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Friday, March 02, 2018

Are Liberals Anxious Puritans? Or Selfish Hobbesians? Some Thoughts on Patrick Deneen’s “Why Liberalism Failed”

Patrick Deneen’s Why Liberalism Failed is an eloquent but frustrating book that purports to define “liberalism,” provide an account of “liberalism’s” origins, and explain why “liberalism” is failing. The strength of the book is its pugnaciously gripping prose and simple story line. Basically, “liberalism” in Deneen’s lexicon is self-interested individualism. Somehow a handful of mostly British seventeenth century philosophers (Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, Renee Descartes, John Locke) were able to persuade their contemporaries that humans ought to be regarded as “non-relational creatures, separate and autonomous” who ought to make decisions purely on the basis of their “calculations of individual self-interest… without broader considerations of the impact of one’s choices upon the community, one’s obligations to the created order, and ultimately to God.” (Page 32). Deneen eloquently describes the alienation produced by such rootlessness in the universities, politics, and the economy in four chapters (chapters 4 through 7): environmental degradation, indifference to one’s cultural inheritance, a trivial politics of consumerism, and an elite’s indifference to their national and local communities as they embark on a globe-trotting life of “deracinated vagabondage” (page 131). Basically, individualism devoured itself by destroying the social foundations — strong families, strong communities, strong churches — necessary for individual striving to produce good social outcomes. It is easy to see the appeal of such a simple yet sweeping storyline written in sizzlingly readable prose would become a sensation in venues like the New York Times.

There is, however, a frustrating mystery at the heart of Deneen’s argument: Why would a handful of seventeenth century secular philosophers of materialism and scientific method be able to persuade an entire civilization to adopt a self-evidently self-destructive individualism? What was the psychological appeal of seeing oneself as a “non-relational creature, separate and autonomous” to seventeenth century Englishmen?

My answer: Deneen has misdiagnosed the origins of liberalism along the familiar lines of Michael Sandel’s complaint about “atomized, dislocated, frustrated selves” without considering an alternative story rooted in Calvinist theology. Those Christians whom opponents derided as “puritans” but who called themselves “the saints” believed that any Christian could be as holy as any saint just by accepting the “double covenant” offered by Jesus Christ — grace in exchange for authentic, personal belief in their salvation. The individualistic catch was that one’s outward conformity to collective ceremonies would accomplish nothing without an inward change of heart. Each believer, therefore, confronted the anxiety about whether they were truly saved.

Our modern liberals are cut from the same anxious cloth as the seventeenth century Saints. As I will argue after the jump, modern liberals, like their Calvinist forebearers, are driven to quarrelsome behavior by their anxiety about their personal salvation. This is spiritual individualism of a certain stripe: It drives believers to abandon their birth home, family, and traditions in a restless pilgrimage for spiritual purity — to Geneva, the Netherlands, Plymouth, or (nowadays) some Intersectionally Feminist Vegan Food Co-op. Contrary to Deneen’s claim, however, this neo-Calvinist brand of individualism has nothing whatsoever to do with selfish individualism of a Hobbesian variety. If my diagnosis is correct, then Deneen’s antidote of having more tradition-minded people form their own communities that reject “liberal individualism” will do nothing to address our current malaise.

1. How does Deneen neglect the seventeenth century puritan roots of modern liberalism?

In construing seventeenth century English writers, Deneen completely ignores the Protestant Reformation, the English Civil War, and the Commonwealth. He refers to puritans exactly once (in a two-page paean to the New England township). Yet these were the titanic events and religious movements that defined the context in which (for instance) John Locke wrote. Explaining (for instance) Locke’s Second Treatise while ignoring the great Puritan civil war is like explaining Winston Churchill’s speeches while ignoring World Wars I and II.

Consider how Deneen’s neglect of Locke’s religious context could distort Deneen’s reading of Locke’s Second Treatise, turning a book rooted in Christian equality into a sort of early modern Fountainhead of selfish individualism. On the Christian reading, Locke is less “Hobbes’ philosophical successor” (page 32) than the successor of Reform Protestants who believed that Christians have a duty actively to all civil authority just as they must actively consent to God’s promise of salvation. Deneen quotes Locke’s famous statement in section 73 of the Second Treatise that children must consent to the conditions imposed by their parents on their estate, arguing that this position shows that Locke saw even family obligations as rooted in cold, calculating self-interest. The alternative Calvinist reading, however, is that Locke is extending the covenant of grace to childrens’ relations with their parents: Just as humans must actively consent to accept God’s grace, so too, they must actively consent to accept parental love. (In the extreme Anabaptist form, the obligation of active consent foreclosed infant baptism). Far from being an indication of calculating self-interest, this obligation of active consent was supposed to transform cold, empty, outward compliance into willing obedience.

