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Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Liberalism and Conservatism in 2034 America

Around the time of the English Civil War, there were radicals who believed in universal suffrage. That is, the right of all Englishmen above the rank of servant to vote. (Note: the definition of "servant" was different back then; applied today, that definition might include everyone who gets a steady paycheck.) Nobody in England (or anywhere, so far as I know) was radical enough to suggest giving women the vote.

This is no longer a radical position.

In the early part of the 20th Century, it was respectable in the northern United States for a liberal to be a segregationist; Woodrow Wilson, for example. Today, it's not respectable for any American liberal to be a segregationist. For that matter, it's not respectable for a conservative to be openly segregationist.

Who will hold what political views thirty years from now? I don't know. But I do know that conservatives and liberals will believe in ideas which no one would associate with those labels today.

Straightline extrapolation -- assuming that ideas will pass from radicals to liberals to conservatives -- can provide answers. Whether it can provide accurate answers is another question. Under this assumption, American conservatives should now be Marxists.

Extrapolation from the eternal principles of conservatism or liberalism? I'd say that history shows there are no such eternal principles.
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