The concept / term of the “liberal left” seems problematic, at least, self-contradictory, and devoid of meaning, at most self-consistent. The problem of the concept / term comes from the concept of "left", primarily, and from the "liberal" character of this left secondly. On the one hand, the "right / left" division is no longer clear-cut and does not dominate on ideological practices and theoretical classifications, as was the case in the last century. The concept "Left" also lacked a clear semantic content defining its meaning and significance for (some) of the most fundamental current issues: the issue of democracy, for example. On the other hand, the combination of leftism and liberalism seems, at the very least, strange, because the two sides historically have differentiated in thought and practice. I will explain below some aspects of this distinction, and then try to determine what the concept of "liberal left" is, and how acceptable it is, in thought and practice. As every discussion, my talk about the concept will not be limited of what is being, but also and necessarily what it should be.
The fundamental value of the general left is the value of equality / social justice, while freedom or liberties are the fundamental value for liberals. The Left does not focus (great) importance on the individual as an individual, but confines almost all of its interest to (economic) groups, represented primarily by the notion of class; in contrast, the freedoms on which liberal thought is founded are primarily the freedoms of individuals. The left sees politics primarily from an economic perspective. While liberals can say that there is partial, relative, but fundamental independence between the two fields. Even when they say that they are connected, the economy seems to be based on politics, (democracy of the political regime), not the other way around. On the other hand, left thinking seems to be universal, and here is one of its most important strengths and weaknesses. On the one hand, it seems to have a basic vision that does not change with changing local contexts. It is, in any case, preoccupied, exclusively or privately in working against (global) imperialism, the (global) capitalist system, its economic exploitation and domination, etc. But the left's lack of sensitivity to local specificities and different local contexts, its particularity, differentiation of its situations and problems make it strange from the reality which it tries to explain, and strange from people, where it is supposed to express and defend their common aspirations in political theoretic and / or political practice. In contrast, the universality of liberal thought often seems to have greater flexibility to react appropriately with different contexts and their distinct characteristics, but this flexibility is generally insufficient to take into account the importance of the (universal) economic dimension and social justice issues, because these matters do not fall into the attention of liberals, or are not among their priorities "originally".
Based on the above, two things can be emphasized in principle: On the one hand, left-wing thought, like the idea of political liberalism, is too poor to have a comprehensive or sufficient vision that addresses all or even the most important practical problems and theoretical problems associated with the contemporary political reality. Liberal interest in the individual is at the expense of neglecting the economic or non-economic groups, the leftist economic view ignores the local political specificities and the priority of democracy and individual freedoms, liberal interest in freedoms is often accompanied by ignoring the issue of social justice, etc. On the other hand, the distinction between the left and liberalism seems so great that we can talk about them as opposites. However, contrary to what appears at one time or more, this contradiction does not mean that they can't be integrated in a constructive dialectical vision. Contradiction is a condition for any integration, not a necessary denial. This theoretical possibility of complementarity between the two extremes is enhanced, taking into account the lack of knowledge of each party and the need for it, cognitively, ethically and politically. For example, we should not have to choose between liberal freedoms and left-wing social justice, or between liberal individuality and liberal affiliations, collective or even the affiliations of groups. In the past few decades, many theorists and politicians have become increasingly aware of the falseness of such choices, and different versions of the "liberal left" or "left liberalism" have emerged, with different names and content, depending on the "degree" of their liberalism or leftism, their type, and according to local contexts to adopt them, and / or their application, the practical problems and / or theoretical problems they address.
Leftism's association with liberalism and producing debate between them seem as possible as relative separation of political and economic liberalism, in its more radical neoliberal formulas. The connection between the two liberalisms is a historical and contextual linkage, rather than an "essential" and "natural". The argument between left and liberal means a debate between left liberation and liberal freedoms. The theorizing of social justice and freedom from economic or non-economic exploitation, or the practical pursuit of such emancipation, should lead to, or be based on, or be accompanied by, moral and political recognition of the primacy of individuals and their fundamental civil and political freedoms and those embodied in a human rights system. On the other hand, based on the important distinction of Isaiah Berlin between "the negative freedom or freedom of non-interference" and "positive freedom," it can be argued that the vaccination of liberalism to the left helps to ensure that the liberties adopted by liberalism are positive and actual, not just negative and formal freedoms. The left stresses the importance of the ability to exercise freedoms, otherwise this freedom would be negative, logical, moral and political. Liberation should aim that all people enjoy of all possible freedoms, and without it, liberation will only be a transition from tyranny to another tyranny. This has already happened in many countries, organizations and left theories.
This possible / required debate between liberalism and leftism is a productive or positive debate between economic-political liberalization and political freedoms; it is also a productive or positive debate between the liberation (s) of individuals and the liberation (s) of economic, political or membership groups. Man is not just an isolated atom, but an organism belonging to lineage and / or affiliation, consciously and / or de facto, to different groups. Theorizing and pursuing their freedom and liberty should take into account this dual aspect of human nature and history. The liberal character of the left makes it attentive, even attentive, to human individuality and to the individual freedoms, while the liberal adoption of leftism makes it aware of the importance of human collective economic affiliations. The positive interaction between the left and liberalism allows both to embed the freedoms and liberation of organic and identity groups in their programs, without denying the fundamental human / individual priority, and without slipping into identity policies that attempt to make identity recognition policies a substitute for the equitable distribution of wealth. It attempts to reduce human beings to involuntary lineage. while ignoring his voluntary affiliations, his individualism distinct from the groups to which he belongs, and from other individuals who share this affiliation or that .
The concept of a "liberal left", and its parallels or similarities, allows for a necessary correlation between social justice and freedom, between the struggle for liberation, at the global level, from the exploitative domination of imperialism and world capitalism, and the struggle for domestic liberation, from exploitation, tyranny and restriction of freedoms. If, in our modern world, the "worthy" democracy is necessarily liberal, because it sees the individual liberties as one of its most important foundations, the neglecting of the democratic system of the social justice, will be a challenge to its democracy. The vast disparity of wealth and its concentration in the hands of a few people makes the freedoms of the majority / "the crushed" simply negative and formal, so that these people are not actually able to exercise most of the freedoms that they theoretically enjoy, but are often passive and compelled, more than being active and chosen, governed by others, submissive to them, rather than being "masters of themselves."
We conclude by saying in a reasonable and desirable, partial and relative, the concept of the "liberal left", that it could include in a positive and productive debate between freedom, liberation, competition, equality and social justice, between the individual and collective affiliations, between the political freedoms and economic freedoms, between the theoretical vision and practical practice at the local and global levels. But this does not mean, of course, that negating the possibility of a negative debate, and an irreconcilable contradiction in the content of the concept, is sometimes denied. The debate in this concept is not necessarily productive. It is not uncommon for theoretical theory to contain contradictions that do not allow for a positive polarization / synthesis between its poles, and in such a case and context, the conciliation becomes a fabrication, debate becomes controversy, and a positive Hegelian debate becomes negative and Derridian.