One liberalism through the ages

by: Daniel De Groot

Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 11:00


Last weekend Paul wrote:


Moreover, by the 1870s, British liberals had become quite aware that their previous understanding of economic freedom was a hollow joke, producing vast legions of downtrodden urban poor, and so they began seeking another way to think about freedom, closer to that which slaves have always understood-freedom as a gaining of power for those at the bottom, not to be dominated from above, but to be lifted up by collective support for one another: in short, the New Liberalism of Britain, which 60 years later arrived in America in the form of the New Deal.

I've been meaning to write about this for some time, and now I promised Paul I would, so here's a first installment on the topic.  Understanding the transition liberals made from unfettered free market economics in the mid 1800s to the interventionist government model post New Deal is key to making sense of the ideological morass which humanity transitioned through in the past 400 years.  I know opinions differ on this subject, and many on the left see a meaningful distinction between progressivism and liberalism, or between classic liberalism and modern social liberalism.  I do not.  They're all liberals, even though there can be notable policy distinctions between various groups of liberals, there is still only one liberalism, and it is the same liberalism as began (or at least took form) with John Locke in the late 1600s.  

This is a daunting topic.  When I first became politically aware in my late teens, and pondered what "liberal" and "conservative" meant beyond the trite caricature presented by the contemporary political parties or newspaper discourse, I discovered that no one of any academic merit had particularly good (or widely accepted) answers to this.  For example, I have written of how Conservatives cannot define "conservativism."  If better read and smarter people cannot reach concurrence, forgive my temerity in making a run at it too.  Ideology is at the core of what drives politics and any improvement of our understanding of the topic is worthwhile.  The confusion about the topic allows a lot of people who aren't liberals (like libertarians who call themselves "classic liberals") to be confused for them, and others who should be allies to create unnecessary distinctions and look at one another with distrust over what are differences not in core ethics, but technical mechanics.  It is strange that we all generally able to spot liberal and conservative ideas intuitively yet seemingly no one can can agree on what these things are.  We are left with too many definitions that rest on the specific policy preferences of the ideological groups at different points in history.  Just as modern conservatives who love free trade are not really different from past conservatives who loved tariffs and mercantilism, today's liberals who want limitations on trade are not a different species from their Corn Law repealing bretherin of 1846.

Daniel De Groot :: One liberalism through the ages
In this iteration of the project, I'm going to rely mostly on Boston College political scientist Alan Wolfe, a liberal who studies questions of ideology.  It is more of a reliance on appeal to authority than I want to rest this on, but congealing the sea of philosophers and developments into a coherent story is more than I can pull off this week.

Ok, What is Liberalism then?

To begin to show that "classic" liberals are just liberals operating in a different socio-political environment, we need a definition that could plausible cover both groups.  Wolfe provides a really good one:  "As many people as possible should have as much say as is feasible over the direction their lives will take."

In a radio interview Wolfe once gave, he highlighted the concept of autonomy as vital to liberalism.  It is distinct (ironically considering the etymology of the word) from "liberty" (or "freedom").  I have never liked the word liberty.  Perhaps it is because those who extol it most often seem to be referring to the liberty of a predator to consume prey.  What of the liberty of the prey not to be eaten?  Liberty and freedom are negative concepts.  They imply merely the absence of formal restraint (usually by the state).  However autonomy is a richer and more complete concept.  It is akin to the distinction Martin Luther King Jr. once drew between peace that was merely the absence of violence, and peace which contained the presence of justice.  Thus it is not merely enough to remove the chains that bind humanity, if they are left destitute in the street to wander aimlessly and hungry.  Autonomy requires the capacity to pursue goals.  It is still individualistic, but allows for the real support all of us need from without to make any of those goals a reality.  

A shorter definition from Wolfe's might be "As many people as possible should have as much autonomy as feasible."  Indeed, Wolfe has probably said as much, and likely uses the longer version as the word autonomy requires explanation.  Much more can be said about this, and I think there are even other valid (probably longer) definitions of liberalism possible, but this one satisfies my need.  For one thing it should be evident that conservatives cannot really claim to exist under this definition.  The long history of conservativism, as Phil Agre wrote in a famous piece, is one of hierarchy and inequality.  But what about libertarians?  How are they distinct from this?

What Liberalism is not

Well for one thing note that Wolfe's definition lacks any mention of an economic system.  Wolfe comments on the topic:


The idea that liberalism comes in two forms assumes that the most fundamental question facing mankind is how much government intervenes into the economy. To me, perhaps because so little of the means of production lies under my control, this is a remarkably uninteresting subject. I think of the whole question of governmental intervention as a matter of technique. Sometimes the market does pretty well and it pays to rely on it. Sometimes it runs into very rough patches and then you need government to regulate it and correct its course. No matters of deep philosophy or religious meaning are at stake when we discuss such matters. A society simply does what it has to do.

Agree with that or not (I do), it is not surprising his definition does not require reference to economics.  In my own mental model of society, economics is the engine of the car.  Engines are obviously very important to the overall functioning of the car.  However, they are not the purpose of the car.  They are also able to vary significantly in theory.  So long as it can provide power to turn an axle, who cares how the engine does it?  In practice, car engines almost all work on the same principles, and the laws of physics limit the practicality of many alternative models.  So it seems with economics.  Capitalism may be the greatest economic system possible, or it may be the best we have tried so far, and others still untried will prove much better.  Liberalism can be agnostic on this topic.  If it employs capitalism, it will delve into the best way to tune and tweak that engine for maximum output, but it will remember that the engine is not the car, and what is good for the engine is not necessarily best for the car.

Wolfe's definition also does not make reference to the State.  It does not specify a big state, or a small one.  Virtually every definition of libertarianism or conservativism seems to rest upon some goal of smaller government and a minimized state.  In short, for Wolfe, the state should be as big or small as it needs to be to provide the most autonomy for the most people.  The economic system should be the one that does the same.  

