Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Facebook Note: the Left versus Liberalism

Michael Lumish

In a comment under a post for the Rational Zionists Facebook page, Jason Paluch drew an important distinction between liberalism and the Left. I would link to that specific comment, but it is a closed group so I cannot.

Nonetheless, Jason wrote, "Just like how all conservatives are not racist members of the Ku Klux Klan, or whatever the local equivalent of that is, not all of those left of center are naive dupes and useful / useless idiots for Islamists. I'll remind you that it was classical liberals who won both world wars, and created Western civilization itself."

This is my comment in response:
The distinction between Left and liberal is crucial.

A liberal is someone who draws his political philosophy from western Enlightenment notions of social justice and thus believes in democracy, individual freedom, and equality of opportunity.

On economic matters, liberals favor western-style capitalism, although usually with a significant social safety net. For this reason socialists, democratic or otherwise, are not considered liberal.

On racial matters, liberals believe that individuals should be judged according to their individual characteristics as human beings, rather than as representatives of particular ethnic groups docketed within a hierarchy of victimhood. For this reason, identity politics is not liberal, either. Thus organizations like Black Lives Matter are Left, but not liberal.

Finally, and most crucially, liberals believe in the open interrogation of ideas and, thus, freedom of speech. The Left, on the other hand, believes in politically-correct speech codes that have a chilling effect on the free expression of ideas through tactics that run from social shunning to litigation.
It seems to me that the Left is in the process of driving out its liberals.

Am I wrong?


  1. I suspect you are right. Look at the DNC race. The "liberals," were successful in defeating problematic Keith Ellison only to have to settle for the equally problematic Perez with Ellison as his right hand man. Not exactly a win for liberals but at least it gave Dershowitz a way out of quitting the Dems. In fact, most liberals are eating the takeover by the further left forces and probably feel they have to to stay relevant. I doubt they will ever let one (far leftist) take over the leadership of the party but they are willing to let one get a leg up (Sanders eg) as a token to their big tent. And of course they are willing to let haters like Sarsour et al do their dirty work for them. Hard to respect that kind of liberal hypocrisy.

    In a sane world, it would be the liberals driving out the Left but most are too chickenshit to upset a large part of their voter base; a part that can be despicable and dangerous.

  2. good find Trudy. Pretty much the same as the " red brown alliance." Or red brown green alliance where green is Islamists (far right wing as well often using far left memes to support their positions just like David Duke often applauds and uses far left rhetoric to support his shite))

  3. No wonder so many Dems support unregulated immigration; increasing their voter base.

  4. Nothing liberal about the left. Conservatives are liberals today.

  5. "It seems to me that the Left is in the process of driving out its liberals."

    Up until now, it has sucked a lot of liberals in, so let's hope they are awakening to the fact that over the past several decades liberal institutions have been infiltrated.

    1. I don't know about infiltrated, but I just do not see how anyone can claim to be liberal while endeavoring to silence differences in opinion.

    2. Well, it's lack of courage. Can't drive out your voter base. Goodness knows there's a steady supply of them from immigration and graduating brainwashed SJW's. These are not your father's Liberals. I get a lot of flack from friends and relatives who can't understand why I look at so many various news sources. To me it makes sense to gather as much info as you can to make informed opinions. Probably a throwback to my University research skills days. To them it makes me suspect.

  6. It almost makes me want to whinny.

  7. Left and Right are late 19th and early 20th century distinctions that don't mean very much a hundred plus years on. They're rhetorical shorthand but they are extremely inaccurate, now. In fact the origin of the term even goes further back, to the French Assembly both immediately before and immediately after the French Revolution. The Revolutionaries sat on the left side of the hall and the monarchists sat on the right. They came to be associated with the Revolutionaries vs the Revanchists. But these movements about power, not politics. The monarchists wanted to retain their power and the Revolutionaries wanted to take it. And as all people who should 'all power to the people", they are the people they wanted the 'people' to give all the power to.

    We understand hence that revolutions are unsuccessful unless they are lead by and lead for the middle class. The Decembrists, the proles, the soviet...are all canon fodder for both sides in that battle. The 1848 revolutions in Europe are an example of the failures of revolutions that ignore the middle class. And these distinctions of left and right are convenient brands to gather followers.

    But today, what does that mean any more? What is left? The Red Army Faction in the 1970's and 80's said the same words and used the same tactics as the Pinochet junta in Argentina. Mussolini himself came from the 'far' left of anarcho-syndicalism to go all the way to fascism, in the span of only a few years. As a follower of Gustav Herve, he was a socialist, anarchist and atheist and believed that 'left' and 'right' could be combined and synthesized into a top-down corporatism. If anything, Mussolini's lack of any strong religious component is what distinguishes his form of 'fascism' from that of General Franco in Spain or Portugal's Estado Novo.

    Perhaps it's time to abandon the term.

    1. Trudy, do you have a term that you would prefer?

      These days I tend to think in terms of "progressives" versus "liberals."

      Progressives, in the US, are found almost exclusively in the Democratic Party or are either Green or, more likely, politically independent.
      Liberals are found in both political parties.

      Progressives favor socialism in economics and identity politics in matters of racial classifications.

      Liberals favor regulatory capitalism (i.e., capitalism with a social safety net) and oppose racial classifications, period.

  8. As we splinter into various factions and fractions maybe the best approach is to look at it issue by issue. Not all conservatives are opposed to legalized weed, right to die or even abortion. Many of us are socially very 'liberal' or libertarian. Similarly, we shouldn't pretend that the left has their own agendas to go along with their own shibboleths either. Freedom of speech - except of course for some speech. Maybe it comes down to simply admitting your own biases freely and proceeding from there. Or at the least admitting that many of ALL our positions are ideologically driven whether they make any moral, ethical or practical sense at all. For instance, Reason Magazine, that bastion of libertarianism adopted a pro-illegal alien stance for little more than reflexive ideological cant. Even they know it's an insanely impractical bad idea.... Im sure that if you had the time and the patience to query college students you'd find that not all of them are idiots - that even a few a them inherently understand how silly some of their own positions are. But we're dealing with herd behavior here. Fundamentally it's not rational. So perhaps we should look at these terms in the context of each and every discussion point individually. "Liberal" about 'this', 'right wing' about 'that' and so one.