Dan Carlin — We’re All Liberals (and Radicals)
Self-described radical Dan Carlin tells Dave Rubin why political labels suck. We’re all liberals, and we’re all mixed up. Watch the full interview
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- If the Word Liberal Is Up for Grabs, Can We Have It Back? (FEE article): Jeffrey Tucker argues that libertarians should take the word liberal back from those on the left.
What really is the difference between a liberal and a progressive or a libertarian and a conservative, any of that stuff? Do you think most people even that talk about politics professionally actually understand the philosophic underpinnings of this stuff?
The easy answer to that is no, but the second answer is partly because those words have all changed in terms of meaning. Take liberal as a perfect example, I think I’m a liberal, I think you’re a liberal, I think most people in this country who favor a democratic form of government based on freedom and rights and civic action and all that, we’re all liberals in the grand scheme of things. You have to kind of sit down with people and dive deeply into what they believe to try to figure out where they stand but on the spectrum of governments all around the world throughout all time Periods we’re all liberals. We’re just arguing over what percentage of this or that you want to put into the category. By not knowing what the words really mean, or by conflating what they mean, or changing what they mean. I think the reason people use progressive is because liberals been so changed in terms of its meaning, I don’t think any of these terms … What does conservative mean? I’m fiscally conservative was does that mean?
Right, it just doesn’t mean anything anymore. That as I’ve done that show At least in this incarnation for the last two years I realize I use these labels Because sometimes you need them to frame conversations and yet the more we use them the more meaningless they become.
The thing is, is that if you sit down and try to figure out when you’re talking to people, “Where do you stand on this issue or where do you stand on that issue?” I always feel we’re all a mix, that if you think you’re really up and down the line, give me a little and I’ll figure out … I always say, “We’re all radical on something.” I’ll find some subject where if you said that you felt that way about it and gave no clarifying remark people would be like, “Whoa.” I think that, that describes all of us. I think we feel like we have to … I remember learning about Totems and psychology 101 and I think that’s what a lot of people do. Where they sit there and say part of my self-image is that I’m a conservative or that I’m a liberal. And that locks you into things. I mean to be able to say that I base my opinion on my own views and that I don’t have to fit into any particular box. I find that completely liberating. People will say that you’re inconsistent, that’s what they’ll … “Well you’re really not … You don’t have a consistent philosophy.” I’m not sure why I have to have a consistent Philosophy.
Right, why should we treat a political philosophy like a religion? That’s actually the reverse of how we should treat it. Yet they seem to want this purity test all the time.
What’s that great line? I love that line … I think it was, who was it that said it? I think it may have been Keynes who said, somebody accused him of flip-flopping essentially, we would call it flip-flopping today, and he said, “When the facts change I change my mind. What do you do? That’s how I feel. I’m not going to get locked into … I know that I tend to be in my own life certain ways but if I’m a fiscal conservative, for example, which I am, and you find out that for this particular cause you need to spend a lot of money, if I determine the cause is worth it, I’m going to spend a lot of money. Does that mean I’m a flip-flopper?
I guess in that sense I’m more of a pragmatist but even a pragmatist can be utopian in a way. You could say, “I want to base things on what’s likely to work at the same time I want to shoot for better than what we have now.” Does that make you a pragmatic utopianist? Once you start to mix those phrases, do they mean anything anymore? “I’m a liberal, conservative. I’m a conservative liberal, I’m a Pragmatic utopianist.”
That’s a lot of Stuff.
“I like premeditated spontaneity.” I mean at what point does not make any sense Anymore?
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