HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » A simple critique of "lib...

Fri Nov 8, 2019, 11:40 AM

A simple critique of "liberalism"

There are many threads about the "dirty tricks" that Republicans/Conservatives use and lamenting as to why we liberals cannot answer back in kind. Certainly there are fighters within the Democratic coalition. Hillary Clinton is a fighter, AOC fights, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Kennedy III is very eloquent in his defense of liberal ideas, and there are many others.

Yesterday I responded to a post about how pundits, newscasters, and others were lamenting the "booing" and chanting of "lock him up" that Trump received last week. At his most recent rally a new chant of "lock her (Hillary) up" was started and as always, Trump encourages it. The poster drew the juxtaposition and hypocrisy. Here is what I said,

One of the critiques of "liberalism" it is ill equipped to deal with attacks from the right. This is because of the nature of liberalism. There is an inherent claim of neutrality, objectivity, tolerance, and openness within liberalism that is often exploited by the right. No such nature or claim exists on the right. The right is fighting for the dominance of the "traditional hierarchy" which is based on race, gender, religion, and wealth. Rich, White, Men, who are predominantly Christian (more specifically Protestant Christian) should be at the top.

Liberalism espouses that hierarchies "may exist" but that they should not necessarily be based on characteristics like race, gender, or other but on the merits of the individuals. This is often seen, especially from the left, as a flawed reasoning because of history and because of capitalism's natural tendency to concentrate wealth and distort opportunity.

Right wingers prey upon the sensibilities of liberals for a just and fair process, even though they have NO intention of ever following one. They scream about the "intolerant left" and how liberals don't care about people's rights and liberals always respond by trying to be "more objective" and "weighing both sides" of an argument.

This is something that needs to be worked on because right wingers are subverting the rules of the game to win. They cannot compete based on their ideas, because their ideas are horrid, so they compete on process, and they cheat, because to them power is the victory and they don't care how they achieve it.


I think that the fear that liberals have, including myself, is that if we abandon the process of "fairness" that we become just another side in the discussion and that if the process is meaningless, then new rules and processes have to be made. The thought from people left of liberalism is that liberalism IS just a side of the discussion and by not taking a stronger position, that it will always be at a disadvantage over the right.

So, what say you all?

15 replies, 566 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread

Response to Caliman73 (Original post)

Fri Nov 8, 2019, 11:47 AM

1. yup. we are nice. we aim for everyone wins. they are not nice

and don't care because it's all about them.

it is an interaction naturally rigged for failure.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to NRaleighLiberal (Reply #1)

Fri Nov 8, 2019, 11:53 AM

2. Converselly, if we are ever "not nice"

we get criticized for it whereas it is expected that the right is always "not nice" and so their chants of "lock her up" are simply "tut tut'ed" and generate almost no other response (if even they are remarked upon these days).

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to lapfog_1 (Reply #2)

Fri Nov 8, 2019, 12:18 PM

4. yup. it's always our job to reach out and be understanding

well, fuck that shit!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Caliman73 (Original post)

Fri Nov 8, 2019, 12:02 PM

3. This is deep and deserves a response.

Not just an off-the-top of the head kind of response but something well-considered. I have discussions about this a lot with my mother as we vacillate between wanting to take the high road and respond in kind. We've never decided on an answer. This discussion also reminds me of why I fell out of love with Chris Hedges critiques of modern liberalism. He's someone I respect highly and used to revere, but I'm seeing his works, like The Death of the Liberal Class, through the eyes of your post as an attack from left of left and now it makes sense why he could criticize us but never really gave us advice on how to fix what was, in his opinion, broken, other to move further left (I guess) and never resort to violence of any kind. (And his confusing critiques of movements like Occupy.)

I will probably never satisfy myself that I know how to respond to the lawlessness and disrespect for the truth we're surrounded by right now. Maybe observing the process that unfolds over the next year will show us what the answer is. In the meantime, your post and others like it do animate deep reflection.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Mike 03 (Reply #3)

Fri Nov 8, 2019, 12:19 PM

5. well stated. thanks...I spend hours pondering this conundrum.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to NRaleighLiberal (Reply #5)

Fri Nov 8, 2019, 12:28 PM

6. Me too. It's difficult stuff.

It shouldn't be so hard to find the answer, but I don't think in my lifetime I'll ever know for sure what the right thing to do is when faced with what we're faced with now.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Caliman73 (Original post)

Fri Nov 8, 2019, 12:29 PM

7. Liberalism includes a concept of societies following laws and rules that are designed to allow

people both basic rights, and opportunity; and that the laws and rules can be updated as society sees fit, with general consent. This distinguishes us from the old-fashioned conservative who sees society as needing such rules, but that should be much less changeable; from the modern bomb-throwing Republican who sees society as something to be exploited for personal gain or power; or the far-left who mistrust 'opportunity', and want rules to impose equality of outcome.

