Very few thinkers are privileged to live in a society substantially similar to a "best realistic effort" at their ideals. John Rawls, in A Theory of Justice, noted that he was providing theory for the workings of a society organised under his philosophy, delaying consideration of other societies until he felt his ideals were substantially complete. In this, he provided the terms, "Full Compliance" and "Partial Compliance". The latter, described in part in Political Liberalism, provided ways to judge and work in societies that differ to varying degrees from his theory. As liberal socialists, we recognise Rawls as having provided a useful set of intuitions and styles of reasoning suited to his values, and seek to do similarly by our values. We reject Rawls' specific value-configuration, and are suspicious of the possibility of political-philosophical logic in such an axiomatic form, but respect the creative and philosophical efforts.
What are the duties of a liberal socialist in foreign or transitional systems? We divide this into two situations, first the lone liberal socialist who, lacking adequate (either substantial enough or close enough) theory to match their particular intuitions or lacking a movement behind (or near-enough) those intuitions, and second the liberal socialist who has theory and community but still resides in a foreign system. Real situations will often be a blend of these situations, but the duties are distinct and can be blended as appropriate. For the first, there is a duty to:
Excessive radicalism poorly serves our values - while given either the direct means (revolution) or indirect (gradualist) means to liberal socialism, we should embrace such means when success seems likely, the dangers of such attempts are well-known and often severe - we recognise that not all noncompliant systems are equal, and when it serves our values, we should ally with noncompliant societies when the degree of their partial compliance with our values is high enough compared to the cost to our values were they to lose in struggle to a less compliant neighbour. While we would do this out of enlightened self-interest if necessary, if possible we would grow in (gradualist) influence in such support. Likewise, restraint should be made with institutions that perform substantially similar functions in the (immediate or long-term) societies we would build on the way to enacting our values - in-principle criticism of police, for example, has no place in our movement - while we may and should criticise police misconduct (particularly but not only where the values of the host society and our values concur that their conduct is inappropriate), and may resist police either as part of direct action or to combat enforcement of laws that are unjust by our standards, rejection of police in-principle is inappropriate because the society we would build would require police (or some analogous organisation) because not all problems in society are caused by structural distance from our ideals. While some jobs and organisations are almost wholly harmful to society, great care should be taken to keep criticism appropriate, to leave open the possibility of drawing as many people towards the movement we would build, and to recognise what fits into that category and what does not.
Unlike Rawls, we suggest there is a very blurry line between partial compliance societies and full compliance ones, both in terms of what values are institutionalised and in struggles between purer ideals and practical difficulties. Given the varied philosophies possible in orthodox marxim alone, the likelihood of a precise match are unlikely, and so individuals and groups will have to weigh the degree of value-enactment versus the costs and likelihood of success of potential attempts to change it. In many circumstances, it may be best for one's values not to press for too much enactment of their nuances, either forgoing struggle or limiting it to gradualist/in-system means.