Let me provide a non-Wolfe source to bolster this claim, Francis Fukuyama, discussing the views of Adam Smith:


Smith is, however, no straightforward partisan of liberalism. He says that the prototypical bourgeois virtue of prudence earns only our "cold esteem"; his analysis, in the Wealth of Nations, of the deadening effects of the division of labor on the worker in the pin factory served as the basis for Marx's concept of alienation. For Smith, liberal commercial society is clearly second best, to be preferred only because the best regime is incapable of realization. A society in which virtue is placed front and center - a theocracy, for example - produces unexpected and counterproductive consequences, including hypocrisy and moral lassitude in the orthodox, and fanaticism and opposition in the heterodox. Smith preferred a "free market of religions," in which the need to attract followers promotes active belief, and the diversity of sects keeps fanaticism in check - something not unlike the actual condition of sectarian Protestantism in the United States. If religious belief, nonetheless, tends to erode over time, there are other sources of moral behavior.

(Emphasis mine) For some the claim that Smith is a liberal is contentious, and certainly libertarians often see him as one of them, but here we see even Smith is actually not primarily concerned with economics, but morality.  He arrives at his economic conclusions by eliminating other options that do not bring the type of moral society he envisions.

Adding More History

Still, we are not yet ready to explain why contemporary libertarians fail to meet Wolfe's definition.  We return to Wolfe for a brief synopsis of the development from classic to social liberalism:


In the 18th century, legacies of feudalism and the rules of mercantilism created a situation in which free markets could both allow people greater control over their lives and at the same time spread that capacity to others. Smith, although claimed today by libertarians, was a liberal, indeed one of the great liberal thinkers, not because he made such a lasting contribution to economic theory but because he developed a moral philosophy respecting both freedom and equality.

Under conditions of contemporary capitalism, by contrast, individual autonomy is threatened by poverty, economic instability, and concentrated corporate power. Using government to control economic fluctuations, as Keynes argued, gave society the capacity both to improve the ability of any one person to become more autonomous as well as to extend the same notion more broadly. Keynes, a member of the British Liberal Party, was never a socialist. He, like Smith, was a liberal because he too respected both freedom and equality.

You have to consider Smith's vision of capitalism in contrast to what it displaced, the mercantilism and even legacy of feudalism which dominated life.  Capitalism was simply better than those in providing autonomy.  A feudal peasant is simply born into a caste from which he can almost certainly never escape.  The mercantilist worker may draw some sentimental happiness from the success of her nation in the zero-sum competition with other nations, but her lot does not really change whether or not her nation secures that choice colony in the New World.  

Flash forward to a world in which feudalism has shrivelled to nearly naught, and mercantilism has begun to give way to capitalism.  Where are liberals?  They've won a major battle, but now must re-evaluate what they have really accomplished and where to go from there.

This is the slow march Paul describes at the start.  After all capitalism was new.  It hadn't been done before.  Smith and other liberals who followed him had high hopes, but the results did not pan out as well as desired.  Better than feudalism?  Sure.  Good enough?  No.

Now we're ready to arrive at our answer for the libertarians:  Yes, in many ways their policy preferences today map very well to the policies pushed by liberals like John Bright and Richard Cobden in the UK, Jefferson and Madison in the US or William Lyon MacKenzie in Canada.  The classic liberals.  However the difference is that those men did not have the extra 150 years of experience with the reality of capitalism.  Libertarians have stuck to a set of beliefs that liberals abandoned because they weren't serving the true goals of liberalism.  Rather than assume libertarian thinkers are unaware of this history, we must conclude that they either do not share the same goals as liberals, or lack the rational capacity to reach the correct conclusions about the empirical policy record.

While in regrettable individuals it is sometimes the latter reason, most often the difference is the rejection of autonomy by libertarians, and generally all forms of positive liberties.  The mere absence of enforced state monopolies and divinely empowered noble figures dominating life had not proved sufficient to create a society of general autonomy, and so liberals have looked to various ways through the State to provide it.  Libertarians have resisted these.  Liberty outweighs autonomy for them.  

While that's defensible on many philosophical grounds, it is not what liberalism is about, even if it amounted once to what liberals of a certain era were about in specific policy terms. Libertarians today can worship markets and reject positive liberty if they want, but they're 150 years late to the classic liberal party.  It's a free country, they can call themselves what they want, but they're just revealing that they never understood what liberalism was really about to begin with when they employ the term.  Liberalism didn't betray its roots by embracing the welfare state, that was the natural response to the results of an early iteration of liberal policy real world experiment.

There is one liberalism that has pursued the same broad goals through different means.  

In my next attempt at climbing this mountain, I will try to elaborate more on the specific progression of thought and events along that road for liberals in several nations.  


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Interesting essay (4.00 / 5)
and, amazingly enough, one chock full of original thought.  One would have thought this subject had been exhausted long ago, but you show that it has not.

I suspect this is driven by the fact that libertarianism is, somewhat unexpectedly, riding high these days, as the reigning (if largely dishonestly so) ideology of the Republican party.  The sheer ugliness of this new-style libertarian-Republican mongrel beast (overspend without conscience and fight like hell to avoid taxes to pay for it, all the while preening as the party of financial prudence) and its new quasi-fascist suit of rhetorical clothing (Glenn Beck, etc.) make this a very timely subject.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


Hey, thanks (4.00 / 1)
I'm glad too that Paul can work it into the mix of his themes, as your comment on overspending and not paying for it relates pretty well to his entry preceding mine.

[ Parent ]
Quite True , It's All Connected (4.00 / 1)
In fact, it's a little-known fact that the slogan over Auswitch, "Arbeit macht frei"-- "Work makes free" was continued on the other side, where it read, "lunch for me!"

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
thanks for posting this (4.00 / 3)
I think it's a very good essay, with lots to think about.

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

Progressivism v. liberalism (4.00 / 5)
I don't think that there's a long-term philosophical distinction, and your points are good. Mirowski's "The Road From Mont Pelerin" shows how the people now claiming to be "classical liberals" (Chicago School economists and other market-worshippers) are actually something new: authoritarian free-marketers (think Pinochet) who have abandoned the classical liberals belief in a minimal, unintrusive state in favor of a strong state dedicated to promoting free-market absolutism. (Significantly, the elitist American liberal Walter Lippmann was one of the icons of these freemarketers.)

