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Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2012, 07:17 PM

62. History has clouded what liberalism actually is

 

Liberalism: the hard and soft sides of the coinage of social control

Explaining liberalism to North Americans is a thankless and possibly futile task, but it is one that must be attempted for clarity's sake.

Liberalism is a theory of political economy that arose in Great Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries. Its principal inspirations were Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) and John Locke (1632-1704). It emphasizes individualism, human avarice, the "virtue" of competition and the "justice" of the marketplace. It opposed feudalism and mercantilism. It sought to replace the traditional landowners with the rising commercial and manufacturing classes.

It sought to liberate capital, not people (and especially not women, slaves and propertyless males).

Liberalism is the foundational ideology of the United States. American Conservatives (aka Tories or Loyalists) were expelled to Canada, the Caribbean or sent back to England. The USA (a few southerners excepted - until the Civil War) began, and remains a homogenously liberal society.

What, exactly, is liberalism?

Here's what classical liberal economist Adam Smith (1723-1790) said:

"Whenever there is great property, there is great inequality. For one very rich man, there must be at least five hundred poor, and the affluence of the rich supposes the indigence of the many, who are often driven by want, and prompted by envy, to invade his possessions. ... Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all."

Liberal utilitarian Jeremy Benthan (1748-1832) added this:

"In the highest state of social prosperity, the great mass of citizens will have no resource except their daily industry; and consequently will always be near indigence ... uman beings are the most powerful instruments of production, and therefore everyone becomes anxious to employ the services of his fellows in multiplying his own comforts. Hence the intense and universal thirst for power; the equally prevalent hatred of subjugation. ... When security and conflict are in conflict, it will not do to hesitate a moment. Equality must yield."

This means that, in liberal societies, the rich are pitted against the poor, gaining their wealth by appropriating the work of others; and it means that government is in "business" to protect the ruling class.

Today, of course, there are two kinds of liberals. Soft-hearted liberals live mainly in the Democratic party. They sometimes toss crumbs to working and middle class people. In a pinch, they will do bad things reluctantly, but they will do bad things nonetheless, to protect the ruling class as we are seeing in today's politics.

Hard-hearted liberals live mainly in the Republican party. They do bad things gleefully, and never toss crumbs. They try to get racists and religious fundamentalists worked into a frenzy to oppose soft-hearted liberals, to protect the ruling class.

They are the good cops and the bad cops, the soft and hard sides of the coinage of social control.

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