This is a "freedom" (civil liberties)-related blog post, a nice break from all that military hardware I recently wrote about (even though I wasn't *really* writing about hardware, but I suppose superficially it looked like I did).
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It's fairly obvious these days both in comparison between certain developed countries and in close looks at certain recent politics changes in several countries that the Western world is in a conflict of very basic ideas about how to run a society.
On the one hand there's modern liberalism with its emancipation movements. Liberalism tries to create an ever better society by bursting shackles, freeing the people from restrictions. Followers of different bible interpretation or even altogether foreign deities are allowed to. Women are allowed to wear pants, work, have sort uncovered hair, vote etc. Gays are allowed to be gays and so on.
"In meinem Staate kann jeder nach seiner Façon selig werden"
"In my dominions every one may be happy in his own fashion."
Frederick (II.) the Great, King of Prussia and elector of Brandenburg
There's also an altogether different way of how to run a society: This way demands of everyone to behave according to tight limits of tolerable behaviour. Women got to respect men. Gays do not exist. You better pray to the Christian god or better perfectly hide your faith and don't dare apply for public office or do a speech.
It's fairly easy to see how this authoritarian and relatively oppressive system causes discomfort to many women, all gays and most heretics and heathens. That's why it seemingly fell out of fashion in the Western world, and supposedly increasingly so.
Yet by now it's obvious that the liberal approach causes discomfort as well. Those who felt this discomfort have come to sunlight during the last few years in Hungary, United States, Netherlands, France, Poland. Their heroes are (supposed) strongman politicians who promise to establish order - the order in which all those deviations from a tight set of acceptance rules are pushed back into acceptable behaviour, or else. Me being a Sozialliberaler (this doesn't translate literally into English) with a hint of green, I called these people "dangerous idiots". I may have underestimated their numbers, and grossly so. 5-10% was optimistic. In the United States it's rather ~30%.
Maybe it helped me that some liberals got so progressive that even I was a little bit left behind and baffled by the most avantgardist (or most "extreme") views about supposed emancipations. Today I have developed a little bit more respect than calling them "dangerous idiots". "Enemies of liberty" would suffice. Then again, some of them do really deserve both descriptions.
What drove me to write this article is that recalling my economics education I found a way to interpret their behaviour with well-established tools, in fact one of my favourite tools; preferences.
They may be horrible bigots against gays, women, Muslims et cetera, but their discomfort with living in a liberal society (where other people are allowed to deviate far from their behaviour) is real. They really feel this discomfort, because they have a preference for a more orderly, homogeneous society.
This preference is actually as legitimate as is the preference of gays for living the gay way of life.
The discomfort that authoritarians force on gays etc. in pursuit of homogeneity is equivalent to the discomfort that liberals force on authoritarians by creating a heterogeneous, "diverse" society with emancipated subcultures.
There's no real golden rule to solve this conflict known to me; migration is not really a solution because the issue reappears in every generation, even before the children leave their parents' household.
Maybe it would help in the current domestic dissonances if both sides learned to understand that the other side endures legitimate discomforts if one has one's way. In the end, one might learn to at least tone the rhetoric down, to not artificially increase the visibility of some deviations, to respect the idea of liberty a bit more on the other side of the aisle (not just in theory, but in reality) and most importantly; respect the legitimacy of majority rule.
On the other hand, from a progressive's point of view those people REALLY ARE dangerous idiots.
P.S.: What worth has the defence of freedoms against foreign powers if you have no freedoms at home anyway? The whole idea of a military as protector of freedom only begins to make sense if you enjoy freedom at home!.