View Poll Results: Is Liberalism itself Illiberal?

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Thread: Is Liberalism Illiberal?

  1. #11
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    Re: Is Liberalism Illiberal?

    Quote Originally Posted by MildSteel View Post
    Although the modern political system in the US is divided into two broad groups, liberal and conservative, the US political system as a whole is based on the notion of liberalism. In other words, both liberals and conservatives in the US embrace, more or less, the principle that a person should be free to do as he likes with minimal constraint. The difference in the two groups is essentially where they like to draw the line. This is in contrast to systems that exist in places such as Saudi Arabia and certain areas in Afghanistan. In these types of very conservative societies there is little or no embrace of the principle that a person is free to do as he likes. Rather the principle is that the activities of individuals should be highly constrained.

    When we examine the principle that the individual should be free to do as he chooses, we are immediately confronted with a paradox. What if the individual chooses to construct an environment that imposes restrictions on the behavior of others? Of course we say that the person has violated the principle that you can do as you like as long as you do not infringe upon the right to do the same. But isn't such an imposition itself a violation of the right of an individual to do as he chooses?

    Consider for a minute how this is problematic. For the sake of discussion let's call the type of liberalism and conservatism that are practiced in the US as localized liberalism and localized conservatism respectively. Typically, localized liberalism seeks to impose laws that do things such as legalize abortions, and grant equal rights to gays and racial minorities. However, some practitioners of localized conservatism feel that their right to do as they choose are violated when, for example they are forced to serve racial minorities in their business establishments. Do they not have a point? Are not the localized liberals violating the principles of liberalism itself when they impose laws that force individuals to live in an environment that they find uncomfortable or repulsive? Of course you can say that no one is forcing them to live here, they can go somewhere else. But still why should they have to do this? Should not a true liberalism be broad enough to accommodate all? If not, is liberalism itself illiberal?

    How let's step back and look at liberalism in a broader sense. Recently the Bush administration had a goal to try to impose a system of liberal values on the very conservative society that had been implemented by the Taliban in Afghanistan. However, many of the people there viewed this attempt as an effort to restrict them from living as they wanted to do. Do they not have a point? Is not this another instance in which liberal values themselves result in illiberalism?

    What do you think? Is liberalism itself illiberal?

    To be clear, I'm not trying to make a value judgement here as to what is right and what is wrong. I'm just asking the question. I think its rather interesting.
    Conservatism means you are against change except to go backwards. Liberals do not fear change or the future. Conservatives long for some mythical "good old days". Liberals know that time marches on and those that refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Liberals see injustice in society and try to end it. Conservatives believe injustice for some is "freedom" to others and fight to keep the status quo. I believe the abortion issue is primarily a religious one and yes conservatives tend to be more religious.
    Last edited by iguanaman; 04-02-14 at 04:12 PM.

  2. #12
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    Re: Is Liberalism Illiberal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gardener View Post
    Liberalism is still liberal, however a large portion of the left has embraced multicultiralism which is profoundly illiberal.
    My question is what is liberal about imposing any set of values on a society, including the values of liberalism itself?

  3. #13
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    Re: Is Liberalism Illiberal?

    Before I answer your question, I have to establish the nature of liberalism.

    The "classical liberalism" that emerged from the writings of Enlightenment thinkers has to be understood as a reaction to the lingering political and economic privileges of the landowning aristocracy (in England, France, and elsewhere). It was a system of rule that allowed a network of well connected families to monopolize the best political offices and appointments which they could use to form strategic partnerships with emerging capitalist forces in order to maintain their wealth despite the depreciating value of land in favor of manufacturing and the service economy that succeeded over the Dark Ages.

    The basic theory is to dissolve this power structure and the unequal power relationships it creates by having "capitalism-only" with the remaining feudal laws purged from the books and a government that is responsive to the will of the people -- that is, a democracy. This is the sort of notion that informed the Founding Fathers' feelings about leaving behind England.

    The flaw is that both industrial capitalism and democracy are as vulnerable to the systematized abuses of well connected individuals (plutocracy) as much as the inherited privilege of aristocracy.

    Modern liberalism is essentially classical liberalism evolved to cope with plutocracy, rather than monarchical-aristocratic systems.

    What do you think? Is liberalism itself illiberal?
    No. The idea of liberalism is to destroy power structures that prohibit people from exercising free agency at a individual or family level, whether corporate plutocracies or aristocratic monarchies. "Defend the common man and he will defend you" sort of approach to government.

    People rejecting liberalism in favor of abusive power structures is equivalent to a slave rejecting to have his chains broken because freedom sounds weird, uncomfortable, and dangerous.
    Last edited by Morality Games; 04-02-14 at 04:13 PM.
    If you notice something good in yourself, give credit to God, not to yourself, but be certain the evil you commit is always your own and yours to acknowledge.

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    Re: Is Liberalism Illiberal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Morality Games View Post
    Modern liberalism is essentially classical liberalism evolved to cope with plutocracy, rather than monarchical-aristocratic systems.
    Nonsense. Modern liberalism violates every last principle that classical liberalism stand for. Classical liberals wanted to keep the state in the condition of fighting against its own nonexistence and keeping the government separate from almost everything in life. Moderns liberals want the state involved and managing everything in life and have no problem not obeying any sort of restraint if it serves their needs.

    Classical liberals defend the natural rights of people and believe the state is to serve the purpose of protecting those rights, while modern liberals defend the idea that government is the entity behind all authority and that the people only have a right to what the state says they do. The only thing modern liberals truly care for is power.
    Last edited by Henrin; 04-02-14 at 04:16 PM.

