American vs. European Liberalism

A couple of days ago, an American commenter asked me why I kept on referring to “liberals” as “progressives”. I explained that what is called “liberalism” in America these days is, in many ways, the opposite of what is called “liberalism” in Europe. In short, the term “liberalism” kept its meaning here, while it changed in America. Because I am a proud European liberal, I do not like to call American progressives ‘liberals’: I believe that the term liberal has been raped in the U.S. and continues to be raped every single day.

Today, while reading Essays on Hayek – edited by Fritz Machlup, with a foreword by Milton Friedman and contributions from William F. Buckley Jr., Gottfried Dietze, Ronald Max Hartwell, Shirley Robin Letwin, Fritz Machlup, George C. Roche III and Arthur Shenfield – I stumbled upon the following (Essays on Hayek, forework, Milton Friedman, p. XIV*):

Words have a habit of changing their meaning, especially if those who adopt them are not careful students of the literature or avid users of dictionaries. Thus it happened that, particularly in the United States, the word “liberalism” has been gradually appropriated by champions of collectivism who reject liberalism in its classical sense. (See my essay on “Liberalism and the Choice of Freedoms,” in Erich Streissler, et al., eds., Roads to Freedom, pp. 117-146.)
Old liberals may go on calling themselves by this designation – which is rightfully theirs – but they do so at the risk of being confused with American liberals. To avoid such confusion, they may resort either to explanatory footnotes or to adopting a new appellation for themselves, such as “libertarians.” The most essential difference is that the classical liberal wants the individual to be free from coercive interferences, especially from interventions by the state, whereas the American liberal wants the state to intervene in all sorts of situations and restrict the individual’s freedom of action in a variety of ways for a variety of objectives.

Good. I will continue to call myself a “liberal in the European sense of the word.” American “liberals” are in many ways my ideological opponents.

*Correction: the quoted passage is not from Friedman’s foreword, but from Fritz Machlup’s “Notes from the Editor”.

  

Author: michaelvdg

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38 Comments

  1. Are you losing your mind? This is an argument for 13 year olds.

  2. No hes not losing his mind, hes making an exceptional point. Conservatism in America is what you would call Liberalism in Europe. Its a very important distinction for american’s to realize. Our liberals want socialistic economic policies while european liberals want what we consider conservative economic policy. Something to keep in mind when americans want to follow the true liberal way. I live in america and consider myself liberal in MvdG’s sense of the word. Im not republican because i feel republicans have swayed from liberal idealogy.

    always a student,
    randal

  3. So what is the classic conservatism (paleocons) called in Europe. Many EU Liberal Conservatives are somewhat like Andrew Sullivan, fiscal conservative while somewhat social liberals. What are the EU progressives called, just progressives? Then in the US we now have neo-liberals and classic liberals, I wouldn’t call neo-liberals progressive.

  4. macdoro-

    [Something to keep in mind when americans want to follow the true liberal way.]

    Why? Our “true Liberal way” is as good as anybody else’s. I’m sorry, but this a propaganda Piece and of no value.

  5. are in many ways my ideological opponents.

    Welcome to my World Michael.

    Liberals in America want socialism much like is paralyzing Europe. That is why those of the right oppose them. All we have to do is look at Europe and say do we want to be like them?

    The answer is an strong, powerful not to be understated NO.

    Oh they wail and cry in their pathetic self righteous attitudes that they care about the poor and want socialized medicine but then they want 20 hours a week, overtime, 40 bucks an hour, vaction sick leave, paid holidays, free medical and dental, a house for everyone, a car for everyone, 50 cent gasoline, etc. etc. etc.

    Yet they keep up this delusional ideal that somehow if we just tax the crap outta everyone especially those evil rich people that we can have all this and remain a viable, powerful economy that can afford all this.

    Its more then free markets and capitalism that makes America the most powerful economy on earth. Its those 253 Million Americans that want to be rich. Want to succeed. Want to have the American Dream. Thats what makes America what it is. Not the promise of free healthcare, welfare and socialized anything. They don’t get it and never have. This is America. Not Europe.

    Is it hard? Hell Yes. Do all succeed? NO. Will everyone have nirvana? Nope. But thats the allure. At least for everyone except a liberal. For a liberal that is the corruption of the system and what is broke. There is no guarantees of success and that chaps their bottoms. Its too hard….wah…wah…wah…so why try. Please give me a guarantee that it will work before I break a sweat.

    Wah…Wah…Wah. Is and always has been the American Liberals Motto.

    If I believed that I would join their ranks. But its like Issac Newton said when the apple hit him on the head.

    “OUCH! Stupid apple. Teach me to sleep under an apple tree.”

    When the apple hits the liberal on the head. They jump up and scream. “Who can I sue?” right after they use it to illustrate the need for universal health care.

