Defining the noun "Liberal"

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Bowser, Nov 18, 2016.

  1. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    For me the term defines a belief that celebrates freedom, yet I see signs that many who consider themselves liberals are now taking a step back from what the meaning of that word has become. Has the Left gone too far and become the mirror image of the extreme Right? Also, considering where I'm posting this thread, what is your definition of the word?
     
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  3. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    What are the signs you see? Why do you think the "left" has become a mirror image of the extreme right, and just who is the extreme right and extreme left in your view? What is it that marks the extremes in your view? Are you saying the left is entirely extreme? If so, what leads you to that conclusion?
     
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  5. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    One good start would be to separate "liberal" from "left". There are some fundamental differences, beginning with the traditional liberal preference for freemarket exchange and capitalistic economic setups.
    No. Obviously not - the extreme Right has control of two of the branches of the Federal government, the extreme Left can't even get a talking head on TV.
    It's been defined by a century of intellectual product and effort.
    One can read here: https://www.amazon.com/Liberal-Imagination-Review-Books-Classics/dp/1590172833
    or here: http://books.wwnorton.com/books/The-Conscience-of-a-Liberal/

    Here's a video (sound and snapshots) from Noam Chomsky, famous liberal, on the Tea Party folks when they were new: Summary: it's "our" (the liberal intellectual caste) fault, for not persuading.

    or here, for what "liberal" opinions read like in high style: https://www.amazon.com/United-States-1952-1992-Gore-Vidal/dp/0679414894

    About that last: Like most public and "official" liberals, Vidal has been generally right about stuff and made a couple of successful predictions, including one quite startling call at the very beginning of W's tenure: that W would leave office as the least popular president in American history. Not the worst, necessarily, or the least competent (that would not have been startling), but the least popular. (At the time W was iirc one of if not the the most popular Presidents ever. Asked how he knew that W would do what he did, Vidal denied specific prescience - he said he had no more specific an idea of what they would do than a zookeeper has of what monkeys will do if they get into some place they shouldn't be, but he knew monkeys when he saw them, and he knew what any zookeeper knows: monkeys are trouble. )

    But keep in mind that Gore Vidal called himself "conservative", apparently (my read) on the grounds that slightly leftwing libertarianism and liberal thought in general is the traditional US approach and ideology, and has been for hundreds of years now, and his family legacy of this (since before 1700) in America is what he was carrying on. He regarded himself as protecting an established America, of a kind https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gore_Vidal

    So self-identification as a "liberal" does not define the tribe.

    "The hatred Americans have for their own government is pathological, if understandable. At one level it is simply thwarted greed: since our religion is making a buck, giving a part of that buck to any government is an act against nature.
    - -
    'Liberal' comes from the Latin liberalis, which means pertaining to a free man. In politics, to be liberal is to want to extend democracy through change and reform. One can see why the word had to be erased from our political lexicon."

    Vidal on prevalence of censorship:
    On Obama's status as an educated man:
     
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  7. wellwisher Banned Banned

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    I associate liberalism with extending democracy, but in ways that blames and restricts the rights of anything traditional. It is accepts the fringe and unnatural, since anything new counts for more than anything already here. Liberalism tends to promote dual standards, where the groups they endorse, for the sake of Democracy, have more rights than those that are old fashion. Liberalism is not about what is efficient and test proven, but rather about what they hope will be even better, even if it increases social costs. Liberalism worships a god of sounds and noises, where making the wrong noise is worse than having no character. Pretense is considered good, as long as you don't make the taboo noises in public or on record. Liberals like Democracy but generate laws that restrict behavior at an alarming rate.
     
  8. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Both "liberal" and "conservative" have undergone a variety of tweaks, modifications, and regional / ideological sub-speciations since the enlightenment. So to some extent the meaning can depend upon the parlance of the group or setting that the discourse is transpiring in.

    Classical liberalism sported a laissez faire attitude and other relaxations of personal restrictions; whereas in the early 20th century socialist movements co-opted "liberal" or adopted the label to improve their popularity. Also, the "postmodern" category and cultural engineering offshoots of mitigated Marxist / leftist perspective can acquire sloppy affiliation with the liberal umbrella of recent decades.

    In continental traditions a "conservative" could reference "royalist" (an advocate of the principles of monarchy) rather than just the generic somebody "resistance to change". Whereas in North America "conservative" could impart a semantic resonance of "preservation" (of still-functional conventions) rather than just heralding complete, obstinate cultural / political stagnation. Conservatism once seemed to have its own centralized, intellectual elite defending / promoting it that has since become watered down with provincial pundits from religious and grassroots organizations (whether their reactionary influences ranging from impulsive, pragmatic, to over-idealized are for better or worse).

