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Memories of the 28th Century

Liberalism: Which Flavor?

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There seem to be people who think that liberalism is a synonym for socialism, and that people like Ted Kennedy and Obama et alia were or are liberals. Sometimes it seems like people think that liberalism and state socialism are the same things. Nothing could be further from the truth. Liberalism is about freedoms: s free and fair elections, civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free trade, and private property, free thought, etc. It is a philosophical movement that began with the Enlightenment and has stopped yet.

Liberalism was the basis for such novelties as the inalienable rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness. The United States of America was founded on a philosophical basis of liberalism. The founders of our federal republic were all liberals: Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Monroe, Franklin, and so on.

This came up on a different site where I occasionally post. Someone asked about liberalism and the founding of the U.S.A., and I recounted what I have mentioned here. The asker came back with disagreements. I shook my head and tried to explain what liberalism is. Unfortunately, socialists and fascists have adopted the terms liberal and liberalism to mean centralize planning and rule from the top, rather than the dignity and freedom of the individual. This rebranding was done only in the U.S.A., so the rest of the world has liberals who believe in freedom of the individual. But here in the U.S. the political party that is closest to being liberal is the Libertarian Party.

This is merely a minor rant and a hope that a few people will learn a little about what liberalism really is. If you are interested in learning a little more about liberalism, then you might start with the Wikipedia article (link below), which is a good overview of the more notable philosophers associated with liberalism, including John Locke and others. Or you could search on your favorite search engine. There are many people and websites that are related to liberalism even in these degenerate times. That article is good, because it evens mentions that changes that led to people in the U.S. to use the word “liberal” to mean things that oppose liberalism; we can blame FDR. And the references and further reading suggestions contain some excellent sources.

Since liberalism was born from the Enlightenment, in addition to the freedoms mention above education and individuals knowing enough to make their own decisions was, and still is, important to liberalism. The concept that a central authority should decree how people should live is diametrically opposed to liberalism, whether that authority is government, church, or any other thing that takes the responsibility of making decisions for people. Thus prohibitionist laws are opposed by liberals, and requiring people to live their lives in certain ways is also opposed, as long as people do not infringe upon others. For example, when Thomas Jefferson heard of France requiring prescriptions of some drugs he commented that Americans would never stand for that. And Americans would not have tolerated such fascism, if they had retained liberal ideals.

From the general principles of liberalism we can easily see what the liberal opinion of the statist programs that have been foisted on the American people would be. In terms of liberalism there is no justification for most of the U.S. Code.

It is possible that the misuse of “liberal” and “liberalism” is a result of a confusion with the word “liberality”, which means to give freely, and freely giving is what many government that are called “liberal” do. Another matter that suggests this origin of the misuse of “liberalism” is that Franklin Roosevelt was one of the first backers of state socialist programs in the U.S. who called himself “liberal”. During that period the rest of the world was starting to use the term “social democrat: for politicians of that sort, but that term never caught on in the U.S.

To avoid confusion, I use “liberal” to mean “liberal”, and I use “state socialist” to mean “state socialist”, but I am in the minority.

As an aside, the Illuminati was a group of classical liberals. The word means the enlightened. They were disbanded by order of the local government. (link below)