      My first impression, is that if you are independent, you are making your own justice and are therefore free from the shackles of tyranny; as you don't rely on the tyrant's armed thugs to restore justice.

    8. Anarchy exists all over the place, even within the borders of democracy. Any place where the rule of law does not reach is operating in anarchy. Anarchy implies the absence of government intervention of any kind, not that individuals will never abuse power amongst themselves.

      Justice is never carried ought by the individual. Even if you shoot an intruder, it's not justice, it's self-defense. Justice involves the due process of law, while taking a person's life into your own hands has nothing to do with justice.

    9. Think of it like this, given the example of a self-defense killing:

      If a person was charged in court with breaking and entering, was found guilty, and was sentenced to die... is that justice? I would say it is not, it is unjust, or tyrannical. If the individual whose home it is catches the person and kills them, it's not justice, and depending on the jurisdiction, it may even be unjust (and for good reason, because breaking into a home is not a crime punishable by death, but rather self-defense killings are merely tolerated by some, though it is never justice in the true sense of the word; at best it is justified).

    10. Government is just another word for dominance. Doesn't matter if there are only two people, or two million. There is always someone with more dominance over others. There is always someone who is more of a leader and someone who is more of a follower. How many people does it take before you can start calling the dominant power in a dominance/submissiveness relationship a 'government''? Truth is, even that is an arbitrary convention.

    11. Justice is an abstract moral absolute. And there are no moral absolutes in nature.

    12. Government has nothing to do with dominance. Saying all dominance is government is like saying all morality is religion. What's more, dominance has little to do with human interactions. Dogs respond to dominance, humans respond to circumstances. The circumstance of government depends heavily upon the type of government, and plenty of forms of government don't use force as either their primary or even underlying source of power. The primary underlying principle of successful government is not force or dominance, but mutual benefit.

      Justice isn't real, you're right, just as morality is not real. I can't measure out an ounce of justice and put it into a bag. Justice is an ideal, one which is necessarily achieved not through individual interactions, but through societal intervention. It's not that individuals cannot produce justice, it's that they so rarely do when compared to systems of justice that involve distanced third parties who are not so emotionally invested in a dispute.


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