Yesterday I suggested that there is a way out of the poisonous left/right split.
This path begins by asking: "Which Liberalism?"
The US Founders had a Liberal Arts Education based on classical logic. They fought for liberty and sought to preserve their liberty by establishing a Constitutionally limited republican form of government.
For lack of a better term, I will call the Founders' approach to governance "classical liberalism." I define "classical liberalism" simply as the application of classical logic to the question of liberty. Classical liberal thought led to the creation of a Constitutionally Limited Republican form of Governance and a free market economy.
The monarchy found that it was losing the argument. The monarchy, which controlled European Universities, set in to find ways to frame the monarchy as progressive while discrediting the Founders. They did so by attacking the underlying logic used by the founders.
The monarchist reactionary movement created a system of new think that is often called "modern logic," "modern dialectics" or "material dialectics." The goal of New Think was to frame the reasoning of the classical liberals as flawed and the thinking of the centralized state as progressive.
The New Think created a new system of thought called "modern liberalism."
Modern logic rejects the laws of thought held by classical logic. The site Plusroot.com tried to take the tact of explaining the laws of classical logic.
Personally, I think a more direct path is to discuss the role of paradox in reasoning.
People have known paradoxes since antiquity. The statement "This sentence is False" is a classic paradox.
Classical thinkers realized that any virtue pushed too far resulted in a vice. The heart of a the Aristotelian tragedy is the tragic flaw. A tragic flaw is a vice pushed to the point that it becomes a vice.
The Aristotelian tradition admonished students to avoid paradoxes and absolutes. (NOTE, most absolutes lead to a paradoxes).
There are paradoxes associated with both freedom and democracy.
Does my freedom include the freedom to take others as slaves? If I were granted absolute freedom then I would have the freedom to enslave others.
NOTE: Slave owners were eager to find ways to preserve their peculiar institution and were extremely eager to advance anything argument, logical or not, to achieve their nefarious end.
A Democratic Republic has a paradox in that the people might vote in a dictator that ends the Republic. Of course, all forms of government have the paradox that the government could do something that causes the collapse of the government.
A Democratic Republic is not, in and of itself, a better system. The people must be ever vigilant.
Classical thinkers knew of the existence of paradoxes. They simply sought to avoid the paradoxes.
For a free society to work, my freedom must stop at your doorstep and visa-verse. To avoid the tyranny of a Republic, the government must have Constitutional protections for minority rights and the government must build in legislative stops to reduce government excess.
The reactionary monarchist movement (aka The Right) sought to undermine the arguments of the classical liberals by embracing paradox.
Hegel, the father of Modern Logic, developed hundreds of proofs that freedom was slavery and slavery freedom. Hegelian thought became the basis of modern liberalism.
Enter the Left/Right Split:
The Left/Right Split came from European Parliaments. The Left in the French Revolution sought radical change while the right sought to preserve the institutions of the ancient regime.
The Left adopted Modern Liberalism. The Right was eager to assist in this effort as modern dialectics allows them to project paradoxical thought on to the word "liberal," effectively undermining classical liberalism.
Modern Liberalism and Modern Conservatism have both accepted modern dialectics as its foundation.
Please note, when you listen to self described "conservatives" you will find that they are as committed to the modern definition of liberalism as are the radical progressives. Modern Conservatives also tend to prefer dialectical forms of argumentation (such as Fox News) to rational analysis. (Aristotelian logic is also referred to as analysis).
People wanting to preserve the American Experiment in Self Rule need to be aware of this process. Those seeking to defend the American Tradition must be prepared to stand against both Modern Liberals and Modern Conservatives.
The problem we face today is not with "liberalism."The problem lies with the dialectical process (modern logic) that created modern liberalism and the Left/Right Split.
The way to accomplish this goal is to emphasis that classical liberalism was founded on classical logic (analytics). Modern Liberalism is based on modern logic.
Classical Logicians sought to avoid paradox. Modern logicians embrace paradox and make paradox fundamental.
Classical Liberals sought to created a limited form of government whose primary charge was to protect individual liberty. A primary charge of government is to protect people from each other.
Modern logic was created by reactionaries intent on restoring the monarchy. Modern Liberals used the paradoxes of liberty to frame freedom as slavery and slavery freedom. Modern Liberals seek the creation of an unlimited state.
Comparing classical liberalism to modern liberalism ends up pitting a system based on rational thought and the Western tradition against a system of thought based on paradox and conflict.
IMHO, the Tea Party and freedom movement would have a more significant impact if it were to ditch the regressive label "conservative" and were concentrate on contrasting classical reason with modern reason.
That is I think the freedom movement should seek to differentiate classical liberalism (liberty and reason) against modern liberalism (new think). Unfortunately, the freedom movement cannot achieve this goal by supporting "conservatism" because modern conservatism has adopted the same underlying logical structure as modern liberalism.