However, in American history ~1900 - ~1948 there's a big difference. Read what Schlesinger says about progressives in "The Vital Center", or what Hofstadter says about Progressives and Populists in "The Age of Reform". They're very hostile, and they helped form the liberal consensus that has ruled the Democratic Party ever since. Lasch's "The New Radicalism in America" and "The Agony of the American Left" are helpful too.

"Progressives" means LaFollette Progressives, Teddy Roosevelt Progressives (1912), the "PArairie Progressives", and the Wallace Progressives (1948). Hofstadter and Schlesinger were mostly aiming at the last group (anti-Cold Warriors) but sprayed their fire around pretty indiscriminately.

The gist of the difference is that the liberals prided themselves on tough-mindedness and realism, minimized moralistic appeals, minimized popular appeals and preferred to deal with the leaders of large vote-contracting groups (unions, etc.), supported a realistic, militaristic foreign policy, and believed in balancing the monied interest and the popular interest, rather than taking a adversarial role favoring the general public and fighting the special interests. In general they believed in elite managerial government with minimal influence from the electorate -- one of Lippmann's main points. (1900-1912 Progressives tended to be anti-Populist, but later progressives had a strong populist streak).

Without the Progressives, the New Deal couldn't have happened. They kept continual leftward pressure on FDR. But when FDR returned to fiscal conservativism in 1937, starting a mini-depression, he lost a lot of this support. There were also objections to his court-packing plan, and the approach of WWII superseded domestic considerations as the major interest. Many of the progressives became isolationists. From that point, FDR relied increasingly on the South, the urban bosses, and (once they'd been tamed) the unions for support. Finally, the Progressives who hadn't left him in 1937-1941 were purged as leftists in 1948.

The Democrats were successful with this 1937-1968, which is a good long run, but the last 4 years have been pretty miserable. Two of the present weaknesses of the Democratic Party can be traced back to the purges of the progressives. The first is the Democratic Party's refusal to ever make a populist appeal, ind inability to do so, even when such an appeal would be quite reasonable -- something we've recently seen both in the healthcare debate and the financial reform debate. The second is the popular identification of liberalism with moral neutrality, moral relativism, moral indifference, and cynicism, along with government by elite administrators. Democratic pros, pros-to-be and even rank-and-file are so heavily indoctrinated in Hofstadterian anti-populism, anti-progressivism, and anti-radicalism that the left wing of the party barely exists and in any case, has no power in party councils.


I'll Be Interested To Hear Your Comments (4.00 / 2)
on a couple of related diaries I have coming later this weekend.  One at 4 PM today, the other for tomorrow.  While I agree with what you say here, I don't think that the folks who claimed the mantel of Cold War liberalism really are that representative of the long-term values of liberalism.

Of course, I was one of those who started calling himself a "progressive" precisely to differentiate myself from them.  But as I went back and read more later on in life, I became increasingly convinced that liberal philosophy had just about always outpaced political practice, and that there was, therefore, a great deal of utility in simply holding liberals accountable to their own professed ideals.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
I am a liberal (4.00 / 1)
not a progressive, and so I guess I disagree with much of this.

I'll be blunt: I read accounts like this and I conclude I do not know what "Progressive" means. Or, perhaps, I think some people really mean socialist, or perhaps social democracy as articulated in post-war Europe.  To say that FDR, for example, was pushed left by "progressives" is something I really don't find a great deal of support for in my reading of history.

FDR was trying to find something - anything - that would work.  He brought to DC a group of technocrats who believed that government intervention was necessary both in the short term (to end the Depression) and in the long term (to combat the the inherent inequalities in Capitalism).  They were not socialists, nor for that matter was FDR.

The mistake in '37 isn't as clear cut as it looks in retrospect (and is partially a result of the fact that tax receipts from the new Social Security program exceeded expenditures).

The primary reason for the collapse of the Democratic majority was Civil Rights.  There are secondary causes (Vietnam, the end of the 60's economic boom) but liberalism came apart because it had finally lived up to its long deferred belief in equality before the law.  



[ Parent ]
The US Has A Good Deal More Ideological Confusion Than Most Other Countries (0.00 / 0)
So it really is hard to sort things, as different folks cut the ideological universe up in very different ways.  What I think John is doing here is using "progressive" in a broader sense to include all manner of activist leftists and sympathizers who played such a major role in building the labor movement, for example, which clearly had a major impact on the politics of the time.

Chief among these would be Henry Wallace, FDR's third term vice President.  It was Wallace's third party challenge from the left that pushed Truman to adopt a much more progressive platform in '48 than he had previously planned.  And, of course, it was one of McCarthyism's chief aims to destroy that sort of organized progressive influence.  Which they pretty much did, until the Civil Rights Movement and all the offshoots it spawned in the 60s came roaring back.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
"Governmental Intervention as a Matter of Technique"? (4.00 / 2)
Sounds like JFK:

Today...the central domestic problems of our time ....do not relate to basic clashes of philosophy and ideology, but to ways and means of recasting common goals--to research for sophisticated solutions to complex and obstinate issues.

What is at stake in our economic decisions today is not some grand warfare of rival ideologies which will sweep the country with passion but the practical management of a modern economy. What we need are not labels and cliche's but more basic discussion of the sophisticated and technical questions involved in keeping a great economic machinery moving ahead....[P]olitical beliefs and ideological approaches are irrelevant to the solutions....

This is a liberal conceit that we can't afford anymore. Economic and social policy are fundamentally political issues, not technical ones. We can't punt the issue like Wolfe does.

The Obama administration's misadventures in economic policy are just the latest example of this. Why did we end up with a jobs bill that was too small and too skewed toward ineffective tax cuts? Why do so many people think that Obama's economic policies have been ineffective.

Largely because the Right's ideological, political narratives on economic policy continue to carry the day:

...Republican Scott Brown's victory revealed real weaknesses on the progressive side: an Obama political apparatus asleep at the switch, huge Republican enthusiasm unmatched by Democratic determination, and a focused conservative campaign to discredit Obama's ideas, notably his economic stimulus plan and the health-care bill.

