Monday, December 07, 2009

Illiberal Liberals

The oxymoronic character of my title is a consequence of reading through Liberalism - a knol by Paul.

A "knol" is Google's invention for "a unit of knowledge" -- not quite the same as a "meme" because potentially more complex.

Paul's portrayal of the VVD, FDP and PVV parties, the first and last being Dutch, the middle German, suggests Liberalism is anti-diversity, anti-utopian and anti-Islamic.

Regarding the policies of the PVV party he writes:
Immigration from non-western countries would be banned, as would double nationality. Any foreigner convicted of a crime would be deported. If naturalised, they would be stripped of their Dutch nationality, and then deported. If ethnic-minority children repeatedly commit crimes, then their parents would be stripped of their Dutch nationality and deported. Moroccan 'street terrorists' would be deported on a second conviction regardless of nationality. Speaking any language except Dutch in a government building would be prohibited.
The semantic tension in the title may stem from seeing business class entrepreneurs as innovative, and yet not socio-politically, not at the level of institution building.

This class of innovator considers the "free market process" the only legitimate driver of social change. In this model, the entrepreneur responds "freely" to market forces, but is not charged with designing new institutions outside of that market (a job no one should have, too much like central planning, a cardinal sin).

By this analysis, the attack by some elements on the notion of "corporate personhood" is considered anti-liberal. Returning to an "artificial persons" model, potentially software-defined, subservient to real (authentic) humans, undermines the dominant ethnic fiction.

Paul points out how the American usage of "liberal" in contrast with "conservative" is somewhat counter-intuitive to a European.
In most of the world, the term 'liberalism' refers to the general ideology described here, and to that type of political movement. That is how it is generally used in political science. In common US usage, however, it is an antonym of 'conservative', or a synonym for 'left'. This is confusing, especially seen from Europe, where liberalism is generally classified with 'the right'. From the perspective of history and political science, however, the United States is clearly a liberal society, and its two main political parties are liberal in terms of ideology. In fact the United States is the primary agent of the global expansion of liberal democracy, since 1918.
In the US context, neocons and libertarians are not that far different, are basically subtypes of liberal by Paul's analysis.

My inclination is to invoke the notion of "namespaces" (akin to "language games" in Wittgenstein's philo) in order to distinguish among contexts.

My brand of liberalism, stemming from the liberal arts tradition (Vienna an influence) and a Quaker concept of "Liberal Friend" is primarily a counter to mono-culture, is a commitment to diversity in a live and let live context (a root meaning of "catholic").

The consequent commitment to secularism is not anti-religion so much as protective of multiple religions (many as yet uninvented) by assuring them shared access to public infrastructure and the levers of power. A religion may well be non-theistic.

By my lights, Paul's liberals are actually illiberal or anti-liberal.

That being said, many secularist liberal arts majors do end up as Paul describes, both nationalistic and triumphantly expansionist in their outlook. In the US, this is largely a consequence of their being indoctrinated into a military-industrial mindset with its hallmark "last / only superpower" meme.

World Views
:: new, improved: nation free! ::