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BS: Origins of Liberal Thought

Amos 14 Apr 04 - 10:12 PM
mack/misophist 14 Apr 04 - 10:59 PM
flattop 14 Apr 04 - 11:20 PM
Amos 14 Apr 04 - 11:28 PM
Amos 14 Apr 04 - 11:36 PM
Strick 14 Apr 04 - 11:39 PM
MarkS 14 Apr 04 - 11:41 PM
Amos 14 Apr 04 - 11:47 PM
Amos 14 Apr 04 - 11:50 PM
Strick 15 Apr 04 - 12:03 AM
Amos 15 Apr 04 - 12:21 AM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Apr 04 - 08:45 AM
Amos 15 Apr 04 - 08:51 AM
Amos 15 Apr 04 - 09:59 AM
Amos 15 Apr 04 - 10:21 AM
Art Thieme 15 Apr 04 - 11:48 AM
Amos 15 Apr 04 - 12:00 PM
Little Hawk 15 Apr 04 - 12:52 PM
Amos 15 Apr 04 - 02:02 PM
GUEST,satchel 15 Apr 04 - 02:03 PM
Rapparee 15 Apr 04 - 06:40 PM
GUEST,pdc 16 Apr 04 - 01:27 AM
dianavan 16 Apr 04 - 03:28 AM
Amos 16 Apr 04 - 08:12 AM
freda underhill 16 Apr 04 - 08:24 AM
Pied Piper 16 Apr 04 - 08:25 AM
freda underhill 16 Apr 04 - 08:35 AM
Deda 13 May 04 - 03:25 PM
Amos 13 May 04 - 04:20 PM
Amos 13 May 04 - 04:22 PM
dianavan 13 May 04 - 09:57 PM
Bobert 13 May 04 - 10:07 PM
GUEST 13 May 04 - 10:14 PM
Deda 13 May 04 - 11:46 PM
SueB 14 May 04 - 03:31 AM
Amos 06 Aug 04 - 08:04 PM
Peace 06 Aug 04 - 09:30 PM
Amos 06 Aug 04 - 09:58 PM
GUEST 07 Aug 04 - 12:11 PM
GUEST,Frank 07 Aug 04 - 01:39 PM
Amos 07 Aug 04 - 01:44 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Aug 04 - 06:36 PM
kendall 08 Aug 04 - 04:37 AM
Peter T. 08 Aug 04 - 11:16 AM
Amos 08 Aug 04 - 12:39 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 Aug 04 - 12:48 PM
Peter T. 09 Aug 04 - 10:09 AM
GUEST 06 Nov 04 - 08:00 PM
Ellenpoly 07 Nov 04 - 12:35 AM
GUEST,Frank 07 Nov 04 - 04:33 PM
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Subject: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Amos
Date: 14 Apr 04 - 10:12 PM

The following is one of many roots of liberal thought in the US. It is from the remarkable two-volume series, "Democracy in America" by Alexis de Tocqueville, the whole of which can be found here. It was written following travcels to the booming young nation in 1835 - 1840 and was an amazing study of the culture as it evolved.

I think it is especially inportant for those of our craft, who sing the heart of human life as we find it, to understand well what the "liberal" tradition really is. This thread is a small effort in that direction.

A



....Almost all the inhabitants of the United States use their minds in the same manner, and direct them according to the same rules; that is to say, without ever having taken the trouble to define the rules, they have a philosophical method common to the whole people.

To evade the bondage of system and habit, of family maxims, class opinions, and, in some degree, of national prejudices; to accept tradition only as a means of information, and existing facts only as a lesson to be used in doing otherwise and doing better; to seek the reason of things for oneself, and in oneself alone; to tend to results without being bound to means, and to strike through the form to the substance--such are the principal characteristics of what I shall call the philosophical method of the Americans.

But if I go further and seek among these characteristics the principal one, which includes almost all the rest, I discover that in most of the operations of the mind each American appeals only to the individual effort of his own understanding.

