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Defining Liberalism, part one

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There’s a lot of debate about where the idea of liberalism comes from.

If you want to take a serious look at the question, a good place to start is The Lost History of Liberalism from Ancient Rome to the Twenty-first Century by Dr. Helena Rosenblatt, a professor of history at City University of New York.

The broad parameters of liberalism are not difficult to trace:

  • equality before the law
  • representative government
  • freedom of speech
  • separation of religion and state

These quickly become meaningless platitudes, however. So, let’s look at a more concrete example.

Religion Dispatches is a liberal religious online magazine that keeps up with various trends in religion in the United States. The headline from October 3 looked like this:

THE ELITE MOVEMENT LAYING THE FOUNDATION FOR A MAGA THAT WILL OUTLAST TRUMP AND REMAKE AMERICA: INSIDE NATCON PART I

BTW, you see there another article: EVANGELICALISM THRIVED BECAUSE IT ENABLED WHITE CHRISTIANS TO AVOID CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENTS ACCORDING TO NEW BOOK. You get the point of the editorial bent of Religion Dispatches.

Let’s take a peek at the article by Ben Lorber about the new elite group:

the array of voices clustered under the NatCon banner align around a number of goals and priorities. These include a near-total moratorium on immigration (whether documented or not); a robust Christian nationalism to dominate the public square; a rollback of LGBTQ rights; economic nationalism and opposition to “globalist” supranational institutions; hostility to China as a civilizational enemy; a seething vendetta against so-called “woke elites” in cultural, academic, economic and governmental institutions; a fuzzy, ill-defined economic populism; and an increasing willingness to “get comfortable,” as thought leader Rod Dreher puts it after the conference, “using state power to achieve conservative ends.”

Let’s break that down a little:

  • a near-total moratorium on immigration
  • Christian nationalism to dominate the public square
  • rollback of LGBTQ rights
  • economic nationalism and opposition to “globalist” supranational institutions
  • hostility to China as a civilizational enemy
  • vendetta against “woke elites” in cultural, academic, economic and governmental institutions
  • economic populism
  • “using state power to achieve conservative ends”

Seems to me that our NatCon friends have defined liberalism for us, at least the liberalism that needs defending at this moment.

The conference featured the Heritage Foundation and speakers such as Ron DeSantis, Josh Hawley, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott. One of the Gen-Z participants summarized their goal:

President Trump got elected on a platform of American greatness anew, but was unable to implement it because we didn’t have the people he needed to staff the political bureaucracy and get things done. That will never happen again: my friends and allies will spend every last moment of our energy ensuring that.

If this agenda is more or less the opposite of what you would like to see, you might be liberal!

More on that next time.

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