Did Locke’s theory of consent have such religious roots? One cannot judge from Deneen’s barebones argument, which rests exclusively on that single sentence in section 73.
Jeremy Waldron, however, has provided an extended argument that Locke’s theory of consent and equality is inexplicable except as an expression of Locke’s Christianity. Likewise, Richard Ashcraft showed back in 1986 that Locke’s theory of property was likely derived from Leveller radicals steeped in the Independent Protestantism of the Commonwealth period. Deneen’s ignoring Locke’s Christian and Commonwealth context is especially odd, given that Deneen classifies Milton, Locke’s near-contemporary, as a Christian writer whose ideas are consistent with a pre-Modern tradition of virtue and faith. What makes Milton a successor to Calvin but Locke a successor to Hobbes? Deneen does not explain: He merely asserts, ignoring not only the secondary literature but also any careful reading of Locke’s writing.

2. Does Calvinist saintliness still really echo in modern liberalism?

Of course, Ross Douthat, Adrian Vermeule, and other public intellectuals do not really care about what Deneen has to say about Locke. They are interested in his views about today’s liberals. Today, liberals are secular, for the most part. So how can Calvinists’ now-defunct yearning for spiritual authenticity have anything to do secular liberalism nowadays?

This objection underestimates how easily the yearning for grace through a personal salvation can be secularized. Just leave out Jesus but keep the anxious uncertainty about the sufficiency of one’s virtue. The old Calvinist Saints tried to prove their Election by rejecting frivolities like Morris dancing and the celebration of Christmas. The new secular Saints volunteer at the Park Slope Food Co-Op, buy fair trade coffee and locally grown food, recycle their compost, and bike to work. To achieve the thrill of spiritual authenticity, the old Quakers interrupted Anglican ministers during their sermons. The new secular Saints achieve the same thrilling sense of being “woke” by protesting Eurocentrism while college professors are trying to give a lecture. The old Calvinist Saints rejected the the Anglican Book of Common Prayer as a corrupting traditional text written by inauthentic oppressors. The new secular Saint rejects the freshman Humanities Core Curriculum as similarly inauthentic and oppressive. Adrian Vermeule (correctly in my view) describes the religious character of “liberalism” as a religious passion play pitting Reason against Bigotry. But he misses the more specific connection. Calvinist saints detected “popery” in the most harmless social customs (say, bowing at Christ’s name or singing in four-part harmony), because every aspect of the pre-Reformation Church was tainted by superstition that insidiously conveyed “papist” meaning. Compare that worry to a modern feminist trying to purge her vocabulary of patriarchy-tainted pronouns and prefixes. There is the same anxiety over the past’s covertly infecting the present’s quotidian routines, with a different “P” word to serve as the epithet for the infection.

Lest one think that this comparison is merely a cute analogy rather than a genealogical relationship, keep in mind that those counties with the most intense streak of liberal moralism today are also the counties where a Yankee diaspora of reforming pietist Christians, stretching from Boston through upstate New York to the Western Reserve of Ohio to Ann Arbor, MI and beyond to San Francisco, spread social reforms from abolition of slavery to prohibition of alcohol. The late Daniel Elazar and his students documented how this “moralistic” political subculture followed in the tracks of the “Presbygational” New England Christian reformers. Modern Saints are not just imitating their chronological predecessors: they are literally following in the footsteps of their ancestors. The nineteenth century Saints from Lyman Beecher to Anthony Comstock attacked slavery, alcohol, dueling, prostitution, cruelty to animals, pornography, tobacco, disenfranchisement of and violence against women, and dancing. Aside from the omission of dancing and alcohol, has liberalism’s list of sinful behaviors really changed all that much?