  6. Nobody says:
    Liberals in America want socialism much like is paralyzing Europe.
    The US has never had, or never will, have socialism or nationalized industries here in the US. Canada, Israel and the UK had their flings with real socialism, the Westen world didn’t collapse during those “evil times”.

  7. Why the French rejected the EU constitution along with the Netherlands.

    This was found in the Socialist party magazine.

    One French teacher quoted in The Guardian summed up the attitude of the French workers: “We’re voting no. It is a constitution for the bourgeoisie, for multinationals, for bosses. It is only about the economy, competition, profits, the market and capitalism, we are against all that; we are communists

    This is what we want in America? I think not.

    Now I would convert in a moment if the EU found a way to maintain sound free market economy, low unemployment and social services that met the needs of everyone. I would be the first to help that dog hunt.

    But till someone other then the USA finds a way to teach ole “blue” a new way o hunting, Im afraid this redneck is stuck with good ole USA free market capitalism steeply based in consumerism.

  8. That is because every country that has tried to nationalize industry has collapsed or nearly so. While you lefties rail against nationalism you want nationalism in social services. Talk about chasing your tails.

    While true that EU is a free market society it is also true that they have socialized their SOCIAL services which is what you want to do in the United States. This is flat out wrong for the USA and all one has to do is look at the 8.8 percent unemployment rate, 35 hour work weeks, low wages, unproductive workers and high tax rates and a continent that no longer even wants to “BREED” in Europe to realize this is what it gets you.

    Look at the power of communism and socialist parties in Europe and realize Rudi that if you allow them an inch, They will take a mile. If you start playing around with socialized services then you end up with Socialist parties and communist parties attaining stature in this country and that is unacceptable to me and to every other Free market loving, Red Blooded American.

    Everything has unintended consequences and those consequences of socialized services are not acceptable in America. We are not Europe. We are America.

  9. Nobody- Socialism is not “paralyzing Europe. Their Stock exchange is now worth more than ours.

    Not ONE single human being should ever be left out! It is unfair, inhuman, unethical, anti-Christian, and, uncivilized.

    Nobody- I am just as much an AMERICAN as you are. Only I think , BETTER!

  10. I doubt it WA. I chew tebakky and have a couch on my porch and drive a beat up pick up with a hound dog in the back.

    Did you marry your cousin?

  11. Oh actually their stock market is doing quite well I am fully invested in the emerging markets in Europe and have made a killing the last 3 years. Sorry I cannot name the fund or the company or else I could be severely penalized for attempting to influence that fund unduly to reap further rewards. The government frowns on that.

    Suffice it to say that the nations of Europe are making me rich. Hey Im not politically correct. I do however refuse to invest in any company that aids or abets Iran.

    I love the emmerging markets of Europe. They are fighting hard to join the Free Markets of the West while resisting social programs that would squash their revitilization.

    LIke I said I love money. Give a poor man a dollar, let him invest it and watch it grow. Its intoxicating to watch money grow by doing nothing. You should try it. You just might become a Republican.

    I will give you your first lesson. By pass college. Full of left wing Idealogues who will only brainwash you into working for them and not yourself. Find a good job that requires you to work really hard. Work your way up. Receive company benefits, like healthcare, paid sick leave, family leave, dental care, vacation, 401k, 403b stock options. Work really hard and take all that money your making and invest it instead of buying a couch for your porch. Then sit back and watch as 12 to 20 percent funds turn your ever increasing wealth into millions.

    Try it. Trust me you will like it. The only draw back? Yeah you do have to get up every day and GO to work. I haven’t figured out how to not do that yet. But Shhh, I think the democrats are working on a plan to do that.

  12. Michael’s point was well made; “liberalism” has a different meaning in the USA.

    Nobody said:

    > While true that EU is a free market society
    > it is also true that they have socialized their
    > SOCIAL services which is what you want to
    > do in the United States. This is flat out wrong
    > for the USA

    Many of us have warned US liberals that their dreams are hollow or shallow. In the case of government provision of, and control of, medicine, the experiences elsewhere are there to be analyzed.

    http://news.google.com/?ncl=1115284218&hl=en

  13. Nobody do you really think all college is useless? How about engineers, where do you think they get their start, how about scientists and teachers?
    Do you not realize to even get your resume responded to these days you need a college degree?

    Maybe I need to illustrate my point better. Both my wife and I went to college, small Liberal Arts schools in fact (Oh the horror!!). We both get up daily, go to work, invest heavily in our 401ks, have health coverage, a home, two cars (both paid off). I’ve called in sick a grand total of 3 times in the last 2 years. I also voted for GWB in 02 and against him in 04 (fool me once…). I must be the exception to your lesson up there.

