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View Diary: Are you a liberal or a progressive? (120 comments)

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  •  That's a reasonable attitude (3+ / 0-)
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    papicek, gooners, marknspokane

    but I still believe there is value to being aware of the meanings and connotations of the words we use, and recognizing that they do have impact.

    •  I guess. Two speeches that have... (2+ / 0-)
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      marknspokane, Kylopod

      inspired me:
      JFK to the Liberal Party of New York, 1960

      ...if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

      Ted Kenndy 1980 Convention speech

      A fair prosperity and a just society are within our vision and our grasp, and we do not have every answer. There are questions not yet asked, waiting for us in the recesses of the future. But of this much we can be certain because it is the lesson of all of our history: Together a President and the people can make a difference. I have found that faith still alive wherever I have traveled across this land. So let us reject the counsel of retreat and the call to reaction. Let us go forward in the knowledge that history only helps those who help themselves.

      Of course you'd say have the brainpan of a stagecoach tilter!

      by gooners on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 08:05:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  why didn't you mention NEO LIBERALISM? (0+ / 0-)

      I agree with Alan Wolfe, author of the recent book The Future of Liberalism

      check out wolfe in sheep's clothing.

      i just find it odd you say 'value to being aware of the meanings and connotations of the words we use' when writing about liberalism, it's modern day usage by conservatives wrt to privatization, use that quote referencing adam smith

      from GLOBAL ECONOMY 101

      what is NEO LIBERALISM

      "Liberalism" can refer to political, economic, or even religious ideas. In the U.S. political liberalism has been a strategy to prevent social conflict. It is presented to poor and working people as progressive compared to conservative or Right-wing. Economic liberalism is different. Conservative politicians who say they hate "liberals" -- meaning the political type -- have no real problem with economic liberalism, including neo-liberalism.

      "Neo" means we are talking about a new kind of liberalism. So what was the old kind? The liberal school of economics became famous in Europe when Adam Smith, a Scottish economist, published a book in 1776 called The Wealth of Nations. He and others advocated the abolition of government intervention in economic matters. No restrictions on manufacturing, no barriers to commerce, no tariffs, he said; free trade was the best way for a nation's economy to develop. Such ideas were "liberal" in the sense of no controls. This application of individualism encouraged "free" enterprise," "free" competition -- which came to mean, free for the capitalists to make huge profits as they wished.

      Economic liberalism prevailed in the United States through the 1800s and early 1900s. Then the Great Depression of the 1930s led an economist named John Maynard Keynes to a theory that challenged liberalism as the best policy for capitalists.

      you do not even mention neo liberalism in your poll. you don't mention the chicago boys. if you like the adam smith version of liberalism why not mention milton freeman? and juxapose him with his critic naomi klien and her excellent book the shock doctrine?

      Around the world, neo-liberalism has been imposed by powerful financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. It is raging all over Latin America. The first clear example of neo-liberalism at work came in Chile (with thanks to University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman), after the CIA-supported coup against the popularly elected Allende regime in 1973. Other countries followed, with some of the worst effects in Mexico where wages declined 40 to 50% in the first year of NAFTA while the cost of living rose by 80%. Over 20,000 small and medium businesses have failed and more than 1,000 state-owned enterprises have been privatized in Mexico. As one scholar said, "Neo-liberalism means the neo-colonization of Latin America."

      are you a neo liberal?

      •  Why are you quoting a conservative? (0+ / 0-)

        William Gairdner is an ultra-conservative. (I've never heard of him before, and I couldn't read the full article from the link you provided, but I typed in some of the words in Google and found the full review elsewhere, where Gairdner's views are in full display.) Of course he'd disagree with Wolfe's conclusions, but Wolfe's book does critique Milton Friedman and other modern conservatives who claim descent from the classical liberals.

        •  answer the question please (0+ / 0-)

          my blockquote was from Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo García, neither conservatives.

          you said you agreed w/alan wolf's blockquote.

          What really happened in history was that Adam Smith was a great liberal. The idea of the free market arose and it took root in western societies and people began to lead lives in which they were in control of their destiny.

          smith is the champion of neo liberalists. you are addressing many aspects of this in your post and making no distinction what so ever. are you not familiar w/neo liberalism? are you not aware you are using many of the talking pts for neo liberalists in your post yet failing to simply label this for what it is commonly known as?

          certainly my question is not out of the blue. should ot there be a segment in your poll for neo liberalism. you make no distinction between social liberal and economic liberalism which transformed our foreign policy during the last century and led to the global economy and privatisation of public goods.