The Saintly roots of modern liberalism help explain an otherwise jarring discord in Deneen’s story. Deneen concedes that liberal elites – the “liberalocracy” in his phrase — tend to be sexually abstemious, diligent, conscientious practitioners of middle-class virtues. As Deneen concedes (page 132), liberals are actually quite attached to their families and communities: They form non-profit associations with Tocquevillean gusto. Where, then, is the atomized individualism that Deneen bemoans? Characterizing the tree-huggers of Portlandia as dedicated to a cult of individualistic self-interest seems too perverse even for an academic striving to be clever. Deneen praises Wendell Berry’s celebration of rural localism — but does Deneen really believe that liberals congregating at Brooklyn’s green market disapprove of Wendell Berry? Evidence, please!

Deneen offers up a sort of conspiracy theory to explain away liberals’ apparently abstemious behavior and apparently communitarian ties. Liberals, according to Deneen, inculcate their children with a “set of cooperative skills” merely for the instrumental end of enriching their kids through the practice of bourgeois virtues. This apparent communitarian zeal, however, is really just individualistic social climbing that somehow — Deneen never explains how — “requires the disassembly of norms, intermediating institutions, and thick forms of community” (Page 142).

Really? In my experience, campus liberals are inveterate joiners of mediating institutions, from the local chapter of the Sierra Club to the Green Market board. Moreover, they have weaved a network of complex norms worthy of Cotton Mather, as anyone knows who has ever tried to engage them in conversation with the wrong pronouns or unorthodox political opinions. It defies plain evidence that the ascent of these liberals or their children is built on individualistic anomie rather than a hothouse of the thickest sort of the most earnest communities. Indeed, it is precisely because they impose their thick communities and norms on the rest of us that they can sometimes be so annoying.

This jarring note in Deneen’s account disappears as soon as one understands modern secular liberals are not individualistic in any social sense. Rather, as the lineal descendants of the Calvinist Saints, the new liberal saints are individualistic only in their intensely self-absorbed pursuit of personal purity. Just as a Calvinist Saint could never be sure of salvation merely by joining a church and attending services, so too, liberal Saints cannot achieve personal salvation without constant heresy hunts against oppressive superstition and drives to engage in evermore virtuous consumption. Born-again Calvinists confess to sinful spiritual complacency to awaken themselves from spiritual sloth. Born-Again liberals engage in ritual of self-flagellation over their complicity in racism, sexism, ageism, classism, etc. This virtuocracy owes nothing to Hobbes’ and Bacon’s scientific materialism and everything to Increase Mather’s New England. True, this old school Calvinism has evolved over the last four hundred years. It has been stripped of dour predestination by the First Great Awakening of the 1740s, infused with social activism by the Second Great Awakening of the 1820s, mostly freed from “Jesus Talk” by the Social Gospelers of the 1890s and TR’s Bull-Moose Progressives of 1912, and finally converted entirely into a Brookline or San Francisco Progressive’s secular morality of personal redemption through socially uplifting introspection and consumption. But the same spirit of salvation through personal purity in individual consumption and freedom from superstition is still there, recognizable after all those years.

3. How does Saintly liberals’ pursuit of individual spiritual authenticity undermine custom and community?

The modern Saint’s incessant quest for spiritual purity can be grating on a sense of community rooted in customary neighborliness. In the seventeenth century, Anglicans accused Calvinist Saints of being “separationists” (“Donatists,” when they were feeling their theological oats), because such “puritans” (to use the Anglican epithet) destroyed the fellowship necessary for a well-functioning community by segregating themselves off into their own religious enclaves. By rejecting traditional entertainments and liturgy (maypoles, Morris dancing, Christmas, the Book of Common Prayer, choir music, surplices on clergy, kneeling at communion, and other communal rituals), saintly Calvinists undermined human fellowship rooted in convention. By trashing all pre-Reformation religious texts, they encouraged uncouth barbarism.

Does not the same sort of accusation lie against modern liberal Saints? Ben Jonson ridiculed Busy Zeal-of-the-Land, Jonson’s puritan character in Bartholomew Fair, for disrupting the Fair’s fellowship with his carping piety. When conservatives attack liberals for their oppressive political correctness, are they not making a bit of the same claim? It is not just that liberal Saints quarrel too much with their neighbors about guns, landfills, inequality, and cigarettes. They are also prone to acrimonious schism with each other. (Consider, for instance, twitter wars among feminists of various stripes).

