Why There’s Nothing Liberal about “Liberalism”

“Liberals” are supposed to be hands-off kinds of people, at least if you believe the term. They want government out of the bedroom; they want government hands off your marijuana bong; and they want government out of your uterus, if you’re a woman.

True enough. But in order to evaluate liberalism as we know it, you have to consider all of the factors — and not just a few exceptions.

In essentially every area outside of marijuana, consensual same-sex unions and abortion, today’s liberals are uniformly and without reservation in favor of greater government controls, coercion and restraint. “Government,” in this context, does not simply mean protection from people who would harm you. It means actual coercion, requiring you to do things you might not wish or need to do. It’s rationalized in the name of “for your own good” or for the alleged collective good. Parroting the grim attitudes of their puritanical ideological ancestors, today’s liberals stand ready to claim, “Shame, shame” about anything they dislike, and back up their moralism with actual, literal and real physical force.

I recently ran across a sarcastic comment on Facebook along the lines of, “Liberalism means: If I like it, then make it legal and require people to pay for it; if I don’t like it, then outlaw it.”

This was meant sarcastically, but it has literally become the truth.

Example: People who call themselves liberal don’t like tobacco. In a best case, they’d like to see tobacco outlawed; second best, sue and/or tax the companies and use the money to fund more government programs and agencies. While the only possible basis for supporting legalization of marijuana is the right of people to put into their body what they wish — at their own risk — the typical liberal shows no such recognition, or at least a lot less, when it comes to tobacco. Why the inconsistency? Because the liberal generally likes the idea of people smoking pot (it’s cool), while is gravely morally offended by tobacco. (If pot becomes totally legal and its manufacturers become billionaires, watch this change.)

Example: People who call themselves liberal don’t like profit past a certain point (except when the profit is made by themselves, or by one who donates to the campaign of a liberal they like). As a result, they want such people taxed, or otherwise morally denounced and/or legally imposed upon. This is not because of any actual or alleged injustice; but merely because they made “too much” money. The underlying psychology seems to be, “You’ve done too well and now you make others — or myself — look bad.” Or, “Let’s chop down the guys who are too big for their britches.” Progressives and liberals see themselves as on the leading edge, but this sounds like a cranky, judgmental old schoolmarm to me.

Example: People who call themselves liberal support the legal right to use birth control and abortion. (Plenty of people who are not liberal, myself included, agree). However, it’s not enough to make these legal; you have to make paying for them a requirement. “I don’t only have a right to choose; I have a right to force you to pay for my choice.” If for any reason — religious/ideological, economic, or any other reason — you don’t wish to pay for another’s contraceptives or abortion, then tough. It’s the law. Even if the Supreme Court strikes it down, it’s still the law under Obama’s administration (which borders at times on a regime.)

Example: People who call themselves liberal are against what they call hate speech. It started out as opposition to “hate crimes;” a hate crime is defined as killing someone because you hate their race, their sexual orientation, or something of that nature. Eventually hate crimes morphed into “hate speech.” Hate speech started out as meaning hateful, irrational or obviously unfair things about another’s race, sexual orientation or anything of that nature. More recently, hate speech consists of opposing Obamacare, or saying anything against Obama’s leftist policies — in any context, for any reason whatsoever. Although I’m not yet aware of any formal legislation proposed to outlaw hate speech by this definition, I am hearing more liberals in polite conversation say things like, “If it’s hate speech — why should it be legal?”

It seems that the logic of their basic premises is catching up with them. It goes like this: Hate is morally bad. If something is morally bad, it should be against the law. Who — other than a hateful person — would ever oppose a law against hatred? If you don’t hate anyone, then you have nothing to fear from such a law. Of course, it’s the liberal politicians — Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren — they wish to have administering these anti-hate laws or policies. They don’t want George W. Bush, Mitt Romney or a religious preacher doing so. (I don’t want any of them doing so.) Their unwillingness to think in principle — as liberals used to do, in some form — makes it impossible for them to see that if you’re extending this right to one type of government, you’re extending it to any type of government. Their only answer to this appears to be to silence opposition, which happens at universities every day.

How did any of this end up falling under the concept of  liberalism? Liberals, for all their support in passing Medicare and Social Security, the New Deal, and all the rest, were also the ones (back in the 1960s and 1970s, or earlier) who usually said, “I totally oppose what you’re saying but I’d fight to the death for your right to say or think it.” No more. I thought that liberalism referred to “hands off.” In a government context, liberalism should mean “leave people the hell alone — out of their bank accounts, out of their bedrooms, out of their lungs, out of their uterus, and — most of all — out of their minds and brains.”

Nobody promoting liberalism (now called progressivism) these days seems to be liberal by anything close to this definition.

Of course, if you think about it, it does make some sense on its own terms. Liberalism as we know it stared out, philosophically and psychologically speaking, as subjectivism. Subjectivism means if you feel it, then it’s true.

This explains both the psychology and ideology of liberalism as we know it. It’s more of a group subjectivism than an individual one. According to group subjectivism, if a group of liberals look at each other and conclude, not by reason but by feelings combined with group consensus that, “Yes, this is true,” well then, by golly, it’s true. And if the group feels it’s true, it must not only be permitted — but subsidized. (Case in point: abortion, publicly funded art, publicly funded schools). And if the group doesn’t feel it’s true, then it must be (at a minimum) morally condemned as “hate speech” — and the rest, in the form of regulation, will eventually follow. It has already happened on college campuses, the place where open expression of ideas are most important, and now opposing views (e.g. any commencement speakers who didn’t support Obama) are routinely hounded off the stage.

How long before the rest of society follows suit? How long before attitudes against dissenting opinions become laws everywhere else?

There’s nothing liberal about today’s liberals or “progressives.” This is in no way an apology for the “conservatives,” who in their own way are just as contradictory and evasive. But it’s liberals and progressives who run the show. They dominate the courts, academia, the media and the intellectuals who speak the ideas people generally end up thinking. They’re the ones whose arrogance and claims to authority we have to challenge, while it’s still legally permissible to do so.


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