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The terms “liberal” and “conservative” are widely used in our political discourse. We apply them without much conscious thought. Yet, many of us who might willingly describe ourselves with one of these two labels are ourselves unsure of what we have in common with others who do likewise.

In a very general way, being liberal is thought to suggest approval of government intervention to promote an equality of treatment for all individuals under law. A liberal is also thought to support the social objective of greater equality of opportunity where the distribution of personal wealth and income are concerned. A conservative, on the other hand, is thought to favor a far more narrow interpretation of government’s responsibilities in the protection of civil liberties or pursuit of equality objectives. In point of fact, these seemingly clear distinctions tell us very little.

Except for those individuals whose writing, statements or actions puts them clearly outside the mainstream, there is considerable cross-over by so-called liberals and conservatives on many policy issues. Often, an individual’s ideological rhetoric conflicts markedly with the type of policy initiatives pursued when holding political office or serving in some advisory capacity. One reason for such inconsistencies is that our socio-political arrangements and institutions serve to mitigate and limit the range of policies around which a consensus can be built. There is a remarkably homogeneous value system holding a citizenry together, despite a nation’s tremendous diversity in ethnic, religious, and racial makeup.

Despite a strong bias in favor of the propertied and a concentration of local and national power in the hands of a select number of families, native-born citizens tend to hold to the romantic notion that the playing field is, if not perfectly level, appropriately level. Not until the late nineteenth century did institutions come under direct attack by reformers and agitators. In the twentieth century an enlarged coalition that included enlightened industrialists and public officials, forged what has been called Liberalism in the United States and Social-Democracy or Democratic-Socialism elsewhere.

The public in the United States was unwilling to consider nationalization of land or industry as proposed by European proponents of Social-Democracy or Democratic-Socialism. Reformers clamored for child labor laws, for government support of education, for the construction of hospitals, for clean drinking water and sanitation systems, and for a whole range of programs thought unnecessary or intrusive by earlier generations and by contemporary Conservatives.

Widespread unemployment in the 1930s opened the door to even more direct government intervention in the private affairs of individuals and businesses. The Second World War, the post-war anti-communist crusade, the civil rights movement, the rise of feminism and environmentalism, all contributed to the great enlargement of government enterprise and to the politics of Liberalism that has dominated the last half century.

Liberalism functions on the basis of compromise and a blend of policy choices in six key areas, which I suggest present a left-right paradigm rather different from what is generally embraced. Under liberalism, full equality of opportunity cannot be realized. The securing of liberty is, in fact, prevented under liberalism by the degree to which privilege (i.e., sanctioned inequality) dominates socio-political arrangements.

This venture into political philosophy asks the reader to think very differently about the characteristics of systems conventionally placed at the left or right, as detailed in the chart referred to at the beginning of this analysis. In the next issue of Land & Liberty, I will explain why I believe that only under cooperative individualism is the just society realized.

Socio-Political Systems

In the last issue of Land & Liberty, I suggested that Liberalism (as well as Social-Democracy or Democratic-Socialism) is an approach to law and public policy under which true liberty cannot exist.

There are essentially five important theoretical forms of socio-political systems. Liberalism operates to a greater or lesser degree under policies associated with either cooperative individualism or state socialism.

The greater the policy emphasis

1. on security (i.e., order)
2. on redistribution
3. on policy driven economic activity
4. on the use of manmade law to control individual behavior
5. on centralized authority and on representative (i.e., delegated) democracy

the stronger will be the pull toward a system of state socialism. Conversely, policies adopted in the direction of maximizing individual liberty, natural distribution, market (i.e., noncoercive, win-win) economic relationships, ethical constraints on behavior, decentralized authority and maximum citizen participation in government, will pull a society toward cooperative individualism.

Movement too far to the left in these policy areas supplants liberalism with harsher forms of state socialism and, potentially, totalitarianism. Policies implemented beyond the bounds of cooperative individualism pull societies into what are historically uncharted waters; there, human nature collides with the degree of cooperation and selflessness demanded under communitarianism or anarchy.