Yes, I think 'fairness' is a core virtue in liberalism. What is 'fair', in terms of opportunity or outcome, will always be under debate, but that debate is part of liberalism too. Take, for instance, John Rawls' position:

Justice as Fairness is a revision of Rawls's A Theory of Justice (1971). Rawls is responding to criticism as well as adding further thought to his earlier A Theory of Justice. It was written shortly before his death in 2002. In part I, he discusses several fundamental ideas, all of which are familiar to a reader of his earlier book as well as Political Liberalism (1995): a well-ordered society; the basic structure of society; the original position; free and equal persons; public justification; reflective equilibrium; and overlapping consensus. In part II, he moves on to his principles of justice, revising them from his earlier edition, which now read (p. 42):

(a) Each person has the same indefeasible claim to a fully adequate scheme of equal basic liberties, which scheme is compatible with the same scheme of liberties for all; and

(b) Social and economic inequalities are to satisfy two conditions: first, they are to be attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity; and second, they are to be to the greatest benefit of the least-advantaged members of society (the difference principle).

In part III, Rawls expands on his argument for the two principles of the Original position. Here he brings in a new concept, that of Public reason, an idea that is not well discussed in Theory of Justice.

Part IV takes the reader to public institutions that will be present in a just and fair society. He lists five types of social systems:

Laissez-faire capitalism
Welfare-state capitalism
State socialism with a command economy
Property-owning democracy
Liberal socialism.

Rawls holds that the first three "[violate] the two principles of justice in at least one way" (p. 137), thus leaving only (4) property-owning democracy and (5) liberal socialism as the "ideal descriptions" that include "arrangements designed to satisfy the two principles of justice" (p. 138). In part V he explains why political liberalism is not only possible, but why it is not utopian thinking to believe that such a society is possible.

Looking primarily at the twentieth century United States, he is certain that institutions within US society are causing injustices. The very expensive campaign system essentially rules out all but the very rich from even deciding to run for public office. The expense of healthcare restricts the best care to those who can afford it, leaving the poor to only the most basic of services.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justice_as_Fairness:_A_Restatement

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #7)

Fri Nov 8, 2019, 12:37 PM

8. Those are helpful definitions:

from the modern bomb-throwing Republican who sees society as something to be exploited for personal gain or power; or the far-left who mistrust 'opportunity', and want rules to impose equality of outcome.


I wonder if we have failed to define ourselves, or whether we've allowed others to define us, or whether we are exactly what we look like: something that is hard to pin down. ? EDIT: Or placing too much importance on how the opposition defines us in the first place, and the mass media that repeats and reinforces this perception?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Caliman73 (Original post)

Fri Nov 8, 2019, 12:40 PM

9. The continuing failure to name, claim, and promote our values baffles me.

“There is an inherent claim of neutrality, objectivity, tolerance, and openness within liberalism that is often exploited by the right.” Thank you for clearly identifying these liberal values.

Why do we buy into the false narrative that our values make us weak, when they are actually the foundation of our power? The right uses our strengths against us because we allow them to be trampled on the battlefield of ideas instead of picking them up to use as a shield, much less a sword. We also need to define the right’s “values,” and challenge our fellow citizens to choose.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Caliman73 (Original post)

Fri Nov 8, 2019, 12:50 PM

10. Liberalism's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness: Critique.

Critique is essential to making good policy decisions. Critique comes from the academic world. Pose a hypothesis and present data from observations or experiments to support it. Then have your work peer reviewed thus opening it up to criticism. The criticism, when based on sound data, can either confirm or reject your hypothesis.

Modern day conservatism does not operate that way. It's based on pure ideology and no amount of evidence can contradict it. For example, tax cuts increase economic growth and opportunity for everyone which eventually leads to smaller deficits. We have repeated this hypothesis with Reagan, Bush II, and now Trump, and every time, it leads to little or no real economic growth with huge deficits. Yet, the Republicans still promote it every election cycle.

The scientific approach will always lose to the ideological approach when the ideological approach benefits the most powerful.


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Yavin4 (Reply #10)

Sat Nov 9, 2019, 12:02 AM

13. Conservatism is not modern. It may be modified somewhat, but never modern

The root of conservatism is maintaining the "traditional" power structure. Whether it was through the implementation of religion in ancient Egypt with the Pharaohs, priests, and merchants to the monarchical structures that took the human race up to the 20th century only to be replaced by the capitalist based merchant class, the goal is the same, maintain the power structure. That is the only real ideology of conservatism everything else is just methods on how to protect the power structure.

