Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Why I'm A Liberal (heh heh heh heh heh....)

I'm a liberal.

I can say this because I don't believe that our government should interfere with trade.

Since I have a dislike of Socialism in almost all of its forms, that makes me a liberal.

I'm a liberal because I'm against price supports, minimum wages, and most other government interference with market pricing.

Here's an interesting post on how the word "liberal" has gone even further from its original meaning. Here's a Samizdata post entitled "An American Liberal Becomes A Real One".

It's funny how the meaning of words can change.


West, By God said...

It is sad that somehow the socialists stole the term "liberal" from those of us who _actually_ value liberty.

That's why I generally don't refer to progressives and democrats as "liberals" like mainstream conservative pundits do... the word is too good for them. The correct term is "Socialist" or "Communist".

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Dear WBG,

If you visit the European sites and blogs, they have to go through a convoluted process of explaining all this about once a month.

What they call Liberal, we call Libertarian. What we (generally) call Liberal, they call Social Democrat.

Pete Wann said...

When did "liberal" ever NOT have anything to do with "valuing liberty"?

The two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, when it comes to your civil liberties, it's "liberals," not conservatives, who are actually looking out for you.

Holy fucking shit I'm tired of being accused of being a communist or socialist just because I don't think there should be an individual arms race among Americans and that maybe we might be better off if we considered universal healthcare a basic and essential right of every American instead of the "right" to carry tools for blowing holes in each other.

(Yeah, I know WBG didn't say that, but considering the last discussion, I figured it was appropriate.)

Where do I fall on this spectrum? I favor free trade and open markets, but I want someone keeping an eye on things to make sure the products I'm buying are made safely. I favor a strong national DEFENSE, and vehemently oppose using our military in lieu of diplomacy. I think we need to pursue and bring terrorists to justice, but that our military is the wrong tool for the job. I think people have the right to do what they want with their property and lives, but the second they affect my property and life, I have the right (and we have a collective right) to put limits on them through legislation or just a good old-fashioned ass-whuppin. I think we need to educate people that the everyday things they do are destroying our environment, which means not just habitat for endangered animals, but also the air YOU breathe and the water YOU drink.

Finally, a question: If I'm a "progressive" because I favor these sorts of things, does that make people who oppose them "regressive?"

Dr Ralph said...

Progressive -- Regressive

Oh snap!

The Red Son said...

WSG- How dare you besmirch the good name of socialism! You can keep the term liberal, we don't want it.

TWS- Don't all of the things you talk about supporting make you a social conservative, at least in the sense that it is used in this country?

The Whited Sepulchre said...

When you say it's "liberals, not conservatives, looking out for you", I agree.
But only if the issue is gay rights, reproductive rights, etc etc etc.
If it's 2nd amendment rights, right to work legislation, freedom of contract, free trade, etc etc etc, then the people called "conservative" generally look out for me.
I wish we could elect Libertarian candidates who support both sets of freedoms.

Also, I think the word "progressive" is merely a marketing tool. You gotta admit, they wouldn't be using it if those who misue the word "liberal" hadn't given it so many negative connotations associated with Big Government. (Big Govt being the exact opposite of Classical Liberalism.)

Red Son,
In the sense that the words are used in the U.S., the things I'm talking about make me an economic conservative. (AKA a Classical Liberal) My support of gay rights is one of the things that makes me a social liberal. (AKA a Classical Liberal)

Hope this clears things up.
Or doesn't.

The Red Son said...

It does clear things up. The two party systems really does a number on one's political compass. I have always admired many parts of Libertarianism, or I guess Classical Liberalism. Just not their economic model.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Red Son,
I've read enough of your posts to know that you generally favor an approach to government of "That which governs best, governs least".
I bet we're closer than you think.

The Red Son said...

And thats what I try and often fail to get across to small government types. The final stage of a Marxist revolution is the dissolution of the state. But where you think that the market should regulate the economy, I would argue that decentralized worker collectives should regulate the economy.

How can one get rid of state control only to submit oneself to control by your bosses and the elite?

