How to Know If You Are a Liberal

You care.

You mean well.

You are passionate.

You believe in taking action, particularly when it comes to children.

You believe in community, particularly at the global level.

You celebrate diversity, but abhor exclusionary categories.

If something is wrong in the world, you expect the government to do something about it.

You abhor war, but celebrate dissent, even if (or when) it is expressed through violence.

You believe that education should be relevant to society and issue in action.

Just trying to get a few things clear in my head...


  1. Hmmm. And how many of those actually distinguish "liberals" from anyone else? Seems to me it boils down to the oddly contradictory "taking action" and "expecting the government to do something" with a bit of diversity mush (sorry, I honestly don't know what that stuff means) and some qualified approval of violence (in support of ideas you agree with, of course).

    Stick with Toqueville. ;)

    1. The key for me has been recognizing what the mush implies philosophically. Most of the terms came from my reading of Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism, which was an eye-opener, to say the least.

  2. I suppose so. Aside from a few bored teenagers, though, can you actually find any serious humans in the entire course of history who didn't "care," weren't "passionate" and didn't "mean well?" C'mon, now! That's just a little self-congratulation, isn't it? Don't get me wrong--masturbation, both intellectual and otherwise--can be lots of fun, but it's generally best not done in public. ;)

    1. "C'mon, now! That's just a little self-congratulation, isn't it?" Exactly. But have you ever met a liberal who wasn't convinced that others didn't care? Wern't passionate enough? Weren't simply out to screw the little guy? The point is that these are fighting words when used in a political context, but nobody notices because they just assume they agree. I certainly used to.

  3. Ah, you begin to see. Notice that every conservative is either evil or stupid (or if at all possible, both). One wonders where the GOP finds this panolply of comic book villains! Thank goodness for the eternal vigilance of the liberal to thwart their evil schemes!

    1. I have spent my entire academic career listening to colleagues and students enthuse about heretics. Let's see how they cope with having one in their midst. Oh, wait, I am orthodox, I even believe in the creed....

  4. Your turn towards this new "heresy" makes a great deal of sense. Your values always have seemed more right than left.

    What I wonder is: You seem to be disavowing liberalism, and as I said it makes sense, given who you are (at least as expressed here). I assume you find yourself in line with the GOP embrace of religiosity, and particularly Christianity; and you also seem to be indicating a more libertarian distrust of government and/or social programs. Do you also embrace an unfettered free market with few restrictions or oversights? Do you favor low taxes for all and little governmental support for, say, higher education? Do you support the social values of the right -- no abortion, against gay marriage and/or other LGBT rights, prayer in schools? How about debates over science -- do you believe in global warming, doubt evolution and believe creationism should be taught in schools as part of a debate?

    I'm curious as to what your newly-realized convictions mean, aside from a critique of liberalism.

    Another Anonymous

  5. "Another Anonymous" -- I'm not speaking for the Bear, but it's worth noting that the American Right isn't monolithic, nor has it ever been, really. To your specific questions, it's worth noting that there has always (well, post-1945) been a bifurcation between the anti-Statist, libertarian right and the social/religious conservatives. American conservatism in the post-National Review era has been something of a fusionist movement. For more on this, if you're interested, you might want to check out George Nash's The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America.

    Additionally, one of the tenets of conservatism is that it is only a partial philosophy, arguing that many elements (including perhaps the most important ones) are beyond the political sphere.

    But where I'm going with all this is that one can be a Person of the Right without buying the entire list of questions you ask. Any movement that has had room for Russell Kirk and Reason magazine is pretty spacious.

  6. It is precisely because I know that the right is not monolithic, that I posed the questions I did. I noted two areas where Bear's sympathies seem pretty clear, or likely; but I genuinely have no idea how she would answer the other questions -- and they ARE genuine queries, not rhetorical poses. I assume she might adopt some of these ideals and not others, but I don't know which ones fall into which group. In addition, her thoughts are probably still in flux, since she is, if you will, in the midst of a conversion experience, rather than done with it.

    I guess I'm just curious. It is interesting to watch a conversion in progress.

    ~Another Anonymous

  7. @"Another Anonymous": What Prof. Mondo says. I definitely have opinions about the things that you ask about, but they don't all exist in my head as a single political position. I have been most concerned in my current reading to understand the historical implications of arguing in favor of government intervention on various social issues (e.g. health care) so as to make a decision about how I am going to vote in the upcoming election. On that count, I am clear: I am not going to be voting for my neighbor (i.e. the incumbent) again. But that does not mean I have changed my understanding about evolution or gay marriage.

  8. @"Another Anonymous": Ah, well, what can I say but "Watch this space"?! I probably should write something about what I think about school prayer. But before that I should say something about how important I now realize it is that the Constitution prevents the establishment of a state religion.


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