Liberalism and America

What it used to mean:[*1]

“Classical liberalism” is the term used to designate the ideology advocating private property, an unhampered market economy, the rule of law, constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and of the press, and international peace based on free trade. Up until around 1900, this ideology was generally known simply as liberalism. The qualifying “classical” is now usually necessary, in English-speaking countries at least (but not, for instance, in France), because liberalism has come to be associated with wide-ranging interferences with private property and the market on behalf of egalitarian goals. This version of liberalism — if such it can still be called — is sometimes designated as “social,” or (erroneously) “modern” or the “new,” liberalism. Here we shall use liberalism to signify the classical variety.

Emphasis mine. By this definition, I pretty much qualify as a liberal–of the classical variety, that is. The “progressives” in the United States, following their intellectual allies in Europe (mainly Germany and England, but also France) have debased the term “liberal” to mean “socialist.”

This is a big part of why I put the word “progressive” in all its various forms in quotes. The people who call themselves “progressive” are anything but. Their worldview is one where they would be right at home in the Dark Ages–with themselves, perhaps, as the hierarchy of the Church and the associated nobility, of course. That leaves the rest of us to play the roles of peasant and serf.

Oh, yes, very progressive. Very liberal.

Very deceitful.

Classical liberalism is THE American political philosophy. It is here in the United States that it found its greatest flowering, and it was here that classical liberalism it demonstrated its unique power to raise individual human beings to a standard of living unparalleled in the history of mankind.

It is this political philosophy that the “progressives” want to throw away, in preference for their neo-feudal Dark Age collectivism.

Oh, yes, very, very progressive.

It is time to take a stand. If you embrace progressive ideals, you are not truly an American. You may be a European, or a “citizen of the World,” whatever the hell that means, but you are throwing away the one thing that truly makes an American an American.

America is not about a skin color. America is not about a language. America is not about land. America is not about how much money or stuff you have, or how vigorously you wave the flag, or how strongly you feel compassion for those less fortunate than you.

America is an idea. That idea is classical liberalism.

Embrace the idea and you’re American. Go down another road, and be something else, but you are not an American. You may be a citizen of the United States, but you are not an American.

If this offends you, consider this: I do not question your “patriotism.” Oh, no, nothing so narrow or jingoistic as that. I question your wisdom.

History teaches that no political system is superior in providing the greatest good for the greatest number than classical liberalism.


If you want to argue, start by citing a counterexample to the amazing rise of the United States from colonial wilderness to possibly the most powerful country in the world in little more than one hundred years. You won’t be able to, because no such counterexample exists in the history of the world. None.

So, if you think I’m calling you un-American, I am not questioning your patriotism. I am questioning your wisdom.