Sunday, August 06, 2006

From the Comments: Misusing 'liberal'

mitchshrader said:

"[W]ouldn't mind a bit if you'ld check your definition on 'liberal'.. cause last I heard it meant tolerant."

Really? Hmm.

I was defining it as a member or supporter of a liberal political party. Since this is the United States -- not England, nor Europe -- the liberal political party I had in mind was Modern American Liberalism, as spawned by Roosevelt's New Deal , and weaned by Johnson's Great Society, all with their increased Government role -- intrusion, as matter-of-fact -- in all facets of life.

Although, it could also be defined as someone who follows the political philosophy of 'social liberalism' which is pretty much as above, only more so.

I could also be referring to a 'liberal' as: a graduate of a liberal arts college, but we won't go there.



Abejarron Caotico said...

I suppose it could be a term for people who never got over the hippie thing. Think about it... hippies just want to share the love. Everyone is the same, man. Everything is permitted, man. Don't oppress me with your narrow views, man. And, of course, someone else is going to have to be resonsible for taking care of things, because the hippies are too stoned to be bothered with it.

Liberals want to share the love, also. They love everyone... who isn't white, male, straight, and conservative. Everything should be permitted, unless it's something liberals don't like. If you disagree with a liberal, then you are narrow-minded and are oppressing... well, who you are oppressing would be determined by the Interest Group of the Week. And someone else is going to have to be responsible and take care of business. The liberals are all too busy with the rolling hunger strike.

Those similarities cannot be coincidence.

BobG said...

"I suppose it could be a term for people who never got over the hippie thing."

In many cases that is true; though most of the hippies I knew (and I knew quite a few) smartened up and became libertarian or moderate. Many of them had good intentions (you would not believe the state of civil liberties that existed at that time), and just wanted to fix a few things. The hardcore ones that wanted to just leach off society ended up as junkies or welfare cases. The modern liberal movement is quite a bit different; it wants MORE control of the government over people, not less.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I prefer to call all those you described "leftists".

I find it distasteful to associate a term derived from the word "liberty" with the tyrants of the authoritarian left.

Anonymous said...

Too many liberals are communists. There was a time when their ideology was considered a threat. What happened? Have we allowed political correctness to constipate our reasoning abilities?

Anonymous said...

One could debate all day as to whether it's "liberal" or actually "leftist"...if of course one has no life and thinks talking about such things over a Zima makes them esoteric. I'll just stick with "piss-ignorant". I find it to be a far more accurate description.

Anonymous said...

I just read an interesting book, Conservatives Without Conscience, written by a lawyer, and so he spent a good deal of space trying to define "conservative." Turns out it's difficult to do. Even the conservatives had trouble defining the essentials of conservatism. Seems we have the same problem with liberals!

Anonymous said...

The modern liberal has little to do with the father of liberalism, John Locke. Locke is closer to libertarian now, than to the socialism that liberals have adopted.

none said...

A liberal in my definition is someone who wants things to happen because of feelings instead of logic.

For example:

I FEEL bad for the homeless so I want to tax the rich because I FEEL they have it too easy and so on.

Being tolerant is not a liberal trait because they are not tolerant at all. Liberals attack anyone who is different from them or disagree with their ideas.

Anonymous said...

"progressive" or "progressivist" are the most accurate terms I've found for the folks you describe.

Anonymous said...

Liberal: Someone who wants to feel good about doing something for someone else with your money.

LogEyed Roman said...

"Liberal", coming from the same root as "liberty", first meant someone who was generous and openhanded. It could also certainly mean someone who was tolerant, in the sense of favoring few judgements or restrictions on conduct. I use this word with a certain amount of freedom, though cautiously. For instance, I don't feel too bad about saying that the Islamic countries which horribly mistreat and oppress woman need more liberal policies and attitudes towards them. I might also say that while schools need far more discipline than they are currently getting, it should still be more liberal than boot camp.

But that's lower case "liberal", used as an adjective.

Then there's a whole other kettle of fish. There's "Liberal" with a capital "L", which I use as a noun as well as an adjective. This I use to refer to persons and attitudes more characteristic of what I might call the Liberal MOVEMENT. As with "conservative", this would be hard to define with really clear boundaries. Still, I find the distinction useful. For me, a liberal income tax policy would not be as extreme as it is now. Putting crushing tax burdens on those who actually succeed in economically productive activities, in order to fund bloated government programs whose results are often questionable is not liberal in my book. But it sure is Liberal. A liberal policy towards gun ownership might require careful screening, lots of accountability, and forbid things like belt-fed machine guns, but would, for instance, concealed-weapons permits a lot easier to get in, say, Los Angeles. There are currently 4 permit holders in Los Angeles County, and thousands who deserve them. But a Liberal policy toward gun ownership would be far more restrictive, and while not all Liberals would necessarily agree, they can certainly work with the people who want to disarm the civilian public entirely.

To be liberal about sexual activity would be to be sure that, say, homosexuals have their civil rights rigorously protected. It emphatically would not rewrite the ancient marriage custom to open the door to same-sex "marriage". It would also not allow underage girls to have abortions without their parents even knowing about it. No; these may not be liberal, but they sure are Liberal.

My point is that there is a principal of liberality which, though it must be applied with discretion, is generally good. Then there is a (rather loose) culture, a sort of collection of related agendas, which is generally called Liberal. Now this group I have trouble with. "Liberality" originally meant being openhanded with your own money, not other peoples'. And while I'm firmly in favor of a welfare safety net, I emphaticallly do not believe that "bigger is better." In Sweden, the family as we know it is almost totally dead. The welfare system there has been legendary for generations. Today you can't rais your own children. They can spend some time at home; they can even sleep there. But there is "day care" for all children in the country, and they MUST spend a very great deal of time there. In all these countries who got on the Liberal welfare state bandwagon so long before the USA did, the population is dropping catastrophically. I blame Liberal policies for this. Moreover, I blame Liberal policies more than Conservative ones for the lack of personal safety in so much of the "develeoped" world. I am old enough to remember when anti-gun people routinely played the England card, pointing out how much less violent crime there was in England despite fewer guns. Well, most of those guns, few as they were, have now been seized and destroyed by the government, and the anti-gun people don't talk about England very much, because the violent crime rate has skyrocketed.

If you don't count terrorist attacks and only look at non-political crime, what are the safest countries in the world? Israel and Switzerland. They have the most heavily armed citizens in the world. Their gun-ownership situation is very liberal in my book, though I believe the situation would make most Liberals uncomfortable. I mean, what if YOUR daughter's college pals came to visit and handed you their Uzis at the door when they came in your home? I think it would be cool. You can bet would-be home invaders think it's another good night to watch TV.

Logeyed Roman