Author Topic: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?  (Read 13120 times)

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Offline XJDenton

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An honest question, as my historical knowledge of american politics is fairly poor. It seems nowadays that the right wing extremists will hasten to label someone on the left as "liberal" with the same venom as the tabloids reserve for child molesters. However if you look at the classic definition of liberal it seems the label liberal really should be something the GOP should be proud to be. So what the hell happened in this regard?

Offline El Barto

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2012, 05:54:07 PM »
  • The country has shifted somewhat to the right.
  • Karl rove turned politics into a moral struggle between good and evil.
  • Political analysts jumped on both of those facts and ran with it.
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Offline rumborak

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2012, 05:59:11 PM »
The notion also found fertile ground on post-cold war fear of anything resembling communism. You can see that seemingly most Americans do not distinguish between socialism and communism.

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Offline theseoafs

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2012, 06:04:30 PM »
One thing that's important to keep in mind is that the words "conservative" and "liberal" don't really mean anything at all anymore. In America today, whatever the GOP supports is "conservative", and everything else is "liberal"; it all comes down to the parties. However these words have been defined in the past is inconsequential.

So, to the common fundamentalist American righty, "liberal" calls a bunch of scary images to mind, like socialism and gay rights.

EDIT: Now that I think of it, the use of "liberal" as a dirty word might be curbed if the American approach to politics weren't so contrarian. Instead of actually looking at what the liberals stand for, conservatives might be defining "liberalism" as "the support of everything I hate and the destruction of everything I care about", because there are two parties and their views must be exactly opposite each other. (Obviously, the problem goes both ways.)
« Last Edit: July 02, 2012, 06:14:20 PM by theseoafs »

Offline Super Dude

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2012, 06:12:31 PM »
The notion also found fertile ground on post-cold war fear of anything resembling communism. You can see that seemingly most Americans do not distinguish between socialism and communism.

rumborak

I would go so far as to say even during the Cold War; I've read up on American politics of the early 60s and it was no different than today, with liberals having to tread lightly lest more conservative figures accuse them of being an actual Communist. And because of this, conservative politicians were able to block a lot of public welfare initiatives just like today, for the sake of staving off zombies Communism.

Also what theseoafs said.
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Offline theseoafs

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2012, 06:17:04 PM »
On a less serious note, here's what the world's most trustworthy conservative online resource has to say about liberalism. http://www.conservapedia.com/Liberal

Offline Sigz

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2012, 06:24:01 PM »
On a less serious note, here's what the world's most trustworthy conservative online resource has to say about liberalism. http://www.conservapedia.com/Liberal

 :lol oh wow.
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Offline theseoafs

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2012, 06:31:05 PM »
I just learned from the very same website that Fred Phelps and Adolf Hitler are, in fact, "infamous liberals". Neat! :lol

Offline bosk1

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2012, 06:37:25 PM »
Not sure what answer the OP is looking for.  But you might ask "When did 'conservative' become a dirty word for the american left?"  Same coin; different side.
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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2012, 06:40:44 PM »
The whole section "Liberalism and bestiality" just had me thinking, "this has *got* to be a joke"....   It almost feels like an article from The Onion. 

Honestly...this *can not* be real...
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Offline rumborak

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2012, 06:40:58 PM »
It's not for me. Republican, that's the bad word.

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2012, 06:43:37 PM »
"Support of obscenity, pornography and violence in video games as a First Amendment right[7]"

I thought the liberal shtick was anti-videogames?
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Offline El Barto

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2012, 06:48:51 PM »
It's not for me. Republican, that's the bad word.

rumborak

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2012, 07:04:04 PM »
It seems like no one has really understood or addressed the OP's question. The term "liberalism" originally meant what we now as libertarianism, which is why libertarianism is sometimes referred to as "classical liberalism." Somewhere in history, the meaning of the word "liberal" shifted. Arthur Schlesinger Jr. had the following to say:
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The process of redefining liberalism in terms of the social needs of the 20th century was conducted by Theodore Roosevelt and his New Nationalism, Woodrow Wilson and his New Freedom, and Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal. Out of these three reform periods there emerged the conception of a social welfare state, in which the national government had the express obligation to maintain high levels of employment in the economy, to supervise standards of life and labor, to regulate the methods of business competition, and to establish comprehensive patterns of social security.

