Re: MD junk or politics on this list

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Sun Apr 04 2004 - 15:02:45 BST

  • Next message: marc: "RE: MD cultural level?? (dutch)"

    Dear Wim,

    Continuing with comments on your post of 2 April.

    > Platt (previously):
    > 'I don't agree that 'liberalism" as commonly used in the U.S. represents
    > DQ.'
    > Not necessarily and not in all cases, I agree. It also can and at times
    > does represent degeneracy. You DO agree that I understand 'conservatism'
    > correctly and that it represents sq?? (I understand it as 'a system of
    > ideas that prefers existing, proven patterns of value over new, unproven
    > ones and even wants to defend existing patterns against change (conserve
    > them), which is too often degeneration'.)

    No, I do not agree conservatism represents static patterns. As I pointed
    out in my previous post to you, conservatives want to change the static
    patterns of the welfare state, media dominance and public education that
    liberals want to 'conserve.'
    > I understand 'liberalism' as a system of ideas that wants to liberate
    > people from existing, oppressive patterns of value.

    I understand American "liberalism" as wanting to raise taxes to finance
    coercive programs intended to benefit certain segments of society.

    > Both in the USA and in
    > Europe 'liberals' and 'conservatives' have narrowed down 'existing patterns
    > of value'. American 'conservatives' apparently locate the existing patterns
    > that need conserving outside the public realm, among 'individuals' (and the
    > government, that defines what's 'public' as the prime threath). American
    > 'liberals' probably want to liberate people from existing, oppressive
    > patterns outside the public realm. They may indeed at times use government
    > (and enlarging the public realm) as primary tool to do so and turn a blind
    > eye on the oppressive patterns associated with governmental interference
    > outside its accepted realm.

    Generally speaking I think your description is accurate.

    >European 'liberals' have historically -probably
    > more than American 'liberals'- concentrated on liberation from existing,
    > oppressive patterns associated with monarchism and the state. They stood
    > for democratization and took up the cause of the rising bourgeoisie and
    > entrepreneurial class in the 19th century. When constitutions and elections
    > had severely limited the power of monarchs, their anti-monarchistic cause
    > was more or less exhausted. They recognized the risk that the state, which
    > they had always viewed with suspicion, could be hijacked by socialists, who
    > wanted to use it to further the interests of the labouring 'class'.

    In the U.S. liberals are socialists at heart. European liberals appear to
    closer to U.S. conservatives.

    > European 'liberals' can't be considered 'conservative' normally. They
    > kind of progressive, wanting to change existing patterns, but using market
    > forces rather than the state as a tool.

    You've introduced the word 'progressive' which can cut both ways. To
    eliminate the welfare state would be 'progessive' in conservative eyes.
    >In the Netherlands and in most
    > European countries there are no influential political parties that pride
    > themselves on being 'conservative'. Everyone wants to be seen as
    > progressive, as wanting to change existing patterns.

    Yes. The term 'progressive' has a nice, positive ring to it. Both sides
    would like to claim it.

    > The UK Tories are the
    > only exception I know (but I probably oversee a few other countries).
    > Traditionally Christian parties are most 'conservative', at least with
    > respect to 'morality' in the ordinary sense of the word, but on economic
    > issues they are carefull to show what they call a 'social face', meaning
    > that they want to protect weak groups in society against overexposure to
    > market forces. Socialists in Netherlands and in most other European
    > countries have explicitly added 'democratic' to their names to make sure
    > that they want the state to be effectively controlled by the wishes of the
    > voters. Quite a few 'liberal' and 'Christian' parties have also added
    > 'democratic' to their names. Social democrats nowadays don't want the state
    > to have all power and represent more than just labourers interests (e.g.
    > environmental and feminist causes). In the Netherlands social democrats
    > even see a lot of value in the market mechanism as long as the rules are
    > set and maintained by a democratic government. No-one in Europe (no
    > influential political party at least) will ever associate 'democracy' with
    > 'democratic mob rule', as you do Platt. Maybe because democracy is not
    > primarily seen as being defined by majority rule. 'Democracy' is for
    > Europeans associated more with open discussion and the possibility to
    > influence government decisions. Not only majorities can influence
    > government decisions, but everyone who can by force of arguments win others
    > to his/her cause and thereby erode the majority on which the present
    > government rests. 'Democracy' must not be restrained; government is being
    > restrained by 'democracy'.

    So long as laws are made by democratic legislatures, the danger remains of
    a mobocracy. That's why the U.S. set up its checks and balances.

    > 'Conservative' may not be a popular label in
    > Europe, neither is its opposite. No influential political party in Europe
    > pretends to stand for outright 'liberation' from oppression in whatever
    > form. Europeans have become to wary of revolution and resulting violence
    > for that. Evolution, reform and progress, gradual change of undesirable
    > patterns, is all that's called for by the most change-minded political
    > parties that have a realistic chance of getting any power.
    > Can you understand from this complicated picture that I don't recognize a
    > clear-cut 'war' between supporters of and liberators from social patterns
    > in politics? Certainly not in Europe, but not even in the USA. American
    > 'conservatives' and 'liberals' are far too selective in the social patterns
    > they recognize and don't recognize to see them (only) as representing one
    > level or the other.

    Since we're all handed a set of cultural glasses, it's not surprising that
    you would view our situation here in the U.S (and vice-versa) differently
    than we do ourselves.

    Best regards,
    P.S. Incidentally, that 'Political Compass' that DMB and others have
    referred to is flawed. The lower left quadrant consisting of collectivist
    anarchists is an oxymoron. Political collectivism cannot exist without

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