    Due to those who identify with classical liberalism and the adherents of more contemporary laissez faire and "personal freedom" factions taking over as temporary guest-hosts on talk-radio programs, they've even become blurred with the conservative umbrella at times. Or conceived as intermittent allies -- like, say, a Randian rubbing shoulders with a ditto-head; or an atheist and a theist joining causes because they share similar economic views.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2016
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    This reads more like a screed written by a member of the right wing, than a description of the left wing written by a member of the left wing.

    The left is hardly anti-traditional. We merely question whether some of the traditional values perpetuated by the right have lost their value and, in fact, may now work against us. The Industrial Revolution, then the Electronic Revolution a century later, and finally the Digital Revolution half a century after that, have done away with institutions that had been accepted as necessary to civilization for millennia--slaves and yeomen, to mention just two. In their stead, the nations that have been successfully modernized have had to institute universal literacy, which greatly weakens the power of the state and the church.

    Religion itself has been battered by those three recent paradigm shifts as much as any institution. An increasing number of us no longer accept fairy tales from the Bronze Age as a roadmap of the Universe, and the sects that want to still be active a hundred years hence have been frantically updating their "holy" books. Jesuit universities teach evolution and the Pope (a Jesuit himself) has made statements indicating that much of the Bible need not be taken literally.

    Since we know more-or-less HOW the Big Bang occurred, but have no clue as to WHY it occurred when it did (the Second Law of Thermodynamics is as silent on that issue as the Book of Genesis), the religionists and the scientists don't have much to argue about anymore.

    As for economic issues, the rich have always found ways to feather their own nests, at the expense of the millions of less fortunate people who sleep under bridges. Changes in politics don't bother them too much.

    China can probably be identified as the last large nation with a communist government. But in one and a half generations, that government realized that letting a few people become millionaires would benefit the entire country.
     
  10. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    The other way around: liberals adopted much of the socialist critique of capitalism because it made sense (any advocate of greater personal freedoms could see, early on, the threat posed by industrial capitalism - in America we had the very painful and personal legacy of slavery, even, to emphasize the point), and some of them got sucked into excusing and defending leftwing authoritarian movements simply because they shared much of their view of corporate capitalism.

    It was the liberals carelessly adopting "socialism", in other words, not the other way around. The authoritarian socialists despised liberals and liberalism, as authoritarians do in general.
    That conceals a propaganda campaign under a passive voice. That "sloppy affiliation" was not an accident.

    The trashing of "liberal" as a useful term of political discussion became deliberate, organized, quasi-intentional, under Reagan and culminating in the Republican coup of the early 90s - Newt Gingrich was given explicit public credit for "making "liberal" a dirty word" by his fellow Republican politicians.

    Which underlies this: http://janda.org/politxts/PartyPlatforms/LIberal as a Dirty Word.pdf
    What we now know as "conservatism" in the US never had any intellectual grounding other than that reactionary impulse you identify as provincial punditry. It's rise in the 1960s was fueled by the reaction to the Civil Rights and anti-war movement, and became a cultural and personal critique as a useful political tactic - essentially an ad hominem approach to defending the Vietnam War, corporate capitalism, and institutional racism. It was hippy-punching, and has never been anything higher than that, intellectually.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2016
  11. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    I see evidence of the extreme left turning back on censorship and, in some cases, dividing people along racial and sexual terms. They are becoming authoritarian in nature. I'm not sure whether "Progressive" might be a better word for them. Maybe someone can help me with the terms and which is more applicable.
     
  12. birch Valued Senior Member

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    In the most general terms, i see the extreme left as having poor or no boundaries/standards where they should be some and the extreme right having too stringent, black/white or hypocritical ones. They both, ironicly, lead to exploitation, unfairness and deterioration in their own way. The extreme left has dumb standards and the extreme right has corrupt standards.
     
  13. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    Sargon explains what has happen to the left pretty well in the below videos. If you have the time, his videos are, in my opinion, worth a watch...





     
  14. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    Yeah, I think we have established that you see things. But you haven't yet yielded anything specific. All you have done is promulgate a right wing meme for which you have no evidence. I'm asking you for specifics. I'm asking you for evidence.

    What you are doing is what right wing demagogues do every day on TV and radio shows across the land every hour of every day. That doesn't mean it's true. Who is this "extreme left" of which you speak. Where and what is this "censorship" you see? What does "turning back on censorship" mean? How is the "left dividing people along racial and sexual terms"?

