Author Topic: It turns out liberal doesn't mean what I thought it meant.  (Read 291 times)

Offline Tiffanys

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It turns out liberal doesn't mean what I thought it meant.
« on: November 10, 2016, 07:33:19 pm »
See the definition here: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/n/neoliberalism.asp

Short: Liberalism, in economics, refers to a freeing of the economy by eliminating regulations and barriers that restrict what actors can do. Neoliberal policies aim for a laissez-faire approach to economic development.

Long: Neoliberalism is a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector. It takes from the basic principles of neoclassical economics, suggesting that governments must limit subsidies, make reforms to tax law in order to expand the tax base, reduce deficit spending, limit protectionism, and open markets up to trade. It also seeks to abolish fixed exchange rates, back deregulation, permit private property, and privatize businesses run by the state.

That, is not what I thought being a Liberal meant. That, to me, is a Corporatist. I hate Corporatists.

Am I the only one that didn't know this?

I always just assumed it was synonymous with the left-wing side of politics and progressivism. The definition doesn't even make sense to me. The Democratic party is supposed to be for big government, and regulation, and the Republican party is supposed to be for small government and deregulation. This makes no sense to me.

In comparison, Conservatism means exactly what it seems like: Conservatism (or conservativism) is any political philosophy that favours tradition (in the sense of various religious, cultural, or nationally-defined beliefs and customs) in the face of external forces for change, and is critical of proposals for radical social change.

Offline Ozzaharwood

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Re: It turns out liberal doesn't mean what I thought it meant.
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2016, 07:45:52 pm »
Putting a label on your political beliefs is dumb anyway. Most people don't exclusively subscribe to one political ideology; they often have beliefs that branch out in many different directions. You can want your healthcare and schooling system to be more socialistic, but at the same time want foreign policy and gun control to be more conservative.

TL;DR: Know what you believe and why you believe in it. Labels are irrelevant.

Also definitions change depending on what country you are from. More reason to not care about the label.

Offline Saras

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Re: It turns out liberal doesn't mean what I thought it meant.
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2016, 08:45:34 pm »
A "liberal" in America is called a Libertarian. An american "liberal" is a socialist everywhere else.

To me it's just a soccer vs. football argument.

Putting a label on your political beliefs is dumb anyway. Most people don't exclusively subscribe to one political ideology; they often have beliefs that branch out in many different directions. You can want your healthcare and schooling system to be more socialistic, but at the same time want foreign policy and gun control to be more conservative.

TL;DR: Know what you believe and why you believe in it. Labels are irrelevant.

Also definitions change depending on what country you are from. More reason to not care about the label.

It has no meaning in America, as it's "Right" or "Left", "Conservative" or "Democrat". The lesser distinctions within a dichotomy don't really matter to most people.

It however does in places with multi-party systems. If you do not have the ability to vet everything, if politics isn't your hobby or job, chances are your knowledge of candidates and the like are limited. The labels help here.

I am centre-right and pro-EU. Those two labels alone help me narrow down the candidates I need to look at nicely. Labels are tools, use them wisely and they'll cut down on your work.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2016, 08:58:38 pm by Saras »

Offline Shiakou

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Re: It turns out liberal doesn't mean what I thought it meant.
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2016, 08:54:50 pm »
See the definition here: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/n/neoliberalism.asp

Short: Liberalism, in economics, refers to a freeing of the economy by eliminating regulations and barriers that restrict what actors can do. Neoliberal policies aim for a laissez-faire approach to economic development.

Long: Neoliberalism is a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector. It takes from the basic principles of neoclassical economics, suggesting that governments must limit subsidies, make reforms to tax law in order to expand the tax base, reduce deficit spending, limit protectionism, and open markets up to trade. It also seeks to abolish fixed exchange rates, back deregulation, permit private property, and privatize businesses run by the state.

That, is not what I thought being a Liberal meant. That, to me, is a Corporatist. I hate Corporatists.

Am I the only one that didn't know this?

I always just assumed it was synonymous with the left-wing side of politics and progressivism. The definition doesn't even make sense to me. The Democratic party is supposed to be for big government, and regulation, and the Republican party is supposed to be for small government and deregulation. This makes no sense to me.

In comparison, Conservatism means exactly what it seems like: Conservatism (or conservativism) is any political philosophy that favours tradition (in the sense of various religious, cultural, or nationally-defined beliefs and customs) in the face of external forces for change, and is critical of proposals for radical social change.

This is almost exactly what I thought Liberalism was. The only thing missing from your description was how Liberalism is applied on the individual level, which is that the government has as little control over private citizens as possible.

Offline Burkingam

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Re: It turns out liberal doesn't mean what I thought it meant.
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2016, 11:45:05 pm »
In the late 19th century, Democrats really did match the non-American definition of a Liberal. At the time, Republicans were the party of hippies who wanted to free the slaves, equality between sexes and social justice in general. But with the colonization of the west, more and more people wanted bigger government because there was a big need for infrastructure over there (more road, more trains, etc) so Democrats adapted their platform to survive at about the turn of the century. For a while after that, both parties were interventionist, with different flavors. Republicans started adopting liberalism themselves after Democrats struck the New Deal, an economic stimuli program in the 30s meant to end the Great Depression.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2016, 12:06:36 am by Burkingam »
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Offline AceHigh

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Re: It turns out liberal doesn't mean what I thought it meant.
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2016, 04:30:28 pm »
The definitions of liberty are more interesting when discussed in context of the philosophers like John Locke, Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu (always have to Google that retardedly hard name to spell) and on the "opposite side" Hobbes.

These mostly French dudes are the real father figures of modern democracy and liberty. American founding fathers were such fans that they copied a lot of that stuff into the constitution and declaration of independence. So if we want to discuss the true meaning of liberals, wouldn't this be the best point of reference? After all political parties all over the world simply love to abuse the term to suit their agenda.

So... Hobbes vs Rousseau? The social contract vs the individual natural freedoms. Let's get that kind of discussion going.

Offline Burkingam

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Re: It turns out liberal doesn't mean what I thought it meant.
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2016, 07:04:16 pm »
There is nothing natural about rights. It's a useful idea that some aspects of our existence ought to be protected above all but these espects, these rights, are defined by reasoning and by convention. They aren't extracted from nature.
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Offline AceHigh

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Re: It turns out liberal doesn't mean what I thought it meant.
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2016, 07:33:46 pm »
Exactly, the natural law is Might makes right and survival of the fittest. And that is our most extreme theoretical stance on liberty: anarchy. On the other side we have a social contract, where we give up our natural "rights" of doing whatever we want in order to gain security through order.

Then we try the middle ground. We want law and order, but also civil rights. This is where we find numerous models of  societies that combine and compromise between laws that bind you and laws that free you. They can do both depending on your philosophic and moral viewpoint. Liberty of the individual and of the society as a whole usually separates the socialists from liberals, but i feel that statement in itself is an oversimplification in this subject.

Offline Saras

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Re: It turns out liberal doesn't mean what I thought it meant.
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2016, 07:58:36 pm »
To be fair, it's only the very naive and the ones that have no knowledge of history that preach inalienable rights. It's a position of hope to reach towards, not something that actually exists.

That said, it has been a while since I've read the Leviathan. But I've always assessed that it works better as a descriptor of countries rather than a descriptor of the citizens.