Anonymous said...

Excellent post Whited Sep. I've always considered myself a liberal until now. Like Red Son mentioned...our "political compasses" or a bit busy, at least mine is.

Red Son "But where you think that the market should regulate the economy, I would argue that decentralized worker collectives should regulate the economy."

Please elaborate on "decentralized worker collectives" as "market should regulate the economy" sounds great to me. What could be wrong with that?

The Red Son said...

Hierarchy can only lead to oppression. As long as there are bosses and an owning class, workers will be exploited. Workers can organize themselves and control the means of productions themselves. Collectives can establish economic blocs among themselves.

The market has continuously demonstrated its lack of respect for human life, the environment and basic principals of morality. Such a corrupt systems cannot be trusted to regulate itself. Capitalism is inherently unsustainable.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Red Son,

I think the idea of decentralized workers collectives is a beautiful thing. From a distance, at least.
Unfortunately, I've been on a lot of committees. Talk about unsustainable. In all honesty, I don't think a decentralized workers' collective could find its ass with both hands and a mirror. They tend to function at the level of 1)the least goal-oriented, least cooperative member, or, if you're lucky, 2) some take-charge type person rises to the top, tells everyone else what to do, and something is accomplished.

When Marx talked about The State owning The Means Of Production, I don't think he could've possibly envisioned illegal immigrants (entrepreneurial capitalists) going door to door in East Fort Worth with the means of production (a Sears lawnmower and a weedeater), knocking on doors to see if you need your yard mowed. And making good money doing it.

The best book I've read on the failure of the Soviet collective system is "The Turning Point" by Schmelev and Popov. (Two Russian economists) It's not very technical, and they tell horror stories of factories running short of everything needed to produce anything, hoarding of raw materials, hoarding of replacement parts, and inadequate transport for whatever is produced. Great book. Email me your address, and I'll buy another copy and mail it to you.

The best way to provide the best stuff at the lowest price for the most people with the least waste? Give someone an opportunity to get rich doing so.

The Red Son said...

For example of when worker owned factories and other types of worker owned means of production have been successful I suggest you read into efforts in Allende's Chile, post-economic collapse Argentina, and anarchist Spain during the Civil War.

Soviet-style systems of state-owned capitalism are not true socialism and I do not concern myself much with them. In my mind these examples only strengthen the case for non-hierarchical societies.

"The best way to provide the best stuff at the lowest price for the most people with the least waste?"
The least waste? Modern capitalism is predicated on unsustainable practices both ecological and social. Waste is the friend of capitalism. A better formulation would be "The best way to make the poorest quality, most likely to break and need to be replaced goods at the highest price the consumer is willing to pay, regardless of whether or not they need or even really want it? Make getting rich more important that human life."

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Red, Red, Red,....
Methinks you don't concern yourself with the failure of the Soviet system for the same reason that The Flat Earth Society doesn't concern itself with pictures of our planet taken from the moon.

Once again, for examples of stupendous waste, check out "The Turning Point". What more can I say? They illustrate how collective decision-making was the most wasteful manufacturing practice that ever hoarded a resource.

r.e. - getting rich as a means to preserving life.... Who had you rather live under, Chairman Mao's collectivism, or Deng's "to get rich is glorious"?
Granted, they're going to regret the environmental degredation, but people are moving out of poverty at about a million per month. (I do buy into some of yer Marxist economic development cycles, and believe that China is where we were r.e. environment, child labor, workplace safety, etc. around the turn of the previous century.)

I've read some on Spain, and a little on Argentina. Is there anything on Allende's Chile that you could recommend?

The Red Son said...

True, completely discounting the USSR is sort of a cop out for us pinkos. But still, Maoism and Stalinism are not true socialism.

That book does sound interesting and I would love for you to send me a copy, but you might give my address to the ATF/FBI or my fan club over at So thanks but no thanks.

Mao's China sounds nice, as long as it is just like how it was depicted on the posters.

For Chile, check out Peter Winn's Weavers of the Revolution.