Wednesday, October 28, 2020

878: On Liberalism Again....

 Gemma is trying already for years to explain to us what liberalism means in the American context. So much is clear, it doesn't mean the same as what it means in Europe.


It may be somewhat like a caricature, but I get the impression that American political thinking by politicians focuses only on money


and how the State gets it money and how it is spend on behalf of and for the good of the individual.


In relation to the question of how the State gets its money, there is the issue of property. To what extend has the State a say in what your property is, how you create it, and so on.


There is nothing philosophical here, only interests of many parties in the political debate. In that debate economics has become the new religion and economic growth the god,


which brought Faust in the previous discussion to the statement that politics should  not be about economic growth but much more about well-being.


In all this we hear a faint echo of the words of John Locke (1632 -1704). Locke’s influence appears in countless speeches and writings of the Founding Fathers.


For instance, the "Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress",which was written  by authors such as John Adams and George Washington, quotes Locke almost verbatim in resolving “[Colonists] are entitled to life, liberty and property.”

In 1689 Locke wrote "Two Treatises on Government". He begins his second dissertation by sketching a hypothetical situation that he describes as the state of nature.


In doing so, he starts from three axioms. The first axiom is that in the state of nature people are completely free to dispose of themselves and their possessions. 


It means that they are not subject to any rulers and must obey only natural law.


The second axiom says that people in that situation are equals. There is no one who has more power than others 


and so you should never treat the other as a means for your own ends, let alone damage him in some way.


The third axiom holds that there is a law of nature that applies to all people. It is an eternal and unwritten law 


that is written in the heart of every person and is also called by Locke the "law of reason".

The latter does not mean that natural law is a purely rational matter. The concept mainly has a normative meaning. It refers to what is good and ultimately expresses the will of God.


Whatever the case, these axioms converge in the state of nature. It is a situation in which people are not subject to any ruler, 


in which they are not allowed to submit to others and in which coexistence takes shape in a reasonable way, in other words a situation of freedom, equality and natural law. 


Of course it sounds very idyllic, but of course there are always bad guys.


Like Locke writes,"In essence, violent or aggressive behavior entails a state of war, that is, a situation that differs from the natural in every respect. 


It is precisely that kind of enmity that makes people give up their natural state to form a political community. ” - end quote -


Are these the basics of a liberal society?....


Thank you for your attention again.....


MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
Gabriel van den Brink:"Ruw Ontwaken uit een Neoliberale Droom",, 2020


The Discussion


[13:17] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Thank you, Herman

[13:18] CB Axel: So no man is subject to any ruler other than some god?

[13:18] herman Bergson: Individual freedom and the right to own property are the starting point.....

[13:19] herman Bergson: Not really CB

[13:19] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):I would say not subject to any ruler more than any other living creature

[13:19] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): as u said

[13:19] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): to nature

[13:19] herman Bergson: See it in the context of Locke's time...

[13:19] herman Bergson: Everybody believed in some kind of Christianity...

[13:19] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): rulers and gods are our creation

[13:19] herman Bergson: The natural order was a creation of god...

[13:20] herman Bergson: But the basis of the natural law wasn't god, but reason according to Locke

[13:20] CB Axel: Everybody believed in some kind of god, not Christianity.

[13:20] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes but other animals don't believe actively  in a god, they just go on as they do with no thought of any ruler

[13:20] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): just their basic drives

[13:21] herman Bergson: in 1700 everybody believed only in the Christian god

[13:21] CB Axel: Man created gods to make other humans behave.

[13:21] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed

[13:21] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): true

[13:21] CB Axel: Jews and Muslims would argue that.

[13:21] herman Bergson: That's a different story...

[13:21] CB Axel: Most people did believe in one god.

[13:22] herman Bergson: Indeed...main thing here is this monotheism....

[13:22] herman Bergson: That justified the absolutism in those days....

[13:22] herman Bergson: the king appointed by god himself

[13:22] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and all meaningless wars created by conflicts between religions claiming there is only THEIR god

[13:22] herman Bergson: And that is what Locke opposed to

[13:23] CB Axel: Right

[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): Locke seemed to think very straight that's for sure

[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):

[13:23] herman Bergson: and thence was created our society....a society of individuals....

[13:23] CB Axel: It's the basis of democracies that kings are not given their rights by a god.

[13:24] CB Axel: I should have said rulers, not kings.

[13:24] herman Bergson: Locke's ideas have been so influential...I always am surprised to see how just ONE person can influence all of history

[13:25] CB Axel: Probably because that one person's ideas give everyone more of a say in government.

