Here's what I didn't think to say in my comment: The question remains whether there is such a thing as a middle ground, in which "liberalism" (of the modern variety) can be distinguished from Leftism. Joe seems to think that there is such a middle ground. I do not.
An excellent post. I [Tom] think the heart of the matter lies in this statement [from Joe's post]:
Roughly, then, I [Joe] take liberalism to consist of three main theses:
- Respect for individual autonomy.
- A commitment to equality of opportunity.
- State neutrality.
Liberalism (of the classical variety, which I [Tom] call libertarianism) differs from Leftism mainly in that libertarians favor process over outcome. . . . Leftists, on the other hand, do not respect individual autonomy, are not committed to equality of opportunity (they want to slant the playing field in a certain direction), and they definitely do not want a neutral state. What they want is for certain "classes" and ideas to triumph over others, and they will violate autonomy, equality, and neutrality to get their wishes.
I will amend this post if Joe replies to my comment and/or this post.