Taking it Back


Since the left does seem to have all but abandoned the term "liberal" in favor of the New-Deal-chic label "progressive," can we finally have "liberal" back?


NEXT: Eric and Tony Blair

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  1. I’m not sure we can take it back. Apparently there are folks that wish to distinguish between classical liberalism and libertarianism. From A Future Perfect, a pro-globalization book:
    “…One reason that liberals are drawn to free markets is because they distrust the power of bureaucrats. Absolutist creeds, whether those of the 17th century papacy or of Marxism – are to be distrusted. And crucially, liberalism – unlike its bastard child, libertarianism – is also distrustful of itself: It may be predisposed against governments interfering in peoples’ lives, but it is quick to admit that there are times when this makes sense – for instance, in order to tax them so that it can provide education and health care.”

  2. The author of A Future Perfect looks to have found a way to combine a classical liberal with a progressive liberal. I would be surprised to find evidence supporting the statement that taxes are justified when it comes to providing health care. And the cheap shot at Libertarianism sounds simply like an author who doesn’t want to admit was a classical liberal really is.

  3. Liberalism is a theory of social organization. Libertarianism is a theory of government.

  4. eww dude you loan out underwear?

  5. There’s not really a URL related to my post (i.e. equality, natural rights, etc.).

    However, you might try having a look at Herbert Croly’s Progressive Democracy — focus also on Pearson’s introductory essay. Also, Sidney Milkis book Progressivism and the New Democracy is particularly illuminating.

    Also related to this is an essay recently published in the Claremont Review of Books by Sidney Milkis, “How the Election of 1912 Changed America”:

    Of course, “Progressivism” utterly has its roots in Hegel and Hegelianized understandings of history, er, History (hence, “progress”) — Croly, Woodrow Wilson, etc., the architects of the terrain on which the Democratic party and today’s “liberals” all perform — they all studied Hegel with great admiration and/or were taught by Hegelians. So, to that end, have a look, if you can stomach it, at Hegel’s introduction to The Philosophy of History(pages 1-54, 73-76, 85), which as far as Hegel goes is pretty easy reading. Also important are sections 280-320 of Elements of the Philosophy of Right.

  6. “Liberal” is now a non-descriptive curse word. Maybe some day it will be rehabilitated. In the meantime, I’m happy with “libertarian,” and believe the wiser battle is fought not to reclaim “liberal,” but to hold the “libertarian” ground and not let that word be defined by the biases of either left or right. Libertarianism is its own animal, and the right people to define and exemplify it are libertarians, imho, not the opponents of libertarianism, or the pretenders to it. Don’t let the poseurs co-opt yet another perfectly good term.

  7. Well, you know how it goes. You’re at a party and everyone’s playing strip twister, and one of your buddies gets a bit overenthusiastic in “losing” because a) he’s drunk and b) he thinks that all the women standing around laughing at him want to sleep with him. So he goes a bit crazy getting out of his boxers, and ends up tossing them up in the air where they get wrapped around the electric ceiling fan, and ripped to shreds. Of course, by then, your other friends have already confiscated the rest of his clothing and are planning an “easter egg hunt” with them, but since you don’t want to watch your buddy walk around your apartment naked, but neither do you want to have him put his junk in your clothes without something in between, you go ahead and loan him a pair of your boxers. Which you don’t ever really expect to get back, but maybe if he’d only worn them the one time and then washed them and given them right back you could at least save them in the event of a similar emergency.

    You know how it goes.

  8. i know how it goes, but…
    your buddes are leftists?

  9. Actually, that should be sections 257-320.

    (I’m sure everyone’s on the edge of their seat wanting to know the most salient section of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right).

  10. >> Don’t let the poseurs co-opt yet another perfectly good term.

    Dear Comrade Lenin,
    Who is allowed to call themselves “libertarian” in your world. And who must be purged?

  11. ROBERT LIGHT: is there a related URL for your oustanding post? it was very interesting

  12. check out radley’s article for more on this

  13. The question is, do we WANT it back? It’s been used by the far left for so long now that taking it back would be like taking back a pair of underwear that you loaned someone a few years ago. That they never washed. And wore every day.

    I think I like my new clean underwear, thanks.

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