An important point to take notice of is that socio-political arrangements allowing natural law to freely operate may create equality of condition but cannot generate equality of opportunity. Only cooperative individualism (by prohibiting sanctioned inequalities to occur) establishes the conditions necessary for equality of opportunity to flourish. This is accomplished by protecting individual liberty against the criminal and economic licenses alluded to by John Locke generally, and with greater specificity by Tom Paine.

Another important characteristic of cooperative individualism is that the natural distribution of wealth to its producers be protected by the positive law. Such laws as they relate to property will clearly distinguish between production and values attributable to privilege held in the form of titleholdings to nature and licenses restricting open commerce and trade.

Labor, applied to land (i.e., nature) produces wealth. This describes the distributive process for legitimate individual property. Wealth belongs to its producer. Titleholdings and licenses are privileges, the exchange value of which is created by the nation’s willingness to uphold these claims to privilege. Therefore, this form of value (if permitted to accrue to the titleholder or licensee) is by definition unnatural property. To the extent that government fails to collect these values for the benefit of the entire nation, the nation suffers from a redistribution of wealth — from producers to those who simply claim what is produced on the basis of privilege.

Cooperative individualism works on behalf of liberty by maximizing citizen participation in government and by preventing monopolies in both property and political power. As a result, much of the societal conflict associated with other socio-political systems is mitigated by the high level of cooperation generated when individual initiative is rewarded in direct proportion to the effort expended.

History and our common sense direct us to cooperative individualism as the only means to secure for ourselves and future generations the benefits of a fundamentally just society.

written by and cross-posted with permission from http://acooperativeindividualist.wordpress.com/

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's important to understand that "liberty" is... (9+ / 0-)

    ...a fiction.  There is no such thing as "True Liberty".  At least as it is romanticized by rightwing types these days.  You can define liberty as the ability/power to do what you want without restriction.  However, the opposite of government control of markets and compensation is not liberty, but anarchy and chaos.  And anarchy and chaos lead to a situation wherein there are a few winners and many, many losers.  It is impossible to argue truthfully that such market losers have "liberty" in the usual sense, because their power to determine their own fate has been reduced or destroyed.  and even if you attempt to make the argument that such market losers have "liberty," then is is impossible to argue that such "liberty" has any real meaning or value.

    Moreover, completely free markets always, always, always become dominated by one or two major players who have market power, to the cost of everyone else.  True, such entities have "liberty," but at the cost of everyone else's liberty.  The total liberty of a totally free-market system is therefore always reduced as compared to a managed, regulated market.

    Again, "True Liberty" is a fiction.  It does not exist.  And attempting to arrange social structures to achieve it are always doomed to failure.

    The road to Hell is paved with pragmatism.

    by TheOrchid on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 09:32:11 AM PST

  •  The "liberal" positions on multiple issues (6+ / 0-)

    do not fit your definitions.  On social issues like gay marriage and abortion, liberals support more liberty; not less.  On international issues, liberals tend to support multi-national solutions and are less supportive of interventionist actions by individual states.  Liberals tend to support freedom of expression far more than others and are also very supportive of civil liberties.

    Your analysis seems to only apply to economic issues, and even there, a "collision course" with liberty is an inapt description.  Moreover, economic liberalism is clearly distinguisable from democratic socialism and you repeatedly conflate them as though they are the same thing.

    Liberalism doesn't oppose liberty - to suggest that it does is a misunderstanding of it.  I think you should re-think your core assumptions and read material on liberalism actually written by liberals for a better understanding.

    Thanks to President Obama, the Iraq War is Over!

    by Viceroy on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 09:48:43 AM PST

    •  Diarist is referring to economic liberty. (5+ / 0-)

      It's really the only liberty that conservatives/libertarians care about.