America is therefore one of the countries where the precepts of Descartes are least studied and are best applied. Nor is this surprising. The Americans do not read the works of Descartes, because their social condition deters them from speculative studies;but they follow his maxims, because this same social condition naturally disposes their minds to adopt them.

In the midst of the continual movement that agitates a democratic community, the tie that unites one generation to another is relaxed or broken; every man there readily loses all trace of the ideas of his forefathers or takes no care about them.

Men living in this state of society cannot derive their belief from the opinions of the class to which they belong; for, so to speak, there are no longer any classes, or those which still exist are composed of such mobile elements that the body can never exercise any real control over its members.

As to the influence which the intellect of one man may have on that of another, it must necessarily be very limited in a country where the citizens, placed on an equal footing, are all closely seen by one another; and where, as no signs of incontestable greatness or superiority are perceived in any one of them, they are constantly brought back to their own reason as the most obvious and proximate source of truth. It is not only confidence in this or that man which is destroyed, but the disposition to trust the authority of any man whatsoever. Everyone shuts himself up tightly within himself and insists upon judging the world from there.

The practice of Americans leads their minds to other habits, to fixing the standard of their judgment in themselves alone. As they perceive that they succeed in resolving without assistance all the little difficulties which their practical life presents, they readily conclude that everything in the world may be explained, and that nothing in it transcends the limits of the understanding. Thus they fall to denying what they cannot comprehend; which leaves them but little faith for whatever is extraordinary and an almost insurmountable distaste for whatever is supernatural. As it is on their own testimony that they are accustomed to rely, they like to discern the object which engages their attention with extreme clearness; they therefore strip off as much as possible all that covers it; they rid themselves of whatever separates them from it, they remove whatever conceals it from sight, in order to view it more closely and in the broad light of day. This disposition of mind soon leads them to condemn forms, which they regard as useless and inconvenient veils placed between them and the truth.

The Americans, then, have found no need of drawing philosophical method out of books; they have found it in themselves.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: mack/misophist
Date: 14 Apr 04 - 10:59 PM

Damn, I wish it were true. Or still true.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: flattop
Date: 14 Apr 04 - 11:20 PM

I believe Alexis de Tocqueville's observations were severely skewed by his search for evidence that the French Revolution was not in vain. A much more fun but also strangely filtered view of America was Jack Kerouac's book On the Road. Kerouac makes you think that all Americans enjoy life to the full.

If you are looking for liberal roots, there's also John Locke who, in justifying England's civil war, influenced Sam Adams and the New Englanders. They read Locke and started rebelling in the 1740s with the Land Bank Riots.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Amos
Date: 14 Apr 04 - 11:28 PM

Lockle and Spencer and Thoreau and the great Jefferson himself, not to mention Grandfather Descartes; but all in good time.   O think it is worth pausing to actually taste the thinking under each important name, at least a small sample, slowly.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Amos
Date: 14 Apr 04 - 11:36 PM

Herbert Spencer wrote during the last years of the nineteenth century and was an outspoken defender of individual rights vis-a-vis the State. He was one of the inspirations for Thoreaus classic essay on Civil Disobedience. Here is an excerpt from Spencer's "The Right to Ignore the State":

"As a corollary to the proposition that all institutions must be subordinated to the law of equal freedom, we cannot choose but admit the right of the citizen to adopt a condition of voluntary outlawry. If every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man, then he is free to drop connection with the state — to relinquish its protection, and to refuse paying toward its support. It is self-evident that in so behaving he in no way trenches upon the liberty of others; for his position is a passive one; and whilst passive he cannot become an aggressor. It is equally self-evident that he cannot be compelled to continue one of a political corporation, without a breach of the moral law, seeing that citizenship involves payment of taxes; and the taking away of a man's property against his will, is an infringement of his rights. Government being simply an agent employed in common by a number of individuals to secure to them certain advantages, the very nature of the connection implies that it is for each to say whether he will employ such an agent or not. If any one of them determines to ignore this mutual-safety confederation, nothing can be said except that he loses all claim to its good offices, and exposes himself to the danger of maltreatment — a thing he is quite at liberty to do if he likes. He cannot be coerced into political combination without a breach of the law of equal freedom; he can withdraw from it without committing any such breach; and he has therefore a right so to withdraw."