    College isn’t for everyone, but for some, it is absolutely the right way to go. We need to start producing more engineers and scientists to remain in the power position.

    FYI..so you are clear on where I stand on some issues.
    socialized health care…dumb, will never work.
    affordable health care for those whose employers don’t provide it … smart

    Taxes – should be lower, lots lower.
    Gov’t spending – should be lower, lots lower, too much waste. Every budget/spending bill should have to be approved by Coburn and Feingold.

    Welfare – needs to be reduced as much as possible, and very limited.

    Environment – we better start taking better care of what we have, especially our water supplies. Controlling pollution is good for our air, I for one, prefer clean air to breathe.

    immigration – legal immigration only, everyone here illegally needs to go back and start over. My great great.. you know the story, immigrated here legally, so should anyone else that wants to be here. When you get here, our rules/laws trump any other beliefs you have, period. I don’t give a crap if it’s ok in your native land to beat your wife, we don’t put up w/ it here.

    Questions, comments concerns?

  14. No I dont think College is bad. I was talking about all those poor people that they want to give socialized services too. I said. Go to work. Forget about College they will just brainwash you into being a lazy Liberal waiting for a handout. And of course we all know the liberals claim the poor cant go to college so I just chose to bypass that step to prevent an argument over HOW?

    College is great if you dont let the massively far left liberal bias sway you into becoming a marching clone for some idealogue professor whose agenda is the dissolution of the USA and the establishment of Communism within the borders of the several states.

    I mostly agree with your positions on most of the points you listed. You make a fine Republican. Or at least a non brainwashed, jump up and down Liberal/socialist who thinks the way to solve all the poor peoples ills is to give them a new drug. More welfare. Keep them hooked on the democrats drug so they vote like good clones for the Democratic welfare solution.

  15. A couple of days ago, an American commenter asked me why I kept on referring to “liberals� as “progressives�. I explained that what is called “liberalism� in America these days is, in many ways, the opposite of what is called “liberalism� in Europe. In short, the term “liberalism� kept its meaning here, while it changed in America. Because I am a proud European liberal, I do not like to call American progressives ‘liberals’: I believe that the term liberal has been raped in the U.S. and continues to be raped every single day.

    I’m in agreement with Michael on this point, and in fact, I specifically made the point (over on Michael’s blog and my own) that the American definition of the word “liberal” went through a profound change during the first half of the twentieth century:

    At Michael’s blog, I wrote:

    I can assure you that pre-New Deal definition of the term “liberal� was very similar to the definition of “liberal� that you are familiar with in Europe. This isn’t a point that is emphasized in American schools, but the writings of prominent 1920’s smaller government/free market “liberals� such as Albert J. Nock and H. L Mencken demonstrate this to be the case.

    And from my own blog:

    The term “liberal� was not always associated with big government and hostility towards the free market. Many of our Founding Fathers considered themselves liberal. Many 19th free market economists considered themselves liberal. This is because “liberalism� was once defined as the promotion of political, individual, and economic liberty. This “classic liberalism� was built upon a strong distrust of the government and is somewhat similar to modern-day libertarianism. This free market/libertarian definition of “liberalism� is still used in Europe and much of the rest of the world. Indeed, only in America, it seems, would a “liberal� be accused of being a “socialist.�

    I think Michael and I are in agreement that the ambiguous definition of the term “liberal” has led to endless confusion in American politics. Thus, I proposed to Michael that we ought to stop using the words “liberal” and “progressive” as if they were interchangeable:

    I’ve been campaigning for the last six months (with little success) that we restore the original definition to the term “liberal� and use the word “progressive� to refer those people we typically call “liberal.�

    In other words:

    liberal = term used to describe socially liberal voters with moderate to conservative views on economic policy

    progressive = term used to describe socially liberal voters with moderate to progressive views on economic policy

    Where I think Michael and I are not quite in agreement is in my belief that, just as American liberalism morphed from a philosophy advocating small government to one advocating big goverment, conservatism has undergone a similar evolution from a philosophy advocating small government to one advocating big government. Just as the term “liberal” was stolen by economic populists (or progressives, if you prefer that term), the term “conservative” was stolen by neoconservatives.

    Those on the right (or center-right) here at TMV who insist that “American liberals want socialism” are making unfair and inaccurate generalizations. There is no doubt that many American liberals have a political philosophy that is deeply rooted in economic populist. However, I believe that there is also a sustantial number of American liberals who base their beliefs more on a “live and let liveâ€? position on social policy and are more “agnosticâ€? in terms of economic policy. These people tend to be closer to the beliefs of “classic liberalism” than those on the right who subscribe to neoconservativism or “big government” conservatism.

