Wednesday, May 26, 2010

256: The Ways of Liberalism 3

As we saw last time with Mandeville Liberalism was almost defined as the religion of greed. A popular belief in our time, but historically not the truth about liberalism, which finds its origin in the individualism, which already emerged in the Renaissance.

Traditional English liberalism has rested on a fairly simple concept of liberty—namely, that of freedom from the constraints of the state. In Thomas Hobbes’s memorable phrase, “The liberties of subjects depend on the silence of the law.”

English liberals have regarded the state as a necessary institution, ensuring order and law at home, defense against foreign powers, and security of possessions—the three principles John Locke summarized as “life, liberty and property.”

They have also maintained that the law can be used to extend the liberties of subjects insofar as the law is made to curb and limit the activities of the executive government.

The main element in liberal theories is the position of the state. With the rise of parlamentary democracy and all the legislative zeal of the representatives, the role of the state is still an important issue.

Even in such a sense that instead of a state influence as small as possible, the 20th century liberals in England saw the state as an instrument. The central aim of this new school was utilitarian— namely, freeing men from misery and ignorance.

The French development of liberalism oscillated between the Lockean ideas and those of Rousseau, who lays particular emphasis on freedom and equality. The French scene was devised in royalism and conservatism on the one side.

And socialism, anarchism on the other side. Liberalism was the theory of the middle, but it never was really adopted as a name of a political movement, and the theory was predominantly Lockean

Is is interesting to note that the emphasis on the freedom of the person and a minimal interference by the state is just a few steps away from anarchism. We should dig into that subject too.

Most telling is the view of Jean de Grandvilliers (1925), a french politician. According to Grandvilliers, the true meaning of liberalism is to be found in a policy of extending the liberty of the people; he maintained that the intervention of the state is not only a useful, but also a necessary, means to achieve that end.

The basic idea here is that the state belongs to the people, the enlargement of the power of the state is equally an enlargement of the power, and therefore the freedom, of its citizens. This is called statism.

In Germany, as elsewhere, we may discern not a single doctrine of liberalism but at least two main, conflicting schools, which again may be classified as the Lockean and the ├ętatiste.

Here you see the basic conflict of liberal theory. On the one hand it wants to minimize the influence of the state in the life of the individual citizen, and on the other side the liberal sees the state as an instrument to elevate the masses.

In the US it isn't an honor to be called a "liberal", I guess. In The Liberal Imagination, Lionel Trilling (1975+) , an American literary critic, author, and teacher,defined liberalism as meaning, among other things, “a belief in planning and international co-operation, especially where Russia is in question.”

This definition may not have been wholly authorized by common usage, but there can be no doubt that the word liberal has come to be associated in the American public’s mind with ├ętatiste and left-wing ideologies rather than with the Lockean notions of laissez faire and mistrust of organized power.

One might divide liberals into those who see freedom as something that belongs to the individual, to be defended against the encroachments of the state,

and those who see freedom as something which belongs to society and which the state, as the central instrument of social betterment, can be made to enlarge and improve.