Modern "liberalism" is really just a buzzword for Marxism. If you look at the 10 Planks of The Communist Manifesto they should smack heavily of modern liberalism. Of course, the Right is delusional is they think they're any more freedom-supporting than the Left. The Left and Right are equally totalitarian and equally flawed in that they distinguish between social and economic freedom.

Offline theseoafs

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Offline bosk1

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #15 on: July 02, 2012, 07:37:06 PM »
It's not for me. Republican, that's the bad word.

rumborak

As it should be.  Unfortunately, I don't think a lot of conservatives appreciate that "Republican" should be a bad word for them as well.
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Offline ohgar

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #16 on: July 02, 2012, 08:13:25 PM »
It seems like no one has really understood or addressed the OP's question. The term "liberalism" originally meant what we now as libertarianism, which is why libertarianism is sometimes referred to as "classical liberalism." Somewhere in history, the meaning of the word "liberal" shifted. Arthur Schlesinger Jr. had the following to say:
Quote
The process of redefining liberalism in terms of the social needs of the 20th century was conducted by Theodore Roosevelt and his New Nationalism, Woodrow Wilson and his New Freedom, and Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal. Out of these three reform periods there emerged the conception of a social welfare state, in which the national government had the express obligation to maintain high levels of employment in the economy, to supervise standards of life and labor, to regulate the methods of business competition, and to establish comprehensive patterns of social security.

Modern "liberalism" is really just a buzzword for Marxism and If you look at the 10 Planks of The Communist Manifesto they should smack heavily of modern liberalism.

Bzzt. Marxism is the belief that in order to solve the perceived oppression of laborers by the ruling class, there must be a violent revolution, after which point the proletariat will rule by dictatorship and phase the world into a classless society. Marxism, therefore, has nothing to do with modern liberalism. Thank you, come again.

It's not for me. Republican, that's the bad word.

rumborak

As it should be.  Unfortunately, I don't think a lot of conservatives appreciate that "Republican" should be a bad word for them as well.

We progressives are a sophisticated bunch; we have many dirty words for the many different classes of "conservative." It's way better than having just one word for the whole lot.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2012, 08:21:29 PM by ohgar »
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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2012, 08:28:04 PM »
Bzzt. Marxism is the belief that in order to solve the perceived oppression of laborers by the ruling class, there must be a violent revolution, after which point the proletariat will rule by dictatorship and phase the world into a classless society. Marxism, therefore, has nothing to do with modern liberalism. Thank you, come again.

You're confusing Marxism with Leninism.

Offline Super Dude

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2012, 08:29:40 PM »
I will confess I was surprised by the two or three points that were similar between the Marxist planks and some liberal platform points. But come on, is there anyone here who can, in all seriousness, say they're against free public education for children and keeping them out of factory work?

And while I'm at it, #4 sounds more like it belongs on an establishment Republican or a redneck-variety libertarian's platform. So does the "bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally" part of #7; liberals would wanna preserve the marshlands in order to protect the local environment (although liberals would probably advocate soil improvement; green thinking, you know).

The Communist Manifesto is an extreme document even by (I would say especially by) American liberal standards. I've never once heard an elected liberal official say they want to centralize all industry or all means of communication.
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Offline theseoafs

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #19 on: July 02, 2012, 08:31:54 PM »
I will confess I was surprised by the two or three points that were similar between the Marxist planks and some liberal platform points. But come on, is there anyone here who can, in all seriousness, say they're against free public education for children and keeping them out of factory work?

And while I'm at it, #4 sounds more like it belongs on an establishment Republican or a redneck-variety libertarian's platform. So does the "bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally" part of #7; liberals would wanna preserve the marshlands in order to protect the local environment (although liberals would probably advocate soil improvement; green thinking, you know).

This is correct. Liberalism as Americans understand the word today is NOT Marxism, and that's what we're talking about now.