          •  Wolfe's thesis (1+ / 0-)
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            is that the liberalism of eighteenth-century free-marketers like Adam Smith isn't essentially different from the liberalism of twentieth-century welfare capitalists like John Maynard Keynes, in that both aimed to expand the power of the individual to control his own destiny. Their difference in approach, according to Wolfe, came primarily from their living in different periods and different societies.

            Wolfe accepts the idea that free-market economics expanded individual liberty in the eighteenth century, but he rejects the idea that this remains eternally true, in all times and places. He argues that in the twentieth century and today, the welfare state, not the free market, is the best system for creating a society where people have the most freedom to pursue their destiny.

            It is no surprise that conservatives disagree with Wolfe. Conservatives--including neo-liberals--believe that government intervention in the private sector is an infringement on individual liberty, and they believe that if this principle held true in Adam Smith's time, it remains true always and eternally. Wolfe doesn't become a "neo-liberal" simply because he invokes Adam Smith. He uses Smith to make a case for modern liberalism (not neo-liberalism) by placing Smith's views on the free market within a historical context he believes that neo-liberals fail to take into account. He doesn't accept Smith's views on markets as workable in the twenty-first century, but he does think Smith's underlying philosophy of individualism is valuable in understanding the development of liberalism from then to now.

            I didn't include "neo-liberalism" as an option because my poll aimed to gauge the views of the mainstream American left, and neo-liberalism is a movement of the right, not the left.

            •  thank you very much (0+ / 0-)

              i really appreciate you breaking it down for me.

              He argues that in the twentieth century and today, the welfare state, not the free market, is the best system for creating a society where people have the most freedom to pursue their destiny.

              hmm. i'm not sure what i think of that. maybe i have some pre conceived notions about what a welfare state is. but i sure would like a single payer health care system.

              thanks again.

              •  The best way to understand Wolfe's arguments (1+ / 0-)
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                is to read his book. The review you linked to was by William Gairdner, a self-described "true conservative" whose reaction to the book was extremely predictable, based on what conservatives believe. Conservatives will naturally find fault with Wolfe's equating of classical liberalism with modern liberalism, because it challenges not only everything they believe, but also the conventional wisdom.

                I would have hoped that Gairdner would have actually addressed Wolfe's arguments. Instead, he rejects Wolfe's ideas at the outset because they contradict what he considers self-evidently true: welfare states inevitably curb freedom, therefore Wolfe's thesis is self-contradictory; liberty and equality are inherently at odds, therefore Wolfe's thesis is obviously wrong. I'm not even convinced that Gairdner read the book in full. For example, he states emphatically that "the American founding principle of equality had nothing to do with equalizing outcomes," but Wolfe never said it did; the book specifically explains that equality refers to opportunities, not outcomes:

                Milton Friedman...argued for inequality's inevitability while implicitly conceding how powerful the attraction of equality can be. He did this by making a distinction between equality of opportunity, which he held to be natural and desirable, and equality of outcomes, which he believed to be unattainable as well as wrong. For Friedman, the trouble with liberals is that they take equality of opportunity and transform it into equality of outcomes through the coercive mechanism of the state. This was not as telling a criticism of liberalism as Friedman might have imagined. Liberalism has always been about giving people the ability to control their lives, not about telling them how to lead them. Far from holding to some ideal of what the contemporary political philosopher Michael Walzer has called "primitive equality," or a society in which everyone's outcome is basically the same, liberals have long insisted...that people need equality of opportunity in order to ensure inequality of outcomes; it is only when we have roughly equal chances to choose what we want that we can choose to be different from each other.

                Since Gairdner mischaracterizes Wolfe's thesis from the start, the rest of his review has no chance of going anywhere. He also has a rather strange definition of the term "libertarian socialism," which in ordinary usage has nothing to do with Wolfe's political views.

        •  perhaps i offended you (0+ / 0-)

          it just struck me as kind of odd to be making these references to the roots of liberalism and the debate going on today between liberals and conservatives and not mention neo liberalism.

          anyway, when speaking of the roots of liberalism and john adams in the context of current events, check out wiki's description of the neos

          Neoliberalism (shorthand for neoclassical liberalism[1][2]) is a label for the resurgence or reformulation of classical economic liberalism. The term was coined 1938 at the Colloque Walter Lippmann by the German sociologist and economist Alexander Rüstow, one of the fathers of Social market economy.[3] The label is referring to a redefinition of classical liberalism, influenced by the neoclassical theories of economics. The term "neoliberalism" is used a pejorative by progressives[4

          In the United States, neoliberalism can also refer to a political movement in which members of the American left and right endorse free market positions, such as free market economics, globalized free-trade and welfare reform.[6][7] This term should not be confused with Social liberalism, for which the term new liberalism or neoliberalism is also used in the United States.

          lots more at the link.

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