If the problem with Saintly liberals is their penchant for acrimonious purity rather than selfish individualism, then none of the antidotes suggested by Deneen will make a dent in our current malaise. Having traditionalist-minded people retreat to communities practicing what Deneen calls “counter-anticulture” of customary virtues (page 179-80) will do nothing about the aggravation caused by those liberals already intensely involved in their campus communities and foisting their sanctity on everyone else outside those “anticulture” enclaves. Adrian Vermeule suggests that Deneen’s antidote will fail because crusading liberals will suppress such counter-anticultural communities. Perhaps, but I doubt it. America has long history of tolerating dissenting communities, and Amish and Hasidic Orthodox communities stand as living disproof of Vermeule’s worries. The real problem is that Deneen is diagnosing the wrong remedy for our current ailment, because he misunderstands the disease. Populist rage at our modern liberal Saints’ meddling with their customary practices, from their guns and cigarettes to their Coca-Cola, will not be solved by other people retreating into rural enclaves and practicing a different and more customary brand of virtue. The Red Staters do not want to retreat Amish-style from modernity: They want the meddling to stop where they live in their ordinary suburbs and towns.

My own remedy, as any regular reader of this blog will guess, is thorough-going federalism and localism. To reduce Red State anxiety about the Blue State virtuocracy’s destroying Red Staters’ community ties, from guns to Confederate flags, we need to erect powerful legal boundaries against either side’s nationalizing their values. But whatever the right remedy, we cannot think about the problem of liberalism until we get the history right. Deneen is right that liberals’ attacks on tradition can be destructive. He has, however, misdiagnosed the cause and, therefore, does not have a reliable cure.

Posted by Rick Hills on March 2, 2018 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

Comments

You can be an individualist (a person who follows the moral rules they personally believe are correct) while still being part of a family, church, community, etc., so long as that family, church, community doesn't prevent you from following your own personal moral code.

The problem is that communities tend to ask their members to adopt the communities morals instead of their own, and communities tend to ask their members to repress their individuality for social cohesion, even though most self-expression doesn't lessen social cohesion--if anything people tend to like to see people be unique and not mindless conformists afraid to disagree or standout in a crowd.

Posted by: Emerson's wrath of sadiq khan | Mar 2, 2018 10:18:56 AM

It's hard to keep reading after someone describes Francis Bacon as being a seventeenth-century philosopher. Sorry!

Posted by: Anonymous | Mar 2, 2018 1:14:39 PM

Anonymous, it is hard to be read by someone who does not regard "New Atlantis" as 17th century philosophy. http://www.fcsh.unl.pt/docentes/rmonteiro/pdf/The_New_Atlantis.pdf But I persevere nonetheless.

Posted by: Rick Hills | Mar 2, 2018 3:23:51 PM

This is a characteristically deep and insightful post, but it also has a characteristic quickness at the conclusion, such that I couldn't quite follow why Deneen's misunderstanding of modern liberals bore on the correctness of his prescriptions (which I take it was supposed to be the upshot of your argument), at least not in the way you say. Whether liberals are selfish individualists or acrimonious lowercase puritans, retreating into anti-culture enclaves seems equally flawed either way. Your criticism of anti-culture enclaves, in its entirety, is that they won't help the non-liberals outside of them, and that some non-liberals might not care to retreat to such enclaves. The former does indeed seem like an impossibility, and the latter is an obvious truism, but both are correct even if liberals are as Deneen describes them.

Perhaps that's a persnickety bit of housekeeping--if so I apologize--but on a possibly more substantive note, it does seem possible that liberals might both have the kind of secular religiosity that you describe, *and* that their abstemiousness is just a matter of selfish self-preservation, as Deneen claims. What *does* explain educated liberals' relatively low rates of out-of-wedlock childbirth, of single parenthood, of substance abuse? Calvinist saintliness? I don't think so, because the ethics that, as you say, they fervently subscribe to don't really motivate these traits.

That

Posted by: Asher Steinberg | Mar 2, 2018 8:10:50 PM

Asher, both points are well-taken: Thanks for making them. Three responses:

1) I think that neither Deneen nor myself take his remedies as seriously as his diagnosis. The action items in the book in the final chapter seem like an afterthought secondary to the preceding chapters, which focus on diagnosing the problem. And diagnosis is my major interest as well.