    This is all the more reason that we ought to define who we’re talking about rather than using broad ambiguous labels. I’ve seen the terms “Democrat”, “liberal”, “progressive”, “socialist”, and “the left” used interchangeably, as if they all meant the same thing. Similarly, I’ve seen the terms “Republican”, “conservative”, “neoconservative”, and “the right” used interchangeably as if they all meant the same thing.

    Lastly, I’ll point out that our Founding Fathers were neither liberals (in the modern day American sense of the word) nor conservatives (in the modern day American sense of the word. They were classic liberals, meaning that they favored a limited government both on domestic policy and foreign policy. Today’s classic liberals are (for the most part) not to be found in either of the two major parties but among libertarians, who like their classic liberal forebearers, believe in limited government.

    I hope Michael and others will join me in using the term “progressive” instead of the term “liberal” to describe those subscribe to an economic populist philosophy. For one thing, many American liberals (especially throughout the blogosphere) prefer to be called “progressives” anyway. And secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it makes utterly no sense to call people liberals when they oppose liberal economic policies (i.e. free market liberalism). It’s a complete bastardization of the term “liberal.”

    All to often, I hear the “Well, that’s what liberal means now, so just deal with it” argument. But that’s just silly. We referred to Native Americans as “Indians” for more than four hundred years, but that doesn’t change the fact that these people are not Indians. Similarly, American “liberals” are not liberal on fiscal/economic issues.

  16. Why? Our “true Liberal way� is as good as anybody else’s. I’m sorry, but this a propaganda Piece and of no value.

    White Agent,

    How is this propaganda? Are you denying the fact that the term “liberalism” means two completely different things in America versus Europe? Are you denying the fact that “liberalism” during the 1930′s, as promoted by Franklin D. Roosevelt had very little to do with the liberalism of the 1910′s and 1920′s?

    It’s as if Americans don’t even know their own history. How sad that it takes a European to have to explain it to them.

    Neither modern day liberals nor modern day conservatives are particularly “liberal” in the classic liberal sense of the word.

  17. Michael, quoting Milton Friedman, writes:

    The most essential difference is that the classical liberal wants the individual to be free from coercive interferences, especially from interventions by the state

    Michael,

    Will you concede that an interventionistic foreign policy, such as we have now, is incompatible with classical liberalism? Wasn’t the early 20th century liberal Randolph Bourne, not correct when he wrote,”War is the health of the state”? Isn’t it true, as Milton Friedman has pointed out, that war always leads to an erosion of civil liberties and growth in the size and scope of the federal government?

    You rightly criticize the left for having twisted the term “liberal” from its original defintion. But I wonder how you square your classical liberal views with your support for the current administration’s interventionist foreign policy. Certainly, attacking countries that have not attacked us, keeping permanent military bases in more than a 100 countries around the world, and nation-building are not compatible with classical liberalism.

  18. just as American liberalism morphed from a philosophy advocating small government to one advocating big goverment, conservatism has undergone a similar evolution from a philosophy advocating small government to one advocating big government.

    This is true and certainly what is happening today is that BOTH parties are in massive flux as they redefine themselves.

    The Democrats were put back into power because with few exceptions they took the Republicans old talking points and made them their own while the Republicans bogged down in a war have had to expand government to continue the battle.

    The only real issue remains that while the Democrats are seeking smaller government they are NOT seeking less spending, they simply want to raise taxes to pay for their spending which is nothing new.

    Republicans on the other hand continue to stick with the no new taxes while expanding the role of government which is wrong and is causing way more defections then any war or any corruption or any loss of religious base.

    It is the very expansion of government that makes George W. Bush antithema to the right and while supporting him because of the party for the most part we cant wait till hes gone either.

    That does not mean we dont believe in the war on terror, it just means that in every other aspect of Conservatism he has let us down. Just as democrats supported Jimmy Carters sinking presidency because it was the right thing to do, Conservatives are supporting Bush’s sinking presidency because its the right thing to do.

  19. WA yes it is propaganda in the strict sense, but that’s only bad if the propaganda isn’t true. Nowhere did MvdG say that there was “a true Liberal way”. Macdoro takes it too far, but why exactly is drawing this rather informing distinction “an argument for 13 year olds”?

    nic,

    “Republican�, “conservative�, “neoconservative�, and “the right� used interchangeably as if they all meant the same thing.

    I think “authoritarian” would be a good one to throw in there to mirror the “socialist”. Nice comment.

  20. Its more then free markets and capitalism that makes America the most powerful economy on earth…I love the emmerging markets of Europe. They are fighting hard to join the Free Markets of the West while resisting social programs that would squash their revitilization.

    Nobody,

    It’s funny to hear you sing the praises of free market capitalism. Like so many conservatives, you like to brag about how you believe in free markets and capitalism, yet when it comes to businesses that violate your own personal taboos, you are quick to defend the heavy hand of government slapping them down.