Not a notion that would sit well with the authors of the Patriot Act, I daresay, who would plead "necessity" to justify setting aside such options on the part of the individual.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Strick
Date: 14 Apr 04 - 11:39 PM

Amos, I would like to go on the record as not having posted any sentence in which the words "Liberal Thought" and "oxymoron" were used. Well, until that last sentence, of course. You know what I mean.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: MarkS
Date: 14 Apr 04 - 11:41 PM

Don't leave out "Leviathon" by Thomas Hobbs. Kind of like the tip of the upside down pyramid on which all else evolved.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Amos
Date: 14 Apr 04 - 11:47 PM

John Locke was one of the most influential writers on matters of social contract and freedom from the period just preceding the American Revolution. As such his ideas were probably a formative influence on the philosophies that informned the American Consittution and the French Revolution.

Here is a brief excerpt on the necessity of the separation of religous matters and the laws of the socety, from his 1689 work "A Letter Concerning Toleration":

"The civil power can either change everything in religion, according to the prince's pleasure, or it can change nothing. If it be once permitted to introduce anything into religion by the means of laws and penalties, there can be no bounds put to it; but it will in the same manner be lawful to alter everything, according to that rule of truth which the magistrate has framed unto himself. No man whatsoever ought, therefore, to be deprived of his terrestrial enjoyments upon account of his religion. Not even Americans, subjected unto a Christian prince, are to be punished either in body or goods for not embracing our faith and worship. If they are persuaded that they please God in observing the rites of their own country and that they shall obtain happiness by that means, they are to be left unto God and themselves. Let us trace this matter to the bottom. Thus it is: An inconsiderable and weak number of Christians, destitute of everything, arrive in a Pagan country; these foreigners beseech the inhabitants, by the bowels of humanity, that they would succour them with the necessaries of life; those necessaries are given them, habitations are granted, and they all join together, and grow up into one body of people. The Christian religion by this means takes root in that country and spreads itself, but does not suddenly grow the strongest. While things are in this condition peace, friendship, faith, and equal justice are preserved amongst them. At length the magistrate becomes a Christian, and by that means their party becomes the most powerful. Then immediately all compacts are to be broken, all civil rights to be violated, that idolatry may be extirpated; and unless these innocent Pagans, strict observers of the rules of equity and the law of Nature and no ways offending against the laws of the society, I say, unless they will forsake their ancient religion and embrace a new and strange one, they are to be turned out of the lands and possessions of their forefathers and perhaps deprived of life itself. Then, at last, it appears what zeal for the Church, joined with the desire of dominion, is capable to produce, and how easily the pretence of religion, and of the care of souls, serves for a cloak to covetousness, rapine, and ambition.


Now whosoever maintains that idolatry is to be rooted out of any place by laws, punishments, fire, and sword, may apply this story to himself. For the reason of the thing is equal, both in America and Europe. And neither Pagans there, nor any dissenting Christians here, can, with any right, be deprived of their worldly goods by the predominating faction of a court-church; nor are any civil rights to be either changed or violated upon account of religion in one place more than another.


But idolatry, say some, is a sin and therefore not to be tolerated. If they said it were therefore to be avoided, the inference were good. But it does not follow that because it is a sin it ought therefore to be punished by the magistrate. For it does not belong unto the magistrate to make use of his sword in punishing everything, indifferently, that he takes to be a sin against God. Covetousness, uncharitableness, idleness, and many other things are sins by the consent of men, which yet no man ever said were to be punished by the magistrate. The reason is because they are not prejudicial to other men's rights, nor do they break the public peace of societies. Nay, even the sins of lying and perjury are nowhere punishable by laws; unless, in certain cases, in which the real turpitude of the thing and the offence against God are not considered, but only the injury done unto men's neighbours and to the commonwealth. And what if in another country, to a Mahometan or a Pagan prince, the Christian religion seem false and offensive to God; may not the Christians for the same reason, and after the same manner, be extirpated there?"



