Friday, August 08, 2008

Liberalism

Liberalism as a political concept can be defined in many ways just as a other political concept can. Based on the discussions with those who proclaim themselves as being liberal it would appear that liberalism can no longer be defined as it once was. Liberalism of today is recognized as being a political ideology that is to the left of Conservatism. Liberalism as it began would be defined as being to the right of Conservatism.

Liberalism can be said as having its foundation back in the age of enlightenment. The word liberal is a derivative of the word liberate and those advocates of liberalism were seeking to liberate the people from the government. Our founding fathers were liberals in this sense. They even went so far as to eliminate taxation of the people for support of the central government they created.

It was a political ideology that declared that no man was born to be the leader of a nation. It was an ideology that declared that the people had the right to own the land he lived on. It was a concept that declared that each man was his own man and not the subject of the king he lived under.

It was this form of liberalism that encouraged each person that he could be all that he had potential of being. It was this form of liberalism that did not allow for a “can't” attitude in any man. It is this ideology that instills a can do attitude within a person but it also requires that each of us to view others in that same way.

It was this form of liberalism that has brought success even when that success was against all the odds of probability. Our nation has a history of improbable successes. Even those who were slaves understood this, probably far more clearer than those who never was a slave.

For a slave knew what it meant to live without the right to make his own decisions. For a slave knew what it meant to be dependent upon another for his needs. For a slave knew what it meant to wake up each day knowing he is to be nothing else but obedient. For a slave knew what enslavement meant and that it meant more than just being thought of as property to be bought and sold. He knew it not by education or training but by life itself as he experienced it.

Liberalism recognized that men had rights but knew also that those rights came with the highest of price. Liberalism understood that privileges were earned and not given therefore deserving of the highest of respect. Liberalism understood that with freedom is the freedom to fail also. Freedom is no guarantee of success. It is the guarantee of failure for failure is an inevitable aspect of freedom. Everyone will find failure in life but with freedom, that man can turn failure into a success story.

Those who seek freedom will find inequality as an element of freedom. For there can be no equality where both success as well as failure is allowed. If we try to create a society where only success is allowed we do so at the expense of our own personal freedom. The same be true where failure is not allowed. And a man without freedom is a slave.

Give another man control over any part of your life and you give him the right to control every part of your life. For by giving him control you give him a power over you that he does not deserve if freedom is to be had. Freedom was a gift given us and it was given with the highest of price.

Liberalism made us what we be as a nation but unfortunately it is liberalism that seeks to deny us of everything it fought for too. Why? I cannot say. Its as if they no longer take pride in what they have accomplished.

I look at this nation and its people and I know I am proud of what it has accomplished since its inception. I look back into history and view its struggles but also view how successfully we have dealt with them. And it is that which makes me proud. I have seen this nation run not just walk to help those who have known struggles and for this I am proud of our people and their willingness to sacrifice so that others may know the opportunities that we take for granted. For that was, no, that is liberalism at its best. That is a liberalism that a man, who knows and understands what being free is, can be proud of. That is a man who understands what Liberty is. That is something no man should wish to compromise on.

35 comments:

heidianne jackson said...

what an incredibly thought-provoking text. i had to read it twice. thanks for this.

The Griper said...

he smiles, twas my pleasure, little lady. thank you for visiting and hope you will return.

Gayle said...

She will. Heidianne is one smart cookie! :)

Living languages do change, but this is really a case of a word changing into the exact opposite of it's original meaning. I'm sure there are other examples, but this is one of the most deceptive. "Liberal" is a good thing in so many people's minds because they believe it means they are compassionate and care about the so-called "little people" more than conservatives do, which is nonsense. I believe that many people vote Democrat simply because their parents did, and they don't understand how the party has changed since the days of their parents. It's very frustrating because I know people who do just that. I have been told "if it was good enough for my parents it's good enough for me." *sigh* I wish people who don't look into politics any more than to just go along with a family tradition wouldn't vote. If wishes were fishes...

BB-Idaho said...

