Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Classical Liberal

I've struggling to post of late because I get tired of complaining. It is more fun to bang my head on the table than it is to continually recite the list of problems with the PRC or the Hong Kong real state market. I have really try to look for more positive things to write about but sometimes it is just so hard. I've even thought about becoming a poet and filling this space with silly sonnets or bawdy lymricks.

I actually wrote this post as a comment on the Strat-Sphere blog and I thought would fit as a post here as well, if for no other reason than I took quite a bit of time to write the comment. There is an on going conversation at that blog as to what it means to be a political Centrist. This is actually an important issue because one of the common mistakes in identifying political ideology is to use a term but fail to see how the definition of the term has changed. No where is this more evident than politics. The word Centrist does not mean today what it meant 100 years ago. But more than that, what does it mean to govern from the center? What do I mean when I say that I consider myself a Centrist?

Here is how I define a Centrist.
1. A Centrist is someone that I might disagree with on any of several issues but is willing to work at resolving those issues in a legal manner.

2. A Centrist is someone who believes in the rule of law. This is, for example the real problem with the abortion issue. Not that the moral components of the problem are not a problem but that liberals used the courts to short-circuit the system of creating laws.

3. A Centrist is someone who believes broadly in individual freedom but also in individual responsibility. There should be consequences for your actions, deeds and beliefs. This is not just a law enforcement issue though crime and punishment play a big part in it. I think one of the reasons you see such flagrantly goofy individuals in places like the UK and Japan is because of the nanny state. You can be a loser who dresses up like a vampire or ragdoll and not starve. If those places did not tacitly encourage that type of behavior by not requiring idiots to work for a living they wouldn’t dress like that.

4. A Centrist does not use inordinate amounts of coercion in dealing with others. This means that a Centrist believes that that law should be limited in scope and developed with the consent of the greater community. In other words, laws are public entities and morals are private entities. Obviously there is some fuzziness around the edges on this point. I may not support homosexuality. But as long as that Gay man isn’t recruiting my children it is his right to be wrong in my eyes. This same rule applies to people who practice various religions or hobbies I am not fond of. I allow them to do their thing because they allow me to do mine. I am free to convert them and they free to evangelize me. That does not mean I believe all such activities are equally valid or true.

5. A Centrist is someone who realizes that they might not always have all the answers. That is what is so frustrating about the left. They can never seem to learn from their mistakes. It does not matter how often a welfare system fails they think they can make it work. The far right is just as bad because they believe they are speaking for God and that their words are inerrant.

6. A Centrist is someone that believes that while there are times that government must step in there are many other times when the government overtly or inadvertently becomes an oppressor that severely limits personal freedom. As P.J. O’Rourke said: “I don’t want government that works; I want it to stop working.”

7. A Centrist does not believe in the perfectibility of humanity through human means. We are never going to solve all the problems sometimes we just do the best we can. But, we can keep from making things worse

In short; a Centrist is, someone who if possible works within the law and believes in the rule of law and that all citizens are equal before the law, believes in both personal liberty and personal responsibility, avoids the use of political coercion, does not believe they have all they answers, believes that excessive government leads to tyranny so government should be limited, and does not believe that all problems are solvable by government action.

A.J. Strata added:
And a centrist is a skeptic who thinks for themselves. Make a sound argument, don’t demand blind allegiance!

At times I appear to be far away from the political center in Hong Kong. However, that is because our government here is so steeped in authoritarianism that that it makes me look a revolutionary. Maybe if I look like one here I am.

In any event, a positive post. There is hope for me yet!

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who stands on the white line in the middle of the road

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