The problem that liberals need to solve is how to defeat that conservative mentality without becoming the monsters that we are trying to destroy.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Caliman73 (Original post)

Fri Nov 8, 2019, 01:43 PM

11. Half the country has been brain washed by hate radio which the dems/left have ignored for decades.

It's like the dems don't believe in marketing. We've conceded the narrative on so many issues. For 40 years we've let the republicans get away with claiming they are the party of: small government, God, family values, fiscal conservatives, personal responsibility, & free market capitalism. Claims that have gone largely unchallenged by the dems/left.

We aren't going to solve the cult45 mindset if we don't challenge these claims. Steyer & Bloomberg would help the democratic cause much more if they would buy a couple of radio stations in the heartland, pay some top notch writing talent to counter the hate & fear of right wing media, & run it at a loss if they have to. They have too big of egos to actually do something helpful.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Caliman73 (Original post)

Fri Nov 8, 2019, 02:21 PM

12. If a law is unjust there is no moral obligation to follow it.

Throwing immigrant kids in cages is unjust irrespective of whether it abides by the current law.
There are principles that supersede mere laws. We have in contemporary American liberalism a tendency to
believe that a middle ground can be found and strive for compromise. That would be a fine
attitude if we were dealing with people who see themselves as "American" first and
"Joe," "Linda," "Bob" whatever second. Instead, we're dealing with pirates who have no loyalty except
honor among fellow thieves. How much money has been sucked out of the real
economy by rent seeking schemers? I have no obligation to observe property/assets
obtained through insider trading and bullshit asset sheltering schemes for billionaires whether it's "legal"
or not. If people are dying in a rich country like this because insulin is to expensive... then things must change
preferably at the ballet box - but they must change regardless.

Where do we draw the line? Is there a line? That is the salient question that liberals need to be asking themselves instead
of constant hand-wringing. Ethical and moral indecisiveness is almost exclusively a liberal problem. The right doesn't give a shit b/c they
believe they're at war and liberals aren't "true" Americans.
I don't think we owe them anything - even fairness - b/c they don't care about anyone but themselves and
they'd have us in reeducation camps if they could.

Lex iniusta non est lex

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Caliman73 (Original post)

Sat Nov 9, 2019, 12:58 AM

14. OK.Have you ever heard the phrase,"You'll be the first against the wall when the revoultion starts?"

(I know, it was a line in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, but that's not what we're talking about.)

It wasn't a meme put out by the RW. But the LEFT back before HHGTTG was written by Douglas Adams.

Yes the LEFT. And it wasn't a joke. It was a threat. And it happened. Let's start with:
Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife, despots in Romania. Responsible for the murder of thousands. They were against the wall. Firing squad.
Fidel Castro overthrew Batista a RW oppressive oligarch. (If the US had been more friendly to Castro, we'd be allies today.)
We and the people of Italy defeated the RW dictator Benito Mussolini and his (self-named) fascist regime when he and his mistress were hung and practically torn apart.
We got Hitler.
We got Osama.

There are others...but we are the peacemakers and peackeepers, but don't push us too far. We will bite back.



I don't know if I buy your critique. The RW likes (?) to do what they do because they get some kind of enjoyment out of it. Guess I'd call them sadists. Psychopaths don't give a shit about others and will only do things that advance their aims. I guess the problem is we're not. We want to have nice lives and worry about our loved ones and our environment and our humanity.

But make no mistake. We will fight like crazy to put those who would bring harm to me and mine.

I have no regrets with the 60s saying....'first against the wall..." if it comes to that.



Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Liberal In Texas (Reply #14)

Sat Nov 9, 2019, 01:16 PM

15. You don't have to buy my critique.

It actually isn't mine anyway. It is actually a common critique of liberalism from the left, because believe or not, Liberals while definitely left of conservatives, are not actually "the Left". In fact, the further left you go, liberals are seen as belonging to the same general coalition as conservatives in wanting to prop up capitalism. There are obviously disagreements with this characterization, but it is out there.

I don't think that psychopathy is an adequate explanation for right wing actions. I do think that they develop a system of dehumanizing enemies and I do agree that there is a greed and hedonism focused in their aims, but your statement falls short.

What aims? What do they want? and Why?

A psychopath seeks immediate pleasure or escape from psychic pain. That is not what conservatives are doing. You can certainly argue that their behavior and methods reflect psychopathy but they are fighting to maintain and expand a system of hierarchy that they believe is the "natural order of things". They get the "lower classes" of White people to fight for them through the idea that there is a place in at least the middle of the hierarchy for them, and that maybe they can rise up to the top, though it is likely just BS to keep the coalition together.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread