I don’t much care what label gets stuck to me — I notice that the labels change over time, anyway, and what was an X a hundred years ago has now turned into not-X. But I do have an idea about what I believe. Call it what you will.+I would like to see as much as possible a world where people have the opportunity to make of their lives what they want (within certain rather obvious limits). I’ve noticed that different people want different things, and I don’t have any desire to impose my view of the good life on anyone else. But I see that in the world that actually exists there are obstacles in the way of this goal. All too often people just can’t make of their lives what they want. There are various obstacles at various times and in various situations, and therefore I find it difficult to have a one-size-fits-all-situations political philosophy. In my family, a couple of generations ago, the great obstacle was rapacious corporations. My mother’s father was a miner. He made very little money, not enough to raise his family in any kind of decent conditions, and the work killed him when he was 45. As it happens, my parents worked hard, had some good luck, and now my generation of my family does okay. But I don’t forget the lessons of my grandfather’s life, and I look around and see that the problem of rapacious corporations has not gone away. I happen to like some kind of market mechanism, but I think unregulated capitalism does not create a society in which people in general can live their lives as they want.+This century has seen some extraordinarily repressive central governments, on both sides of the political spectrum. I am very wary of giving too much power to central governments. Now exactly how much is too much is worth a lot of discussion. I am also wary of not having enough government. Failed states are not better than repressive states.+I grew up in the (shallow) south, and I saw racism all around me. I also saw that it was codified by the laws of state government. I grew up watching the civil rights protests on TV, and a little later, when I was in my late teens, I had the great good fortune to work with a lot of people who had gone through the civil rights movement. I knew some of the Freedom Riders, and I also knew people from the SCLC. I learned a lot from hearing their stories, and then I spend some time reading civil rights history, about which I can now say I know quite a lot, for someone who isn’t a professional historian of the movement. One of the things I noticed was that in that particular situation, the state and local governments were not better than the central government, but in fact much worse. In that situation, the federal government was (slow and reluctantly) one of the tools the movement could use to improve the lives of people. So I find it hard to agree with those who say that decentralization is always a good thing. Sometimes I think that a certain measure of centralization is necessary.+I also saw that the problem was not just the laws. The problem included a whole social organization. People can be oppressed just by an oppressive society, no matter what they laws may be. Here, sometimes, organized religion has been a problem. I’m not anti-religious (though I’m not religious myself). I’ve known too many wonderful religious people. But I am wary of the power of organized religion, because it all too often wants to impose a particular view of life on everyone.+So I don’t know what label you would put on all that. Liberal? Well, there are elements of liberalism in there. Conservative? Not much. Socialist? In some ways, but not a centralizing socialist. I sometimes say that I’m a pragmatic Fabian pacifist anarchist socialist. Will that do?