Thursday, 12 February 2009

LIberal vs Social Democrat

An interesting question was put by Charlotte Gore over at her reluctantlylibdem blog.

Here it is:
Genuine Question: What's the difference between a 'liberal' (in the commonly accepted Lib Dem version of the word) and a 'democratic socialist' or 'social democrat'?

Is there a distinction that makes self-identification as both a paradoxical impossibility?  Are they mutually exclusive, or could you be both? 

What's the difference really?
I retain Charlotte's Orange for authenticity.

I replied: 
To me, the Classical Liberals ceased being so when they decided to use the State as the vehicle to pursue their aims instead of voluntary, mutual and personal action. This is when they become more akin to Social Democrats - this can be translated into "Collectivist and Redistributive Tyranny of the Masses".

As for the "Liberal" in Liberal Conspiracy, it is very much of the Social Democrat and "Too screwed up to admit I'm Socialist" crowd.
Charlotte gained other replies, some very introspective, one or two snide (intentional?) misrepresentations of Libertarianism and a few who clearly understand the situation.

After the thrash, Charlotte has posted a rather long reply, but it is most interesting, thoughtful and well worth a read*. Charlotte has a very robust, healthy and sensible disdain for Collectivism (in the sense of enforced-) and Authoritarianism and AFAICT the current climate inside the LibDems, which is far more Social Democrat than Classical Liberal, chaffs.

There is one part I do disagree with in particular and it is this:
So what I believe isn't liberalism, not any more. Liberalism's dead because it's indistinguishable from anything else. That's why our party can't really explain itself in a unique, distinct and simple way.
I would say that Liberalism is not dead, but the label has been hijacked. Classical Liberalism is what it is but the Fabians and Statists have wormed their way in via Entryism to destroy something that had the power to resist their wretched plans. They keep hold of the term "Liberal" so as to confuse and mislead.

As others have mentioned, there is less of a gap between Libertarians and Classical Liberals. A huge gap between them and "Liberals", a.k.a. Social Democrats.

*  I'll admit, it is because Charlotte for the most part agrees with me on this. Ok?