The Discussion

[13:20] herman Bergson smiles
[13:21] herman Bergson: I knew you would react...Gemma
[13:21] herman Bergson: And Kiki..I hope this lecture clariefied a few things?
[13:21] Kiki Walpanheim: yes
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: not really
[13:21] herman Bergson: ok Gemma
[13:22] herman Bergson: shoot
[13:22] Bruce Mowbray smiles.
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: i am called a liberal because i am for more government
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: i am for caring for the poor who have no work
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: and for the ill
[13:22] Repose Lionheart: me too
[13:22] herman Bergson: yes...
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: and was very much in favor of the new health plan
[13:23] herman Bergson: Well ...
[13:23] Bruce Mowbray says Yayyy, Gemma.
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: and want the government to do something about energy
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: and greening
[13:23] herman Bergson: to put it all in proper perspective
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: and it is most strange that during this oil disaster in the gulf
[13:24] herman Bergson: The basic idea of liberalism is the freedom of the individual...
[13:24] herman Bergson: problem is ..
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: that those who have been screaming about government interference
[13:24] herman Bergson: when the individual isnt gifted....or is ill..or unemployed…it is not much fun to be an individual
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: now what the government to take over the curing of the private company's problems
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: lolol
[13:24] Kiki Walpanheim: but whichever strand of liberalism is, i think the central idea is not about simple redistribution of wealth
[13:24] Repose Lionheart: soooo true!
[13:24] Repose Lionheart: Gemma
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: right KIKI
[13:25] Abraxas Nagy: it never is
[13:25] herman Bergson: I think it is about redistribution of wealth
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: here in the usa the conservatives want low taxes and no government
[13:25] Kiki Walpanheim: but about elevating, encouraging the individuals to be in pursuit of happiness and thereby benefit the society as a whole
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: feeling strongly about that
[13:26] herman Bergson: But I mean it....
[13:26] herman Bergson: We live in such wealthy societies...if I speak for myself...
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: it would be nice if there could be a redistribution of the enormous differences yes
[13:26] herman Bergson: yes Gemma....
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: but maybe if those really really rich paid more taxes!!!!!
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: but NO
[13:27] herman Bergson: A world where people get paid bonusses of Millions of dollars....that is absurd
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: cannot get that through yes it is absurd
[13:27] herman Bergson: those millions belong somewhere else
[13:27] Zinzi Serevi: yes
[13:27] Zinzi's translator: yes
[13:27] Repose Lionheart: would do more good somewhere else
[13:27] herman Bergson: in the first place they are stolen from all customers
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:28] herman Bergson: did Marx say..Profit is theft?
[13:28] Kiki Walpanheim: maybe what is in common is about encouraging creativity, innovation, which is the key to public benefits
[13:28] herman Bergson: In a way it is….excesive profits is theft...immoral
[13:28] Kiki Walpanheim: innovation in science and tech. for example
[13:28] Repose Lionheart: yes, agree, kiki
[13:29] Kiki Walpanheim: and i think liberalism is suitable for promoting creativity
[13:29] Zinzi Serevi: or education
[13:29] herman Bergson: yes....
[13:29] Repose Lionheart: yes, and productive of greed and systemic inefficiency
[13:29] Kiki Walpanheim: tho how to redistribute wealth is in dispute, it is not the key to solve all the problems...
[13:29] herman Bergson: But that is the ambiguity...
[13:30] herman Bergson: on the one hand a liberal wants as less involvement of the state as possible
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: oh well not so here
[13:30] Kiki Walpanheim: i dont believe in anarchism
[13:30] herman Bergson: On the other hand they want the state to educate the masses
[13:31] herman Bergson: only human being can think of anarchism Kiki...
[13:31] Kiki Walpanheim: oh....
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: liberals are accused of wanting more government
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: here