Offline ohgar

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #20 on: July 02, 2012, 08:58:05 PM »
Bzzt. Marxism is the belief that in order to solve the perceived oppression of laborers by the ruling class, there must be a violent revolution, after which point the proletariat will rule by dictatorship and phase the world into a classless society. Marxism, therefore, has nothing to do with modern liberalism. Thank you, come again.

You're confusing Marxism with Leninism.

No, I'm not. I'm talking about Marxism as outlined in The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels. Leninism and Maoism were adaptations of Marxism.
Iam pridem, ex quo suffragia nulli vendimus, effudit curas; nam qui dabat olim imperium, fasces, legiones, omnia, nunc se continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat, panem et circenses.

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #21 on: July 02, 2012, 09:47:57 PM »
I just had a good long read of some of Conservapedia's articles. I seriously cannot fathom what sort of person actually digests that drivel, it's like a parody of itself.

In fact, it made me think of this:
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Offline Rathma

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #22 on: July 03, 2012, 12:35:01 AM »
Not sure what answer the OP is looking for.  But you might ask "When did 'conservative' become a dirty word for the american left?"  Same coin; different side.

The term "conservative" isn't as dirtied as "liberal" and that's probably why a lot of people boast of being "conservative" as if it's a mark of intelligence and common sense. Liberals have moved to the term "progressive" which actually makes a lot more sense since it's the opposite of conservative. Libertarians are the ones that are the most liberal in terms of social and economic freedom, but they'll never identify themselves as "liberal" either because, well, it's a dirty word.

Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #23 on: July 03, 2012, 03:04:14 AM »
Bzzt. Marxism is the belief that in order to solve the perceived oppression of laborers by the ruling class, there must be a violent revolution, after which point the proletariat will rule by dictatorship and phase the world into a classless society. Marxism, therefore, has nothing to do with modern liberalism. Thank you, come again.

You're confusing Marxism with Leninism.

No, I'm not. I'm talking about Marxism as outlined in The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels. Leninism and Maoism were adaptations of Marxism.

Yes, yes, but what was the other adaptation of Marxism? The reformist Marxism advocated by The Fabian Society, social Democrats, Progressive Movement, etc. This is where modern liberalism traces its origins. The Fabian Society even laid the foundations for the Labour Party in the UK. According to George Bernard Shaw the stated aim of the Fabian Society was "the emancipation of land and industrial Capital from individual and class ownership…  the extinction of private property in land…” Who does that sound like?

I will confess I was surprised by the two or three points that were similar between the Marxist planks and some liberal platform points. But come on, is there anyone here who can, in all seriousness, say they're against free public education for children and keeping them out of factory work?

And while I'm at it, #4 sounds more like it belongs on an establishment Republican or a redneck-variety libertarian's platform. So does the "bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally" part of #7; liberals would wanna preserve the marshlands in order to protect the local environment (although liberals would probably advocate soil improvement; green thinking, you know).

The Communist Manifesto is an extreme document even by (I would say especially by) American liberal standards. I've never once heard an elected liberal official say they want to centralize all industry or all means of communication.
Two or three?  Try nine, but these especially:

Quote
A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
Tax the rich! The rich are the root of all evil!

Quote
Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.

This is the Federal Reserve. The central bank advocated by the Keynesians/faux liberals

Quote
Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.

This is bailouts, nationalized businesses etc. The second half sounds a lot like the TVA and other aspects of the New Deal. I'm not going to argue against environmentalism, but it's a very useful tool for the government to seize land and increase its power

Quote
Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
Social security, affirmative action,  the minimum wage, unions, etc.

Quote
Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labour in its present form and combination of education with industrial production.
I can't say I'm opposed to these but they were pillars of the Progressive Movement in the early twentieth century.

Centralization of communication exists through the FCC. The "Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels" is an exception and something we would associate more with fascism than Marxism. But you can find common threads running through all totalitarian ideologies, especially collectivism and the abolition of private property.

Offline Super Dude

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #24 on: July 03, 2012, 04:41:37 AM »
Apart from the Post Office, zero nationalized businesses come to mind. I'm sorry but two or three they will remain. I've tried to remain respectful up until now but you seem to be the sort to see demons everywhere, and it's voters like you who are the reason we are now an unexceptional nation.

