#2—Now that we are all on the same page about what constitutes a Conservative, what are the top 6 beliefs/ideas that define the liberal movement in America for you?
Bugger the top 6, here's a brief, simple overview of modern liberalism.
Liberalism in America is the heir of three intellectual traditions.
First is what is often called classical liberalism, which, while not conservative, is the most congenial to conservatism. This tradition is exemplified by Locke and emphasizes the use of reason to discern timeless truths about natural rights and consequent relations between people, especially political relations. The dignity of the individual is emphasized and government intrusion into private life is viewed with great suspicion. This tradition is attenuated in modern American liberalism, but can still be seen, especially when rights are invoked.
Second is the progressive tradition, which emphasizes the rational use of government power, guided by expertise, to continuously improve society. Equality (or at least the avoidance of great disparity of wealth and power) is a great concern of this approach, which is eager to use scientific reason and power to improve the world.
Third, is the post-modern tradition, which rejects any unified conception of truth or reason as an illusion masking the will to power and domination. This emphasizes liberation, both for oppressed groups and for individuals. Foucault might be a typical example.
While I have called the above intellectual traditions, they are all hostile to traditional authorities and ways of life, rejecting them either in favor of independent reason or as masks for domination. Whomever one picks as the standard-bearer for them (Rorty or Rawls might be the most likely candidates) one is assured of a rejection of tradition (even the liberal tradition can only be championed ironically). Power is to be taken from families, churches, business, and local communities, and given to the individual and the central state.
By & large, I agree. I think, further, that you can see the skepticism of Locke & his forebears as well in all his successors. What you by degrees fail to see is the rest of his teaching. Locke proposes a regime & grounds it in an understanding of pre-political psychology, including man's apolitical nature. Progressivism hoped at best that history would reveal a regime; the choice of the German state, for example, at the turn of the century, was arbitrary. It seems untenable today. After progressivism, there was an abandonment of the awareness that a regime is necessary. The question seems to have been abandoned.
When it comes to the psychology that grounds the regime, I think Progressives took a strange turn; they assumed so much about the egalitarianism of the future, a globalized democracy & perpetual peace, that they had to assume that conventions not only define justice for a regime, but they can make people into the kinds of creatures that would be happy in a democracy; unless there is any overwhelming reason for people to naturally tend to acquire happiness by serving democracy, you have to confuse the private for the public, & to convince people that obeying conventions is a hallmark of humanity. Otherwise, the requirements of democratic justice would be generalized unhappiness...
Outside of playing on the human desire for approval in order to get people to obey egalitarianism, progressives faces the daunting task of reinterpreting creativity for democratic purposes. Really, to be authentic is to be lawless--that won't do!--& the rollercoaster ride of redefining egalitarianism, the most obvious form of conformism in a democracy, as creative has not yet stopped. But I think it will.
It's a costly ride, too, I think. It's hard to correct the excesses of egalitarianism. It's hard to remind people of the benefits that accrue from the human virtues which are not democratic, so they're unpopular... Families, different social classes, & other assorted features of pre-democratic life helped at least to defend some of these virtues. Now, they hardly have any place to develop...
The belief that people really don't know what is good for them and that the government should tell them.
The individuals rights are far less important than the collectives' rights.
All should work for the benefit of the collective.
Some segment's rights are far more important than other segment's rights.
Most individuals, those not in power, are too stupid to really think for themselves.
You have freedom of choice but only from those choices we give you.
Your rights are given to you by the Government.
The Federal Government has the right to overthrow States Rights.
It isn't your fault, nothing is anyone's fault, unless you are well-off/wealthy/or doing well, and then it's all your fault.
Why pay now when we can have (y)our great grand children paying for all our social programs?
I think you can restate most to show what I think is the purpose of the liberalism we see, & deplore: To make people equal, whether they would have it or not-