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Mon, Feb. 28th, 2005, 03:05 pm
I'ms-ah get snarky.

If you don't care for college-age curmudgeoning, you've already read too far.

I'll bet everyone is reading this silly entry now. :D

I was scampering around LJ when I came across the following statement:
(Politically I'm actually on the border between moderate/liberal, and fairly steeped in libertarianist idealogy)

I completely understand what nina_anilina means, so don't bother affecting that I don't. :P That being said, if you observe the statement from the literal (semantic) level, it doesn't make much sense.

Taking it from the top, what the hell is a border of an idealogy? Big checkpoints with armed idea gaurds on the Greater Plane of Philosophy, who check your psych-baggage to make sure you aren't harboring any fallacies? (I imagine that would be one heck of a job.)

Next we find this supposed border is between moderate and... liberal. So, what's the other side of Liberalism? What's being moderated between? Communism? Fascism? Nazism? Authoritarianism? What? In any case, this supposed person would only believe in some freedom, which is not liberal at all. "Conservatism, you slobbering semantic-searching simpleton!" somebody eventually says. Okay, then, but what is "Conservatism"? Well, the belief of conserving things, duh. But conserving what? See, this is an entirely relative term, and not really a belief at all. In the U.S., we have a higly Liberal background; that's what the United States was idealogically founded upon, argueably. So, a U.S. conservative would be... a... Liberal. Confused yet?

But wait! There's more!

Finally, we get to the part about Libertarianism, who I will assert are classic Liberals with a few 'crusading' purfication-type economic policies. (I know that's too simplistic; just roll with it for a minute.) The phrase "fairly steeped" is like a yo-yo: "TO THE EXTREME, but only a little bit."

So, after processing all of this, we end up with:
"I'm waffling between Liberalism and Liberalism, with a background in New-Age Retro Liberalism."

To which I reply, "What."

Tue, Mar. 1st, 2005 07:16 am (UTC)
cgranade: On Labels.

Labels such as "liberal" or "conservative" are merely descriptors that are useful to categorize the astronomical amount of distinct ideologies out there. How many people are there in America right now? About 300M... without such descriptors we would be at a loss to summarize the political state of the nation. Of course, there are those who argue that we should not do such a thing anyway, so that doesn't matter. I, however, disagree. Such labels are crucial to our understanding of things. Consider it as a first level of approximation, I suppose.

Don't get me wrong... I'm not supporting that particular set of labels, as it is a very poorly chosen set, but I sympathize with the problems of describing complex or non-mainstream ideologies. For instance, I think that libertarianism is a wonderful idea on paper, but that it will never work in practice. From that perspective, I agree with a lot of libertarian philosophy, but almost none of libertarian policy. Furthermore, remember that the American conservative ideologies are on an upswing right now, emboldened by the Falwell/Bush crowd. There is, however, a split between those conserving classical American ideals (classical conservatives) and those seeking to restore society to the state of pre-American theocracy and British Imperialism (neoconservatives). These two groups are often at odds, but both tend to vote Republican historically.

As for the whole moderate problem, how to describe the various biases of those less extreme in their views than those who define labels is a problem that I have no easy answer for. To be sure, there is no "border" between ideologies most of the time. (In the case of the Christian Coalition, though, I am no where near as sure.) How to describe someone who is moderate on the liberal/classiccon axis, but leans towards the liberal site? To be sure, it is possible to do, but not very succinctly.