    You don't need to worry about terms. You need to worry about your lack of evidence and reason.
     
  15. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    The extreme left and the extreme right are identical. Both have boundary problems; both are too stringent; both are too simplistic; both are exploitative; both are unfair; and both are unreasonable and live in a fictionalized world where truth and reason are malleable and deeply rooted in ideology rather than fact and reason.

    The irony here is that the extreme right and the extreme left view themselves as moderate. It's always the other guy who is unreasonable. They cannot see their own fictions, and they easily and readily deny and ignore facts. Cognitive dissonance runs strong in extremists regardless of their political ideology. It's analogous to religious zealotry. They always point to faults in the other guy, real or imagined. But they can never see the gaping faults in front of them. They cannot see their own faults.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2016
  16. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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  17. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Of course we can help.

    Start by dropping the videos, which are merely sound recordings anyway, and post transcripts or avoid them altogether.

    They are deceptive garbage, strings of false assertions and bad faith claims and misleading half-truths that build on each other and culminate in Republican Party talking points, and in this format it's difficult to deal with them because they are spread out over long stretches of time. They are designed to manipulate the rubes - they sound, like, all intellectual and learned, but they aren't, and this becomes obvious in writing.

    Next: there is an authoritarian Left you seem to have confused with the whole. Most lefties, like most people, lean generally libertarian (at least as far as national authority is concerned). You appear to have no clear idea what you mean by "extreme left", and part of the reason for that is your confusion of libertarians and authoritarians.

    So also drop the term "extreme Left". You don't know what, who, where, or even whether, that is.

    Once you have rewritten your queries without the confusions, they can be addressed with reference to facts and evidence, using reason and stuff like that. Obviously, "progressive" would not replace "liberal", or "left", or anything like that. But If you want a new word for "liberal" the question might be interesting - including the reason you think you need that new word.
     
  18. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    There are a couple of differences.

    One is that the "extreme right" - in the normal reference - has control of two branches of the Federal government and most of the major media in the US, whereas the extreme Left has basically no political representation, and doesn't have a single talking head running a major news/pundit media program.

    The other is that Left ideology plays a much different role among American leftists - extreme or otherwise- than it does among American rightists, especially the "extreme" right, or fascist, faction. Ideology by and large guides US leftist analysis and proposed governance. It doesn't by and large guide US rightist. You can even argue (and analysts of fascism have argued) that Trump has no ideology as the term is normally used. He certainly has no visible principles of governance, guiding philosophy of government, etc.
     
  19. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    So you think a few second anonymous video tape posted on the internet depicting an alleged journalist being turned away somehow constitutes censorship? How do you know the video is legitimate? How do you know the video wasn't staged? This gets to my point. People like you look for information to support your beliefs and when you think you find it, you mindlessly accept it as gospel truth, and you ignore all evidence which conflicts with your biases. You never even question its veracity. You just mindlessly accept it as gospel.

    How do you know which side is liberal and which side is conservative? You don't know the context. The alleged "students and professors" could have been Republican just as easily as they could have been liberal. There are a few Republicans colleges around, e.g. Liberty University, Hillsdale College, etc. You don't know. But you don't let that stop you from jumping to conclusions in order to perpetuate your memes.

    There is a whole industry centered around fake news and it's mostly right wing fake news. Right wing fake news is a booming industry.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...ld-trump-is-in-the-white-house-because-of-me/

    Below is another example:

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-m...eone-wasnt-paid-3500-protest-donald-trump-it/

    Let's look at the "main stream" Republican attacks on the press. Trump created a black list. If reporters didn't write articles favorable to him, he placed them on a black list and denied them access to his campaign. In essence Trump did the same thing your video shows. He ejected reporters who didn't write articles or speak well of him.

    http://money.cnn.com/2016/06/14/media/donald-trump-media-blacklist/

    For your edification, below are some more links:

    http://time.com/4544562/donald-trump-supporters-lugenpresse/

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/15/us/politics/trump-media-attacks.html?_r=0

    And why would I possibly feel offended?
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2016
  20. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    It appears to be a pollution of thought taking place around our universities...

    http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/16439/

    Identity Politics is the new divisive effort to tear us apart.
    https://www.google.com/webhp?source...=2&ie=UTF-8#q=identity politics neoliberalism
     
  21. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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  22. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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  23. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    Echo chamber? All I need do is Google. The information is readily available.
     

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