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    Re: Is Liberalism Illiberal?

    Quote Originally Posted by grip View Post
    When it oversteps it's purpose of creating a fair, just and level playing field. The point of laws and regs are to protect individual rights, while allowing as much freedom as possible. When you need more rules to govern than people can follow, then you're doing it wrong.
    Although I hear what you are saying, it's impossible to get around the fact that, in practical terms, it is a value judgement that imperfect people will make.

  6. #16
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    Re: Is Liberalism Illiberal?

    200 years ago liberals owned slaves and conservatives believed in monarchs. The terms are arbitrary political labels that are entirely based on the time and place you are in. They don't really mean anything.

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    Re: Is Liberalism Illiberal?

    Quote Originally Posted by MildSteel View Post
    My question is what is liberal about imposing any set of values on a society, including the values of liberalism itself?
    Your question, as I understand it, is meaningless at best, disingenuous at worst. Can you please elaborate?

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    Is Liberalism Illiberal?

    Quote Originally Posted by MildSteel View Post
    Although the modern political system in the US is divided into two broad groups, liberal and conservative, the US political system as a whole is based on the notion of liberalism. In other words, both liberals and conservatives in the US embrace, more or less, the principle that a person should be free to do as he likes with minimal constraint. The difference in the two groups is essentially where they like to draw the line. This is in contrast to systems that exist in places such as Saudi Arabia and certain areas in Afghanistan. In these types of very conservative societies there is little or no embrace of the principle that a person is free to do as he likes. Rather the principle is that the activities of individuals should be highly constrained.

    When we examine the principle that the individual should be free to do as he chooses, we are immediately confronted with a paradox. What if the individual chooses to construct an environment that imposes restrictions on the behavior of others? Of course we say that the person has violated the principle that you can do as you like as long as you do not infringe upon the right to do the same. But isn't such an imposition itself a violation of the right of an individual to do as he chooses?

    Consider for a minute how this is problematic. For the sake of discussion let's call the type of liberalism and conservatism that are practiced in the US as localized liberalism and localized conservatism respectively. Typically, localized liberalism seeks to impose laws that do things such as legalize abortions, and grant equal rights to gays and racial minorities. However, some practitioners of localized conservatism feel that their right to do as they choose are violated when, for example they are forced to serve racial minorities in their business establishments. Do they not have a point? Are not the localized liberals violating the principles of liberalism itself when they impose laws that force individuals to live in an environment that they find uncomfortable or repulsive? Of course you can say that no one is forcing them to live here, they can go somewhere else. But still why should they have to do this? Should not a true liberalism be broad enough to accommodate all? If not, is liberalism itself illiberal?

    How let's step back and look at liberalism in a broader sense. Recently the Bush administration had a goal to try to impose a system of liberal values on the very conservative society that had been implemented by the Taliban in Afghanistan. However, many of the people there viewed this attempt as an effort to restrict them from living as they wanted to do. Do they not have a point? Is not this another instance in which liberal values themselves result in illiberalism?

    What do you think? Is liberalism itself illiberal?

    To be clear, I'm not trying to make a value judgement here as to what is right and what is wrong. I'm just asking the question. I think its rather interesting.
    Right now both major groups are tribal over ideological. It's a huge contributor to our current political difficulties.

    We are in a transitory strage where we just released the printing press 2.0 and look at what that thing did to existing political systems five nearly six hundred years ago. For example anabaptists and they chaos they unleashed.

    Right now due to technological disruption and the lack of common assumptions that all members of society can share (because that died in the late 80s) we will stay in this tribal phase perhaps for a couple of generations. Eventually new assumptions will be made but probably not be anything we can currently predict

    Many western assumptions about the do no harm principal (which later gave birth to the idea of natural rights) as being the basis for morality (which is unusual given how most societies develop) is being fundamentally questioned even though it is the catalyst for so much progress (as seen by western eyes, most of the world thinks OECD countries are insane hedonists) but will probably survive in altered forms as many of those assumptions about how human free will (and thus many of our philosophical foundations) works is not standing up to scientific scrutiny. But that's the reason the country deviated from its initial ideals anyway, they weren't realistic societal goals.

    So yes we are illiberal and yet very liberal, just not in any pure ideological or philosophical sense.
    Last edited by tacomancer; 04-02-14 at 04:29 PM.

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    Re: Is Liberalism Illiberal?

    Quote Originally Posted by MildSteel View Post
    Although I hear what you are saying, it's impossible to get around the fact that, in practical terms, it is a value judgement that imperfect people will make.
    The same imperfect people need to realize when they've made poor, value based choices and rectify them. We need a system that is human centric and takes in the security of its people above the success of its business. Though they seem synonymous to some degree, it's possible to become too materialistic.

    Though trying to manipulate a peoples thought processes, with excess rules and social control is utterly stupid.
    Einstein, "science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

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    Re: Is Liberalism Illiberal?

    Quote Originally Posted by iguanaman View Post
    Conservatism means you are against change except to go backwards. Liberals do not fear change or the future. Conservatives long for some mythical "good old days". Liberals know that time marches on and those that refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Liberals see injustice in society and try to end it. Conservatives believe injustice for some is "freedom" to others and fight to keep the status quo. I believe the abortion issue is primarily a religious one and yes conservatives tend to be more religious.
    No wonder you liberals are so screwed up, you have no idea what the opposition is all about. Nothing you've said above has anything to do with conservatism.
    There is nothing demonstrably true that religion can provide the world that cannot be achieved more rationally through entirely secular means.

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