[13:31] herman Bergson: not an organism in this world thinks of it
[13:32] herman Bergson: So..quintessential is: what is the role of the state
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: here the most conservatives want NO government except military protection
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: the new tea party for ex that is their mantra
[13:33] herman Bergson: yes Gemma...that is the most extreme position for a liberal
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: what is
[13:33] herman Bergson: an army and police..that is al that is needed in a society
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: yes lol
[13:33] Abraxas Nagy: liberals meet anarchists
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: but that is the conservative view here
[13:33] Repose Lionheart: soooo....America is a liberal democracy, in which it's "left" and "right" are effectively the two historical positions of the liberalism of political philosophy...
[13:34] herman Bergson: Yes I know
[13:34] Kiki Walpanheim: i see some very big gov. in some places have very poor police to protect its citizens
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: some call the liberals communist or at least socialist
[13:34] Kiki Walpanheim: so if the police do the job well, that is not a bad thing
[13:34] Bruce Mowbray: How about different modes of government: federalism - federal, states, counties, townships, villages - each with differing governmental responsibilities?
[13:35] herman Bergson: Brudce,..
[13:35] Kiki Walpanheim: well , at least, having a big gov. regulating everything except protecting its citizens, it worse than the tea party option...
[13:35] herman Bergson: that doesnt affect the basic political view here..
[13:36] herman Bergson: you are for an government with big influence on society or you are for a government that only provides for an army and police/justice system
[13:36] Kiki Walpanheim: tho i wouldn't say i am in favour of the tea party option, not that sure....
[13:36] Bruce Mowbray: Some levels of govt. will take the Lockean side - others will take the other side, of the liberal ambiguity...
[13:36] Kiki Walpanheim: i think police/justice system is fundamental, yet some very central big gov. which regulate almost everything else could fail to do that
[13:37] herman Bergson: Well if we take the American perspective…any social involvement of the health care etc is called communism..
[13:37] Kiki Walpanheim: i think some other regulation from the gov. other than just police/justice system is also necessary tho
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:37] Kiki Walpanheim: lol
[13:37] Bruce Mowbray: in USA, almost all policing is handled by municipalities -- or perhaps states (highways, etc.) -- almost NO federal police, except in emergencies.
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:38] herman Bergson: Well Adam Smith said...there are thing the individual citizen cant that should be a government task
[13:38] Kiki Walpanheim: take scientific research for example, tho the firms would fund some research, they are mainly market oriented only
[13:38] Abraxas Nagy: you have the FBI tho
[13:38] Bruce Mowbray: Every single county in America has a health department -- and NONE of them call that 'communist.'
[13:39] herman Bergson: Yes Kiki...
[13:39] Kiki Walpanheim: and if the gov. could do that as well, then more fundamental , theriotical, non market oriented ones could be taken care of too
[13:39] herman Bergson: So the govenment should organize education and give room to pure scientific research
[13:39] Kiki Walpanheim: yet they are paramound
[13:39] Kiki Walpanheim: i think so
[13:39] Kiki Walpanheim: that is just one example...i think
[13:39] herman Bergson: Yes absolutely
[13:40] herman Bergson: I agree Kiki
[13:41] Kiki Walpanheim: i think the problem with some very big gov. is not that they interfere too much, but that the inteference is not in the right places...
[13:41] herman Bergson: My idea is that our societies have become so complex that talking about liberalism or socialism..left just a debate in the margine of reality
[13:41] Kiki Walpanheim: yes, professor, i think so
[13:41] Repose Lionheart: agree
[13:42] herman Bergson: The system is run by economics....the stock markets....the speculators
[13:42] Bruce Mowbray: American conservatives do want health care, libraries, schools, etc -- They just want them governed closer to home - not my the federal government (Wash. D.C.)
[13:42] Kiki Walpanheim: then problems come…environment, scientific research, monopoly....
[13:43] herman Bergson: yes Kiki
[13:43] Kiki Walpanheim: i think we can leave things to the market for what it can do, and regulate what cant be solved by simple --market
[13:43] herman Bergson: And all is coverted into profit or loss
[13:44] Bruce Mowbray: Laissez faire.