The Obama administration argues that both the stimulus and the health bill are better than people think. That's entirely true, and this is actually an indictment -- it means that on the two big issues of the moment, Republicans and conservatives are winning an argument they should be losing.

...While liberals were arguing about public plans and this or that, and while Obama was deep into inside dealmaking, the conservatives relentlessly made a straightforward public case based on a syllogism: The economy is a mess. Obama and the Democrats are for big government. Big government is responsible for the mess. Therefore the mess is the fault of Obama and the Big Government Democrats.

Economic questions are fundamentally political questions. Our economic proposals need to be sound and rational, yes, but matters of deep philosophy ARE at stake here.


right (4.00 / 3)
But the trick here is that the too-small stimulus and minuscule jobs bill are not the result of ideological thought on the part of Obama, Reid et al.  It's just a tactical (if cowardly) response to the narratives of the right, not the result of some deeply held belief that a stimulus over $1T would be ineffective while $900B was "just right" according to some principled calculus or plausible economic theory.  

I believe the idea was this notion of a "tide" of moderately begun but ever increasing victories with each successive wave.  The metaphor is nice, but I see nothing in reality to back up why they thought it would work that way.  They put too much value on political momentum, as if passing the stimulus bill would lead to a 9/11 like national rally around Obama, empowering him to ever greater victories.

Anyway, I don't see how what you write contradicts Wolfe of me.  Of course economic proposals have profound ideological implications and results.  But two people who share the same goals of liberalism can arrive at different means to bring those about and still be liberals.  Obama isn't compromising with a different sort of liberal belief - he's compromising with conservatives who want the whole thing to fail.  

And of course, effectiveness matters.  Liberals who sincerely hold policy beliefs that don't work well in real life are still liberals, but their ideas should be discarded for better ones.


[ Parent ]
You and Wolfe saying different things? (4.00 / 1)
I think that Wolfe and you are saying very different things.

You say:

two people who share the same goals of liberalism can arrive at different means to bring those about and still be liberals.

Which is fine as far as it goes. Ezra Klein can think subsidies and exchanges are the best way to do health care reform, and Big Tent Democrat can think that the public option is the best approach, and they can still both be liberals.

Even here though, I think that some liberals' support for approaches like health care exchanges comes from a basically unexamined ideological belief that the most "market-like" solution is always best. In addition, I think many Democratic senators who privately support a public option (or are willing to say they support one only as long as there is zero chance that one will pass) are afraid to be seen as responsible for actually getting a PO passed, because they are afraid that Republicans will attack that policy as a "government takeover of the health-care system."

So even questions that on the surface appear to be technical have a deep philosophical component to them.

But Wolfe's statement goes much further than that:

No matters of deep philosophy or religious meaning are at stake when we discuss [how much government intervenes into the economy].

And the case of Obama's economic policy shows this assertion to be false. On the technical merits, liberals and Obama win hands down -- the policy has created 2 million jobs. Yet we are still losing the argument. The credible ideological appeal, not the technical merits, carries the day


[ Parent ]
Hmm (4.00 / 1)
Perhaps I read him differently than you.  My take on his remarks is partly coloured by my recollection of listening to a number of radio interviews with him that I can't cite specifics, but gave me the impression of the take on his words that I present here.

I'll have to reread a few things to see if I might have mistaken his meaning.  I don't think he is saying economic views don't matter at all, just that they need to be understood in context of the goals they're supposed to pursue.


[ Parent ]
Christopher Lasch cited JFK to that effect (4.00 / 3)
Possibly the very same passage. Hillary Clinton ad Michael Dukakis were all about "competence". That really doesn't fly any more, and it was always problematic. I was hoping that Obama knew better, but no.

One thing that I've figured out when studying American political history recently is that the conservadems have always been there, and it wasn't just the Southerners. In terms of their time the New Republic liberals of 1915 or 1920 were very ;progressive, but Hillary Clinton and Rahm Emmanuel was there in utero.


[ Parent ]
But Obama's Even WORSE! (4.00 / 2)
Those guys--and gals--were all about competence, which was clearly not enough.  But it was better than malevolence.  Obama's redefined "competence" to mean little more than speaking in full sentences--even paragraphs--and getting some legislation passed.  If that means one ounce of tepid decency for one pound of evil, that's a deal he's ready to make.

Makes me almost yearn for gray flannel competence.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
I'm baffled by Obama and many cotemporary Democrats (4.00 / 3)
My picture of the Democrats of a year or two ago -- too corrupt, too timid, too anti-populist, too process-oriented -- was hardly a favorable one. But there seems to be some mysterious additional element in Obama's case. What I sometimes think is that he actually has a sincere, deep, visionary commitment to "Let's just get along", as though the fights we've been having are unnecessary and meaningless. (Dreams of that type are not rare in American history.)

[ Parent ]
Yes, I've Heard of Making A Virtue Out Of Necessity (4.00 / 1)
But to keep on doing it once it's no longer necessary, and it's actually deeply damaging to you?

Shades of James Buchanan, IMHO.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Well, The Dems STILL Don't Do Hegemonic Warfare (4.00 / 2)
Obama seemed like the ideal person to articulate a new hegemonic narrative.

Instead, he did his Rodney King thing a few times, then fell surprisingly silent.

Kennedy at least had an excuse.  At the time he spoke, bling though he may have been to the plight of many, the economy was basically sound, and government had discovered a number of effective tools.  His complacency about larger issues was somewhat understandable in that situation, and there were powerful other forces afoot in the land to shake up his complacency.

But Obama faces an utterly devastated economic landscape, with only a recent history of disaster and division.  Repeating the JFK script in this very altered circumstance is  reversing the established order of things--in this case, first as farce, then as tragedy.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
The Kennedies were all about bling :-) (4.00 / 1)


[ Parent ]
I Don't Think So (4.00 / 1)
The old man had more bling already than anyone could imagine.

