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Author Topic: Difference between liberalism and republicanism?  (Read 3916 times)
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« on: February 04, 2012, 01:20:34 pm »
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What, precisely, is the difference between "liberalism" and "republicanism"? Because as I understand it, America is both a "liberal democracy" and a "republican democracy."

Is there a difference? Do they refer to different aspects of the same system? Or something else?

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« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2012, 01:55:21 pm »
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« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2012, 03:38:49 pm »
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Republicanism pertains to the rule of law, as opposed to being ruled by a monarch or aristocratic elites who are "above" the law. Republicanism has a different meaning if one is referring to the party instead of a form of government, and to my knowledge there are no republican democracies these days, though many republics are representative democracies on paper - while in practice operating as aristocracies or oligarchies that to some extent are beholden to share power with and procure permission under the "social contract" to exercise legitimatized authority over folks.

Liberalism can refer to limited government based on a premise that the purpose of state is to protect the rights of citizens without taking unneeded steps to curtail the autonomy enjoyed by them as they go about their day-to-day lives. A "liberal democracy" tends to imply a republic or constitutional monarchy in which there is sufficient freedom to openly express oneself, assemble, associate, practice ones religion, and so forth without being persecuted as to foster what non-authoritarian capitalists consider a "free society." It is in contrast to an "illiberal democracy," where a government creates an outward facade of respecting human rights and representing the will of the people but is, in fact, characterized by a number of authoritarian tendencies.  

Right-wingers often see liberal ideals in terms of "moral liberty," which is to say that people have the right to do whatever they want so long as it is in keeping with moral, "civilized" traditions, whereas centrists and people to their left tend to look at it more as a strategy of finding policies to implement which encourage a modernistic notion of "the good life" - passing regulations to protect people from harming one another and taking steps to produce an environment in which there is greater equality of opportunity and most, if not all individuals are free to exert considerable influence over their own courses through life. Or one may be talking about fiscal matters, in which case "liberal" is more or less synonymous with advocating policies friendly toward businesses, private property rights, and conducive to the voluntary exchange of resources between people.

Incidentally, some of the most modern interpretations of liberalism come quite close to principles of social democracy, insofar as the good, free, fulfilling life may demand that the state - aside from upholding political and economic rights - do things like provide for the people a clean environment, sustainable economy, balanced budget, and the ability to practice their cultures unobstructed provided they do not call for behaviors that would inflict substantial harm upon others.

Mind you, that is not to be confused with liberalism as a political attitude, which stands in contrast to conservatism. A liberal in that sense is someone advocating patient, non-violent, gradual adoption of new ideas and reforms in government via existing social institutions.

Or something like that. I am a little fuzzy on this stuff so maybe someone else can explain it better.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2012, 04:03:31 pm by Redalgo »Logged

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« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2012, 03:59:19 pm »
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Republicanism pertains to the rule of law, as opposed to being ruled by a monarch or aristocratic elites who are "above" the law. Republicanism has a different meaning if one is referring to the party instead of a form of government, and to my knowledge there are no republican democracies these days, though many republics are representative democracies on paper - while in practice operating as aristocracies or oligarchies that to some extent are beholden to share power with and procure permission under the "social contract" to exercise legitimatized authority over folks.

Liberalism can refer to limited government based on a premise that the purpose of state is to protect the rights of citizens without taking unneeded steps to curtail the autonomy enjoyed by citizens as they go about their day-to-day lives. A "liberal democracy" tends to imply a republic or constitutional monarchy in which there is sufficient freedom to openly express oneself, assemble, associate, practice ones religion, and so forth without being persecuted as to foster what non-authoritarian capitalists consider a "free society." It is in contrast to an "illiberal democracy," where a government creates an outward facade of respecting human rights and representing the will of the people but is, in fact, characterized by a number of authoritarian tendencies.  

Right-wingers often see liberal ideals in terms of "moral liberty," which is to say that people have the right to do whatever they want so long as it is moral, civilized, non-savage, etc. whereas centrists and people to their left tend to look at it more as a strategy of finding policies to implement which encourage a modernistic notion of "the good life" - passing regulations to protect people from harming one another and taking steps to produce an environment in which there is greater equality of opportunity and most, if not all individuals are free to exert considerable influence over their own courses through life. Or one may be talking about fiscal matters, in which case "liberal" is more or less synonymous with advocating policies friendly toward businesses, private property rights, and conducive to the voluntary exchange of resources between people.

Incidentally, some of the most modern interpretations of liberalism come striking close to principles of social democracy, insofar as the good, free, fulfilling life may demand the state - aside from upholding political and economic rights - do things like provide for the people a clean environment, sustainable economy, balanced budget, and the ability to practice their cultures unobstructed provided they do not call for behaviors that would inflict substantial harm upon others.

Mind you, that is not to be confused with liberalism as a political attitude, which stands in contrast to conservatism. A liberal in that sense is someone advocating patient, non-violent, gradual adoption of new ideas and reforms in government via existing social institutions.

Or something like that. I am a little fuzzy on this stuff so maybe someone else can explain it better.

Thank you, that was pretty helpful. Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2012, 04:45:16 pm »
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Short version: Republic means a non-monarchical state.  This distinguishes the US both from absolute monarchies like S. Arabia and the constitutional monarchies like the United Kingdom, but lumps the US in the same category as hereditary authoritarian republican regimes like Syria and North Korea.  Republic really isn't that helpful a word.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2012, 11:27:42 pm by The Mikado »Logged

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« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2012, 10:56:40 pm »
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In terms of the American founding era, republicanism referred to the promotion of the civic virtue needed for sustaining a society with liberal rights. By participating in local democracy, taking good care of their property, and seeking the common good, the citizens would ensure the freedom and prosperity of their republic for the next generation.  The key element of republicanism as distinct from pure democracy is that rights are supposed to be beyond the reach of a popular vote against them. 
Whereas liberalism has tended to focus on rights and freedom, republicanism focuses also on responsibilities.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2012, 10:58:11 pm by shua, gm »Logged

  

" But freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order."
- Justice Robert Jackson WV SBE v Barnette
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