Monday, September 28, 2009

I am a Liberal.... I guess. No one is more shocked than I...



Terry Pratchett wrote a book titled 'The Wee Free Men'.
In it the main character (a little girl named Tiffany) does something unusual for a child. She reads the dictionary, cover to cover. She sees nothing strange about this, nor do I.

Yes, I was a child who read encyclopedias and dictionaries. For Christmas, my mother gave Webster's 'Dictionary of Dictionaries' and my father gave me Radio Shacks 'Dictionary of electronics'. I once found a large library bound edition of Funk+ Wagnall's most massive dictionary in a pile at a thrift store. I gleefully paid the asking price and left the store, laughing like Renfield. Now all twenty pounds of that book of words resides in my library.

Why would I do such things? Because words have power, that's why. They mean something. Usually something specific, unless vague or twisted.

Words must have defined meanings in order for communication to exist. Civilized society cannot exist without communication. It follows that a civilized society defines it's words. Violate this law to a certain degree, and that civilization must fall.

I believe in civilization, and that's why I read dictionaries.

I tell all this to explain why I was reading a dictionary this morning.
See, I have this theory that liberalism is a religion. I think it qualifies on all counts. It requires irrational, unfounded belief, it has it's high priests and priestess who are above all wrongs, it has it's Gods in various forms, and it's a cause for much suffering. Yup... sounds like a religion to me!

Yet.... I hadn't looked it up. I didn't check; I just went on gut instinct and experience.

This morning I changed that by looking up some of the words I was bandying about in my mind. Starting with 'Religion'.

From Websters on-line dictionary:
Main Entry:
re·li·gion
Pronunciation:
\ri-ˈli-jən\
Function:
noun
Etymology:
Middle English religioun, from Anglo-French religiun, Latin religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perhaps from religare to restrain, tie back — more at rely
Date:
13th century
(1): the service and worship of God or the supernatural
(2): commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance2: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
(3):
archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness
(4)
: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

Perhaps we might examine that definition a bit, shall we?
"(1): Worship and serve the supernatural". Yes, that sounds about right for a liberal. Find something that does not exist and devote your time and effort towards empowering it.
"(2): an institutionalized system of attitudes, beliefs, and practices". Yes again, that matches. Liberalism is nothing if not institutionalized, with it's claws buried deep into the machinery of education and government. Do this, don't do that, can't you read the tri-lingual politically correct non-threatening communication device you bleeping red neck moron?
"(4): A system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith". Oh my, yes! Nobody is more adamant in their faith than a liberal, even if they can't define their faith any better than "Do what I say, or you are evil".

Now, this Webster's entry on religion fully supports my theory that liberalism is a religion. To my mind that is, and if you look up 'Solipsism' you'll see why this is what matters to me.

But, as in most lines of inquiry, one discovery usually leads to another question.
The next logical step here, once finding the definition of 'religion' matches my mind-picture of liberalism is to recheck the actual definition of 'liberalism.
Back to Webster's we go........ (WEEEeeeeee)

Main Entry:
lib·er·al·ism
Pronunciation:
\ˈli-b(ə-)rə-ˌli-zəm\
Function:
noun
Date:
1819
(1): the quality or state of being liberal
(2):
often capitalized : a movement in modern Protestantism emphasizing intellectual liberty and the spiritual and ethical content of Christianity b: a theory in economics emphasizing individual freedom from restraint and usually based on free competition, the self-regulating market, and the gold standard c: a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties dcapitalized : the principles and policies of a Liberal party

UH OH!

Awe Crap! There goes my whole theory! It turns out that the definition of liberalism (and liberal) in Webster's does not in any way match my mind-picture of todays liberals. What Webster's describes as 'Liberalism' actually mates far better with my picture of a conservative..... and.... uh....... me.

It turns out, that by literal definition, I am a liberal. I believe in a system of economics that is based on competition, a gold standard, and which remains mostly self regulated. I believe in progress through the basic goodness of mankind, even if it is a slow process. I believe in the autonomy of the individual in society, and I also believe strongly in individual liberties and rights. Especially the liberty to exercise all our rights to our own individual profit or detriment, without government interference.

Webster's definition of a 'liberal' matches me..... very closely. How can that be? Have I changed that much? Has my world view gotten that twisted and tainted by insanity?

NO! I have not changed that much...... what happened is the word 'Liberal' has been co-opted and bastardized by a religious movement that actually stands for the opposite of the true meaning of the word. Today's self professed 'liberal' believes in oppressive government control of the individual, an economy in a regulatory straight jacket, and crippling taxation on productive citizens. Today's self named 'liberal' stands for heavy restrictions on civil rights, personal property, and personal liberty.

So.... today's 'Liberalism' has nothing to do with the real definition of the word.
It's nothing but verbal theft......... as practiced by the former master of it.

This noted.... I was left to wonder; what is the proper name to gift this religion which falsely calls itself 'liberalism'...

Again I turned to our old standby Webster's dictionary. In an hours searching, I came up with only one word that is close: 'fool'.

Look it up.

3 comments:

Rev. Paul said...

You are correct in every sense, sir: the left has co-opted the term.

Btw, I read the whole World Book Encyclopedia (all 24 volumes) while in junior high. I guess that makes me weird or sumpin'.

Naw. Just curious about the world and how things work. I always want to know.

blogger said...

Carteach0, welcome back (although "back" is probably not the right word).

You write here about what's sometimes called "classical liberalism", which describes the Founding Fathers. The term comes from Latin, of course; the root (libertas) referred to Free Men. The original (sadly defunct) meaning of "Liberal Arts" or "Liberal Education" was precisely the things that a free man needed to know.

Steven den Beste had a typically perceptive (i.e. "wicked smaht") post about this, Back In The Day.

Oh, and Rev. Paul, I also read the encyclopedia while in Jr. High (also World Book).

Ted Amadeus said...

It's great that they have switched to using the term "Progressive", because most fatal diseases are exactly that!