Sunday, 12 March 2017

Liberal, Conservative and The Loss of Meaning

When I wrote that Liberalism was a political and social philosophy advocating individual freedom, representational forms of government, progress, reform and protection of civil liberties, my interlocutor responded "I am truly shocked at reading the 3 definitions of Liberalism that you furnished. They couldn’t be further from defining today’s version of liberalism. "

The philosophy of Liberalism began in the Age of Enlightenment in opposition to the Divine Right of Kings.  Its key tenets were well-defined by Paine & Locke, while Smith, Bentham and Mill outlined the Liberal embrace of free trade.  Liberalism is still adhered to by the UK's Liberal party (Openly calling for freedom, representation  and responsibility, which is probably why they always lose so badly.).  

The problem with "today's version of liberalism" is that it is a straw man set up solely to serve as a punching bag.  Just lump together any and all leftist ideas one doesn't like, call it Liberalism, then proceed to explain why one doesn't like Liberals.

Take "big government" for example: people who like big government are called Liberals and therefore bad, but first we have to exclude government interference in how I can die, what I can smoke, whether my mistress can have an abortion, what my doctor is allowed to ask me and where I am required to pee.  The fans of this kind of big-government interference in our daily lives are now called "conservatives" and those who oppose it are "liberals."

Or "buying insurance across state lines."   Anyone who opposes states-rights is a liberal, except those who think the feds in Washington should be able to tell states who can sell insurance in their territory;  that's a conservative.

Or free trade:  the only people who used to be in favour of tariffs were trade unionists; Liberals and Conservatives eschewed them with absolute horror.  Today, supporting tariffs is considered a "conservative" position and free trade is something those damned liberals dreamed up.  (Well, true; they did.)

In short, the terms mean almost nothing anymore - they are bandied about with no reference to their true meaning, which is how you can be shocked when you see a dictionary definition.

"Liberal" and "Conservative" or "Progressive" and "Reactionary," in today's common usage, mean little more than "the guys in the other political party."  

Listen to this guy.  The putsch that he has run in Turkey shows he KNOWS how Nazis behave.

Couldn't come soon enough. Can't wait to get rid of these freeloaders. Tired of subsidizing them.

Like Benghazi, we should be able to keep this investigation 20 years. Cops and lawyers need to eat too.

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