Sorry for the long quote. It's important to understand what "liberal" thinking really is, especially in a time when the definition is being roundly denied and defamed by those who would prefer a more conformist, reactionary kind of mind set among the populace of this once-great nation.

A

John: Liberal thought is not an oxymoron, any more than "Scientific Theory" is an oxymoron. So you're definitely on the side of the angels there. If you're talking about "bleeding heart wuss" schools of thought, why, that's a different matter. :>)


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Amos
Date: 14 Apr 04 - 11:50 PM

(Oh help!! Can someone in the Joe clan kill my bracket after the word Tolerance above? And delete this plea? Thanks!)

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Strick
Date: 15 Apr 04 - 12:03 AM

Cool. So I'm right either way, then?


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Amos
Date: 15 Apr 04 - 12:21 AM

(Right you are, no mistake).

Hobbes -- a philospher of the 17th Century -- was one of the first in modern times to try to apply principles of reasoning and rationalism to questions of the nature and optimum form of the State, the role of individual rights and religion.   He published the "Leviathan" in 1660. He tried to apply rational observations to every facet of the then modern State, and although this was before the great experiments in democratic thought that were started in the Colonies,and later in France, you can perceive in his writing some of the seeds of the notion that reason should be the senior law. I have always found him hard to get through, though.

THE LEVIATHAN by Thomas Hobbes can be found by clicking on its title.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Apr 04 - 08:45 AM

What about the origins of it's opposite, "Illiberal thought"? (I think it is better to avoid getting trapped into the fallacy that the opposite of "liberal" is "conservative", whch is a bit like saying the opposite of "up" is "sideways".)


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Amos
Date: 15 Apr 04 - 08:51 AM

Assorted definitions:

a person who favors a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties
www.cogsci.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/webwn

a person who favors an economic theory of laissez-faire and self-regulating markets
www.cogsci.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/webwn

showing or characterized by broad-mindedness; "a broad political stance"; "generous and broad sympathies"; "a liberal newspaper"; "tolerant of his opponent's opinions"
www.cogsci.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/webwn

having political or social views favoring reform and progress
www.cogsci.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/webwn

tolerant of change; not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or tradition
www.cogsci.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/webwn


Illiberal thought is characterized by the adherence to an authoritary, tradition, continuity of present practices, and a tendedency to subordinate individual rights to the needs of the "Sovereign" or the state.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Amos
Date: 15 Apr 04 - 09:59 AM

"... freedom of men under government is to have a standing rule to live by, common to every one of that society, and made by the legislative power erected in it. A liberty to follow my own will in all things where that rule prescribes not, not to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of another man, ..."
— John Locke, Second Treatise, Ch. 4 § 21.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Amos
Date: 15 Apr 04 - 10:21 AM

"If one wants to know what liberalism is and what it aims at, one cannot simply turn to history for the information and inquire what the liberal politicians stood for and what they accomplished. For liberalism nowhere succeeded in carrying out its program as it had intended.

Nor can the programs and actions of those parties that today call themselves liberal provide us with any enlightenment concerning the nature of true liberalism. It has already been mentioned that even in England what is understood as liberalism today bears a much greater resemblance to Toryism and socialism than to the old program of the freetraders. If there are liberals who find it compatible with their liberalism to endorse the nationalization of railroads, of mines, and of other enterprises, and even to support protective tariffs, one can easily see that nowadays nothing is left of liberalism but the name.

Nor does it any longer suffice today to form one's idea of liberalism from a study of the writings of its great founders. Liberalism is not a completed doctrine or a fixed dogma. On the contrary: it is the application of the teachings of science to the social life of man. And just as economics, sociology, and philosophy have not stood still since the days of David Hume, Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Jeremy Bentham, and Wilhelm Humboldt, so the doctrine of liberalism is different today from what it was in their day, even though its fundamental principles have remained unchanged. For many years now no one has undertaken to present a concise statement of the essential meaning of that doctrine. This may serve to justify our present attempt at providing just such a work."

