Saturday, May 07, 2005

5 Basic Principles of Liberalism

Over at Altercation, Eric has a question for us:
"I was watching a panel on foreign policy called "Are We Making the World Safe for Democracy?" at the L.A. Times Festival of Books on C-SPAN and a questioner asked “My conservative friends can enumerate four or five basic principles of what it means to be a conservative, but what are the principles of the liberals? I would really like to find out what are the basic principles of the liberal worldview… My liberal friends are not able to elucidate them for me. I’m serious…. For my conservative friends we can rattle off four or five principles, if you could just rattle off four or five things that are basic.”

Nobody wanted to answer. David Rieff said, “I think it’s a provocation this question. If anyone could argue for the ability to rattle off, as you say, four or five principles I would take issue with the seriousness of those principles.” Reiff is right, but the political problem is real and central. Anyone want to try and answer? If you solve it, I’ll credit you in the next book, and you will have made the world a better place."
Well, hell, I would have thought that was like falling off a log. Lemme try:
    1. Equity: equal treatment; equal worth; the end of favoritism and the worship of wealth and power; the same consideration given to the needs of the weak and few as to the strong and many; an even hand in foreign policy and trade towards nations strategically important to us as well as those which are small and economically insignificant.
    2. Justice: Where inequity exists, it is removed, and where wrongdoing is found, it is stopped and retribution is made, regardless of status or connections; nations engaged in murder, repression and genocide are held to account, even if they are allies or strategically important, and even if it means some sacrifice on our part.
    3. Mercy: Punishment is a means to rehabilitation, not vengeance; help is given to those in need, and is a social debt we each owe to the community of our common humanity; empathy and refusal to judge others are the building blocks of socila interaction.
    4. Humility: Recognizing that we don't always have to be the biggest, the best, the strongest, the wealthiest, the most favored by God; that we have obligations to the natural world; that we are interdependent with other animals, plants and nations, and that we survive because of them whether we are aware of it or not.
    5. Intelligence: That a love of knowledge and curiosity about the world is what animates us as a race, and is to what we owe everything we are; that real education is a right as surely as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and that a free market without free education is merely a bazaar for auctioning off wage slaves.
I'm sure others can come up with ideas I've missed, but I have to tell you, it didn't take me any longer to get these down than it did to type them in. And anyone who wants to interject a spirituality into the above can easily do so...there are any number of holy books in which one can point out the same ideals.

Why do our allies on the left have such a hard time speaking for themselves? Is it that maybe, deep down inside, they may actually be ashamed of holding these principles? That maybe they're afraid of being called "soft"? Death and greed and cynical manipulation and neglect of those in need is a so much manlier, isn't it?

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