      The road to Hell is paved with pragmatism.

      by TheOrchid on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 09:52:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Indeed... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SilentBrook

        but he's on to something in arguing for "cooperative individualism," which, of course, is liberalism with a different name.  He just needs to get rid of his strawman thesis about liberalism and re-think his core assumptions.

        Thanks to President Obama, the Iraq War is Over!

        by Viceroy on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 10:09:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  They're propertarians, more than libertarians. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SilentBrook

        "The Taibbi article is a defense of status quo" -- citizen k

        by happymisanthropy on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 10:17:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'd agree with the conservatives (0+ / 0-)

        but not the libertarians (at least the current incarnation under Gary Johnson).  If you paid any attention to their platform in 2012, they were to the LEFT of the democratic platform on social issues.

        95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

        by PRRedlin on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 10:19:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And by that I meant (0+ / 0-)

          the actual libertarian party, not the tea party/paulbots who claim to be libertarian.

          95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

          by PRRedlin on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 10:19:54 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Depends what you consider a 'social issue' (0+ / 0-)

          Keeping the poor from starving to death is a social issue, in my book. Keeping people from being discriminated against in employment is a social issue. And so on.

          Libertarians, of course, say that the market will take care of all these problems magically. (Or, at least, the few who really honestly consider them problems.) But I don't base my political decisions on magical thinking, whether it be by Christians, or by those who have made the 'free market' their deity.

          •  See that's where we differe (0+ / 0-)

            I wouldn't view someone being so poor that they were starving as a social issue.  It's a financial one.  There are charities that run soup kitchens, and these charities are run on donations.

            The problem of the poor being hungry is solved by either feeding them directly, or giving them the means to feed themselves.  

            95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

            by PRRedlin on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 07:14:54 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Compassionate Libertarianism? No thanks. n/t (5+ / 0-)
  •  Standard libertarian argument that taxation (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Grabber by the Heel, SilentBrook

    is slavery.

    •  Isn't it though? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG, soros

      I agree it's necessary to be taxed in order for government to provide the stability of modern society, but isn't slavery by definition a state of subjection to something you do not want?

      If you truly do not want to contribute to social security, medicare, medicaid, etc, then for that individual it is a form of slavery.  For many people, they view their wallet as an extension of themselves.  

      95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

      by PRRedlin on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 10:23:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You can look at it this way. But it's a pretty (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alain2112

        weird way to look at it. Your taxes partially pay for resources you use (roads, schools etc). Of course, some money will be used for the purposes you don't like. But it isn't exactly slavery. Certainly, the government can become so big and intrusive that it will suppress a lot of legitimate economic activity. But we are not there or even close to it.

        •  Oh don't get me wrong (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          soros

          I'm in your camp.  I do see the benefit and the responsibility of paying my fair share of taxes.  But I can also see where they are coming from, and I am adult enough to admit that it IS a form of slavery.  

          There SHOULD be an option not to pay, which would ban you from participating in society.  (and consequently, they could all live at home, without electricity, phones, or any other way of forcing me to listen to them bitch).

          95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

          by PRRedlin on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 11:01:21 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  it would be impossible and prohibitively costly (0+ / 0-)

            to implement such a ban.

            Think of all the things you'd have to do to enforce this ban. If someone walks on the sidewalk, he's benefiting from public services paid for by taxation. If he breathes the air, he's benefiting from environmental laws created by the government and enforced using government funds. Are you going to stop the guy from breathing and walking on the sidewalk?

            How are you going to keep our imaginary anarchist from enjoying these societal benefits, unless you exile him altogether? That seems very drastic and punitive.

            And of course, allowing such an opt-out would simply shrink the tax base for everyone else.

            I mean, if it's so odious for him to pay taxes, he can already opt out by renouncing his citizenship and moving to someplace where the taxes are less onerous. There's no need for forced exile when voluntary exile is available for those who really, really, really don't want to pay taxes.