I'd say they were more about style, which is more like making bling appear like a natural extension of your being... and ultimately, turning yourself into vicarious bling for the masses.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
I was just joking about your mistype above, "bling" for "blind" (4.00 / 1)
But Lasch did note the liberal infatuation with the Kennedy style.

[ Parent ]
Jokes Often Point To The Truth (4.00 / 1)
And sometimes they need a little tweaking.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
My very non-expert take on American liberalism vs. conservatism (4.00 / 2)
is that while it's common practice to refer to the Jeffersonians as the founders of American liberalism and the Federalists/Hamiltonians as the founders of American conservatism, I don't necessarily see it. True, the latter were more "conservative" than the former when viewed through modern eyes, and they each map nicely if superficially to modern liberalism and conservatism. But I see the latter as more the ideological forebearers of modern neoliberalism, and the former more as the ideological forebearers of modern libertarianism--kind of like different wings of liberalism, one being for a strong central state, the other for a weak one, but both intending to empower the individual--with the true ideological forebearers of modern conservatism being the Tories and Loyalists who preferred the security and certainty of overbearing British rule to the uncertain future of self-rule.

After all, Jefferson sought to prevent the federal government from becoming too intrusive in peoples' lives (and state affairs) by keeping it small, weak and limited in scope. Hamilton, though, while he certainly pushed for a much stronger federal government with a much broader mandate, did so because he wanted to break the lock that southern aristocrats had on American wealth and power and believed that only through strong central government intervention could individuals who had until then been locked into their class be able to advance themselves in life, economically, socially, intellectually, etc. Never mind that his reforms eventually ended up enabling a very small group of people to supplant these southern aristocrats and become the new American aristocracy, far richer and more powerful (and as oppressive in some ways). He could not have foreseen that, and it was not his intention for that to happen (at least in as severe a form as it took nearly 100 years later).

My point is that both of the major founding ideological and political movements sought to either preserve (in the case of the Jeffersonians) or establish (in the case of the Federalists) a certain freedom of action and opportunity for all Americans--with varying degrees of success, of course--that were both consistent with liberalism, as opposed to conservatism. In fact, in some ways the Jeffersonians were more conservative than the Federalists, because their weak government, states' rights, neo-feudal policies clearly favored people who were already quite rich and powerful at the time, especially southern plantation owners, and it was the Federalists, with their aggressive economic policies, who sought to liberalize the various structures by which people might advance themselves.

Apologies for this clumsy attempt at a history lesseon, through which I'm sure huge buses could be driven at record speed. But it bugs me when people automatically point to Jefferson as the first true American liberal and Hamilton as the first true American conservative, with the former invariably being a hero and the latter a villian, when in reality things were not nearly this simple.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


this (4.00 / 1)

After all, Jefferson sought to prevent the federal government from becoming too intrusive in peoples' lives (and state affairs) by keeping it small, weak and limited in scope. Hamilton, though, while he certainly pushed for a much stronger federal government with a much broader mandate

Is consistent with what was happening in Britain at time, with liberals fighting for a smaller state, and aristocrats like Hamilton promoting mercantilism.

The key is that the size of the state is a variable, not a fundamental.  Hamilton was pursuing the benefit of the aristocratic class through the best available means:  State protected industries.  


[ Parent ]
Maybe you can expand on this (4.00 / 1)
in a later post.

First you might to narrow what you mean by "happening in Britain at the time". Do you mean the late 1770s or 1804? or something in between? It is hard to see that there was even much of a liberal project in Britain in those years as the forces of Reaction controlling all the levers of power not distinguishing between Liberalism, Radicalism, and Jacobin Revolutionism. Second in what way were the anti-Reactionaries (however labeled) actually "fighting for a smaller state"? Certainly they were fighting for a less intrusive state,  so if you are equating "smaller" to "more limited", I understand, but fewer police powers does not necessarily translate to a smaller state infrastructure (except in extreme cases like the Stasi in East Germany)


[ Parent ]
I'm assuming 1789~1796 (0.00 / 0)
I.e. that part of Washington's two terms in office when both Jefferson and Hamilton served as his Secretaries of State and Treasury, respectively, engaged in their great battles over ideology and policy, and effectively formed their respective parties, especially over financial and trade policy.

Also, of course, the most critical, tumultuous and bloodiest years of the French Revolution and the resulting conservative reaction to it in England, over which, of course, Jefferson and Hamilton and their respective parties also divided over bitterly. This was when the era of constitutional democracy and modern economic and financial reforms and systems began in earnest.

And yes, I'm interested in what Daniel has to add as I've still much to learn about this critical era.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Cutting to the chase (4.00 / 6)
As many people as possible should have as much say as is feasible over the direction their lives will take.

That's the key, right enough.

If you divide human society into a few rich (and/or) powerful and the rest who lead lives of quiet desperation (in a sense akin to Thoreau's original observation, but not identical to it) you're going to have misery. Always.

Which leads us to the core of liberalism as I see it. Income and wealth must be broadly distributed if you're to have a decent and healthy society. The means used to ensure that distribution almost don't matter, although the politics of a particular age and population matter a great deal when assessing those means. That's because the choice is never an entirely rational one.

Still, you have to acknowledge the goal. If you refuse to do that, you wind up being either an idiot, like Glenn Beck, a lying son-of-a-bitch like George Will, or (in our age, and with our population) a plutocrat like Walter Annenberg or Joseph Coors.

We can do better.


The key to conservativism, in the US and maybe elsewhere.... (4.00 / 7)
... is a firm conviction that some people deserve to suffer, and that if they don't suffer enough, bad things will happen. Social Darwinists, free-market absolutists, and conservative Christians have different and sometimes opposed reasons for wanting unwed mothers, unskilled workers, et al to have miserable lives, but they all want them to.

And they all can come up with rationalizations based on retribution, economic efficiency, eugenics, and so on, but I'm convinced that in almost every case there's an emotional need behind it. A world without punitive suffering would just be wrong, a sick world, a frightening world, an endangered world, etc.

