Encarta provides two definitions of "liberal"
1: "broad-minded: tolerant of different views and standards of behavior in others"
2: "progressive politically or socially: favoring gradual reform, especially political reforms that extend democracy, distribute wealth more evenly, and protect the personal freedom of the individual"
Yes, that’s about right. I raise this point because many commentators on my PC/CP post have blamed ‘liberals’ for the problems the West now faces from the political correctness/multi-culturalism axis. My post made the point that the antecedents and practices of this axis are most closely found in the Communist Party or similar authoritarian polity.
PC/multi-culti is the polar opposite of liberalism as defined above, especially in relation to tolerance of others’ different views and standards, and in protecting the ‘personal freedom of the individual’. PC/multi-culti is characterized by its lack of tolerance for views and behaviour of which it disapproves. It is extremely tolerant of genital mutilation, polygamy and crime – except of course when perpetrated by white males. The freedom to dissent from its orthodoxies is constrained to a degree found only under dictatorships. In my view, it’s the antithesis of any meaningful definition of liberalism.
The same kind of misclassification applies to conservatives. For example GW Bush is deemed by many to be ultra-conservative, but to me he’s a million miles from that. His primary objective, it seem to me, is to further enrich the plutocrats, his power base, at the expense of ordinary Americans. He’s a right-wing radical who undermines fundamental conservative precepts such as:
Small government: The role and power of the government, and its intrusion into citizens’ lives have grown under the Bush regime probably more than any other in history.
Fiscal responsibility: Far from balancing the budget, Bush has presided over record deficits and blown the country’s reserves. Future generations will pay the price.
Self-sufficiency: The US is arguably less self-sufficient than it has ever been throughout its history. Bush undermined this key conservative tenet by destroying local industry through outsourcing and corporate tax breaks, all to keep his paymasters happy – and of course by his fiscal irresponsibility
Empire building: The Founding Fathers wisely counseled against ‘foreign entanglements’ to avoid the disastrous experience of Europe. Yet Bush has systematically worked against this almost since the inception of his Presidency.
My point really is that the binary distinctions between liberal/conservative and left/right have become increasingly meaningless in recent decades. We need some new classifications to help us understand what's happening to us.