2) That said, here's a reason, perhaps, to think that Deneen's remedy works better for Hobbesian liberalism than saintly liberalism. Deneen's remedy makes most sense if "liberalism" has what Gramsci would call a "culturally hegemonic" position -- that is, a position so dominant that its adherents do not even see it as a position but merely as unquestionable common sense. Deneen says that his version of liberalism has that sort of cultural dominance: Basically, every educated person adheres to this sort of individualistic self-interest as the basis for all of their ethical and political reasoning, as a matter of course. The only way to keep a different view alive, therefore, is to set up little "monasteries" or Amish-like communities where total eccentricity is tolerated by the larger culture.

I do not think that Deneen is right about the hegemonic position of his version of "liberalism," so I do not see the need for these little monasteries. To me, the class bias of academics and other college-educated people of a certain stripe is more of a funny personality disorder than a substantive position about individualism and self-interest: What distinguishes "liberals" is not the content of their beliefs (about which more below) but rather their compulsive need to preach about them to their neighbors who do not share them. Liberals are simply bossy nudzhes.

We do not need to protect the rest of the culture from such bossiness, because liberal bossiness is just not that culturally dominant: It is prevalent in college towns and coastal cities but not elsewhere. In particular, it is not "hegemonic": Everyone is aware of these "liberal" predilections to be meddling and nosy. That's why "Portlandia" is a funny TV show: We laugh at the various attitudes on display precisely because they are NOT hegemonic. (No one laughs at the exaggeration of hegemonic ideas, because hegemonic ideas are by hypothesis so dominant that no one can recognize when they are being spoofed).

3) Does "liberalism" contribute to, or at least correlate with, a low discount rate regarding sex, food, educational investments, etc? I think so. IMHO "liberalism" that is Deneen's target consists of (a) a certain fear of the past (that is, their dislike of "superstition") and (b) a desire to display a certain kind of self-control in their consumption. Those were the basic traits of the 17th century puritans, and I maintain that they live on today among highly educated people.

The self-consciousness about personal consumption ((b) above) will tend to correlate with a high discount rate. The same impulse that leads liberals to compost and driving a Prius will also make them anxious about doing well on exams and exercising three times a week. So liberals tend to score better on tests and have less obesity than the rest of us. It is not strategic that liberals' kids study hard for exams: It is part of the same unconscious impulse that makes them watch their diet and avoid "frivolous" entertainments. For the same reason, seventeenth century saints called for Bible study rather than feasting on holy days -- and did well in the marketplace, Max Weber style. (I read somewhere that Weber's Protestant Work Ethic theory is back in fashion BTW)

Anyway, those are my best shots at answering your objections.

Posted by: Rick Hills | Mar 2, 2018 10:23:00 PM

Liberalism is defined as not jailing atheists, potsmokers, gunowners, homeschoolers, flagburners, doctors who perform abortions, etc.

Nothing about this sounds selfish. If anything, it sounds charitable to allow people to be and do things that we do not do.

Posted by: the charity of individualism | Mar 3, 2018 12:46:52 AM

It is important to remember that some liberals are democrats and some are republicans. And some democrats are progressives and some are liberals. That is, not all liberals are democrats or progressives.

A person can hold the liberal value of meritocracy instead of nepotism, without holding the progressive value of lowering standards for racial minorities (affirmative action).

A person can hold the liberal value of civilian firearm-ownership while not holding the progressive value of mandatory military service (or community service) like in South Korea and Israel.

All progressives may be liberals, but all liberals need not be progressives to remain liberals.

Posted by: hashtag: not all liberals are progressives | Mar 3, 2018 1:00:17 AM

"One might ask whether, to the extent that one sees modern "progressives" as different in some sense or set of positions from "liberals," rather than merely having adopted a re-labeling strategy, this definition applies to them as well."

Liberals believe in non-discrimination. You don't take people's race into account. You worry about the way individuals are treated, not the way races are treated.

Progressives believe in affirmative-action in schools, racial quotas in the workplace, black-voting districts in the old south, sovereignty on Native-American reservations (they don't have to obey the bill of rights--Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez, 1978), etc.

That is, progressives believe first-and-foremost in identity politics, i.e. making sure people are eternally aware of race/ethnicity and are always treated as a member of a racial group, rather than just as an individual.

They believe that justice isn't just non-discrimination, but is proportional representation. If there are 20% blacks in a country, then 20% of the people at Harvard better be black, 20% of people at Google better be black, 20% of people in congress better be black, and 20% of Oscar winners better be black.