A lot of the classy British literary conservatives people admire have this streak of meanness too. And Bill Buckley dripped with it.


[ Parent ]
Interesting take (4.00 / 2)
My own take on conservativism has to do a lot with their fixation on a zero-sum world.  Even when they intellectually embrace the idea that capitalism creates win-win economics, their behaviour still reflects an underlying assumption that anyone else's win is their loss.  That would fit well with a core belief in the necessity of suffering.  There's just never going to be enough to around in the Malthusian nighmare, so I may as well get mine and let others be the ones left behind.  They'd do the same to me, goes the thinking.

[ Parent ]
They apply that to government spending (4.00 / 5)
Anything that benefits someone else without benefiting me, harms me. This is the normal attitude certain kinds of impoverished peasant societies, and I've read a study of Appalachia that documents it there.

When Reagan talked about the "politics of envy", he didn't talk about this kind if envy.

"Why should I pay taxes to educate someone else's kid to compete with my kid?" I've heard that. Education in the South was crippled by the attempts to make sure that as little as possible white money was spent on black education. "Separate but equal" was a bogus standard, but it often impeded progress, in education and elsewhere, because voters feared that black people might benefit.


[ Parent ]
"Everyone Wins, And Of Course, By 'Everyone', I Mean Me" (4.00 / 3)
That was Mayor Richard Wilkins III, from Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, I would swear.  But Google just doesn't pick up those Buffy quotes the way it used to.


"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Okay, More Time & Maybe It's Not Google's Fault (0.00 / 0)
Since the actual quote is:

"Who knows, with any luck, they'll kill each other. Then everyone's a winner. Everyone, of course, meaning me"


"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Walter Lippmann and the technocrats (0.00 / 0)
As Paul and John Emerson often point out, liberals aren't always democrats, and social engineering, nudging or whatever you want to call it, hasn't always been thought by liberal policy makers to require even minimal public support. In other words, the termites chewing on the edifice of liberalism aren't entirely figments of the right's imagination.

I don't know if this will resonate with anyone except me, but I've always imagined this paradox in terms of the difference between the societies pictured in 2001 and Blade Runner. 2001 was a pitch-perfect depiction of Daniel Bell's wet dream, it seemed to me, which -- in Clarke's and Kubrick's imagination, at least -- would take divine, or at least extra-terrestrial intervention, to dent. Blade Runner, on the other hand, displayed the devastating effect of the second half of the Sixties on our appreciation of liberal technocrats. Many of us, after 1968, would have been glad to do to Hubert Humphrey what Roy Batty did to Eldon Tyrell. In any event, we didn't need the help of wise aliens to go mano-a-mano with him.

(I should probably add that, for my taste, Philip K. Dick understood modernity far better than Arthur C. Clarke.)


Clarke Was A Utopian Dreamer (4.00 / 1)
And we need those.  Inspiration is good.

But he wasn't bad at understanding modernity.

He wasn't even in the running.

PKD, OTOH, owned American modernity.

And Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? had so much more going on it than Blade Runner did.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Agreed (0.00 / 0)
Yes, the book was better than the movie, Paul, but the reason why I always speak of the movie rather than the book is the (hardly very original) idea that popular entertainments often reflect the deepest of our concerns in a very public way. We can choose to look through the mirror, as most of us do, but we can also look at it, and as often as not, we'll find that it looks back at us. Now there's a title, eh -- The Abyss of Popular Entertainment.

Maybe I just read too much Marshall McLuhan between my forays into throwing brickbats at the Establishment, I don't know, but I do remember that when we first started hearing about CIA black ops, etc. I thought immediately of 007. What did we expect, I thought. This was already there in plain sight for anyone with eyes to see. Sometimes it almost seems that history is farce repeated as tragedy, rather than the other way 'round.


[ Parent ]
One of the most discouraging things for me.... (4.00 / 3)
....has been the media's successful glamorization of assassination, black ops, the secret police, counter-terrorism, surveillance specialists, etc.

[ Parent ]
Books First (4.00 / 1)
(1) I was working the night Blade Runner opened, and all my housemates were not.  So when they got home, I asked them about a whole string of elements from the book, and one after another they told me that they weren't in the movie.

It made a deep and lasting impression.

(2) Instead of "007" movies, my reference point was Le Carre's books.

Not so glamorous.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Funny (0.00 / 0)
I'm a big fan of the movie (particularly the theatrical release, I like the damn narration, Scott's preferences be damned), and read the book later.  I preferred the movie, though I confess I only read the book once.

It's rare to find a movie that is better than the book in the eyes of the fans of that book, but clearly Blade Runner got a lot of things right, even if it missed some.  


[ Parent ]
Nor so widely shared (0.00 / 0)
You're a reader, Paul -- by definition a subset of the Great Unwashed, upon whom our fortunes chiefly depend.

[ Parent ]
Interesting (0.00 / 0)
about Clarke.  If you read 2001 and its successors, he realized he had made a horrible mistake in 2001.  The book contains a phrase that likens the aliens to a gardener who sometime must  "weed" in order to allow some species to develop.  2001 also had several references to IQ and how it determines what someone can achieve.

There is a second sequel to 2001 (not 2010) and he realizes just how elitist the notion of "weeding" a species is.  


[ Parent ]
I was recently skimming through Ronald Steele's Lippmann bio (4.00 / 1)
that I'd read in college and was struck by how this patriarch of 20th century "liberal" columnists so often crossed over to the other side, even late in life when he supported Nixon over Humphrey, a template for today's "pragmatic" "bipartisan" "reasonable" "liberals". Not a bad man from what I see, but often naive, in that "why can't we all work together like reasonable people" sort of way.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
And Yet (4.00 / 1)
he was also a critic of the Vietnam War when establishment types just didn't do that.

So, some things he learned, others he didn't.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Well I need to do a deeper read (4.00 / 3)
But the idea that  19th century was marked by some bifurcation between 'liberals' and 'conservatives' is just too reductionist. Even if we restrict ourselves to political economy and leave issues like the religious Test Acts aside you have to account for four key political sectors: King and Church Tories, Land Owning Whigs, Manufacturing and Trade Liberals, and Working Class Radicals.