            No, it's much easier just to require every citizen to pay taxes whether they like it or not.

            I don't understand why you are so insistent on this. It's a cumbersome solution to a nonexistent problem.

            "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

            by limpidglass on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 02:36:22 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  House arrest is how I would envision it. (0+ / 0-)

              In a house with no running water, electricity, or phone line.  He would finally be as free as he wanted.

              95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

              by PRRedlin on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 07:10:45 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  No it's not. It's also not theft. (0+ / 0-)

        You are a free person.  If you hate paying taxes so much, leave.   I hear Somalia is nice this time of year.  

        The tent got so big it now stands for nothing.

        by Beelzebud on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 11:04:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Never did I say I agree with that mentality (0+ / 0-)

          But I can understand it.  Don't be so quick to be judgemental.

          95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

          by PRRedlin on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 11:38:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah I'm familiar with your tactic. (0+ / 0-)

            I see it all the time from libertarians on message boards.  

            The tent got so big it now stands for nothing.

            by Beelzebud on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 11:52:32 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Oh I'm libertarian (0+ / 0-)

              but one that prescribes more to the democratic way of doing things fiscally, I am just to the left of the democratic party when it comes to social issues (they are too conservative for me).

              But what does it say about you, that you question what I say, and with your tone look down on me for empathizing with a counter argument?

              95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

              by PRRedlin on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 12:06:03 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It says I don't suffer fools. (0+ / 0-)

                Taxation is not in any way comparable to slavery.   I'm not going to agree with iota of that notion.   To compare taxation to slavery comes from a place of privilege that knows no bounds.  

                As to your "left of the democratic party" line, I call bullshit.   For the simple reason that most libertarians claim to be far left on social issues, but always seem to end up supporting 'states rights' on things like the civil rights act, or abortion, etc.  

                The tent got so big it now stands for nothing.

                by Beelzebud on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 12:12:24 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I am not a libertarian (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  soros

                  who supports state's rights on civil matters.  We are one nation.  It is that nation and government's control that I seek to liberate from.  By signing on to the constitution, the states gave away the right to rule on civil matters.

                  I do not prescribe to most of what you think libertarianism is, I am libertarian by definition.  You really need to step back and relax, and stop this personal attack on me.

                  95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

                  by PRRedlin on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 12:16:24 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Nevermind (0+ / 0-)

                  I'm donearguing with someone who is agrees with me and doesn't realize it.

                  Have a good day.

                  95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

                  by PRRedlin on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 12:19:48 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  No (0+ / 0-)

        Slavery, by definition, is a state of complete subjection to the whims and wants of your owner. Many times slaves have had duties which they were quite willing to take on (in this country's experience, the divide between house & field work usually mark this distinction), yet were still enslaved, still held in bondage, still unencumbered with the mixed blessings of freedom.

        To claim that in a Democratic Republic, such as ours, one who would rather not participate in legally decided priorities is enslaved is a mockery of the entire concept of slavery. One, "trapped" in such a situation could choose to suck it up and do what they'd rather not or, if so strongly inclined, just leave. Slaves who try to exercise the former choice were dealt with harshly, if they were not able to make a quick or complete enough exit from their bondage.

        I don't doubt that there are many who view their public obligations, particularly those they find odious, would proclaim their situation as slavery. So too would many teenagers, when faced with their parent's/guardian's boundary-setting. Those teenagers have better standing, due to the legal limits set to assure their compliance with education standards and other parental perogatives, to claim slave status, while those many people you speak of just sound infantile and regressed to those teen years.

        A winning campaign? You didn't build that...

        by SilentBrook on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 11:14:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually (0+ / 0-)

          a definition is:

          3. a state of subjection; drudgery

          Nothing about COMPLETE.

          95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

          by PRRedlin on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 11:36:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  When you have to involve the dictionary (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SilentBrook

            you've already lost the debate.

