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Liberal Values - Where Liberalism Goes Wrong
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11/8/2012 2:46:14 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Note: this is a discussion of political philosophy, of the values of liberalism vs conservatism. Very philosophic, not very political, but I thought this was the most appropriate place to post it.
I think the good aspects of modern American liberalism (in principle/theory, not in politics/practicality) outweigh the good aspects of modern American conservatism. The good aspects of liberalism are that they don't want to control your body, want to grant you civil liberties and personal freedom in this regard. Conservatism is just very big on traditional family units, tradition in general, and they don't want to control your property/money as much as liberals do; they want taxation to be minimal and governments involvement in economics/finances to be small and efficient. It really shows where your values are - the things you want to be protected from govt control and the things you want govt to force upon society with its control.
And maybe it would be one thing if conservatives were ever for genuine fiscal responsibility, then maybe it would counterbalance the benefits of liberalism to an extent, but they're never for smaller, more responsible govt fiscally - government debt/spending grows even (especially!) when Republicans are in office (see Herbert Hoover, Ronald Reagan, George Bush) and not just because of external factors, but because of policies that come directly from the administration. Modern American conservatives, that is to say for the most part: neoconservatives, also tend to want to use govt for the things they like (endless war, police state, totalitarian control over everyone's body and personal choices, etc). But by the same token, supposedly liberal politicians are hardly ever truly socially liberal when it comes to civil liberties and anti-war in the slightest when it comes to foreign policy. See Barack Obama for proof of that, and how his administration has mostly continued Bush policies on civil liberties, constitutional rights, and foreign policy.
Now, for a discussion of the liberal ideology. We should all want to work toward social freedom and social liberation in the sense of helping those who are oppressed. We should do this of our own voluntary choice and integrity and empathy for the downtrodden. We should empathize with every living, feeling creature we meet; we should rush to help them as if our own lives were at stake. This is the only way to truly find meaning - to live, ultimately, for others as much as you can. To put great causes and values above your own immediate existence as much as you can (but again, we are still animals, need to survive, and need to survive happily - this necessarily entails at least some amount of selfishness because of our limited animal nature). We should treat strangers like they are our best friends. Every person you see has goals, interests, passions, hobbies, fears, insecurities. If they need something and I can assist them semi-easily, I will, and I will feel wonderful and find meaning in doing so - transcending my animal nature which demands that I live selfishly, and finding empathy, and caring for each human as if they were part of my family... Because in a sense they are part of my family - the human family. Our DNA and biological makeup is so similar. And plus we live in society together, with many of the same worries and interests - we're in this struggle together! Society should be like an extended family. In this regard I think many of the priorities and values of leftism/liberalism are valid, worthy, and even noble.
Liberals go wrong when they suggest that we accomplish their goals by the force and might of government violence, and it destroys their entire ideology. Because not only is it not moral to use state violence to force people to do things with their property without their consent (the same "self-ownership" argument that liberals use against government control of your body), but furthermore history indicates that government is a really sh!tty vehicle for furthering social freedom and social liberation. When government gets a monopoly on the use of force in a society, that power is always abused, every single time. In most cases governments are not only not aids of social progress, they are the principal opponents! Slavery, mass looting of the property of the common people, discrimination against various groups (gays, blacks, women), denial of your ability to live peacefully and pursue your hobbies, denial of citizens' right to privacy from the state, mass murder via war - these were and have always historically been some of the most important functions of the state.
Without the whole "big government" thing I would consider myself a hardcore leftist in some regards. I mean, in some regards I am, but unfortunately when you say you're a leftist, they just assume you think Soviet Russia is the ideal model for society. What BS. I think any ideology, any firm commitment to "leftism" or rightism" is fallacious and destructive... There are good and bad aspects in all manmade (that is to say animal made) ideologies, so try to pick the best of as many as you can. Anyway, the leftist causes are worthy in most cases - though I have reservations of trying to establish equality in finances for every single person because I think it's impossible, contradictory toward our nature and the nature of reality, and probably undesirable - but despite the causes being worthy and noble, the methods they employ to advance those causes (state violence) are simply tyrannical and reprehensible. Ah, the tyranny of good intentions coupled with harmful and morally reprehensible methods of carrying them out... It defeats the whole purpose of the good intentions and that is why modern American liberalism is an utterly naive and pathetic failure.