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Yet another weird SF fan
 

Monday, April 18, 2005

Classical Liberalism Is Currently Known as Conservatism

I just thought I'd mention that. (Self-congratulations seen via Fark.)

On the other hand, if you want a serious look at political categories, the following quote from R. A. Lafferty might be relevant:

[T]he opposite of radical is superficial, the opposite of liberal is stingy; the opposite of conservative is destructive.

7 Comments:

Blogger thehim said...

Nope. Exactly the opposite. Classical liberalism was not tied to overreaching moralism. It was tied to the FIGHT AGAINST overreaching moralism. The most basic tenet of classical liberalism was the separation of church and state.

2:00 PM  
Blogger thehim said...

[T]he opposite of radical is superficial, the opposite of liberal is stingy; the opposite of conservative is destructive.

And by the way, I'm long convinced that you're not quite ready to understand some of this, but I'd also like to point out that the opposite of radical is moderate, the opposite of liberal is conservative, and the opposite of conservative is liberal. If Lafferty is trying to make the point that conservatives are stingy and liberals are destructive, he made it in a roundabout way, but it's still assinine.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Kent said...

The most basic tenet of classical liberalism was the separation of church and state.

This is a straw man. I don't know any conservatives who want an establishment of religion. What I have heard many conservatives claim is that the present legal climate is actively hostile to religion, and that they wish to reverse this.

the opposite of liberal is conservative, and the opposite of conservative is liberal.

Russell Kirk didn't think so. He believed that Toqueville, among others, could accurately be described as liberal conservatives.

5:08 PM  
Blogger thehim said...

I don't know any conservatives who want an establishment of religion.

Just because you don't know any, doesn't mean there aren't any. A bill, introduced by conservatives recently, is intended to allow for impeachment of Supreme Court Justices who choose to hear lower court ruling that come from "the authority of god".

That is pretty far from just saying that the present legal climate is hostile to religion. That is a clear endorsement of removing the wall between church and state. Removing a statue of the Ten Commandments from a courthouse is not hostility towards religion. It's a correct ruling concerning the fact that our government can not endorse one set of religious beliefs. If this is viewed as hostility, then those people do not understand what the separation of church and state means.

7:05 PM  
Blogger thehim said...

Russell Kirk didn't think so. He believed that Toqueville, among others, could accurately be described as liberal conservatives.

The terms liberal and conservative are used incorrectly probably more than any other words in the English language. When Lafferty says the opposite of liberal is stingy, he means the definition of liberal that has nothing to do with politics. He means that it's the opposite of:

Tending to give freely; generous

If you look here, you see the opposite of conservative, for the appropriate definition, IS liberal.

A lot of people use terms like liberal-conservative, or conservative-liberal, and essentially they mean moderate. That doesn't mean that conservative and liberal are not opposites of each other.

7:12 PM  
Blogger Kent said...

A bill, introduced by conservatives recently, is intended to allow for impeachment of Supreme Court Justices who choose to hear lower court ruling that come from "the authority of god"

That's a strange characterization of a bill that, according to the excerpt you linked, is intended to keep activists from frivolously suing Federal officials for expressing their religious beliefs.

The terms liberal and conservative are used incorrectly probably more than any other words in the English language.

Your long list of definitions is powerful evidence confirming that this is so. In the political arena, the opposite of conservative is progressive, not liberal; progressive and liberal are two different things.

A person who seeks to conserve long-established customs, institutions, and prescriptive rights because he considers them the best protection of liberties is a liberal conservative, not a moderate.

10:35 PM  
Blogger thehim said...

That's a strange characterization of a bill that, according to the excerpt you linked, is intended to keep activists from frivolously suing Federal officials for expressing their religious beliefs.

I'm not sure what bill you think you're reading, but the bill I linked to says this:

Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an entity of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer or agent of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official or personal capacity), concerning that entity's, officer's, or agent's acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.

To explain what this means, let's say that the "officer or agent of Federal, State, or local government" is a school superintendant who requires that the students in his public schools pray together every morning. What that bill states is that the Supreme Court would not be allowed to intervene in that situation to ameliorate the fact that there's a clear endorsement of religion by the government.

In the political arena, the opposite of conservative is progressive, not liberal; progressive and liberal are two different things.

This is certainly true in real definitions, although it's very easy to argue that the common understanding of the word 'liberal' in today's world does mean 'progressive'. I've never considered myself a 'liberal' before, but always considered myself a 'progressive'. Now, any time I espouse what I consider a 'progressive' belief, I am called a 'liberal.' I would be happy as hell if people in this country shifted to using the word 'progressive' to describe people on the left rather than 'liberal'. They've essentially come to (mistakenly) be the same thing. It's true that I'm playing semantics games here, but with a word like 'liberal', it's almost impossible to pin down a proper definition.

A person who seeks to conserve long-established customs, institutions, and prescriptive rights because he considers them the best protection of liberties is a liberal conservative, not a moderate.

Here you use a very antiquated definition of the word liberal, which now means libertarian. And I will also argue that someone who holds that exact belief today is definitely considered a moderate. We have a very large faction of the right-wing who want to trash long-standing American customs, institutions, and rights. I am part of the faction who adamantly opposes that.

11:53 AM  

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