[13:25] herman Bergson: What Locke was thinking was of course already in the air in his days....

[13:26] herman Bergson: What Locke said were the basics of the US Consitution....

[13:27] herman Bergson: So, we'll see how this will work out when we dig some further in the next lectures

[13:27] CB Axel: Did Locke feels that these rights were only for white men who owned property?

[13:27] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): you said "were" the basics..not anymore then?

[13:27] oola Neruda: is Locke before or after the French Revolution

[13:27] CB Axel: Because that's what the US Constitution was written for.

[13:28] herman Bergson: I don't think Locke approved slavery, CB

[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): well if Locke stated such a good base plate it sure have been ruined and molested

[13:28] herman Bergson: You noticed the "were" Beertje  :-)))

[13:28] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes

[13:28] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): i wondered

[13:28] herman Bergson: I agree...I am biased :-)

[13:28] CB Axel: But did he think anyone but white, property-owning men had those rights?

[13:29] herman Bergson: I don't see much left of the real ideas of Locke in American politics and politicians...

[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed because that seems to be how it is today

[13:29] herman Bergson: I have no idea CB....

[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): but as i said the base plate has probably been messed up a bit since then

[13:30] CB Axel: Is that because we have misinterpreted Locke or because those of us left out of the Constitution are now demanding those rights he spoke of?

[13:30] herman Bergson: Maybe when you dig deep into the writings of Locke you'll find an answer

[13:30] oola Neruda: did Locke influence the French Revolution or did it influence him?

[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): because what u stated about Locke there sounded just all correct

[13:31] CB Axel: Locke came before both the US and French revolutions.

[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): good ideas and so

[13:31] CB Axel: He influenced both.

[13:31] oola Neruda: thank you

[13:31] herman Bergson: The French revolution was in I was in the air....the year he wrote the Treatises

[13:32] herman Bergson: Indeed he influenced the revolutions

[13:32] herman Bergson: Like the Glorious Revolution in 1688

[13:33] herman Bergson: As I said....he put to words what was already in the air

[13:33] herman Bergson: He gave the people a voice...

[13:34] herman Bergson: But the question of what is left of his ideas in present-day politics....

[13:35] herman Bergson: We'll discuss that later

[13:35] CB Axel: I thought Locke's treatises were written in the late 1680s.

[13:36] CB Axel: He died in 1704.

[13:36] herman Bergson: The Two Treatises in Government were written in 1689, CB

[13:36] CB Axel: Which is a shame. The framers of the US Constitution could have used his input. :)

[13:37] herman Bergson: He died in 1704  indeed...poor fellow :-)

[13:38] CB Axel: Poor us. I'd love to talk to him today. :)

[13:38] herman Bergson: Well...72....not bad in those days

[13:38] herman Bergson: He would be inspiring indeed CB

[13:39] herman Bergson: Especially when he sees how a country slides into absolutism, if it doesn't take action

[13:39] CB Axel: I've never been able to give an answer when people ask, "Who from the past or present would you like to have dinner with?"

[13:39] CB Axel: But now I think I'd chose John Locke. :)

[13:39] herman Bergson: Perfect choice, I'd say CB

[13:40] CB Axel: If it ever happens, I'll invite you, too, Herman. :)

[13:40] herman Bergson: or maybe...herman Bergson??? ^_^

[13:40] CB Axel: And Barack and Michelle Obama.

[13:40] herman Bergson: wow...I'll come :-)

[13:41] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):

[13:41] CB Axel: BTW, there is a difference in the US between being financially liberal or conservative and being socially liberal or conservative.

[13:41] herman Bergson: OK...I guess we dealt with our worries and questions of today :-)

[13:41] herman Bergson: Oh dear...

[13:41] CB Axel: I put that out there just to make US politics even more confusing. LOL

[13:42] herman Bergson: You succeeded ^_^

[13:42] CB Axel: :)

[13:42] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont):

[13:42] herman Bergson: Let me guess....

[13:42] herman Bergson: financially liberal or conservative  deals with the government spendings

[13:43] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): can I see that as the VVD?

[13:43] CB Axel: Yes, and its approach to business and business regulations.

[13:43] CB Axel: VVD?

[13:43] herman Bergson: socially liberal or conservative deals with the well being in society....abortion, heallthcare?

[13:43] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it's a party from the Netherlands CB

[13:44] herman Bergson: So...what does it mean CB...?

[13:44] CB Axel: Right, Herman. And LBGTQ, race, and feminist rights.

[13:44] herman Bergson: ok

[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): oki

[13:45] herman Bergson: hard ball and soft ball issues :-)

[13:45] CB Axel: Those are all hard ball issues to me. :)

[13:45] herman Bergson grins

[13:45] herman Bergson: ok :-)

[13:46] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): .)

