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The discourse is what we know as "liberalism," or rights-based discourse, which provides for individual human rights and private property rights as the basis upon which other discussions of how to interact across borders begins.

This isn't the Anglo view of liberalism at all.

In practice there are two views of democratic liberalism. One accepts the usefulness of compromise and the limitation of absolute freedoms in return for freedom from anarchy and monarchic tyranny. It offers peaceful co-existence and enhanced opportunity at the cost of some relatively nominal  membership fees.

In the other 'freedom' and 'liberalism' are plain synonyms for 'artistocratic privilege.'

The sleight of mind promoted in the class war has been to persuade peasants that the middle classes battling on their behalf are actually threatening their (nonexistent) right to personal kinghood.

The Anglo model is essentially baronial, not liberal.

The Anglo interpretation of democracy is based on the right of every individual to become emperor in their own personal realm, with privileges that include lack of oversight, lack of accountability, selfish accumulation without overt consequences, the creation of subservient hierarchies, and - ideally - freedom from tribute.

The basis of the anti-government and anti-tax movements in the US isn't so much about taxation in the abstract, but in the fact that the existence of a federal government and an IRS directly undermines the sacredness of individual droit de seigneur.

You can't be a real emperor while you're still legally bound by other people's rules and demands.

In the limit this is ideal of personal kinghood is grandiose, immature, and adolescent.

But it's still the key guiding narrative in right-wing US politics and in business.

Europe meanwhile, after many centuries of this kind of thing, has realised that it's a spectacularly stupid and self-destructive way to run a culture.

It doesn't matter if the US model survives for the next few centuries in some form or other. What matters is the devastating loss of innovation, creativity, original thought and possibility that it trails in its wake - and all of those things are the foundations of real rights and freedoms, not the dishonest and strictly limited plastic freedoms that are the best the US model can offer.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Sep 16th, 2010 at 12:34:44 PM EST
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