LOL, your review prompted me to go back and take a number of the innocuous tests on the net. Same
results as the last few years:
1 Liberal
2 Liberal
3 68% Lib/42% Con
4 75% Lib/25% Con
5 50% Lib/50% Con
6 More lib than Hillary, but less than Teddy (!?)
7 ..and the 'quadrant test'..lower left (libertarian left)..along with
Gandhi, Nelson Mandella and the Dalai Lama. Guess I am either confused or a foreigner? :)
Oh, wait: could be the tests tell us more about test design than ourselves?

The Griper said...

i agree, gayle. i have heard the same things myself many times. or for the very young how much their parents have changed the party themselves. i have even heard from those who never really knew what the word liberal came from and was surprised when they found out.

i think that was why i wrote this as i did.

Crian said...

Hey BB, where did you get those tests from? I would like to take some them and maybe publish the results.

I disagree, Gayle, that people just vote Democrat because it is what their parents did. A few months ago after I started having discussions with Griper, I went and asked all of my close friends whether they were liberal or conservative? Not one of them openly said liberal but most said a mix. That being said they all indicated they would vote for Senator Obama because of his policies compared to Senator McCain (Disclaimer here: all said people live in my dearly missed home Mass.).

Brilliantly written Griper, and for once I will not argue about the change in liberalism because it is something we have already talked about. I do believe in the change and evolution of all things and maybe liberalism is part of that change. Concepts that remain stagnant, inevitably forget that society is always in flux hence concepts must also adopt this state.

The Griper said...

Crian,
"I do believe in the change and evolution of all things and maybe liberalism is part of that change"

ok, accepting that as a given, i have one question.

when has change or evolution meant taking us backwards as liberalism is doing to us? liberalism was founded on freedom and independence from government. now it is leading us back to dependence of government.

that is not change but reversion. that is not evolution, that is deevolution.

how can you call it change when it is fighting so hard to revert society back to what it was that liberalism fought so hard to change?

BB-Idaho said...

"how can you call it change when it is fighting so hard to revert society back to what it was that liberalism fought so hard to change?" As you note, the birth of the concept came with the age of the englightenment. To revert as you claim, to that prior age, we need have a powerful king, untaxed nobles and churches supported by an oppressed peasant population. The two higher' estates' exhibited
Ayn Rand's virtue of selfishness, wastrels supported by the poor.
The edifice lasted a long time, supported by irrationalism and the sword. That alone is why Voltaire,
D'Alambert, Diderot et. el. began the rationalism which led to liberalism. The dark ages are filled with kings and bishops, knights and dukes, (huh, chess pieces, yet) whose edifice of power rested on the backs of the poorest. An age, I submit, neither modern liberal or modern conservative would care much for!

The Griper said...

bb,
government is still government regardless of what form it be.

and the founding fathers stressed independence of the people from government and "the people" included the poor.

remember, they did not set up a monarchy.

Gayle said...

Crian, I did not say that people vote Democrat just because their parents did. I said many people vote Democrat simply because their parents did. The difference being "many". I know this to be a fact because I have been told it by Democrats that I know personally. There is a huge political difference between Texas and Massachusetts, Crian. Texans are mainly conservative. I know people who are conservative but vote for the Democratic party because they do not understand how liberal it is. We cannot compare most of the Democrats in Texas to the Democrats in Massachusetts. They are completely different animals. :)

Gayle said...

In addition, because they are actually conservative it is extremely frustrating for me. The complain about big government and people on the government dole, the say California is a nanny state, they hate San Francisco, then they go and vote Democrat. That just doesn't make any sense at all, but they do it because they come from a family that is old school Democrat. *sigh* It simply means they don't understand what's going on. When I try to tell them what's going on they look at me as if I just stepped out of a UFO.

Crian said...

Hey Gayle, I never imagined any Texans would vote Democrat given the recent liberal streaks of the party, but I actually should be the last person to talk about Texas since the furthest I ever ventures from Mass. was Pennsylvania. Apologies for misinterpretting your words, I see what you mean.

On the founding fathers BB, they did stress independence from government but when said independence affects millions of people who are disadvantaged (healthcare, income, social status), how can we continue to support such a policy that does not make an effort to improve people's lives.

Human beings are amazing, don't get me wrong, however society has changed so much in the last decade that the traditional ability of being able to work hard is not going to push someone from a $7.50 per hour job at walmart to get a degree (yes, I know about student loans etc..). I think what I have been trying to argue with you Griper in some of our discussions is that society has made so much progress in recent years however this progress has come with problems.

