What is a Liberal?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by MrMacMan, Aug 19, 2003.

  1. macrumors 604

    MrMacMan

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    #1
    I've seen many Stereotypes, many generalizations and much name calling.

    Sooo... What makes up a Liberal, what are their philosophies?

    I've heard that conservatives control news media, but yes conservatives say Liberals control the 'media'... your thought?

    I've seen profiles and signatures one after the other saying this or that, I wanted a thread to talk about it.

    There has been much side discussion on many other threads about it, just post what you get when you hear 'liberal'

    I'm not gonna state my views untill I get a few people before me.

    Thanks again!

    --MrMacMan
     
  2. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #2
    Go ahead, throw a few hunks of red meat into the cage and see what happens. :)

    Let's start with some dictionary definitions:
    But my favorite non-dictionary definition is from Robert Frost: "A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel."
     
  3. macrumors newbie

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    #3
    In today's world of U.S. politics, I'd have to say a Liberal is one who mostly looks to government for solutions of societal problems. He not only believes government can solve them; he believes it should.

    I think there are many other smaller points, but the use of government seems to be the primary one.

    'Rat
     
  4. macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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  5. thread starter macrumors 604

    MrMacMan

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    #5
    There are many varying differences.

    check it out yourself

    A Liberal economy supports capitalism, as does communism supports a a totally public enterprises.

    Also many other differences.

    Chose to accept these differences if your own choice.
     
  6. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #6
    As defined by whom? The word as it is used today is little more than a contrivance used by politicians and radio talk show hosts as shorthand for whatever they want it to mean. These words have actual definitions, though.
     
  7. macrumors regular

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    #7
    I see it took three posts to bring out the 'Communist' card. Apparently this is the new dirty word from the Conservative right. I hear it on Crossfire all the time. Please explain to me what is wrong with a communism without bringing up any cold war propaganda (the Soviet Union was never a true communism).

    Now, on another note. The conservative right in the United States seems to back business and capitalism. Low taxes, government services would be something you would buy from companies, and a strong military. You have more money in your pocket because of lower taxes but will be giving that money to companies to provide you services.

    This is the flaw in capitalism. The businesses become all powerful and dictate our lives. I will say this, that in theory, capitalism, in its true form, is supposed to be a way for people to be free (Democracy), and give individuals the right to attain anything they want. But what inevitably will happen is that a few will become super rich while everyone else becomes slaves to the industry. Labor Unions would lose power and the middle class would disappear.


    The Liberal left seems to be more concerned with social reform, keeping big business in check, and utilizing government to help people as individuals.

    This inevitably leads to bloated bureacracy that can stagnate and waste resources. But in effect stabilizes the extremes of big business and the individual. Thereby saving the middle class. The government is, in a sense, a communism, in that it is a group of citizens working for the common good of the country. Nobody gets super rich, but nobody is super poor, and everybody pitches in. Of course, a communism based on Marxist theory is just wishfull thinking.

    But this is what makes the United States a great financial power. Because we are a communism inside a capitalism. We have the ability to reach Bill Gates stature or live on the street, but have a strong middle class that keeps the economy strong. Tax cuts to the wealthy only make them more wealthy. Tax cuts to the middle class will stimulate the economy.

    I know this was a very bloated post. But I get fed up with people who have to reduce everything to a catchphrase or word. Liberal or Conservative, neither is completely right. But together, they have created the strongest country ever in the history of mankind.
     
  8. macrumors newbie

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    #8
    Sorry, IJ; I don't quite follow your question, "As defined by whom?"

    I was merely trying to point out what to me seems to be a defining characteristic of most of those who label themselves liberals or who are called liberals by others.

    "Reformer"? Well, yeah. "Broad-minded" or "Tolerant"? Boy, does that vary! :D

    Like all people, liberals and conservative vary all over the place as to their views of "how things oughta be", as touched on by jadariv. To stay with this thread, then, I note there seem to common traits in those who style themselves as liberals, which I could touch upon...

    'Rat
     
  9. macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #9
    Ha, I was just kidding about the communist thing, it's just what I've been called more times than I care to remember. Red baiting seems to be a common tactic again.
     
  10. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #10
    The conventional definition of liberalism and the one you offered are so dissimilar that they can hardly be the same concept. I take this as strong evidence that the popular definition of liberalism has been successfully altered to suit a political agenda.
     
  11. macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #11
    I don't think you can necessarily define liberal. It is easier to say someone is a liberal, but you can't really say "All liberals believe X". It's pretty useless to try to lump them all together, unless you are using the debating tactic of associating your opponent with the most extreme faction of his/her side and then debate against that position.