Ludwig von Mises
Liberalism


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Art Thieme
Date: 15 Apr 04 - 11:48 AM

Liberal thought began when the first cavekid asked his mom to put more (a bit extra) jam on his peanutbutter and jelly sandwich from then on, and even if not economically easy to do, to contrive a way to do that in the future---especially if he/she lives long enough to retire and can't make his own sandwiches any more.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Amos
Date: 15 Apr 04 - 12:00 PM

Pretty specialized definition there, Art. :>) I never dreamed the Social Contract was essentially built on a need for PB&J, but it works for me!


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Little Hawk
Date: 15 Apr 04 - 12:52 PM

The word "liberal" has been getting misused a bit in the last few decades in the USA. :-) It is used as a dirty word now for some reason. So is "socialism". Very peculiar, considering that no modern society can function without a good deal of socialism, and no established order can ever change without a good deal of liberalism.

But the word "liberal" means many things. Just go to the dictionary and see. So people use it to mean what they want it to mean.

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Amos
Date: 15 Apr 04 - 02:02 PM

Or read the thread....


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: GUEST,satchel
Date: 15 Apr 04 - 02:03 PM

Above all else, liberal means a faith in individualism, as opposed to collectivism, and the ability to accept change (except change that interferes with individualism, of course)


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Rapparee
Date: 15 Apr 04 - 06:40 PM

Don't forget Locke and Bentham:

"By a Pannomion, understand on this occasion an all-comprehensive collection of law,---that is to say, of rules expressive of the will or wills of some person or persons belonging to the community, or say society in question, with whose will in so far as known, or guessed at, all other members of that same community in question, whether from habit or otherwise, are regarded as disposed to act in compliance.

In tbe formation of such a work the sole proper all-comprehensive end should be the greatest happiness of the whole community governors and governed together,---the greatest happiness principle should be the fundamental principle.

The next specific principle is the happiness-numeration principle.

Rule: In case of collision and contest, happiness of each party being equal, prefer the happiness of the greater to that of the lesser number.

Maximizing universal security;---securing the existence of, and sufficiency of, the matter of subsistence for all the members of the community;---maximizing the quantity of the matter of abundance in all its shapes;---securing the nearest approximation to absolute equality in the distribution of the matter of abundance, and the other modifications of the matter of property; that is to say, the nearest approximation consistent with universal security, as above, for subsistence and maximization of the matter of abundance:---by these denominations, or for shortness, by the several words security, subsistence, abundance and equality, may be characterized the several specific ends, which in the character of means stand next in subordination to the all embracing end---the greatest happiness of the greatest number of the individuals belonging to the community in question."

It's online for all to read in its entirety.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: GUEST,pdc
Date: 16 Apr 04 - 01:27 AM

Satchel said, "Above all else, liberal means a faith in individualism, as opposed to collectivism..."

It depends on your social contract theorist, I think. According to Locke (US), individualism is highly valued. According to Edmund Burke (Canada), individualism takes second place to the good of the community. Both contracts stress liberalism, however, IMO.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: dianavan
Date: 16 Apr 04 - 03:28 AM

In Canada, there is a Liberal Party. Our federal Liberals are pretty much big business, bean counters. Provincially (in B.C.) they're corrupt facists.

So there are small "l" liberals and Liberals.

Coming from the U.S., I am so confused, the word has lost all meaning.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Amos
Date: 16 Apr 04 - 08:12 AM

The idea of this thread is to get back to basics. The name of the Liberal Party is going to be a corruption, no matter which path you go down. I don't think any form of fascism qualifies!


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: freda underhill
Date: 16 Apr 04 - 08:24 AM

in Australia, the party in power is called the Liberal Party. Its current policies and attitudes run closely alongside the current US Republican Party's views.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Pied Piper
Date: 16 Apr 04 - 08:25 AM

What went wrong?


