Monday, November 14, 2005

A footnote in the wrong place

In the post below I didn't want to go off on a tangent so I didn't bother to make the distinction between liberal civilizations and the Liberal forms of governments liberal civilizations adopt.

Liberal civilizations free their citizens to act decently by freeing them from the need to act out of pure self-preservation. But there are many ways to do this. One way is to adopt a socialist government that takes care of everything. Another way is to leave the taking care to an unregulated free market, trusting that the flow of money and increased opportunities for people to get hold of that money will result in decent, mutually responsible citizens.

This is why, I think, some political philosphers contend that there are no real conservatives in the United States, there are two factions of liberals, one of which calls itself conservative and often finds itself in uneasy alliance with reactionaries and authoritarians.

The latter type have been presumed to want the same sort of ordered, moral, and relatively free Liberal civilization as the first faction, the one known as Liberalism. The trouble has always been that because the second faction, the free market Liberalism known as Conservativism, relies on the flow of money to create opportunity and relieve wants, when the money dries up for any reason and for any length of time, things become very shaky, which scares the Conservatives, who then are tempted to maintain order through force. Hence, their regular alliances with reactionaries and authoritarians.

And lately, over the last 40 years or so, their influence over the reactionaries and authoritarians has waned. This is partly due to so many of them being absorbed into the Democratic Party. We talk a lot about all the reactionary and authoritarains who have been absorbed into the Republican Party, but many people who would have been Republicans 60 and 50 years ago are now Democrats because the Democratic Party is the more fiscally responsible and successful and they themselves have learned from history that a totally unregulated free market fails to maintain a liberal society. Whether this has been good or bad for the Democrats is debatable and a subject for another time.

At the same time, the free market Liberals who have remained with the Republicans have seemed less and less concerned with whether or not everybody gets a piece of the pie, and even outright hostile to the possibility, and more and more comfortable with the notion of keeping order through force, thus becoming less and less distinguishable from reactionaries and authoritarians.

My point, finally, is that a Liberal government isn't necessary to a liberal civilization, nor is it necessary to be either a Liberal or a Democrat to believe in, work toward, and help bring about a liberal civilization.

What is necessary is a recognition that we are all in this together and that the best way to maintain order and freedom is for us not to leave each other alone to fend for ourselves.


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