The main one being that people who are poor or lower class find it virtually impossible to improve their situations in the current economc climate. The only solution to improve that "improvement" is greater government assistance in my book (I think).

The Griper said...

Crian,
and why is it virtually impossible? the poor have the same opportunities as anyone else does. they may have to work a little harder but that shouldn't be seen as a stop sign. it may take a little longer but if they take advantage of their opportunities nothing stops them from making a better life for themselves other tha their own attitude towards life.

besides poverty is an artificial and arbitrary number set by the government. and it is also relative. and it depends upon your priorities in life. a poor man in one person's eyes is a rich person in another man's eyes.

the big problem with today's liberalism is that it views everything from dollars and cents. and that is the least perfect of any measurement of a man.

governments, any form of government, can only offer society one of two things, money or freedom. it has nothing more to offer society. it can't offer both at the same time.
reason:
with money they create dependency upon government. with freedom comes independency of government.

with freedom a man can become all that he can be. he decides. a man dependent can only become what the government decides what he will be.
reason:
you said it yourself. the government helps the poor but every program keeps them poor because in order to remain on those programs they must remain poor. and there is no incentive to get off those programs.

people will acclimate themselves to the state they exist in. that is an age old principle.

one more thing to think about. freedom has taken this country from a state of 95% poor to a state where it is only 10 or 15% poor.

now, to me that has been an amazing turn around for a country of this size and with a population as diverse as we have. can europe make that same claim? can china or russia or india?

or how about unemployments rates? how do we compare with these countries of like size or population?

there is an old saying that goes like this "before you tell another person how dirty their house is, you better clean your own house."

Crian said...

How do the poor have the same opportunities as everyone else? They may improve their social standing with time as well as their economic status. I agree but such improvements are limited to a small percentage of the poor. That is why I said it was virtually impossible because in each population, only a minority can make the leap to secure future while others continue to suffer in poverty.

Poverty is relative but that notion is philosophical and does not deal with the reality of the situation and the reason it is defined in monetary terms is because there is a certain amount of money each person needs to survive in this day and age.

On social programs, you are right that some people remain in them because there is no incentive to leave but you also forget that there are those who at some stage to get out of these programs and make it in the world.

Freedom has done a lot for America, there are a lot less poor but perhaps as a principle, it has done all it can? That we cannot hope to reduce the remaining 10 - 15% by just advocating "Make use of your opportunities."

On the issue of Russia, China or India I am not sure but due to the diversity of Europe with its populations and incomes, I will endevour to find out about the state of poverty in the U.K, Ireland, France and Germany.

In terms of population, the EU has slightly more people than America but such a comparison would not be accurate given certain countries in the EU don't use the Euro and have not fully complied with EU policies.

I am not saying Europe is perfect and neither is America but there are lessons to be learnt on both sides of the ocean.

Lista said...

Griper,
I agree with Heidianne Jackson that this is a very good post, one of your best, for the word liberalism has indeed changed drastically. The party, however, has often been off, even early in it's history.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but what I understood is that it was the Democrats that fight to protect the right to have slaves and the Republicans that fought to free them. That doesn't fit very well with the original definition of Liberalism as described in the above post. I guess the Republicans were the original party of Liberalism.

Crian,
Since people have a tendency to hang out with people like themselves and also since, as Gayle pointed out, there are political differences between the states, you can't base your whole understanding of reality on the characteristics of the people who are your friends.

I run across people all the time who have either accepted the same political party as their parents or just the opposite out of rebellion. Either way, it is less than thinking for oneself. I was a Democrat out of rebellion, until I took an economy class and finally understood some of my father's thoughts. Since rebellion was more my slant than conformity, it could not be said that I returned to the Republican side in order to conform to my parents, for it is not in my nature to do that, yet rebellion is not the same as free thought either.

Not all change is good and not all that remains the same is stagnant. Some of it preserves stability and strength.

Wow! Good Question, Griper!
"When has change or evolution meant taking us backwards?"

Perhaps, though, total and complete freedom from government can not be achieved because the reality is that the poor are always going to need things that lead to some level of dependence. This is just a reality, yet I don't know what I'm so concerned about this extreme because at the moment, it is the Liberals, not the Republicans, that are moving more towards the extreme than the Republicans are.