            Paying taxes is not slavery, and frankly it's an insult to the ancestors of people who were actually slaves, and an insult to those in this world today who are slaves.  

            I'm sure you think you sound clever, but the language you're using is the exact reason most people hear libertarian propaganda, roll their eyes, and tune out.  

            The tent got so big it now stands for nothing.

            by Beelzebud on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 11:55:54 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  So by referencing a dictionary (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              soros

              I've lost a debate?  How Republican of you.

              What you fail to realize is that I'm agreeing with you on the premise, but empathizing with the other side.  Yet you are picking a fight with me arguing about understanding the opponent.  

              It is not a weakness, nor a defeat, to understand an opposing viewpoint.

              95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

              by PRRedlin on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 12:08:41 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Taxation isn't slavery. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                SilentBrook

                And if you try to use the dictionary to support that claim, then yes, you lose.  

                When you don't seem to know what slavery is, calling me a republican is meaningless.  

                The tent got so big it now stands for nothing.

                by Beelzebud on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 12:14:50 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  The principle of charity in logic (0+ / 0-)

                does call us to work out how the ideas of others that we disagree with might actually be accurate understandings of the world. However, when employing such charity we cannot merely accept these arguments at face value, but must address their foibles honestly.

                There is a great difference between understanding an opposing viewpoint and swallowing it undigested.

                A winning campaign? You didn't build that...

                by SilentBrook on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 01:03:11 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Okay, then (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Beelzebud

            If you're going by that definition, then, if you have a day to day job, you are a slave. You are in a state of subjection to your boss, and your job probably involves drudgery.

            So okay, everyone is a slave. I guess that means you win the argument, by making slavery mean nothing. Is that a useful thing?

      •  the very notion of a society (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Grabber by the Heel

        involves sacrificing certain freedoms. People agree to give up particular freedoms in exchange for certain benefits that can only be achieved by mutual cooperation.

        Otherwise you have a state of anarchy. If everyone is free to do their own thing, then the strongest individuals will enslave the rest and abuse them mercilessly. That Hobbesian state of affairs is what the libertarian project is committed to--whether you understand it or not.

        Smaller societies, like many Native American tribes, were much more socialist. They had to engage in collective action to survive, and property was often held in common.

        Of course, the European settlers simply wiped them out and obliterated their history, so we're not taught any of this.

        It's only in a very rich society like ours, that can afford to sustain people with libertarian views. While libertarians claim others are parasites, ironically they are often benefiting from the common sacrifices others have made to build the society they live in.

        What would libertarians do without government programs such as Medicare and SS, without the environmental and consumer protections that insure their food and air and medicine and water are clean and safe, without the federally-funded interstate highway system, without the Internet (which was greatly developed by the government), without the post office? Their quality of life would most likely diminish drastically.

        Libertarian paradise, in other words, is hell.

        If libertarians lived in those smaller-scale societies, they would constantly encounter dangers and problems that couldn't be dealt with except through cooperative action. And libertarianism would not make sense to them, most likely. It would be obvious from their everyday experience that absolute individualism was really a form of collective suicide.

        Whereas in our society, one can be so sheltered as to go through life without ever seeing the need for cooperation. Cooperative action is often not taken directly, but through the distant and abstract mechanisms of the federal government, so it's harder to understand that certain benefits wouldn't exist without that cooperative action. And some people might come to think they could do without the government altogether.

        So it is that teabaggers rail against the size of federal government while crying "hands off my Medicare," without ever seeing the contradiction in their position.

        In smaller societies, libertarianism would be viewed as a perilous kind of anti-social deviancy that, if it grew too large, could eventually topple the society. And so too it's proving in our society. Because wealthy though we are, the libertarian ethos has done so much damage, and allowed that wealth to be siphoned off into so few hands, that we're in danger of being plunged into that state of anarchy I spoke of earlier.

        "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

        by limpidglass on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 12:49:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Paying for things you want is slavery too! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Grabber by the Heel

        I mean, I want a sandwich but I don't want to pay for it. Isn't that slavery?