    We just had a discussion on another thread in which you defended the Justice Department’s prosecution of people who violated such crimes as growing medical marijuana in states where it’s legal to do so, selling bongs over the internet, and distributing pornography across state lines. You wrote:

    Those things are against the law. They violate laws and mores of the United States of America. They are in fact Illegal.

    The Justice department going after these things is what they are SUPPOSED to do. The Justice department does not make laws. It enforces them.

    Gawd. You and your agenda of Legalizing drugs, porn and every other silly Illegal activity because somehow in your Libertarian view that America is violating your constitutional law is at least providing comic relief to a nation embittered by a war that has to be fought.

    How is banning the growing of medical marijuana compatible with free market capitalism?

    How is banning the sale of bongs over the internet compatible with free market capitalism?

    How is banning the distribution of pornography across state lines compatible with free market capitalism?

    The answer is that those things aren’t compatible with free market capitalism. Any time the government prevents the transfer of goods between a willing selling and a willing buyer, that is a violation of free market economics. Prohibition is one of the most anti-capitalistic things that the government can do, and you support it.

    When progressives push for regulation, you call them socialists. Yet you give yourselve and your fellow conservatives a pass when you, yourselves, push for regulation (or defend existing regulations that tend to be supported by conservatives).

    That’s hardly a principled free market capitalist position.

  21. Where I think Michael and I are not quite in agreement is in my belief that, just as American liberalism morphed from a philosophy advocating small government to one advocating big goverment, conservatism has undergone a similar evolution from a philosophy advocating small government to one advocating big government. Just as the term “liberal� was stolen by economic populists (or progressives, if you prefer that term), the term “conservative� was stolen by neoconservatives.

    I disagree with that, indeed, because that battle isn’t lost yet for traditional conservatives. They can and do fight it and might, still, be victorious.

    I like Kevin’s suggestion – call it authoritarian instead of conservative.

    Also – yes, you made this point in the past as well: we agree very much on the term liberalism. The “campaign” you speak about is for me simply this: call them progressives yourself, explain a bit why and when people ask, explain more thoroughly.

    Interventionist foreign policy: i truly don’t see how that is in breach with classical liberalism. Liberalism talks about one’s own nation, not every other nation in the world. Besides, since when do liberals agree on every single issue? If one believes that, in order to protect one’s liberal society, it is necessary to attack another country, that is ‘the liberal’ thing to do. Also – there are variants, in Europe, of liberalism. I am a conservative liberal, which shares close resemblance to classical liberalism, but it is not exactly the same.

    One of the things I liked about the intro. to the book I mentioned is that the contributors are all from ‘different variants’ but share that there views originate from strict classical liberalism. The foundations for their views are the same, but they are not exactly the same. For instance, Buckley is a traditional conservative, not a libertarian. But traditional conservatism has very much in common with libertarianism.

    What do you say about another post by yours truly about this matter – about different variants, but also about the underlying ideas of all forms?

    You could weigh in, to give the libertarian perspective, for instance.

    I’m just thinking, it would be tremendous if we had a couple of bloggers: you (libertarian), a european classical liberal, a traditional conservative and myself of course a conservative liberal, to wirte something about out respective variant of Liberalism.

    We could also focus a bit more on why American ‘liberalism’ isn’t liberalism at all.

    It would be a very interesting debate, but I have to admit that I try to keep it a bit simple for now because first people have to accept / understand that basics of liberalism and, thus, that American liberalism isn’t liberalism and then we can talk about the details.

  22. How is banning the distribution of pornography across state lines compatible with free market capitalism?

    It’s not, you are right to point that out.

    The problem with social conservatives is that they advocate small government as long as we’re talking about government interverence in areas they don’t want the government to intervene. When they do want the government to intervene, they conveniently ignore the principle of small government.

  23. Nick, thought you might be interested in the following. Have you ever checked out this website?

    The Mont Pelerin Society is composed of persons who continue to see the dangers to civilized society outlined in the statement of aims. They have seen economic and political liberalism in the ascendant for a time since World War II in some countries but also its apparent decline in more recent times. Though not necessarily sharing a common interpretation, either of causes or consequences, they see danger in the expansion of government, not least in state welfare, in the power of trade unions and business monopoly, and in the continuing threat and reality of inflation.

    Again without detailed agreements, the members see the Society as an effort to interpret in modern terms the fundamental principles of economic society as expressed by those classical economists, political scientists, and philosophers who have inspired many in Europe, America and throughout the Western World.

    The founder: Friedrich von Hayek.

  24. Liberal in America these days means anyone that isn’t a far right authoritarian supporter of whatever Bush says. I’m now a lefty because I think the president is an idiot, when I think its perfectly moderate to look failed policy after failed policy and say “Wow, this guys doesn’t see the foreset for the trees and he gets to do whatever he wants.”