    I am surely on the liberal side, but that doesn't translate in automatic support for the massively corrupt democratic party. I get into it with my democratic parents and republican in-laws, they all think I'm the devil. :D
     
  12. macrumors 68040

    patrick0brien

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    #12
    -All

    Using the word "Communist" to describe a liberal is just as tilted thinking as using "Idiot" to describe a conservative.

    Let's be honest, both are blanket statements, neither are accurate, and the use of them isn't productive.

    I can see reasons behind applying these terms to individuals, but I find it useless in the long run.
     
  13. macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #13
    Liberal is letting anyone do anything, conservative is letting no one do nothing!:)
     
  14. macrumors 65816

    Ambrose Chapel

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    #14
    did anyone here ever read bloom county? one storyline had opus, vp candidate, get labeled as a liberal, which signalled the end of his political career. he said something like, "i believe in puppies, and long walks along the water, and big sloppy wet kisses..if you want to slap a label on that, go ahead!" then he got "liberal" stickered all over him. heh.

    i guess i define it not so much as having gov't do everything, but certainly not believing that the market is our saviour. i believe in a lot of market failure...
     
  15. macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #15
    here's my oversimplification:

    how much should the gov't help out those in need?
     
  16. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #16
    Just enough, but no more! :D
     
  17. macrumors newbie

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    #17
    Is it reasonably accurate for me to claim that the Demo Party platforms of the last several campaigns can be labelled "Liberal"? At least in today's usage? The ideas are not the same as the "Classical Liberalism" of the 18th Century...And I'm not thinking of any allegations of corruption or hypocrisy; just the ideas of the planks of the platforms.

    Separately, it seems to me that "how much" help comes from government is less the question than, "Who's eligible, and why?

    'Rat
     
  18. macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #18
    yeah, that's pretty much what i meant.

    communism = treat everyone absolutely equally
    pure capitalism = for each his own

    i don't think anyone here is at either extreme, it's all a matter of where we each fall w/in the spectrum.
     
  19. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #19
    I don't see why it's so important to assign a label, especially a totally synthetic one that you'll find actually means something quite different when you look it up. The dictionary is not 18th century, it's current. I'd be happy to call myself a liberal in terms of the actual definition of liberal and don't why that definition has to be entangled with somebody's idea of what ideology a party platform represents.
     
  20. macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #20
    I don't think they were "liberal." I think they were platforms of the party, not any ideology, and many "platforms" from either party are simply feel-good BS.

    Ideologies keep their ideals; it's the definition of them.
    Parties change their ideals to win.
    Which in turn, points out the paradox of party ideologies -- there aren't any.
     
  21. macrumors 68040

    tazo

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    #21
    Liberal: n.

    1. An individual or group of individuals that embrace all views...unless you disagree with them.

    2. Most of the media.

    3. One who would rather take away your constitutional right to bear arms, then to take away bin Laden's or Saddam's weapons.

    Usage:
    Today's liberals want to make the world a better place...as long as they don't have to make the big sacrifices, and someone else does.
     
  22. macrumors 603

    shadowfax

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    #22
    it's not a new dirty word, it's like.... 50 years old? seriously, my history teacher tells us a story of when she was a little girl in kindergarten in the 60s and a substitute teacher tried to get her in trouble because the drew a tree with purple leaves. the woman called the tree a "communist tree!" heh. people have thrown that word around, usually to destroy political enemines, for years. i haven't heard it used in current politics, though. except as a joke, if even then.

    as far as why communism doesn't work, that's simple enough. you operate a country on the principle that the government (as established by the "working class" [obviously, anyone who makes more than $400,000 a year doesn't work]) is to pool the production of everyone and distribute it, usually not evenly, but according to need. but either way, the government "of the people" claims ownership of all production, and metes it out as it (or idealistically, "the people") sees fit. people who are able to work hard and long are expected to do so, without the reward of getting more than the people who cannot or do not work as long or hard. a scientist who comes up with an idea that saves thousands of lives and increases production is only given what he needs. the product of his mind is meted out to the people that the government decided needed it more than him.

    before you go nitpicking, you must understand that this is extremely general; there are many, many strains of communism identifying varying problems with the system and attempting to adjust them.

