I am increasingly interested in the trans-ideological dimension of freedom.
Following up on my post On Feeling Lovely, I think it is worth your while listening to what Jonathan Haidt has to say about the righteous minds of liberals (US meaning) and conservatives -- see the below video.
Arnold Kling classifies the fundamental paradigmatic reflexes of the preponderant political forces in contemporary America along the following lines:
My hypothesis is that progressives, conservatives, and libertarians view politics along three different axes. For progressives, the main axis has oppressors at one end and the oppressed at the other. For conservatives, the main axis has civilization at one end and barbarism at the other. For libertarians, the main axis has coercion at one end and free choice at the other.
Adding a little flesh to the bare scaffolding, Arnold Kling illustrates:
A conservative will exaggerate the extent to which a practice leads to barbarism. Again, I use the example of illegal immigration. A conservative emphasizes that it is illegal, therefore the immigrants are lawbreakers by definition, hence the threat to civilization is intrinsic. In general, I think that conservatives view social trends as much more dire than I do and see society in decline more readily than I do.
A progressive will exaggerate the extent to which people fall into classes of oppressors and oppressed. If you look at the biography of UN Ambassador Susan Rice, she apparently both inherited and married into wealth, received an elite education, worked for McKinsey, and now has a net worth of over $20 million. Yet people on the left describe her as oppressed, because she is African-American and female. I want to say, “Really?”
A libertarian will exaggerate the extent to which a practice represents coercion. They are fond of saying, “If you don’t comply with xyz policy, men with guns will come and take you to prison.” I understand this argument and I generally take it as valid. However, I can also understand how someone with a different point of view might argue that when they pay taxes what they get in return is a fair deal.
I also believe that the three axes are different. A practice can be barbaric without being coercive or oppressive. Body piercing, for example. A practice can be coercive without being oppressive or barbaric. Social Security, for example. A practice can be oppressive without being coercive or barbaric. Owners of restaurants refusing to serve non-white customers, for example.
See also Trust and Democracy.