    I think terrorists should get trials, so I’m a terrorist sypathizer. The reality is I have faith in trial based systems, and think they’ll still get theirs while I remain protected by the trial system.

    I think the executive branch should work within the FISA courts for their wiretaps. Not because I think we shouldn’t be keeping tabs on possible terrorists, but because I would like someone keeping tabs on the FBI/CIA to make sure they are not spying on innocent civilians. Once again this makes me a terrorist sypathizer.

    I think its stupid to talk of sacrifice in the War on Terror only in terms of personal freedoms and constitutional laws which are priceless, yet not increase taxes to pay for that war. It leads me to believe there is another motivation for those lower taxes that has alot less to do with the war and more to do with keeping big money donations rolling in from the wealthy. I am a tax and spend liberal.

    I think science should be taught in school and religon should be taught in sunday school and around the dinner table. This makes me anti-religon and out to destroy our nations christian heritage.

    I think its unfair to call anyone that disagrees with you a traitor. In fact, I think that is a scare tactic that has been blatantly used in the past by those who would seek to piss all over the types of values I as an American hold dear.

    I am a moderate, but not if you ask anyone on the right.

  25. I agree with a lot of what you said, as well, Sam.

    But I think you’re arguing about a topic that is different than the one that Michael was addressing. Michael wasn’t criticizing liberals (who I’ll call progressives) for their views on social and foreign policy. He was criticizing them for their views on economic policy.

    And it’s important to note that Michael wasn’t saying that progressives are completely wrong on economic policy (though he may well believe this). He was merely pointing out that modern liberalism in America is distinctly different than the brand of liberalism subscribed to by Europeans as well the brand of liberalism subscribed to by earlier American liberals (classical liberals).

    And on this point, Michael is absolutely correct. I don’t even see how anyone could argue with him on this point. 1930′s liberalism, as promoted by Franklin D. Roosevelt was very different from the brand of liberalism practiced in the 1920′s.

    Roosevelt and his supporters, took a word that already had a very clear defined meaning, and used it to describe his own brand of political philosophy, which more accurately would have been called “economic populism” or “progressivism.”

    But yes, Sam, I agree that many of today’s conservatives are using the term “liberal” as a blanket term to refer to anyone who disagrees with President Bush’s foreign policy. The Libertarian Party and a number of paleoconservatives have spoken out quite passionately against President Bush’s foreign policy, and clearly, they are not “liberals” in the modern American sense of the word.

  26. I’m just thinking, it would be tremendous if we had a couple of bloggers: you (libertarian), a european classical liberal, a traditional conservative and myself of course a conservative liberal, to wirte something about out respective variant of Liberalism.

    Yes, I do think it would be nice for TMV to offer a wide range of viewpoints than transcend the outdated left-right spectrum. Despite TMV’s best efforts to be non-partisan, things become very polaring here when every debate seems to devolve into a left-versus-right argument. It is nearly impossible to avoid this when writers are perceived as being either in the Democratic camp or the Republican camp. But if we were to have progressives, libertarians, conservatives, populists, and centrists and then judge people on the strength of their ideas instead of which of the two major political parties they were more closely aligned with, I think a lot of the polarizing debate would be abated.

    For purposes of truth in advertising, I’m really more of a libertarian-liberal than a strict libertarian though. Much better and accurate resources for libertarian thought could be at:

    The Agitator
    Reason
    Cato
    Strike the Root
    Last Free Voice
    The Future of Freedom Foundation
    Downsize DC
    Lew Rockwell

    And of course:

    The Official Website of the Libertarian Party

    Disclaimer: Whether you’re a progressive, a moderate, or a conservative, you WILL be offended if you visit these sites. That’s what libertarians do.

  27. It was written:

    > Roosevelt and his supporters, took a
    > word that already had a very clear
    > defined meaning, and used it to
    > describe his own brand of political
    > philosophy, which more accurately
    > would have been called “economic
    > populism� or “progressivism.�

    Actually, it should be “Progressivism,” with a capital P. Architects of the New Deal such as Rex Tugwell have written about the Progressive roots of the New Deal (and contemporary US liberalism).

    Today’s “progressives” [sic] are very liberal to radical.

  28. How is banning the growing of medical marijuana compatible with free market capitalism?

    How is banning the sale of bongs over the internet compatible with free market capitalism?

    How is banning the distribution of pornography across state lines compatible with free market capitalism?

    But till someone other then the USA finds a way to teach ole “blue� a new way o hunting, Im afraid this redneck is stuck with good ole USA free market capitalism steeply based in consumerism.

    this is what I said in a post up top. Huge difference here pal in my version of capitalism then what your trying to pin on me so you can win debate points.