The 18th and 19th century can be readily seen as a series of political accommodations and new power sharing arrangements, with the right for political participation gradually widening via first the Great Reform Act of 1832 which allowed all parts of England to be represented in Parliament, although not evenly, and then the Representation of the People Acts of 1867 and 1884 which established household and county franchise but still left 60% of adult males outside the electoral system.

The kind of Liberalism we associate with the New Deal could only come with the advent of the universal franchise which for English men only came with the Representation of the People Act of 1918 (women got partial representation).

It's all complicated and not my area of specialty but there is a case to be made that by agreeing to the Acts of 1867 and 1884 instead of immediately insisting on Manhood Suffrage that Liberals stabbed the wider working class in the back, that after using the people's anger to muscle small capitalists way into a share of politcal power, the combined interests of the Landed, the Mercantile, the Large Capitalist and the Small Capitalist all combined to keep the Working Class sidelined.

That is if we take Wolfe's definition as supplied by you:

To begin to show that "classic" liberals are just liberals operating in a different socio-political environment, we need a definition that could plausible cover both groups.  Wolfe provides a really good one:  "As many people as possible should have as much say as is feasible over the direction their lives will take.
It is hard to see it even applying to a Liberal Party that in the 1880s was happy to have "as many people as possible" be defined by the amount of property and income they had and with clear majorities of even adult men outside the political system.

You can see the roots of modern Liberalism in 19th century Liberal Party but really the former didn't arise until the radical dislocation of WWI brought Left Liberals and working class Radicals into the new Labour Party, which in rough alignment with the New Deal Democrats over here controlled most of the course of the first three-quarters of the 20th century.

The socio-political environments need to be distinquished by something stronger than 'different', I find it hard to equate 'liberalism' and 'minority rule' to start with.


hmm (4.00 / 1)
Ok, I want to make sure we're not talking about subtly different things.  The British Liberal party is an expression of liberal beliefs at the time, but not necessarily definitive.  Things like political expediency, cowardice and cynical opportunists lying to voters took place then as now, and the policies of the party should not be taken as a gold standard expression of what small l liberals believed/advocated for.

If I can pull it together out of a morass of historical snippets and pages of dates, I'll do a more complete round up of the history that I think shows that liberals were concerned with enlarging the franchise, though it took a long time to get to universality.

As an example and preview, let's look at one of the prime Corn Law repealing proponents, John Bright:


Bright was now one of the leading advocates in the House of Commons for universal suffrage. In a speech made in 1858 he pointed out that only one out of six adult males had the vote in Britain and that less than 200,000 voters regularly returned more than 50% of all MPs. Bright called for an end to all rotten boroughs and the introduction of the secret ballot.

and an actual Liberal Prime Minister, Gladstone:


William Gladstone became Prime Minister in 1868 and as he was a great admirer of Bright he appointed him as his President of the Board of Trade. Bright now had the pleasure of seeing the Liberal government pass several measures that he had been advocating for many years. This included opening the universities to Nonconformists, the secret ballot and government funded education

Meanwhile, in the US, you had Andrew Jackson vastly enlarging the franchise.

My read on the relationship between ideological philosophers and politicians is that the former are way ahead of the latter.  It takes a long time for ideas to trickle into effective policy.


[ Parent ]
Well I am deeply influenced (4.00 / 1)
By just having finished a long slow re-read of The Making of the English Working Class by E.P. Thompson. That account stops with the events immediately preceding 1832 but the overall narrative is consistent with what I know about the development of the actual Liberal Party in the years before WWI.

Those who would later be identified with Liberalism were certainly interested in widening the franchise, and willing to use popular unrest to advance that, but were perfectly willing time after time to slam the gate after they were allowed entry into the corrall. That is the disenfranchised Manchester industrialist of 1832, trying to grab some power from the landowning aristocracy and succeeding, was perfectly willing to turn around and oppose the Chartists in the 1840s.

And when the next big chance came along Liberals took at best a cautious stance. This Wiki account seems pretty evenhanded http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R...

Once Prime Minister, Earl Russell (as he became) introduced a Reform Bill in 1866. It was a cautious measure, which proposed to enfranchise "respectable" working men, excluding unskilled workers and what was known as the "residuum," that is, seen by MPs as the "feckless and criminal" poor. This was ensured by a £7 householder qualification, which had been calculated to require an income of 26 shillings a week. There were also two "fancy franchises," originating from measures of 1854, a £10 lodger qualification for the boroughs, and a £50 savings qualification in the counties. Liberals claimed that 'the middle classes, strengthened by the best of the artisans, would still have the preponderance of power'.
Well this combination of the "unskilled" and "feckless and criminal" totaled some 60% of the total male population when all was said and done and per this account the expansion ultimately agreed to was in advance of what Liberal leadership originally proposed.

[ Parent ]
Re-Reading The Classics, Eh? (0.00 / 0)
It's enough to make a bloke feel jealous.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
A great comment (0.00 / 0)
For example, a real history must at least attempt to understand how the various  Christian sects reacted to industrialization is an enormous mistake.

A significant strand of liberalism owes its origins to the reaction of some Christians to the appalling working conditions at the turn of the last century.


[ Parent ]
Feudalism gets a bad rap from Liberals (4.00 / 2)
All forms of Liberalism are rooted in the concept of Progress, not only that the Future can be better than the Present but that the Present is materially better than the Past. For the 19th century Liberal this meant concluding that Capitalism itself had to represent a material advance over the stage that preceded it which in turn drove them to a vision of the medieval rural lifestyle as being marked by filth and extreme exploitation. For the 19th century Conservative who wanted nothing better than traditional institutions to be preserved this meant countering this with an equally unrealistic depiction of Merrie Olde England with peasants gratefully tipping their hats to the Jolly Old Squire. Neither version was rooted in actual scholarship of the medieval peasant economy, study of which didn't even being until the 1880s, well after the basic liberal/conservative divide had come to be.