Look at the article about how we're not number 1 anymore. Look at the countries that do get the number 1 spot. Take a good, careful look because those are countries that would make you hiss and screech "COMMUNISM!!!" (Even though you'd be wrong; they just have big government and some of them are social democracies to a greater extent than us.)
« Last Edit: July 03, 2012, 04:46:57 AM by Super Dude »
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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #25 on: July 03, 2012, 03:58:58 PM »
Apart from the Post Office, zero nationalized businesses come to mind. I'm sorry but two or three they will remain. I've tried to remain respectful up until now but you seem to be the sort to see demons everywhere, and it's voters like you who are the reason we are now an unexceptional nation.

Look at the article about how we're not number 1 anymore. Look at the countries that do get the number 1 spot. Take a good, careful look because those are countries that would make you hiss and screech "COMMUNISM!!!" (Even though you'd be wrong; they just have big government and some of them are social democracies to a greater extent than us.)

I'm only 19 and I've never voted. How am I to blame for this country going down the toilet? We were #1 when we had a limited government. Unfortunately, some people are naive enough to think that more government is the solution.

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #26 on: July 03, 2012, 04:21:31 PM »
We were #1 in one of our biggest big government periods in American history.
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Offline ohgar

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #27 on: July 03, 2012, 05:44:55 PM »
All this talk of "being #1" is precisely the reason the United States is hated around the world. By what standard were we #1? By many standards we have never been #1; by others (e.g. number of prisoners) we still are. But it doesn't matter in the end. Stop worrying about whether "the United States is best at something" and start worrying about the condition of humanity. Think of yourself as a citizen of the world instead of as an "American." There is a name for people who pine for their country's so-called "glory days."
« Last Edit: July 03, 2012, 05:50:09 PM by ohgar »
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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #28 on: July 03, 2012, 07:45:26 PM »
I don't think you need to tell even the most conservative member of this board that America isn't #1.
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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #29 on: July 05, 2012, 02:24:18 PM »
Apart from the Post Office, zero nationalized businesses come to mind. I'm sorry but two or three they will remain. I've tried to remain respectful up until now but you seem to be the sort to see demons everywhere, and it's voters like you who are the reason we are now an unexceptional nation.

Look at the article about how we're not number 1 anymore. Look at the countries that do get the number 1 spot. Take a good, careful look because those are countries that would make you hiss and screech "COMMUNISM!!!" (Even though you'd be wrong; they just have big government and some of them are social democracies to a greater extent than us.)

I'm only 19 and I've never voted. How am I to blame for this country going down the toilet? We were #1 when we had a limited government. Unfortunately, some people are naive enough to think that more government is the solution.
Did you start college within the last year or so, and did you discover libertarianism around the same time?

A friend of mine went through a brief libertarian phase not long after he started college, and a lot of your views look really familiar from that. It's natural to want to rebel against the system a bit and back an underdog, but trust me, six months to a year from now, you'll realize that pure libertarianism flat out doesn't work, and that the US incarnation of it is a laughable mess.

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #30 on: July 05, 2012, 02:27:40 PM »
I've met a whole mess of college libertarians who think they have everything figured out. The truth is though that being cynical and understanding things completely are not the same thing, because then you're missing out on the part that isn't about cynicism.
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Offline ohgar

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #31 on: July 05, 2012, 02:32:07 PM »
Yeah I was a libertarian in college too. Then I got schizophrenia and went into huge debt over medical bills. It's amazing how much reality can change your carefully thought-out views.
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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #32 on: July 05, 2012, 02:32:37 PM »
That also explains a lot. :lol
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Offline theseoafs

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Offline rumborak

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Re: When did "liberal" become a dirty word for the american right?
« Reply #34 on: July 05, 2012, 06:07:24 PM »
I've met a whole mess of college libertarians who think they have everything figured out.

That's the irony really. Coming from Europe, I know those people. Only in Europe, they become Communists. It's the same allure of a very pure idealism, and the idea of a revolution leading to a utopia.

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