    Prohibition is one of the most anti-capitalistic

    You seek eutopia Nic. Nothing new. All countries have to have laws and all industry has to be regulated or else it will be pure and simple anarchy. So while your technical evaluations of free market capitalism is fine in text book theory what your professors forgot to tell you is that These theories must fit in with the society in which they are being imposed and this society will by its inheritant definition of the word society have rules and regulations which require certain industries comply with standards set by the society as a whole.

    Following your logic then its absolutely okay to committ murder if your contracted to do so because its an exchange of trade between two individuals and should be free from regulation.

    That dog wont hunt either. Theories are fine for class room nic. The problem is I dont think you have left the classroom yet.

  29. Nobody wrote:

    Following your logic then its absolutely okay to committ murder if your contracted to do so because its an exchange of trade between two individuals and should be free from regulation.

    Wow. That’s about as huge a jump in logic that I’ve seen. Clearly, you cannot differentiate between a consensual non-violent crime (i.e. selling pornography) and a nonconsensual violent crime (i.e. murdering someone).

    Your problem, nobody, is that you have one set of standards for yourself and another set of standards for those who disagree with you. When progressives attempt to regulate businesses, you accuse them of “wanting socialism.” Yet you refuse to accept the same criticism on behalf of yourself and other conservatives who also want to regulate businesses.

    Government regulation is government regulation regardless of whether its progressives or conservatives who are calling for it. Whether you want to regulate businesses in the name of promoting egalitarianism or moralism, either way, it’s incompatible with free market capitalism.

  30. Let me ask you something, Nobody. Do you consider yourself a conservative?

  31. He gave the government a month to close the capital’s brothels and music shops, and tear down advertisements depicting women.

    I got an idea go over to Pakistan hang out with the Imman there and ask him what he thinks of the porn magazines you got in your backpack.

    Clearly, you cannot differentiate between a consensual non-violent crime (i.e. selling pornography) and a nonconsensual violent crime (i.e. murdering someone).

    So you admit its illegal? Good. That in and of itself is what dictates the supply and demand of a free market consumer driven Capitalistic society. Violent or non violent. A crime is still a crime and the justice department is charged with enforcing the law, not making the law.

    Therefore in a textbook Free market the unimpeded flow of goods and services are dictated by the buyer and seller with no restrictions.

    IN a Consumer driven economy the consumers choose what to consume and what not to consume. The consumption of things such as pornography is therefore put under scrutiny and the society determines that such things are unaccptable for consuming and therefore should be regulated.

    Regulation within the free markets of a consumer driven USA economy is entirely logical and in fact necessary to insure that we do not have Ebay selling contracts on your teacher, mother or ME.

    Consumerism is what has determined that they do not like Porn unrestricted. Not Christians. There are many non Christians who despise porn as much as any christians do.

    I am a NeoCon.

  32. Your problem, nobody, is that you have one set of standards for yourself and another set of standards for those who disagree with you. When progressives attempt to regulate businesses, you accuse them of “wanting socialism.� Yet you refuse to accept the same criticism on behalf of yourself and other conservatives who also want to regulate businesses.

    Nic I still want what your smoking. I am not opposed to regulation on business at all. Regulation of business is a fair and important aspect of keeping society involved in the domestic decisions that affect them in a consumer driven economy.

    However I do believe that the regulation of business must have sane practices, should be used prudently and should reflect the values of the society in which they are attempting to help with said regulation.

    For example. I am not perse opposed to regulating pornography. However our government has passed laws and therefore have taken upon themselves the necessity to regulate this industry. I am not opposed to regulating any industry if regulation is needed.

    What I am opposed to is the regulation of any industry that is detrimental to job growth, job creation, individual wealth building and the flow of goods and services in such manner as such regulation stunts said industries growth for the pure benefit of one group over another.

    Ie Regulate Exxon because we are mad at them for making lots of money. Or more closely “Windfall profits Tax.” Not their fault the worlds going up in smoke. Or the regulation of Auto Industry with detrimental emmissions standards which would stunt and possibly harm their business to excessive lengths for the sole purpose of appeasing one social group.

    In other words I am against regulation that is against one group or another. I am against the Christians attempt at defining marriage but I am equally against the Gays attempts to pass legislation allowing Gay rights. Both are intrusive means of using government for personal gain and I am opposed to that.

    The more government stays out of our lives the better. However that being said I can firmly justify in my mind NSA wiretaps. So dont hang that banner around me either.

  33. Government regulation is government regulation regardless of whether its progressives or conservatives who are calling for it. Whether you want to regulate businesses in the name of promoting egalitarianism or moralism, either way, it’s incompatible with free market capitalism.

    And of course your entire philosophy boils down to this right here nic.

