- Apr 20, 2007
- The Golden State
I read this on another forum, one frequented by more "liberal" (self described) posters than this one. I thought it was interesting, and paints liberal as more libertarian than the way many people view the term.
What do you think?
What do you think?
The textbook definition is that a liberal is someone who prioritizes personal freedom more highly than economic freedom.
That plays out very accurately if you look at the areas where liberals and conservatives in the American spectrum tend to differ. Most times (not always though) the liberal will be focused more on how a particular policy will effect personal freedoms, whereas a conservative will tend to focus on how a particular policy will effect economic freedoms.
At least in the US spectrum there also is a tendency that liberals tend to be more morally relativstic whereas conservatives tend towards moral absolutism. For example, if you look at the abortion issue, conservatives typically take their own moral system, reach the conclusion that they do not find abortion to be right, and they seek to apply their values across the board. A liberal will tend to take the stance that there are many different moral frameworks, that many of them are equally valid, and that in some circumstances some frameworks will say abortion is the wrong choice and in other frameworks and circumstances they will say it is the right choice. So, liberals do not believe that it is right to impose the moral framework of one group on others. Most social issues where liberals and conservatives disagree tend to fall along those lines. That is consistent with the definition of liberals above because respecting personal freedom is largely a process of accepting that different moral frameworks can be equally valid.
Another tendency is that conservatives typically believe that economic outcomes are purely the result of one's own contributions to the economic system. They tend to believe that there is a level playing field and that therefore the poor are poor because of things they did and the rich are rich because of things they did. Liberals tend to believe that there are many circumstances that effect economic outcomes, but which are out of the control of the individual. So, a liberal will seek to soften the blow of negative economic outcomes by harvesting some of the positive economic outcomes because they feel that those outcomes are, to some degree, arbitrary. This fits the defintion above as well because a strong defense of economic freedom means relying on the belief that the economic system is 'fair' and therefore should not be messed with.