[13:46] CB Axel: I'm about as liberal in the US sense as they come. I have a gay friend who is socially liberal but financially conservative. :)

[13:46] CB Axel: *as they come

[13:47] herman Bergson: Well....that is not so complicated...

[13:47] herman Bergson: With your purse tight in your hand you can be gay or straight....has no effect on your purse :-)

[13:48] CB Axel: Pretty much, yes.

[13:49] herman Bergson: That is why in the Netherlands we have parties which are for instance financially conservative, but on abortions individual members differ in opinion

[13:50] CB Axel: Yeah. We in the US need to listen more to other parties and not just the Dems or the GOP.

[13:50] herman Bergson: A two-party system is from a democratic point of view a misrepresentation of society in my opinion

[13:51] herman Bergson: And as we see it leads to meaningless polarization

[13:51] CB Axel: I agree. But Americans don't have time to think about more than 2. We're too busy keeping up with the Kardashians and cheering for our favorite sports teams. :)

[13:52] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): oh lol

[13:52] herman Bergson: impression is that Americans only think in terms of winners and losers

[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe

[13:52] herman Bergson: 50 shades of grey are wasted on them :-)

[13:52] CB Axel: I think that's right.

[13:52] druth Vlodovic is offline.

[13:52] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hmm sadly seems so yes

[13:53] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): are you for the US or against it..

[13:53] CB Axel: Tim Minchin wrote a song about that kind of polarization.

[13:53] herman Bergson: The UK has the same problems :-)

[13:53] CB Axel: Minchin is Aussie/English, so yeah. He's seen that.

[13:53] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaa yes that's true

[13:54] herman Bergson: This is not a commercial for the Netherlands :-)))

[13:54] CB Axel: With more than 2 parties it's important for lawmakers to learn to listen to each other and compromise.

[13:54] herman Bergson: Exactly :-)

[13:55] herman Bergson: That's how we do it in the Netherlands....tedious though but it works :-)

[13:55] CB Axel: Then need to learn to work together to find solutions that work for everyone.

[13:55] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaa yes

[13:55] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): dot the democrats and liberals listen ot each other CB?

[13:55] herman Bergson: It can be done CB

[13:55] CB Axel: Americans are too impatient for all that.

[13:55] CB Axel: I don't think they do, Beertje.

[13:55] herman Bergson: Yes...they only want to

[13:56] CB Axel: I listen enough to find ways to argue.

[13:56] oola Neruda: lobbyists are a big influence on it all

[13:56] CB Axel: I feel that Democrats are a little better at it than Republicans.

[13:56] oola Neruda: money money money

[13:57] herman Bergson: I think Americans see a compromise as a sign of weakness

[13:57] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes I think so too

[13:57] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): if ur not on top u are at the trash heap

[13:57] CB Axel: During Obama's first 2 years the dems had the White House and Congress but still didn't get everything done that they would have liked, but that's because he was willing to negotiate and the republicans weren't.

[13:57] oola Neruda: not all... but politicians and big money guys seem to

[13:57] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): it's not weakness at all

[13:57] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): like that¨

[13:57] herman Bergson: those I mean oola

[13:57] CB Axel: And yes, that's exactly what people think, Herman.

[13:58] CB Axel: I think that negotiation and compromise are strengths. :)

[13:58] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): indeed CB

[13:58] herman Bergson: Isn't it funny that I form the Netherlands seem to see that?

[13:58] herman Bergson: of course they are CB

[13:59] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): that's because we have another system Herman

[13:59] CB Axel: Sometimes the best view is from a distance, Herman. :)

[13:59] CB Axel: Often, even. :))

[13:59] herman Bergson: Interesting....

[14:00] herman Bergson: we learn a lot from and about each other

[14:00] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): true

[14:00] herman Bergson: I suggest that we continue next Thursday....

[14:00] herman Bergson: so..

[14:00] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaa

[14:00] herman Bergson: Thank you all again for the interesting discussion...

[14:00] CB Axel: Oh, and when I have dinner with John Locke, Barack and Michelle Obama, and Herman, I'll have Mitch McConnell tied up in a corner with a gag in his mouth.

[14:01] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): lol

[14:01] oola Neruda: yay

[14:01] herman Bergson: Class dismissed...

[14:01] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman

[14:01] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):

[14:01] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman.

[14:01] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): oki cu all next time

[14:01] herman Bergson: Great plan, CB.....mute the turtle

[14:01] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ty Herman and class :-)

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