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BS: Liberal or communitarian

McGrath of Harlow 13 Oct 07 - 08:48 AM
Ebbie 13 Oct 07 - 12:37 PM
McGrath of Harlow 13 Oct 07 - 12:49 PM
Songster Bob 13 Oct 07 - 12:54 PM
Midchuck 13 Oct 07 - 01:02 PM
McGrath of Harlow 13 Oct 07 - 01:23 PM
McGrath of Harlow 13 Oct 07 - 06:35 PM

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Subject: BS: Liberal or communitarian?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Oct 07 - 08:48 AM

Periodically we get arguments here around the word "liberal", with people identifying themselves as "conservative" going on about "liberals" as engaged in some kind of left-wing conspiracy.

But what never seems to come up is another debate that's been going on for years, in another part of the forest, among political philosophers. It's identified as being between "liberals" and "communitarians".

And the interesting things is that in that debate many of the attitudes and assumptions are reversed. So, for example, the saying now associated with Hillary Clinton "it takes a village to raise a child" would count as classically "communitarian", whereas Margaret Thatcher's "there is no such thing as society" would be classically "liberal".

But it isn't as simple as just reversing the labels, because a lot of people holding to attitudes and assumptions that get clumped together as "liberal" or "conservative" in the liberal-conservative debate would find themselves on the same side as some of their former opponents once the territory of debate was switched to the battleground of liberal-v-communitarian.

And that is consistent with the way I'm sure people engaged in an arguments here may often find themselves at odds with others who are ostensibly on the same side.


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Subject: RE: BS: Liberal or communitarian
From: Ebbie
Date: 13 Oct 07 - 12:37 PM

It would be hard to believe that US 'conservatives' could object to the term or to the people who espouse and practice 'communitarianism'.

Maybe we should switch to that label. The concept is already there.


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Subject: RE: BS: Liberal or communitarian
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Oct 07 - 12:49 PM

But then many of them they seem to find something to criticise in that Hillary Clinton quote there ("takes a village to raise a child") - and also to be very keen on the rights of individuals as against those of the wider community, as for example in the case of gun control.

It's not as simple as a matter of labels, it's one of drawing the lines in different places in relation to different issues.

Think of someone like Jim Wallis - pre-eminently communitarian in his attitudes.


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Subject: RE: BS: Liberal or communitarian
From: Songster Bob
Date: 13 Oct 07 - 12:54 PM

It's interesting how labels get changed between British/European political usage and 'Murrican parlor-tricks. F'rinstance, Republican wingnuts call all US Democrats "far left," when, of course, they're pretty middle-of-the-road or even moderate-right in European terms. We have no labor party, or even one that regularly supports our labor movement, as an example. So our "conservatives" tend to be truly right-wing, while our "liberals" are center-right, and damned few are more than moderate-left, alas.

So the "village people," the communitarians, are generally the Democratis party, while the European "Liberals" are the American "conservatives," and no one is likely to change their use of these labels. And I, for one, think the tendency of the Republicans, in particular, to string perjorative terms together, such as "tax and spend liberals," is bad for our political life. I can't explain it in a few words, but basically, one party here tends to view governing as continuous campaigning, while the other tends to view campaigning as a struggle to be able to govern. And labels, especially ones that provoke emotions instead of thinking, aren't helpful at all.

Songbob


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Subject: RE: BS: Liberal or communitarian
From: Midchuck
Date: 13 Oct 07 - 01:02 PM

I never could understand - to limit the discussion to two issues that get people steamed easily - how it is that "conservatives" violently defend individual choice (and, hopefully, individual responsibility) on the gun control issue, but are the first to throw it out the window on the abortion rights issue; while "liberals" do the exact opposite. And neither side will admit to any inconsistency in their positions.

And Americans seem horrified by anyone who refuses to align himself with either. They fear third parties like the plague.

The hell with the whole business.

Peter


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Subject: RE: BS: Liberal or communitarian
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Oct 07 - 01:23 PM

And anyone who is consistent in regard to such issues is liable to find themselves out of sympathy with people they'd thought of as allies.

People get so easily mesmerised by labels.


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Subject: RE: BS: Liberal or communitarian
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Oct 07 - 06:35 PM

Communitarianism


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