Sunday, July 18, 2010

Using "liberalism"

I have taken to using "liberalism" recently in its broader more accurate sense, rather than in the narrow sense that is common in American political discourse. I find it is much more useful and gives more room to think and explore ideas. My goal is to get beyond the classifications that not only artificially limit our range of thought, but actually direct our thinking down pathways to the same conclusions. And I'm just not interested in that. My goal is to arrive at my own conclusions, not memorize a bunch of ideological talking points. Timothy Garton Ash had an interesting essay on "liberalism" --

A plausible minimum list of ingredients for 21st century liberalism would include liberty under law, limited and accountable government, markets, tolerance, some version of individualism and universalism, and some notion of human equality, reason and progress. The mix of ingredients differs from place to place. Whether some distant cousin really belongs to the extended family of liberalisms is a matter of healthy dispute. But somewhere in this contested, evolving combination there is a thing of enduring value.

This has been an American argument, some would say the American argument, for more than 200 years. In fact, the United States is still full of liberals, both progressive or left liberals and, I would insist, conservative or right liberals. Most of them just don’t use the word. Liberalism is the American love that dare not speak its name.

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