I’m still thinking about that Harper’s issue last month that had experts discussing (among other things) Liberalism versus Democracy. I wanted to discuss and recommend it, but there were too many fancy words in it I didn’t really know, so I thought I’d clarify the words first, with the help of Wikipedia. They all talked about “demos,” and out-of-date-me thought they must mean the Democrats, but it turns out it means the populace, as used in ancient Greece…I’m re-writing a book, so haven’t time to look up so many fancy words, and perhaps you don’t either…i.e., “instantiation,” etc. They’re all experts I tell myself. I may be just as unintelligible while writing something on psychology, but I’m not sure.
I was really fuzzy on a lot of the words: autonomy, telos, dialectical, counter-majoritarian institutions, etc.
I never wondered about the word Liberty, , and was surprised to learn it has a different meaning than democracy. I was glad not to notice the word “freedom,” since it has been so differently used.
I looked up Liberalism and Democracy, and with its use in the Harper’s article the difference is that Liberalism focusses on the humanity of all, being equal as human beings and democracy meaning being ruled by the people, without reference to which people. (Remember that not so long ago women were not allowed to vote in our democracy, and there has been a movement afoot to limit the democratic participation in voting by blacks. Sorry, I don;t have time to think of a better word for blacks). Now that’s the definition I arrived at, in my own words. Argue with me if you know how to comment upon comment.
In the article Francis Fukuyama pointed out that Abe Lincoln, in the Declaration of Independence, chose liberty as a higher principle than even democracy: All men are created equal. He’s saying that “democracy can be trumped by a higher principle–which is this principle of equality.”
And it seems to me that Liberalism is what used to be referred to as brotherly love. More anon
P.S. Late edit: Just came across a good example of something that is not an example of Liberalism: An Alaskan Republican Representative serving in Alaska was censured by the entire house (except for his vote) for trying to find something positive about child abuse that results in death of the child: “In the case where child abuse is fatal, obviously it’s not good for the child. But it’s actually a benefit to society because there aren’t needs for government services and whatnot over the whole course of that child’s life?”
Daily Kos reported this from BBC Feb. 24, 2023