I will always seek for the middle, though, even though the true middle, at the moment, is somewhat to the right of the current middle in this country.

Hey Crian,
I live in California and I vote Republican. I haven't voted for a Democrat in many years, so just as there are Democrats in Texas, there are also Republicans in California. In fact, Northern California is quite full of them.

I don't imagine that I'll be disagreeing with you all that much whenever you talk to Griper, because I find him at times to border on the more extreme side of Republicanism, yet I'll have you know that I don't like the extreme of Liberalism either, which appears to be Socialism. That's quite a contradiction in terms, huh?

Griper,
There is a limit to what a person can both physically and also emotionally do. I can tell that there are things that you simply do not understand about the genetically poor, as well as the emotionally abused. There are some who are lazy and take advantage of the system, but there are others who are misunderstood, judged and yes, may even eventually give up, yet they are in a different category than those who have hardly tried at all. Not all poor people are the same, just as I've always thought that you pride yourself in avoiding generalizing and stereo-typing.

As to priorities, the decision between food and medicine is not a priority decision that anyone should have to make. Though you might like to think otherwise, financial poverty does not cause non-financial wealth. Many people are poor in more ways than one and financial poverty does not fix non-financial problems. Often it exasperates them. For example, poverty can cause marital discord.

Dollars and cents just happens to be the thing that government has control over. The other "measurements of a man" can not be addressed by government, so they measure what they can have an effect on.

A man is neither totally dependent, nor totally free, but both. Government can indeed offer a little of both. The only thing that prevents people like you, Griper, from thinking so is the tendency to think of things in black and white, while never allowing any gray.

I've got an idea. Why don't we offer new born babies total "freedom" without any financial assistance or nurturing and see how long they survive. Let's just see how quickly these babies "become all that they can be" or are they all going to just "decide to fail". Shouldn't we offer these babies "Independence"? Isn't that the best way?

Offering no incentives to get off government programs is indeed a problem that needs to be fixed, yet that is a separate issue.

The Griper said...

Crian,
"That is why I said it was virtually impossible because in each population, only a minority can make the leap to secure future while others continue to suffer in poverty."

"On social programs, you are right that some people remain in them because there is no incentive to leave but you also forget that there are those who at some stage to get out of these programs and make it in the world."

i am forgetting nothing. it is you that forgets what he says. how do you reconcile these statements since they are one and the same group? those on government programs are those who are poor.

in one statement you declare it is virtually impossible then you turn around and say it is possible. which is it?

and if some can get out of poverty on their own what prevents the rest of them? we didn't go from 95% poor to 10 or 15% poor overnight. it took generations with each generation seeing to it that their kids took advantage of the opportunities. and the parents making the sacrifices needed so that the kids could.

take me for an example. i was the first one in my family to graduate from high school. my mother and dad had but 8th grade educations. but college was left up to me. and four of those years was in a private school which my mother paid for all by herself.

so, opportunities are there for anyone. the only question remains, will those who need it take advantage of those opportunities or will they just let them pass by?

remember it is up to the individual to take advantage of opportunities and if he doesn't then there are consequences that must be paid. nobody can force someone else to do something if we seek freedom.

and somewhere along the line people need to realize that incentive must come from the inner self if he want to get ahead in life. and in both of your statements above those that climbed out of poverty were those who had inner incentive. you admitted that there are no incentives in government programs.

President Johhnson declared a war on poverty and spent billions to that end but poverty still exists.

and if we are to believe another man, poverty will always exist and no government program gives enough to take a person out of poverty. it just offers a person a different means to remain in poverty.

and there will always be those who are content to live off the government if they are allowed to.
they just adjust their standard of living to match that government dole. and their kids learn from the parents.

the only way i see to eliminate poverty is to sterilize the poor so that poverty cannot go beyond one generation.

Lista said...

Hi Griper,
I don't know what happened to the other longer comment that I posted here. Maybe you are still digesting it, so I won't worry about it for now.

In the two quotes that you mentioned from Crian, the basic themes of both of them, "Only a minority can make the leap." and "There are those who at some stage can get out of these programs.", are a minority group. These two statements do not contradict. They only describe the minority that escapes poverty and two different ways.