Posted by: the racial politics of progressivim | Mar 3, 2018 7:37:15 PM

"One might ask whether, to the extent that one sees modern "progressives" as different in some sense or set of positions from "liberals," rather than merely having adopted a re-labeling strategy, this definition applies to them as well."

Liberals believe that free speech includes criticizing islam, mocking islam, drawing Mohammad, nazi marches, sexist rap music, violent video games, etc.

Progressives believe all of this is "hate speech" and requires harsh punishments and re-education.

Posted by: Alternative platforms | Mar 3, 2018 7:54:35 PM

One of the main differences between liberals and progressives is that liberals believe the assault weapons ban has to apply to cops to prevent a police aristocracy from forming and destroying our democracy (where all civilians--police and non-police--have equal rights), whereas progressives think only police should have guns at all.

Posted by: Franken-feinstein | Mar 4, 2018 3:40:09 AM

Thoughtful, as always, Rick, but I think you are too sunny and sanguine in brushing off the Deneen/ Vermeule concern that, regardless of whether today’s Park Slope association-joining-progressives are actually, in their own lives, busily enmeshed in intermediate institutions, they (and their candidates) are increasingly committed to an understanding of egalitarianism that is fine with meritocracy-driven wealth and class divides but not with non-state associations that “discriminate” in their teachings, membership criteria, hiring, etc.

Posted by: Rick Garnettt | Mar 4, 2018 12:26:51 PM

Rick G., your comment suggests that I should write more plainly. I intended to agree 100% that our modern Liberals (or Progressives — I care not which word is used) want to re-make the world in their image, and their war on “discrimination” (meaning any classifications that they do not like) is part of that effort in re-making. That’s the Puritan/Saintly way! (Increase Mather also tried to outlaw any towns’ selecting non-Congergationalist ministers!)

I just object to the theory that Saintly morality has something to do with scientific materialism of Hobbes or with some sort other sort of amoral individualism. Our modern Saints are not individualistic, and they are not pro-Enlightenment Science: They are intensely communitarian and sectarian, and their sect is more geared towards displays of high human capital (“Look how well-read I am, and how non-superstitious!”) and low discount rate (“look at how little carbon I use!”) as ways of displaying personal purity and thereby reassuring themselves that they are part of the Elect. As Vermeule notes, this is a religious position — a very old religious position — but IMHO Vermeule gets the religion wrong.

I repeat: It is not Scientific Amoralism or Value-Free Individualism. It is instead Calvinist yearning for personal purity. Vermeule/Deneen think that they are squaring off against Hobbes or maybe Nietzche (“Die fröhliche Wissenschaft” Nietzche). They are not: They are squaring off against John Calvin — a much more formidable opponent in some ways, given that value-free science is never a crowd-pleaser.

Posted by: Rick Hills | Mar 4, 2018 6:02:25 PM

Perhaps some examples would help, for when liberals and progressives disagree.

United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO-CLC v. Weber, 1979---the liberals believe in non-discrimination, the progressives believe in affirmative action (racial quotas)

Washington v. Davis, 1976---liberals believe discrimination requires intent not just statistics, progressives believe disparate impact proves intent

Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, 2007---liberals believe in not taking race into account, progressives believe in assigning students to school based on race

Rice v. Cayetano, 2000--liberals believe voting is a universal right, progressives believe white people don't have to be allowed to vote

Easley v. Cromartie, 2001---liberals believe political and racial gerrymandering is unconstitutional, progressives believe racial gerrymandering (black voting districts) is OK

Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez, 1978---liberals believe the bill of rights applies on all land within the united states, progressives believe that requiring native americans to respect the bill of rights infringes on their sovereignty

Posted by: why Rubin left the left | Mar 5, 2018 3:10:04 AM

Definitely a big difference between liberals and progressives is the relationship between morality and law.

Conservatives say--if it's wrong it must be outlawed (like abortion). Progressives say--if it's outlawed, it must be immoral (like owning assault weapons). Liberals say--if it's immoral, I won't do it myself, but it can still be legal to prevent the rise of omni-government, like during prohibition. Liberals don't require everything immoral to be illegal (like conservatives) and don't have to think everything illegal is immoral (like progressives).

Posted by: praiser1 | Mar 6, 2018 1:36:11 PM

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