September 04, 2007

Liberalism, Socialism, and Sunny Hundal

The Devil has had a crack at Sunny Hundal for not understanding that liberalism is at heart about liberty not empathy. That we can never truly know anothers mind is one of the arguments that J S Mill uses for defending Liberalism in 'On Liberty':
with respect to his own feelings and circumstances, the most ordinary man or woman has means of knowledge immeasurably surpassing those that can be possessed by any one else. The interference of society to overrule his judgment and purposes in what only regards himself, must be grounded on general presumptions; which may be altogether wrong, and even if right, are as likely as not to be misapplied to individual cases, by persons no better acquainted with the circumstances of such cases than those are who look at them merely from without.
However Sunny is just making a rather common mangling of language. He is saying 'Liberal' when he means 'socialist'. Liberalism, as we know, is not socialism and has a long history that predates socialism. It is possible to be liberal and (the milder varieties of) socialist at the same time. It is also possible, and the historical norm, to be Authoritarian and socialist.

Socialism is primarily economic, and on the political compass takes up the left area. Liberalism is primarily social and takes up the lower area of the political compass.

However socialists have begun to call themselves liberals, be they socially liberal or not, socialism having become discredited after the fall of the Berlin Wall meant that even the most willfully blind could no longer claim that a society that has to build a wall to keeps its people in is somehow a good society. The fact that the name of their political creed has become so discredited that they have had to take on a different one to try and disguise what they are arguing for should be a bit of hint that their argument has already been lost because of the facts on the ground. While they would have to find ways of arguing around the simple fact that economically socialism does not work, and that it tends towards creating societies that are highly authoritarian (the opposite of being liberalism), and the 110 million dead people, at least they could be respected for being honest if they had the courage to actually use the correct name for their political creed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not too read up on your definitions of liberalism, are you?


6:34 pm  
Blogger chris said...

More than you have. The first sentence of the Wikipedia article:

Liberalism refers to a broad array of related ideas and theories of government that consider individual liberty to be the most important political goal.

8:49 am  

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