The two statements, "only a minority" and "virtually impossible", are not the same thing and perhaps the phrase "nearly impossible" or "extremely difficult" should have been used instead. I'm willing to forgive some mess ups in terminology when a person comes back and tries to rephrase it. I think that's what he's been trying to do.

In my opinion what prevents some people from getting out of poverty is laziness, yet for others it is other weaknesses and handicaps and for still others it is emotional injuries due to abuse or whatever. For each individual the reason is different. I do not know the actual percentage of those who are trapped in their poverty, but I do know that they exist.

Way to go, Griper! I'm very much impressed!!!, but you know what? If your mother had not been willing to help, you would have been a different statistic than you are. If you are going to claim that your entire incentive was from within and that your mother's support and encouragement was not also an incentive, well, that's a little hypocritical, don't you think?

You simply can not claim that "Those that climbed out of poverty were those who had inner incentive." You do not know that, nor do you know what family relationship or friendship contributed to that incentive. Life does sometimes offer incentives apart from the government, but not always.

BB-Idaho said...

"i am forgetting nothing. it is you that forgets what he says. how do you reconcile these statements since they are one and the same group? those on government programs are those who are poor."
..well, except for these millionaires on the dole:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,289271,00.html
You may not want to assist the poor, but I am quite sure the rich need no help from me. :)
Of course a liberal opinion is
likely useless, factual or not, so please read the Cato Institute summary on corporate welfare.
http://www.cato.org/testimony/ct-sm063099.html
The Cato Institute ?!! that bastion of "individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace".

The Griper said...

bb,
i'm not claiming that there isn't any corporate welfare. but the issue was the poor and how to eliminate poverty.

The Griper said...

lista,
the point i was making when using myself as an example was that poverty is eliminated generationally for the most part.

and i never said my mother didn't help. the difference is that i said sacrificed.

"it took generations with each generation seeing to it that their kids took advantage of the opportunities. and the parents making the sacrifices needed so that the kids could."

The Griper said...

bb,
i never said either that i didn't want to help the poor. i just think welfare programs hurt more than they help people, regardless of whether they be welfare programs for the rich or programs for the poor.

once people get on these programs they are loathed to get off of them and that includes the rich. you almost have to throw them off. that was why workfare, as it is called, replaced welfare. politicians came to understand that once on welfare it became a generational thing.

Lista said...

Individual poverty can more easily be eliminated when the only form of poverty present is financial. When there is emotional, relational and genetic poverty involved as well, however, overcoming all of this is nearly impossible.

By genetic poverty, I mean handicaps and lack of genetic abilities. Things such as retardation make the reality of genetic limitations obvious, but there are other things that are less obvious.

Also, your own example can be used to support the idea that breaking out of poverty may be the result of family effort, not just individual effort. Not all of those in poverty have this same relational/family wealth and if one child does break free, it is often the one who has the most ability genetically, for it makes perfect sense to put your limited money into the one who has the best chances for success.

To view life honestly, one has to consider all of the factors that are in play.

Lista said...

Actually, Griper,
When it comes to welfare, I basically agree with you. Workfare is better. I'm just opposed to the idea of doing away with all government programs. Some are very much needed. Too often, when it comes to cutting things, they habitually pick the wrong things to cut and keep that which isn't working. When it comes to Government, it seems that time and time again, whatever makes no sense at all, that is what they choose to do.

The Griper said...

if that were the case, lista, i would have been the least likely one.

The Griper said...

then we are incloser agrreement than you think we are, lista.

Lista said...

Ok,
Maybe I don't actually know what causes success and what doesn't. All I know for sure is that effort and even massive amounts of it does not guarantee it.

Quite frankly, Griper, I find the suggestion that failure is something that is chosen a little insulting. We do sometimes choose to give up and that's not so good, yet failure is something that happens when a person tries, so I guess such should be praised, whether than ridiculed.

Yes, we are in closer agreement than it sometimes appears. Sometimes I think people have a tendency to respond to extremes when forming opinions, but if we were talking more about specifics, whether than generalities, we would probably find many areas of agreement.

The Griper said...

we don't choose failure, lista, and i never said we did. we accept failure in the choice of freedom.

