True Liberalism: Quite Conservative
Posted by madcap on July 8, 2008
“Liberalism.” We hear the term used on a daily basis. In our time it has rather negative implications. Many modern Liberals attempt to disassociate themselves from the term by claiming to be “independents” or “moderates.” In today’s usage, this term is most often associated with socialism and communism. This, however, has not always been the case.
Liberalism lays claims to values such as being open minded, tolerant to other ideas and other cultures, and open to change. This is quite accurate. It is not the definition that has changed over time, but rather the purpose. The word Liberal has the same meaning as it did in antiquity, but the purpose of practicing liberty has taken a radical derailment from the original intent of being a Liberal.
The original purpose for being open minded, tolerant and open to change was to better man through the development of virtuous autonomy; thereby producing excellence. This objective, the production of excellence, is what has changed in the transition from classical Liberalism to modern and postmodern Liberalism. Modern Liberalism has re-defined excellence to mean elitism. Excellence is “bad” and “diversity” is good. Rebelling against the best of autonomy, modern Liberals attempt to propagate pathological community.
In order to truly pursue wisdom, one has to be open to taking in new information. This new information can then be processed, evaluated and applied in the pursuit of excellence. How the information is utilized determines whether it cultivates excellence, or whether it is destructive toward this end. Reason is the greatest tool to guide us in utilizing open-mindedness for the advancement toward excellence.
Today’s Liberalism seeks open-mindedness as an end in itself. With this “anything goes” mentality, people become so “open-minded” that their brains begin to ooze out onto the floor. We see this reflected in our educational system. Today, if you take a course in critical theory and social justice, you find that the study of jurisprudence, or natural and divine law, have often been replaced. Instead, students are offered courses dedicated to “the phallus” and courses on “queer musicology.” This is what happens when you propagate diversity solely for the sake of being diverse. Excellence is squashed under the radical pluralism of today’s postmodern Liberal.
Tolerance is another precept of Liberalism that has been distorted to the point of pathology. The purpose of tolerance was, again, to further the cause of excellence, not to lose one’s autonomy.
The loss of autonomy is the prime objective of postmodern Liberalism manifesting itself as multiculturalism. This brand of tolerance has gone from having common respect toward other cultures, to sacrificing our own culture by subjugating it to other cultures. A favorite phrase of the modern Liberal is “the only thing I will not tolerate is intolerance.” This generally translates to opposing anyone that wishes to preserve their autonomy and promote excellence in their society. It has grown ever more obvious that this group, while proclaiming to value tolerance, has grown ever more intolerant of anyone who does not agree with them. A brief look at the multiple recent physical attacks on conservative speakers at universities, adequately illustrates my point.
Originally a change for the better, to bring about excellence, was the objective of Liberalism. While change is indeed a constant, not all changes are good. It was felt that one should proceed with caution, using the faculties of reason to gently guide humanity through necessary change. This is why one should be conservative when it comes to change.
Change is often the rallying cry of modern Liberalism. Change “to what?” is left rather loosely defined. Today’s postmodernism seeks change just for the sake of change. Little thought is given to whether it is a change for the better. Postmodern Liberals are so dedicated to change that they often refer to themselves as progressives. Progressivism is indeed a much better term than Liberalism, considering the irreconcilable derailment from the original purpose of Liberalism.
Diversity Destroys Excellence
Today’s postmodern Liberalism seeks to drive excellence into extinction. This worldview sees excellence as elitism. One place we can see this, is in the recent trend away from evaluating performance. Schools switch from grades to pass/fail systems, teachers warn against the use of red ink and even hesitate to give out stars, “because the kids that didn’t get one will feel bad.” Scores are no longer kept at some sports events. My ten year old daughter was on a basketball league in which they intentionally did not keep score at the games. When everyone is considered “a winner,” everyone loses. My daughter did not join for a second season, because she did not see the sense in playing a game you cannot win.
We can also see this thinking manifest in protesting success. Wal-mart is the arch enemy of Liberals. The story of how Wal-mart rose from nothing to an economic powerhouse is testament of the opportunities and success our country has to offer. To the Liberal however, Wal-Mart is part of the elite evil corporations that seek to trample over the little guy.
On a larger scale, we can see the consequences of this type of thinking in the shift that occurred after WWI, in how one prevents wars. Collective security replaced the long standing approach of balance of power, or peace through strength. The failures of both the League of Nations and the United Nations are testament to the problems with placing the desire to reach consensus over doing what needs to be done.
Neither of these organizations ever averted any war. In fact, they have helped increase human suffering rather than alleviating it. The United Nations never stopped the Soviet Union through collective security. Peace through strength brought them to their knees. The United Nations never stopped Saddam Hussein from brutalizing his own population, or from threatening Iraq’s neighbors. In fact the United Nations helped through its corrupt oil for food program.
A True Liberal
The conservativism of our day is identical with what was originally termed Liberal. Liberal, in the original sense, means to practice the virtue of liberality. In the mind of the postmodern Liberal, the term virtue has become a dirty word, and liberality has come to mean anarchy.
I consider myself to be a classical Liberal, which translates to a modern Conservative. I value change, when it is for the better. This does not mean that I will sacrifice the underlying foundations of truth, or the universal values that serve as the foundation of society, solely for the sake of change.
I value tolerance of other cultures, but not at the expense of my own. I recognize the right of societies to have their own set of cultural values, but I do not see all cultural values as equal. If Muslims wish to set up theocracies, then so be it. But when their theocracies threaten democracies, I will defend my democracy with all my being. I will not tolerate, or stand on the side of fascism, in the name of some higher moral value, that in reality is a mental illness.
I am extremely open-minded. I have devoted my life to being a student of history, philosophy, and science; and have changed my opinions and perspectives when warranted. But I cannot let my brains ooze out onto the floor by abandoning reason and common sense. I wish to preserve those things that produce excellence, change the things that do not, and acquire the wisdom to know the difference. That is why I consider myself to be a true Liberal.