View Poll Results: Is Liberalism itself Illiberal?

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Thread: Is Liberalism Illiberal?

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    Is Liberalism Illiberal?

    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.
    Last edited by MildSteel; 04-02-14 at 03:50 PM.

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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 there 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.

    Liberals used to be for "freedom" and "free expression", and against "big brother (gov)" during the "hippy Era", so they've definitely changed.
    Einstein, "science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

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    Re: Is Liberalism Illiberal?

    The only true liberal is a classical liberal. Everyone else that calls themselves a liberal is just a pretender.

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    Re: Is Liberalism Illiberal?

    Quote Originally Posted by grip View Post
    Liberals used to be for "freedom" and "free expression", and against "big brother (gov)" during the "hippy Era", so they've definitely changed.
    A lot of us still are, if you mean by big brother, privacy not government in general.

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    Re: Is Liberalism Illiberal?

    Quote Originally Posted by grip View Post
    Liberals used to be for "freedom" and "free expression", and against "big brother (gov)" during the "hippy Era", so they've definitely changed.
    As defined under the United States' current political system, "Liberalism" has basically become a code word for lukewarm Democratic Socialism.
    Last edited by Gathomas88; 04-02-14 at 03:58 PM.

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    Re: Is Liberalism Illiberal?

    Modern liberalism has distanced itself from the true principles of liberalism. True liberalism is actually libertarianism (also commonly known as classical liberalism).

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    Re: Is Liberalism Illiberal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Carjosse View Post
    A lot of us still are, if you mean by big brother, privacy not government in general.
    Yes, but gov is mostly responsible for lack of privacy, even when they're working with private organizations, like big business.



    Quote Originally Posted by Gathomas88 View Post
    It's basically a code word for lukewarm Democratic Socialism in the United States' current political system.
    That's a good analogy, and one of the reasons I don't like their positions on gov interventionism. The gov is a necessary moderator and regulator, but it doesn't need to micromanage us.
    Einstein, "science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

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    Re: Is Liberalism Illiberal?

    Quote Originally Posted by grip View Post
    That's a good analogy, and one of the reasons I don't like their positions on gov interventionism. The gov is a necessary moderator and regulator, but it doesn't need to micromanage us.
    The question is when does the moderation and regulation become micromanagement.

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    Re: Is Liberalism Illiberal?

    Liberalism is still liberal, however a large portion of the left has embraced multicultiralism which is profoundly illiberal.
    "you're better off on Stormfront discussing how evil brown men are taking innocent white flowers." Infinite Chaos

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    Re: Is Liberalism Illiberal?

    Quote Originally Posted by MildSteel View Post
    The question is when does the moderation and regulation become micromanagement.
    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.
    Einstein, "science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

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