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: freda underhill
Date: 16 Apr 04 - 08:35 AM

This party was formed in 1944, by uniting various small parties to gain power back from the Labour party. It was essentially anti- socialist, and while using the word Liberal was always a conservative party. however even then it was much more progressive than the current version, which has specialised in attacking individual freedoms, limiting the power of the courts, playing the race card, ruling through fear and has a record number of corruption cover ups.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Deda
Date: 13 May 04 - 03:25 PM

If you want to get to the earliest influences on Jefferson and the other founding fathers, you need to read Cicero. They tended to refer to him as Tully, or Tullius -- his full name was Marcus Tullius Cicero. He wrote brilliantly on political theory, drawing on various Greek political philosophers, and also on his own rich experience. Here's a small taste of how shockingly modern he sounds:
"The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced; the arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and ontrolled. Payments to foreign governments must be reduced. If the nation doesn't want to go bankrupt, people must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."
-- Marcus Tullius Cicero, 55 BC
Here is a partial summary of his life and works. I have had the great good fortune to read a fraction of his total output in the original Latin, and he is simply an astonishingly good writer. He's also an egotistical blowhard, but his writing is so moving and beautiful, and he is so innocent compared to many of his bloody-handed contemporaries, that I forgive the self-aggrandizement totally. By innocent I mean that he didn't resort to bloodshed as his first line of defense, he was not fond of military action and avoided it when he could, he didn't travel with a gang of thugs as his personal bodyguard. He loved the law and lived within it.

I went off a bit overmuch there - just wanted to add him to the influences on our own form of government.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Amos
Date: 13 May 04 - 04:20 PM

Aristotle's Athenian Constitution provides some interesting insight into how democracy was formed in its earliest known successful application. It dates from the era around 350 BC.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Amos
Date: 13 May 04 - 04:22 PM

More on Marcus Tullius Cicero.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: dianavan
Date: 13 May 04 - 09:57 PM

freda underhill - sounds like the Liberal party of Australia and Canada are pretty much the same. Here in B.C. they have ripped apart union contracts through legislation and made massive cuts to health and education in an attempt to force privatization. They've cut programs for women and children, as well as benefits for the physically and mentally disabled. They did this at the same time they gave a tax cut to the highest income earners. Perhaps the worst thing of all is the new child labour laws which puts B.C. in a category with countries that depend on child labour.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Bobert
Date: 13 May 04 - 10:07 PM

Ahhhh, hate to sound too low brow here but liberal = thought.

Ain't much thinkin' on the other side. Someone has to do it...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: GUEST
Date: 13 May 04 - 10:14 PM

LW, how do we go about making right wing conservatism a dirty word??


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Deda
Date: 13 May 04 - 11:46 PM

I think the right wing conservatives are doing a great job of that on their own.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: SueB
Date: 14 May 04 - 03:31 AM

Maybe we could equate "right wing conservative" with the term "knee-jerk reactionary." Sorry, thread creep. Who was it who referred to the NRA as "jackbooted thugs"? I can never see the letters NRA anymore without thinking "jackbooted thugs".


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Amos
Date: 06 Aug 04 - 08:04 PM

Recently sent to Kerry by a local liberal who is highly intelligent and experienced in successful business operations:

Dear Senator Kerry,

I'm certain that you have noted the current mantra of many of the conservative talk show hosts – "we are proud to call ourselves conservatives so why are liberals afraid to call themselves liberals". Indeed, the word liberal has been vilified by the Republican Party for the past 20 years, but in a broader sense, Liberalism, is the very basis of our democracy and the unparalleled freedom that we, as Americans recognize to be our right as members of the republic. The founding fathers imbued the Constitution with liberal ideas of freedom and the Declaration of Independence is itself, a declaration of Liberalism:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I believe that we all conform to the liberal idea of freedom – that by reason of our inclusion in the union, by our very humanness, we have the right to order our lives as to what we see as good for us and that this right is universal to all. The legitimacy of our government rests on the premise that we consent to it and if we subsequently believe that the government is errant in protecting the truths that we hold to be universal, we have the right to remove it.

And that's just what we intend to do on November 2nd.

My point is that I believe that Democrats should pull the term Liberal out of the mire and hold up Liberalism as a banner for freedom. I am proud to be a Liberal. I am proud that I value the possibilities of all humankind. I am proud that I am not threatened by another's political, spiritual or sexual orientation. I am proud that I believe education is the cornerstone to advancing a society. I am proud of the contributions of science and technology. I am proud to be awed by a painting or a song. I am proud to be a small part of a grand ecosystem. And, I am proud to be an American. I hold these truths to be self-evident.

