Neo-Liberal Revolution

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Votes for Women

We see more news all the time that progress is being made all over the middle east. This note is from Powerline. Women can now vote in Kuwait. There should be celebration among feminists.

Tim Blair quotes an Austrailian paper... oops... you've got to read this... from Pamela Bone.
Guy Rundle cannot forgive me for pointing out three years ago what many others are now pointing out: that the idea of international humanitarian intervention rightly belongs to the Left. Yes, that stance took some courage. However, I may be old, weak and sick, but I have one thing Mr Rundle will never have: guts.
I was intending to link this post... when I saw the post about Ms. Bone, which fits so well and I didn't even know was there.
The Sydney Morning Herald‘s Michael Gawenda:

There are signs that an increasing number of people on the left in the US, Europe and Australia are uncomfortable with knee-jerk anti-Americanism, with the left’s virtual silence in response to the unspeakable violence of Islamic totalitarianism, with the way Western feminists have basically turned their back on their oppressed sisters in much of the Muslim world. Many people would say about time.
I'm quoting the whole bit that is relevant because his link to Michael Gawenda didn't work when I tried it.

I have some liberal attitudes but I'll state right out that I tend strongly libertarian and am actually registered Libertarian at the present time. In some ways I'm strongly conservative. My purpose here is not to promote liberal ideology so much as to point out that what is good about liberal ideologies is getting lost in a knee-jerk need to oppose anything the other side stands for and, quite frankly, conservatives stand for several traditionally liberal things these days.

Conservatism is a moving target. Slow change equals change and what is being "conserved" is often enough the product of classical liberalism's influence in the past.

I want to include more from Pamela Bone via Tim Blair, because it's just that good.
As for the term ‘imperial feminist’; I am certainly a feminist, and I am happy to be deemed “imperial’ if that is taken to mean that I wish to impose on other cultures the basic human rights that are taken for granted in this culture (for I doubt he means the word in its other sense, ‘majestic’). Indeed, if I could, I would forcefully replace those cultural traditions that allow the stoning and beheading of women, or the throwing of acid in their faces, with one that grants women individual rights under the law. Happily, I don’t need to, for brave Muslim women are themselves beginning to force those changes.
Oh, I don't think we should go off and force the world to shape up when ever and where ever we see problems, but when events are such as they are the phrase "make hay while the sun shines" seems appropriate.

Does patriotism make you a neo-con?

Or any other sort of conservative for that matter?

Why would it? *Certainly* liberals are patriots too. Right?

I don't think that classical ideas of liberalism would go very well with nationalism. But nationalism should not be confused with patriotism. So it ought to be okay for liberals to express patriotic sentiments.

You'd think.

There's something else going on though. At some point people came to the conclusion that looking at both sides of an issue, walking a mile in the other guy's shoes, meant that you weren't allowed to make a judgement either about that person's actions or their culture.

Why not?

The result is that making a judgement, choosing sides, is presumed to be because of ideological blindness. We see it often enough... support Israel and you'll be accused of claiming Israel exists in a state of perfect blamelessness. Why should that be an assumption?

Why is someone a "neo-con" if they look at the situation and decide that the United States are the good guys? Why is a "liberal" required to stay in a "we need to look at the root causes" loop and never progress to the "okay, did that" and come to a conclusion?

Looking at all sides of an issue is a good thing. Examining how our own actions may have contributed to a situation is a good thing. A nuanced understanding of the complexities of human faction and motivation is a good thing. It's a good thing because it should lead to ACTION.

Introspection, walking in someone elses shoes, examining all the sides, should lead to conclusions or what was the point? Might as well have skipped all the trouble. A conclusion should lead to action, or again, what was the point?

It seems to me that patriotism does not require any sort of blind loyalty at all. Because... and this is important... loyalty does not require the object of the loyalty to be perfect. It's absolutely possible to look at our country with all her flaws and chose to cheer and to *work* for the success of the "home team" while accepting those flaws exist.

It does not require someone to suddenly become "conservative" for that person to conclude that we are engaged in a military conflict. Our enemy may not be a nation with a uniformed army, but our enemy has chosen the context of the conflict and it is guns and bombs and killing people. Their choice. Not ours.

Coming to that conclusion and supporting a military victory does not require giving up liberal beliefs... other than this "no conclusions" navel gazing, always questioning to no purpose, part of liberalism. Nor does it require giving up all other forms of action that might contribute to social justice and a better life for people in the middle east.