    You believe that all regulation is against the law. Its not. It might be against your professors textbook theory of Free Markets. Cool. However America is not entirely a free market.

    We are a consumerism free market capitalistic society and this is very different then your text book case study you are trying to pin on me. So rail against free market capitalism all you want but in effect you are just arguing against an Ideal that has no basis and certainly is practiced nowhere in the world that I am aware of except in some aboriginal tribes perhaps.

  34. You believe that all regulation is against the law. Its not. It might be against your professors textbook theory of Free Markets. Cool. However America is not entirely a free market.

    I never said that all regulation is against the law. I’m not against all forms of regulation, and I don’t expect you to be either. I’m merely pointing out the hypocrisy of criticizing the left for opposing capitalism when you, yourself, support laws that are inconsistent with capitalism.

    So you admit its illegal? Good. That in and of itself is what dictates the supply and demand of a free market consumer driven Capitalistic society. Violent or non violent. A crime is still a crime and the justice department is charged with enforcing the law, not making the law.

    That doesn’t make any sense. Capitalism explicity forbids the government interfering with the transfer of goods from a willing seller to a willing buyer. The fact that some politicians pass some law against pornography (thus making it illegal) is ITSELF anti-capitalistic.

    Letting the free market decide which industries prosper or fail–THAT’S capitalism.

    Allowing politicians to decide which industries should be allowed–that’s NOT capitalism.

    I can’t believe I’m even having this debate with you. It’s as if you don’t even understand what free market capitalism is. You condemn the left for not embracing capitalism, but you, yourself, don’t embrace it either.

  35. Your right Nic. I can’t believe you are having this conversation with me. Im winning and your fumbling around trying to make deflections right and left because you made the cardinal mistake. You assumed that I believe X which you would then use Y and Z to snag me and make points. But I dont believe X and yet your still arguing Y and Z. An Old debate professor of mine once told me. Never ask a question unless you are absolutely sure of the answer.

    I never said that all regulation is against the law. I’m not against all forms of regulation, and I don’t expect you to be either. I’m merely pointing out the hypocrisy of criticizing the left for opposing capitalism when you, yourself, support laws that are inconsistent with capitalism.

    You didnt? HEHE In your own post saying you didnt say that you said this:

    Capitalism explicity forbids the government interfering with the transfer of goods from a willing seller to a willing buyer. (Implies no regulation to me)

    Then you did not read my preceeding 3 posts. Or if you did I guess it did not make sense to you. Cut and paste it and take it to your professor and ask him what Im saying.

    That doesn’t make any sense. Capitalism explicity forbids the government interfering with the transfer of goods from a willing seller to a willing buyer. The fact that some politicians pass some law against pornography (thus making it illegal) is ITSELF anti-capitalistic.

    This was what I posted above:

    We are a consumerism free market capitalistic society and this is very different then your text book case study you are trying to pin on me. So rail against free market capitalism all you want but in effect you are just arguing against an Ideal that has no basis and certainly is practiced nowhere in the world that I am aware of except in some aboriginal tribes perhaps.

    I can’t believe I’m even having this debate with you. It’s as if you don’t even understand what free market capitalism is. You condemn the left for not embracing capitalism, but you, yourself, don’t embrace it either.

    Yes you can Nic. Because you are being educated. You are getting the REST OF THE STORY your professors opps forgot to tell you.

    So let me repeat. THE USA IS NOT A FREE MARKET CAPITALISTIC NATION AS PER YOUR TEXT BOOKS. IT IS A CONSUMERISM BASED FREE MARKET CAPITALISTIC NATION.

    Again read my posts nic.

    Letting the free market decide which industries prosper or fail–THAT’S capitalism.

    Allowing politicians to decide which industries should be allowed–that’s NOT capitalism.

    Cant argue that. However again we are not a free market capitalistic society we are a consumerism driven free market capitalistic society which by its virtue allows for the consumer to determine what is consumed and what is not. Consumers(society)being the deciders allows openly for the regulation of said movement of goods and services.

    Nic I know you have carefully crafted this debate for years so that it will then support your legalization of drugs and all kinds of mindless counterculture activity but your gonna have to rethink it. It is this drivel that keeps libertarians on the comic strips instead of the mainstream political strips of this country.

  36. A debate. Don’t ya just love it. Specially when a redneck from Texas is puttin a whoopin on yas. My coon dog was watching this debate for awhile but even he fell asleep.

  37. At last, an article starting this debate. As Jean François Revel says, Americans have corrupted the term liberal. American Democrats live in their oxymoronic world. They are die-hard socialists but are terrified at the thought of using that definition for fear of divulging to their American followers who they really are. I am a liberal living in the Americas and whenever we speak of liberalism we always have to emphatically point out “not the American kind”.

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