[13:44] Kiki Walpanheim: but , if the police/justice system really is good, then i would be very much satisfied....even in the tea party option
[13:44] Bruce Mowbray gasps.
[13:44] Repose Lionheart: hmmmmm
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: me too bruce
[13:44] Zinzi Serevi: pfff
[13:44] Zinzi's translator: pfff
[13:44] herman Bergson: I understand Kiki....
[13:45] Zinzi Serevi: i dont
[13:45] Zinzi's translator: i dont
[13:45] herman Bergson: But there are things the indiviual cant afford..
[13:45] herman Bergson: so just add education, healthcare, pensions and we have a deal ^_^
[13:45] Kiki Walpanheim: yes, and i think private health insurance has flaws
[13:46] herman Bergson: Just keep in mind.....
[13:46] Kiki Walpanheim: wel...maybe some regulation in the economics, the market....i dont know...
[13:46] herman Bergson: Locke lives in the 17th century..the world was so much simpeler then
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: guess so
[13:47] Repose Lionheart: yes ㋡
[13:47] Kiki Walpanheim: i was reading locke today.... to the 5th chapter....
[13:47] herman Bergson: Just take china now....
[13:47] Kiki Walpanheim: will continue after this lecture...
[13:47] herman Bergson: It is tied with hands and feet to western economics....stock markets etc
[13:48] herman Bergson: It is just playing along
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: which right now is very scary
[13:48] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma..who is ruling the world?
[13:48] Rodney Handrick: yes it is Gemma
[13:48] Repose Lionheart: the market?
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:48] Abraxas Nagy: the Bilderbergers?
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:48] Repose Lionheart: lol
[13:49] Rodney Handrick: I'd say the officials at the world bank
[13:49] herman Bergson: At least not our Prime Minister..that is for sure.. ^_^
[13:49] Abraxas Nagy: haaaahaaaahaaaahaaaahaaa
[13:49] Abraxas Nagy: I'd say
[13:49] herman Bergson: lol Abraxas
[13:49] Bruce Mowbray smiles.
[13:49] Rodney Handrick: Isn't the world bank a private entity?
[13:49] Repose Lionheart: think so...
[13:49] herman Bergson: Well...this is the scary face of liberalim then, I guess
[13:50] Abraxas Nagy: exactly and so is the US federal banks
[13:50] Abraxas Nagy: private
[13:50] Rodney Handrick: Then it's the shareholders of these private corporations
[13:51] herman Bergson: Well...I think I should focus on egalitarianism next time..or communism...
[13:51] Kiki Walpanheim: looking forward to it
[13:51] Abraxas Nagy: yep me to
[13:51] Bruce Mowbray says Yep!
[13:51] herman Bergson: we need a couterpoint..
[13:51] Abraxas Nagy: i agree
[13:51] Rodney Handrick: many people in the US think we're heading in that direction
[13:51] Kiki Walpanheim: been thinking about these things all these years
[13:51] Kiki Walpanheim: me
[13:51] herman Bergson: Liberalism isnt the solution in my opinion
[13:52] Abraxas Nagy: so have I Kiki
[13:52] Abraxas Nagy: a lot actually
[13:52] herman Bergson: Well..maybe it is....the human being is the problem ^_^
[13:52] Kiki Walpanheim: nods
[13:52] Rodney Handrick: thank god I'm not
[13:52] Bruce Mowbray: hahaha
[13:52] herman Bergson: ok...this concludes the series on the religion of greed ^_^
[13:53] Abraxas Nagy: hahaha
[13:53] herman Bergson: On to the next religion....
[13:53] herman Bergson: the one of sharing...
[13:53] Abraxas Nagy: that sums it up nicely
[13:53] herman Bergson smiles
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:53] herman Bergson: thnx Abraxas
[13:53] Abraxas Nagy: yw pro
[13:54] Bruce Mowbray says, Things are looking up.
[13:54] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your endurrance...
[13:54] Bruce Mowbray: ;-)
[13:54] Kiki Walpanheim: Thank you professor and all
[13:54] herman Bergson: and contributions to the nice discussion
[13:54] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`☆ H E R MA N ☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`
[13:54] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:54] herman Bergson: Class dismissed
[13:54] Bruce Mowbray: Thank YOU, professor.
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:54] Repose Lionheart: Thank you, Professor
[13:54] Abraxas Nagy: it was inspiring again thanx herman
[13:54] Rodney Handrick: thanks
[13:54] herman Bergson: thnx Abraxas
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: see you thursday i hope
[13:54] Abraxas Nagy: yep
[13:55] ZANICIA Chau: yes truly inspiring, thanks Professor
[13:55] Abraxas Nagy: see you all in 2 dayes
[13:55] herman Bergson: Hi CONNIE
[13:55] Zinzi Serevi: bye bye..:)
[13:55] Zinzi's translator: bye bye ..:)
[13:55] Sartre Placebo: thx and good night everyone
[13:55] CONNIE Eichel: great class, professor :)
[13:55] herman Bergson: Nice you came in too

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