    my point is, the operating principle of communism is inherently counterproductive. in communism, the american dream is dead. there is no hope of becoming wealthy on your own. you can work as hard as you want, and you'll still get just as much as someone else thinks you need, or just as much as everyone else. this fact of existence causes even the most able to spend as little time and as little effort working as possible. if you could get the same thing for working 4 hours as 8, do you really think you would work 8? most people don't buy the idealism that your work is for the good of mankind, or "the people." and even if they did, there would be few that think a government could decide what is for "the good of mankind," or "the people." in such a system, the moocher and the loafer profit the most, for the short time that such a system lasts. after awhile the productive people become loafers and moochers, being intelligent people who realize that their position is most profitable.

    the basic question at stake with communism, though, is, does a man own what he produces? and if the answer is yes, who can take it from him against his will? the answer is no one. looking at a nation where the rich horde money and the poor starve is frustrating to any human being with the faintest remnant of a heart. but to commit the logical error of thinking that you can take that money without consent to enrich the lives of the poor is foolish. such a system shows the wealthy that gaining wealth is bad, shows the poor that they have a right to get money from others (without doing anything for it). should people of means use them to help those who don't have means? yes, absolutely. if they don't want to, should you make them? no. no. no. do you have a right to take something you need from someone who has more than he does? the basic philosophy of communism says yes, and i can't help but feel really unnerved by that.

    in my personal opinion, the governmental contract with its people should follow these terms: the people give money based on how much of its protection they use (as measured by their commercial activity; what do i mean? a sales tax!); the government uses this money to protect its citizens from attacks, foreign and internal, to uphold contracts in a court of law, and to enforce the law of the land.

    of course, i have oversimplified the system that i envision for the simple reason that i am not thoroughly sure of the details, but i operate on the principle that anyone who thinks they can redistribute wealth without the wilful permission of everyone from whom money is taken: you can't use the principle of "majority rules" in the discussion of stealing from people any more than in the discussion of murdering them.
     
  23. macrumors 603

    shadowfax

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    #23
    most of that commentary was prejudiced and overgeneralized, i must say, tazo. you sound like you've been listening to rush a lot lately. you're also confusing the liberals with fascists on 1 and 2. seriously, that's a discussion i wish to avoid, and the comment i have quoted is pretty inflammatory too, but the principle you've expressed is a very eloquent explanation of the problem of the principle of communism. you make the world a better place at the expense of the rich, till the rich get wise and become part of the poor who are getting from the richer ones, and eventually everyone is impoverished.

    by the way, my interpretation of communism is based a lot on ayn rand, who i realize is a controversial character, and a philosopher with whom i must admit i have many disagreements, but i do think she understands the idea of communism very well, and has expressed why it doesn't work very well in atlas shrugged. and no, i'm not talking about the US as it is in the book, but rather the twentieth century motor company experiment.
     
  24. macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    I find it very interesting the way right wing americans think of liberals. Its also a little worrying. The US's centre is probably a lot further right than Europes centre so whats liberal for you guys is probably seen as quite neutral for us. Whereas the right wingers over there that we read about are hard to take seriously and our laughable. Comments like tazo's about liberals are jsut ridiculous and are the typical result of the sort of talk show host kind of attitude that right wingers sometimes have. You hear arguments equating liberals to some kind of evil satan force that must be destroyed. Just all seems to have gotten a bit ridiculous to me.

    The point that jadarv made was brilliant though. You have to have a balance, and throughout history America has swung between dems and republicans. The problem is that the pendulum seems to have kept swinging further right and less left, even with the dems in power, in order to please the inherently conservative masses of voters. I may be generalizing and of course the population is much more diverse than that but it jsut worries me.
     
  25. macrumors newbie

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    #25
    IJ, MrMacman asked, "What is a liberal?" All I'm trying to do is find some commonality of word meanings, without being stuck in a dictionary. "Liberal" as an adjective is not the same thing as a political liberal. And it seems to me helpful to point out that the traits of Classical Liberalism are different from what today is called Liberalism in U.S. politics.

    amnesiac, as a bit of perspective, today's U.S. center is much farther left than that of sixty years ago. As a comparative "for instance", Reagan essentially ran on JFK's platform: "Reduce taxes, and get the government off the back of business." Further, Dubya grew up and reached voting age under the ideas of LBJ's "Great Society". GHW Bush was a government employee for much of his adult life; I have no doubt that the idea of governmental power as a solution to problems was an influencing factor on Dubya's worldview.

    The point that "The US's centre is probably a lot further right than Europes centre..." is correct, but Europe is more socialistic than the U.S., which gets back to my original point about opinions of government's importance in problem solving. (I know a bit more about Germany than other European countries, as my son lives there. However, there are enough articles in the media which infer various socio-economic indicators to allow some judgement.)

    :), 'Rat
     

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