BB-Idaho said...

If I understand correctly, the operative argument at this point is in the area of 'You can lead a horse to water, but.." Are all horses created equal? Personal success or failure depends on the individual. But there are, as you note, any number of factors starting with the nature/nurture
conundrum and ending with pure luck. Up this rural way, the poor are not ghettoized, but there are the ubiquitous 'welfare moms', transients and wandering homeless families. The local churches have united in a program, part of which is signing up such families; providing meals, a place to stay, counseling, job assistance, child care and the like. One can only guess the percent success. We are seeing a growing number of 'new poor': father with combat related PTSD who cannot/will not hold a job, the laid-offlumberman whose McDonalds/paper route job
is insufficient for his large family, etc. Salvation Army notes
difficulties in keeping up. If we have no good jobs for qualified
people, the goal of job training
is moot. Complete eradication of the problem appears impossible, but
those that can be put on their own feet will contribute more to society and we should make the effort.

Lista said...

I guess we choose to either try or give up. If we choose to try, we accept the possibility of failure. To choose to try is to choose independence and freedom. To choose to give up is to choose dependence and security. I suppose failure is the better choice. You never know, perhaps one day it might turn to success.

The Griper said...

bb,
we are in agreement. the question beecomes how and that is individualized as you noted. and also unequal as you also noted.

and by Constitution, the government is not allowed to view or treat society as unequals.

this would lead me to believe that any governmental help is best served on the local level. it is on the local level where equality is closest to existing. and it is on the local level that any problem is best understood. though the best help, in my opinion, is on the individual level.

and past history reveals that people are very willing to help those who show they want to help themselves. it was people who show no desire to help themselves that people ignored or ridiculed. the town drunk is a good example of this.

The Griper said...

lista,
failure is not a bad thing. it can also be the road to success if a person learns the right lessons from his failures.

abraham lincoln is often used as an example of a failure who ended up being successful. geo. washington could be another.

as one man once said and i paraphrase this to fit the topic, success is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.

when we look at successful men we usually see only the success but never consider what he did in order to become successful. and that is more important than the success he achieved if we are to look upon people as role models for success.

Lista said...

You know what? To be honest, I'm getting a little tired of this subject. I'm a little surprised that I keep coming back. Maybe I should Unsubscribe myself from this page. Or maybe I should just set a goal to stop by only within a certain time frame. This curious child inside of me is so darn hard to keep disciplined. Oh well.

While I'm here, though...

BB,
Yes, that's just it. Not all horses are created equal.

BB and Griper,
People have equal value and worth. That is a little different than equal in ability. The government must treat everyone as equal in value and worth.

Griper,
You are probably right about the local level thing and perhaps even on the individual thing. I think. The problem is that I'm not 100% sure.

It's just that lack of drive is so often misunderstood. Severe Clinical Depression has the appearance of laziness and apathy. It is incredibly hard to break free of because it's so often misunderstood.

You see, Griper, these things are really hard to talk about, yet I do it because I feel like someone has to.

When a person asks a frog that has no legs to jump, he may think that he is being helpful and may not realize that he is only being cruel.

Quite often the only lesson that can be learned from failure is "I'm not cut out for this."; Oh and "I'm also not cut out for this."; Nor this or this or this or this or this and on and on and on and on.

I think it's more than 1% inspiration, for the first 1% runs out really quick when a person is sensitive to failure. What's needed is Determination and that is quite a bit more than just inspiration and is quite difficult to hang on to.

The Griper said...

lista,
you keep coming back to depression all the time. i'll ask you the same thing that i asked someone who is very close to me. i asked her if "giving up" was the cause of her depression or if her depression was the cause of her giving up? she just looked at me as if the question never crossed her mind.

then we did a little experiment. i pointed to an area and asked her to describe what she saw. she did. then i described it from an entirely different perspective and as i did i saw a smile creep up on her face. i then asked her how she felt. she just smiled at me.

determination is a part of the 99% perspiration.

and i'm with you. this thread is getting too long. time to get along.

The Griper said...

lista,
one more thing before i close. a man's ability is one determinant of his value and worth. even karl marx understood this. "from each, in accordance to his ability, to each, in accordance to his needs."

dcat said...

Griper: :) :D :D :D

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