In 19th and early 20th century scholarship the Standards of Living controversy where one side held that Capitalism had, despite the misery that could be seen on all sides, delivered a higher material standard of living to the urban poor than to their rural predecessors. This was plausible enough giving the current standard of living among peasants in Ireland, where the choice for millions had been starve or emigrate either to America or the new slums of Liverpool and Manchester. But that condition of abject rural poverty was not a natural outcome of the medieval modes of production (for which feudalism is not the right word anyway), instead it was the product of a couple hundred years of proto-capitalist exploitation of the countryside marked by such things as the Corn Laws and Enclosure Acts that increasingly favored the interests of Landowners (as defined by lawyers) vs Tenants (ditto). There is a strong tendency by moderns to collapse the entire pre-industrial age into an undifferentiated mass when instead material conditions varied widely depending on time and circumstance. For example the typical English peasant was probably better off in the 12th and the later 14th centuries that in the 13th, and there is a strong case to be made for a steady deterioration from the 16th century on until what may have been the low point in the 1790s when direct exploitation via both rent and taxes left the rural poor at its lowest point ever. But to the outsider it is just the Dark Ages/Middle Ages. light goes out in 476 with the Fall of Rome and flicks on with the Enlightenment with the thousand plus years in between just some dim unchanging landscape.

But both Liberals and then Marxists were in different ways committed to see Industrialization as Progress, content to let people think of the Middle Ages in terms familiar in Monty Python's Holy Grail, mud-stained wretches in filthy huts when in reality the typical peasant of the 15th century was likely to be much cleaner than your 19th century slum dweller and probably better fed and clothed because they had open access to clean air and mostly clean water and control of the means of production for both food and clothing. But the reality revealed in examination of the actual historical sources didn't fit well with the political-economic paradigm of Liberalism so out it went.

And though it would take more time and refreshing of reading than I have to demonstrate, it is a mistake to think of Feudalism as a mode of production, it is instead a legal and social superstructure built on a much more chaotic foundation than the theory allowed.


Not Being Around in the 1800s (4.00 / 5)
I came of age knowing that the Acts of Enclosure was a really BAD THING, and that the proto-accumulative phase generally was not representative of the longer era before it.  And I was aware, more generally, that liberalism had been advanced in universalist terms by a relatively privileged elite that was nonetheless far from the position of power held by the landed aristocracy throughout Europe as a whole.  All this was part of what contributed to me growing up as a radical--and the Vietnam War lead me to distrust liberals on a far more visceral and immediate level.

However, growing older, living longer, seeing more of mundane corruption on multiple levels, I've come to have a better opinion of liberalism--if not necessarily most political practitioners.  It is, I think, a lot sounder foundation for future progress than I had initially believed, provided one takes its universalist claims seriously in ways that were never originally intended.  In particular, I regard the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as an exemplary document laying out how a liberal rights framework can support a great deal of a social democratic platform.

The moral here is the same as I got the first time I heard John Coltrane play "My Favorite Things"--what's most important is not necessarily the original intent, but what you can make of it.


"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
There is a lot to chew over here, (4.00 / 6)
but I have two, somewhat tangential objections.  

First, government intervention implies that markets are natural and pre-political, that government involvement comes later. The central idea of the New Deal was that this is false - government must act positively to protect property and persons, must enforce torts and contracts, and (usually) create money in order for markets to flourish.  Government is therefore not placed in opposition to markets, it is required to have them.  That makes the idea of "intervention" incoherent. This doesn't mean that things labeled intervention are appropriate, only that the label is useless in assessing them from an economic or moral perspective.

Similarly, this suggests that the positive / negative rights distinction is troublesome. For example, the right to property is both a right not to have the government invade one's property, and the right to call on government to prevent or remedy invasions from others.  My liberty can be violated if the government jails me or if it fails to prevent another person from imprisoning me.  Liberty and freedom only seem like negative concepts when you assume a government that protects you from others - take that away (like say during Reconstruction), and you have neither.

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.


thanks, good points (4.00 / 3)
The first one I wholly agree with, and occasionally struggle with the idea of doing a whole post on the subject.

The latter hadn't occurred to me in the coherent way you state it.  I remember a good one-liner about libertarians that described them as "anarchists who want a big police force to protect them from their slaves" which gets at what you're discussing, but you're right - their devotion to negative liberties is incoherent (Because it is self-serving politics given a sophist veneer of ideology).


[ Parent ]
Property ownership is ultimately social in origin (4.00 / 1)
Your right to anything is only as good as your social group's willingness to defend your right to it, and as often as not the beginning of a chain of ownership starts with a social or governmental allocation of land, or more specifically of defined rights over land, because it is possible and indeed common for the group that allocates that land to retain certain rights to it.

In the United States this is pretty explicit, at the beginning of the chain of title is some Grant or Charter from either the King of England or the King of Spain,  and then later from the President. In Britain those chains are much longer and ultimately mostly lost in time, but the overriding legal principal is that all land is ultimately held from the King by one form of tenure or another.

Ultimately you don't have a right to any piece of property under Anglo-American  law against the government, you only have a grant that if necessary the government will enforce your possession of that piece of property against all others, possibly accompanied by a promise that the government itself won't seize that land without due process. But that promise only establishes an expectation. The legal maxim 'no wrong without a remedy' cuts both ways, it is the existence of a remedy that enables that wrong to be a wrong.

So I am a little doubtful about the concept of natural rights. When we are told that mean are endowed by the Creator with the 'right of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness' you have to ask where the court of original jurisdiction is and how do you appeal that decision. It is not like you can nail a subpoena to the Gates of Heaven.


[ Parent ]
Hence "The Pursuit Of Happiness" (0.00 / 0)
It is not like you can nail a subpoena to the Gates of Heaven.

But you can have fun trying!

Or laughing your ass off at those who do!

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Capitalism (4.00 / 3)
is a government run program.

[ Parent ]
A great post Daniel (4.00 / 3)
And a very enlightening discussion.  Thank all of you very much.

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


I really liked this. (4.00 / 1)
Can't wait for more on this topic.  
This might be my favorite thing you've written for Open Left yet.  

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