For the first time that I can think of we *are* fully engaged in adressing root causes. And all the "root cause" crusaders seem able to do is whine because someone not only had the gall to come to a conclusion but the audacity to take action.

What's worse... it's not perfect.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Equality vs. Multiculturalism

"If you expect people to be like yourself," I was told, "you're going to be frequently disappointed."

When I was growing up the battle against racism had two distinct flavors.

The first said that we are all, essentially, the same. It didn't matter what color we were, what ethnicity, people were people and it wasn't really any more complicated than that. If we looked at someone and saw their features or skin color it was wrong. If we prejudged them because of their race, we were racist.

The other was nearly the opposite. It said that we are different, so different that it's impossible for a white person to ever understand what it is like to be black or to be a minority. Blacks were a separate and distinct group of human beings.

The first is essentially a call to individuals. People are not and should not be defined by their race. The second is a call to what is expressed as group politics and advocacy today. People are defined by whatever racial, cultural or gender group they belong to.

Now, quite frankly, there are few people who are *like* me. I'm probably more "unique" than most... or at least I get that accusation from time to time. But I believe absolutely that people are LIKE ME. Yes, our experiences are all different, but our hopes, desires and fears are a product of our shared humanity. Also our vices and petty complaints and infighting. The whole package. Our subjection to original sin is the ultimate common product of our birth.

No, there's no room here for the "noble savage". There is no room for excuses based in race or culture. There is no room to deny anyone intellectual or moral potential. Any child can be *anything*. Every man and woman is responsible for conforming OR NOT to the culture they were born into. The ability for transformation is as much a common product of our humanity as original sin.

Or are white Americans the only ones who can examine their own culture and see where it is wrong? Everyone *else* is defined by their birth?

And isn't *that* a piece of moral and cultural hubris.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Is legalism a liberal virtue?

No, you really don't want to go here and look.

Short version... some US soldiers got "stuck" in Ireland. While they were put up in a hotel some of them decided to get some fresh air and sunshine. A local "peace-activist" performed a "citizen's arrest" because it's against the law for foreign soldiers to walk about Ireland.

Now, I've got no idea at all how this person styles himself other than as a peace-activist, but apparently he and his supporters are incredibly pumped by this personal blow made for justice.

The justification given when people accuse him of being inhospitable, rude, and generally uncaring of these soldiers as people stuck there by accident without extra clothes who, like normal human beings, want to walk in the sunshine?

It's the law. He was only enforcing the law.

Maybe this guy has never aspired to liberalism. I honestly don't know, but you have to admit he seems like a pretty darned uptight person.

(I'm not sure I want to thank Papa Ray for the h/t on this, as I'm sort of sorry to have read it.)

Do, by not doing...

Mike Fay suggested I start this blog... I figured I should just blame him and get it over with. ;-)

He's got an excellent post on his blog Fire and Ice, it covers a bit of ground but is certainly worth reading (as is everything I've read on his blog.) The part that got me thinking, again, about the upside down nature of the present times was this bit concerning John Edwards.

So let me see if I've got him right....getting everyone in the world to think America is swell again is the cure for international jihad. And, throwing more money at poor people will stop poverty. The moral high ground is apparently reached through good PR rather than confronting evil. Telling everyone that we're all about democracy and a just world needs to replace actually doing something concrete about it. How zen! Do by not doing grasshopper. Stop evil by not stopping evil! Stop poverty by paying the poor for being poor!

This was my response.

I think that sometimes, rather than neo-cons, the more common creature is a neo-liberal... as in classical liberalism.

Promoting liberty and democracy, certainly rule of law rather than by despot, *believing* that all people are important and valuable, not just Americans (how often have we been told that Iraq is not worth a single American life?), and that all those people, minorities in this country or goat herders and date farmers elsewhere are entirely capable as human beings to achieve what any of us can achieve... all those things are liberal beliefs and values.

Are you a neo-liberal?

This really is a world turned upside down.

We hear a lot about neo-cons, those people shocked out of their liberal beliefs by 9-11. I think there is a feeling that they'll get over it, eventually.

Maybe some of them will. But I think that quite a few people are actually rediscovering classical liberal values... or they always had them but it took a traumatic event to focus their attention so that they look around and declare, "Waitaminute, I don't *believe* this!"

Because "conservative" just means conserving the past and classical liberalism *is* in the past. So the neo-con is possibly, actually, a neo-liberal.

Is that twisty enough for you? Because the world really is twisted upside down.