Liberalism/US

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About

Liberalism as a political ideology in the United States involves specific causes that liberal political stances in other countries are not necessarily concerned about. This may be due either to a lack of opposing views on those subjects in those countries, or to different priorities within those countries' liberal movements.

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"Liberal(ism)" is one of several terms that Issuepedia seeks to reclaim from abusers. Extremists on the political Right (e.g. Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter) have been using it almost as a swear-word for many years, basically imputing to "liberals" all of their own worst traits.

hijacking

As is common in politics, the basic idea of liberalism in the United States has been hijacked to some degree by authoritarian leader types – in much the same way that the US conservative ideology has been hijacked by neoconservatives. It is thus worth distinguishing between core liberal values and the values of the hijackers.

  • core US liberal values include:
    • stimulating the productive effects of inter-human competition (aka free enterprise) by removing the cheats and parasitical constraints imposed by those with the power to do so (traditionally: "the guys with the swords – cronies of the king – who have ALWAYS been the chief enemies of enterprise."1)
    • tolerance of individual differences, where such differences are not clearly harmful
    • state intervention to help the poor – partly out of compassion, but partly (and more practically) to minimize the waste of human talent which otherwise enriches the free marketplace ("But they see no tragedy in an adult experiencing some failure and having to work hard to rise back up again, so long as she/he is not blocked by artificial impediments like racism, sexism, and fixable ill health etc. or cheating by the mighty."1)
  • "lefty" or "liberal hijacker" values include:
    • aggressive leveling of social opportunity arbitrated from above (government agencies and bureaucracy) by authoriarian leaders posing as "wise allocators"
      • libertarianism, often referred to as "classical liberalism", tends to take an especially dim view of any "government interference in the marketplace", while mainstream liberalism holds that regulation is necessary in order to maintain true market freedom for all participants. The differences (which do exist) between the two philosophies have been emphasized and widened by powermonger-hijackers in both camps using wedge issues to minimize cooperation between them.

US conservatives, especially those on the far right and neocons posing as conservatives, try to equate "liberal" with "socialist" (as if this were a bad thing); in the early 2000s, this became the replacement for the 1950s "communist" smear.

Related Articles

Quotes

"As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality." – George Washington (attributed) (What was Washington's definition of "liberal"?)

Queries

What is the difference between "liberal" and "progressive"? What do they have in common?

Links

News

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    Opinion

    • M40 Attempts to explain Liberalism: a very nice collection of oversimplifications and distortions that neatly encapsulates the worst popular conservative views on liberalism

    Projects

    • The Rockridge Institute: "rethinking progressive politics, reframing public debate, changing public policy"; "uses research in human cognition to help progressives make arguments that make sense to their audience."
      • Rockridge Nation: online community
      • Thinking Points book: "the Rockridge Institute's handbook for the grassroots progressive community." ... "a short, easy-to-read systematic account of the progressive vision, for the morals and principles that apply across issue areas, and for all the essentials of framing."

    Sources

    1

    2007-03-25 12:42 comment by David Brin

    Notes

    From David Brin [1]:

    Won't you try this little mental experiment yourself? Start by listing a dozen or so "standard liberal positions." For example you expect a liberal to:

    ... and so on.

    If you don't like my list, write one of your own! Make your own list of positions you deem important. I'll wait.

    Now try this. Imagine a person who holds all of the correct views except one. Suppose - on just that one issue - a person strongly takes the opposite view. Not quietly, but openly, and vigorously. Now picture how that person would be received in most liberal gatherings. What name would they be called?

    A longer list of "knee-jerk liberal" positions might be useful; the above is certainly a good start. (Are any of these "core" liberal positions? Are there other "core" liberal positions which should be listed?)