Sunday, December 08, 2002

Ann over at Spiced Sass has commented on my issue with her Blog header comments:
I'm an American. Even during my hippie days, it meant something to me. I've never had a problem with it. Apparently there are those in the world who do. I’ve never been a political animal, it always having been something I could comfortably ignore. Until now. My politics have become an 'a la carte' adventure, a mosaic still being created. I have much to study, much to learn. But here is what I do know. I am frigging American to the bone and, the greatest threat to western civilization that I have so far espied is the one who comes riding in on the trojan horse of liberalism. The left. So, be warned. Hell hath no fury as a woman who has found her allegiance and rediscovered her country. I'm an American. Do.Not.Fuck.With.Me.
My issue had to do with her disdain for liberalism. Ann has posted, in response to my request, detailed comments as to what she means by liberalism.

Ann's comments cover much of the same problem I alluded to with my original comment on her blog. The problem with ideological classifications in America today is that they are framed in the 18th century Left-Right political spectrum, a singular line of difference where you are either on one side or the other. This type of thinking is the norm for most political discourse in every media outlet and forum used today. This classification system is as much of a relic as horse pulled carriages and birch beer. Many different opinions have been waged on what political classification methods should be used, some of which can be read here and here. I am of the opinion that political ideology is at least 2 or 3 dimensional. The Poltical Compass provides one of the better methods of good political ideology identification and explains it well here. The only problem is that this website takes on a noticeable UK feel, which comes close to the USA, but needs a slight label modification. For example Neo-liberal is used there, but I would use it a very different way in the USA mainly to correspond to Neo-conservative. On that compass I come up as a left leaning libertarian, which I translate to Liberal. A left leaning authoritarian would be a populist. A right leaning authoritarian would be a conservative and a right leaning libertarian would just be a libertarian. What I call progressive-populist or a transnational progressive would be those both authoritarian and libertarian that fall on the far left of the four box chart, while the right side would be your paleo-conservatvies and theocratic fascists.

My definition of Liberalism:
Liberalism: A political philosophy where individual freedom is paramount. The government is valued as the protector of those freedoms and as a means to keep other individuals, groups, and organizations from infringing on the individual's rights by keeping markets and public life fair insuring opportunity for all.
That is a general definition. There is no detail to it. Philosophy is generally not filled with detail. My opinion on a tax cut or health care policy is subject to the facts. I have opinions on most topics that have no firm requirements as off shoots of this ideology.

The problems that arise in post political discussions is that people want to call Nom Chomsky a liberal or call George Bush a moderate or call Pat Buchanan a conservative. Those labels don’t fit any better than a sweater on a moose. Those labels are a result of the polarization of political debate in America. No longer can people use terms correctly, they just lump together all of the worst cases into the “Us vs. Them” battle. Talk radio is the chief proprietor of this method. It is a throw back to history. In the 1950’s and 1960’s people were called commies, in the late 19th century they were called anarchists, but over the last 20 years “liberal” is the slur used to label “them” for conservatives, populists, and libertarians. Labeling someone is not a problem. I do that all the time with all different sorts of people. The problem is that I generally don’t make that my entire argument. I don’t just label people and walk away. I usually use the label more as means to reference them in a general sense or as a standard, and test their resolve. That is a debating tactic. The problem in today’s society is that labeling someone a “knee-jerk liberal” is the only thing some people do in a discussion. On talk radio that is a code that works. The conservative/libertarian audience knows that code means “them,” the different people, the enemy. This kind of thinking is only valuable if your goal is conforming. If liberals are the enemy, then what are the Islamist fascists?

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