Humbly Yours,

H. K.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Peace
Date: 06 Aug 04 - 09:30 PM

Wow, Amos, that is one heckuva letter. Please congratulate your friend, and ask him to consider running for office.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Amos
Date: 06 Aug 04 - 09:58 PM

I'll tell her, Brucie!!

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Aug 04 - 12:11 PM

Right wing Conservative types need to be told what to think(Rush Linbaugh, Michael Savage). Liberals can listen to both sides of an issue and decide for themselve!


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: GUEST,Frank
Date: 07 Aug 04 - 01:39 PM

Tom Paine


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Amos
Date: 07 Aug 04 - 01:44 PM

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

Thomas Paine
Common Snese

Recommended reading!q


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Aug 04 - 06:36 PM

Somehow I never seem to see the word "illiberal" in these discussions. It's quite a powerful word to throw at people.

From what I've read and seen it's a much more accurate word to describe those people than "conservative".


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: kendall
Date: 08 Aug 04 - 04:37 AM

"Liberal" is pretty well summed up by Jimmy Durante with his personal phylosophy; "Leave everyone else the hell alone."


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Peter T.
Date: 08 Aug 04 - 11:16 AM

It has been my experience that contrary to this quote of de Tocqueville (And I believe he says something akin to my remarks elsewhere) Americans are by far the most conformist people I have ever met. I have very, very rarely met anyone in America who I would consider an individual -- a person who has his or her own opinions, is self-sufficient in many ways, and has a decent regard for other human beings. I have met more such people in parts of Africa. Americans are saturated in massive propaganda, which pervades their mythologies. This extends to their versions of individualism, which are extraordinarily narrow-minded, and borrowed, as far as I can tell, from propaganda about how "The West Was Won" (virtually all of which is a total lie), and Ayn Rand.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Amos
Date: 08 Aug 04 - 12:39 PM

Peter,

Certainly something that needed to be said. But I submit that you may be generalizing inaccurately (is there any other way?).

I enjoyed Ayn Rand when I was in high school but I don't think she reflects the real world well. As for "How the West Was Won" I haven't seen it so I can't comment. But most of my friends don't qualify for your slurs, except for someo f the Republicans!

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Aug 04 - 12:48 PM

Actually when you read De Tocqueville in context, his views aren't that far removed from what Peter T said there - his point was that the freedom and openness operated within fairly strict limits, and that there was a very real danger of a fairly oppressive tyranny of the majority.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Peter T.
Date: 09 Aug 04 - 10:09 AM

Happily, some of the few individualists I have met are folkies, and some lurk here.

To say that Ayn Rand does not reflect reality is one of the great understatements of our time.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Nov 04 - 08:00 PM

Refresh for a new generation...

G


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: Ellenpoly
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 12:35 AM

Thank you Guest...I needed to re-read a really thoughtful thread.

..xx..e


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Subject: RE: BS: Origins of Liberal Thought
From: GUEST,Frank
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 04:33 PM

i am impressed by the historical information here and the evolution and change of Liberalism over the years. I am proud to be a Liberal and remind those detractors of the dictionary definition.

"generousl noble-minded;broad minded; not bound by authority or traditional orthodoxy".
"largeness or nobleness of mind; freedom from prejudice,candor, enlightened"

Conservatism....dictionary definition

"the opinions and principles of a Conservative; dislike of innovations;
one averse to change"

Then there's Reactionary............

"against revolution or reform, one who attempts to revert to past political conditions"

Radical......................

""favoring thoroughgoing but constitutional and political reform"

I would say that we don't have a Conservative in the White House but more of a Radical and a Reactionary. A Radical apocalyptic religionist who views Empire hegenomy as a Crusade and a Reactionary who makes an attempt to revert to past political conditions of the 1920's, the age of the robber baron and the 1950's,   the age of the rise of the Military Industrial Complex.

Frank


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