        Likewise, Libertarians live in a society that is livable because of the taxes they pay. If they are incapable of recognizing that fact, it doesn't really affect the rest of us.

  •  Great article (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    soros

    but what I find funny in modern politics, is the switching of the parties by very definition.

    If you are IN government, and you are conservative, then by definition you are on the side of the STATE, and wish to conserve the power of the state through force and financial means.

    Where as if you are OUT side of government and you are liberal (one who wishes to be liberated) then you should be against the government on all accounts that bind you from being free.

    I'm not sure how many people paid attention to Gary Johnson in this past election, but the direction he has taken the libertarian party to, for the first time, holds true to this definition of Liberalism.  He advocates, yes, for the financial freedoms that libertarians always have, but for the first time also for the freedom to marry who you wish, do what drugs you wish, and the freedom of choice (while he personally opposes it, on a party platform he is supportive of it).

    If the libertarian party continues in this path, they will eventually syphon off votes from the left and we could finally see a three party system that will result in the blending even further, of democrats and republicans.

    95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

    by PRRedlin on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 10:17:13 AM PST

    •  You can be right about individual freedoms and (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SilentBrook

      wrong about financial freedoms.

      Bottom line, you can't create a society around the idea you are free to marry who want. Free to take the drugs you want. And you and your family are free to die in a ditch for want of a job, shelter, food and clothing.

      •  Well (0+ / 0-)

        You could, if everyone was free to marry everyone (creating a financial communal state), heroin was readily available to kill off the weakest and more vulnerable, and we used their bodies for shelter.

        But I see your point.

        95% of all life forms that once existed on earth are now extinct. It is only a matter of time until the Republicans follow suit.

        by PRRedlin on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 11:02:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm failing to see the point here. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Grabber by the Heel

    So I'll just try to make some of my own that are roughly relevant:

    1.  Human beings are both individuals and groups, and any ideology which dictates the absolute supremacy of either the individual over the group or the group over the individual is bound to result in violence and oppression.

    2.  I find the highest expression of liberalism to be the balanced representation of three intrinsic values: Liberty, Equality, and Opportunity (LEO).  None of those three is an adequate substitute for either of the other two, and shortchanging any of them produces circumstances short of a free society.  I find that conservatives literally believe in none of them or even want the opposites, and libertarians believe in only one - and even then they only believe in the most negative, limited, and self-defeating definition of it.  Far-left people - and I mean the actual far-left, not the make-believe one invented by a corrupt right-wing media - value equality over the other two, and value equality and opportunity over liberty.  But a liberal who is not merely some single-issue obsessive must value all three equally and understand their interrelationship.

    3.  None of these three principles can possibly be perfectly represented, and pursuing perfection in any of them causes the others to be shortchanged because they are in tension in many ways.  Fetishizing liberty as an absence of government power reduces one to the insanity of preferring to live under a private/feudal form of tyranny that simply eschews the label "government" rather than accepting an explicit government with public support for social programs.  Taking opportunity to the extreme involves a heartless interpretation of meritocracy that does not tolerate people with humble ambitions, creating an ultra-stressful society that rewards few and punishes most just for existing, and that's unacceptable.  In the case of equality, treating it as the be-all-end-all results in the excesses of egalitarianism already experienced and learned from in the 20th century.  Today, the US could learn to value equality more, and Asia could learn to value liberty more.

    In fact, equality and opportunity are really just more "positive" forms of liberty, as opposed to the entirely negative definition of an absence of government oppression.  In fact, they both extend liberty into the private sector by saying that government will prevent private actors from oppressing each other, and ensure that everyone has an equal shot and is well-rewarded when they add to society.  

    It's kind of shocking that all of political morality can be boiled down to a three-letter acronym like LEO, but as far as I've been able to discern, it actually does.  

    In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

    by Troubadour on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 10:41:44 AM PST

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