Talk:Radicalism (historical)

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This page is very confusing. For starters why is it called "Historical radicalism"? Ewlyahoocom 19:45, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Once upon a time, it was called "Radicalism (historical)", then some souls decided "Radicalism" alone was quite enough, so that was fine. Then someone else has bodged a move back, losing the previous history and the previous talk pages.
It's confusing because it describes the shifting meanings of a term in active political use for a couple of centuries. ...dave souza, talk 09:06, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Radicalism, Republicanism and Liberalism[edit]

This page has been written, from a British POV, on the assumption that "Radicalism=Liberalism". It states, however, that the British Labour party was formed by Radical trade-unionists. Is the Labour party a liberal party? Concerning other countries, it states that "radicals are liberals advocating the republic" (i.e. "universal" manhood suffrage). Thus, Radicals would be these liberals in favor of the Republic, that is of universal suffrage (at least for men). Concerning France, this is false. Radicals were not liberals, but Republicans, and some "red republicans" became socialists. Hence Radicals in France were far from being all "liberals", which explains why the party was named Radical-Socialist Party. The same question than for Labour posits itself: are Radical-Socialists "liberals"? So being a socialist is the same as being a liberal? Actually, if you read the history of the movement as has been written here, Radicals were in fact first Republicans, then maybe liberals, and not the reverse. It is only a modern POV reading of history which deletes Republicanism and makes it a version of liberalism. This is a respectable POV, but we should be aware of this being a POV. If I withhold any ideological judgment and concentrates myself on the historical facts hereby exposed, I see that Radicals, whether in Britain or in France, were 1/ in favor of the Republic or/and universal manhood suffrage 2/ were some sort of what we would today call a "social movement", which preceded or overlapped the emergence of the Socialism movement. Thus, it refers to the Chartists, the Luddites, and Georges Clemenceau's break with "Republican opportunist" (moderate) Léon Gambetta (Clemenceau being more to the left than Gambetta). Let's quote the "Chartist" subsection to make my point:

From 1836 working class Radicals unified around the Chartist cause of electoral reform expressed in the People's Charter drawn up by six members of Parliament and six from the London Working Men's Association (associated with Owenite Utopian socialism), which called for six points: Universal suffrage, equal-sized electoral districts, secret ballot, an end to property qualification for Parliament, pay for Members of ParlÈiament and Annual Parliaments. Chartists also expressed economic grievances, but their mass demonstrations and petitions to parliament were unsuccessful. Despite initial disagreements, after their failure their cause was taken up by the middle class Anti-Corn Law League founded by Richard Cobden and John Bright in 1839 to oppose duties on imported grain which raised the price of food and so helped landowners at the expense of ordinary people.

So, despite this being written (which seems, in my naive view, to point out at the links between Radicals and the social movement, not to say "socialism" and "utopian socialism"), radicalism is still identified with liberalism. This section, however, makes it clear that Chartists were Republicans in favor of social reforms, i.e. close to socialism and which could easily be compared to today's social-democrats. They allied themselves with the liberal Anti-Corn Law League: this alliance presuppose that the differences between themselves and liberalism. Despite this history (this is only one quote & example), Radicalism is conceived here as being a subfamily of liberalism and of having nothing to do with socialism, while Republicanism itself is dismissed as a non-existent political tradition, or at least as a subsection of liberalism. Thus, the Republic will be liberal or not be. I doubt Republicans who joined the 1848 Revolutions were of this opinion. The word and reality of Socialism is hardly ever called in here, despite its obvious presence. Probably because authors of this article tended to assimilate Socialism with communism, which is , of course, a misunderstanding (in this sense, communism may be said a subfamily of socialism, but so does anarchism, and social-democracy). Tazmaniacs 14:43, 16 July 2006 (UTC)

PS:this article doesn't mention the division line between democracy and liberalism in the 19th century, which was one of the major conflict-line, at least in France. Democrats were in favor of universal suffrage while liberals preferred cens-suffrage. We tend to forget today that 19th century liberals were not democrats, because they have rallied themselves today to universal suffrage in what we call liberal democracies, in which we live (for most Wikipedians). Tazmaniacs 14:46, 16 July 2006 (UTC)

The article does not equate radicalism with liberalism. It says that radicalism eventually became absorbed in liberalism, which is true. The Radicals in France were, by the early 20th century, a mainstream liberal party, "radical" only in their anti-clericalism, and even that was basically a closed issue by 1914. The English radicals became largely absorbed into the Liberal Party. And the economic ideas of most radicals were definitely much closer to liberalism than they were to socialism. radicals differed from socialists on economic policy (radicals mostly advocated liberal economic policies, while socialists, obviously, advocated socialist ones), while they tended to differ from liberals on constitutional issues (radicals were avowed republicans, liberals were either constitutional monarchists or opportunists, willing to tolerate either a monarchy or a republic). Beyond this, I'm not sure what you're getting at. The Chartists were on the border between radicalism and socialism, I think. More mainstream radicals like John Bright and Richard Cobden most definitely held liberal economic views. But I'm not quite sure what you're getting at here. Could you express your point more concisely? john k 14:57, 16 July 2006 (UTC)

You are quite right, I will add, that the issue of universal suffrage is important here, and should be mentioned. A big problem with the article is its focus on Britain, I think. john k 14:59, 16 July 2006 (UTC)

I agree with your comments. In brief, this article does equate radicalism with liberalism, first of all by the use of the template "liberalism" in it, and, more important, in the text itself. Obviously radicals in the 20th century advocated liberal economic policies, but does that make of Radicalism a liberal movement? You point out that radicals differ from liberals on constitutional issues, being republicans rather than constitutional monarchists. Isn't this distinction between Republic and Monarchy something which clearly distinguish radicalism from liberalism? This Republican side of radicalism explains how some radical elements (the Chartists, but also Pierre Mendès-France) were attracted to socialism, which definitely put them apart from liberalism. This article is written as if the main, central and unique conflictual line was between liberalism & socialism, and thus engrains radicalism in the liberal side. But there were other conflictual lines, such as Republic and Monarchy (the former, in France at least, being supported by radicals and the latter by liberals). Is that more clear? :) Tazmaniacs 17:48, 16 July 2006 (UTC)
A bit. I would just say that while there was certainly a distinction between liberalism and radicalism for much of the 19th century, but that this gradually becomes a lot less clear. By the early 20th century, French radicalism, notably, is pretty clearly at about the same place on the political spectrum as British or German liberalism. This is due to a number of factors, but primarily to the fact that France was a republic after 1870, and that most liberals came to accept the republic as "opportunistic republicans." This meant that the radicals' support of the republic no longer made them particularly, well, radical. Similarly, France had universal suffrage from 1848 (with a brief break during the 2nd Republic, iirc), so support for universal suffrage also failed to distinguish them from liberals, who also did not oppose universal suffrage. As far as I can tell, the major differences between radicals and opportunists by the time of the Dreyfus Affair are a) anti-clericalism, and b) self-perception - the Radicals continue to see themselves as being on the left, while many Opportunists are coming to see themselves as being on the center-right (although certainly not all did - there were a lot of prominent Opportunist Dreyfusards, for instance). I think one of the key things about radicalism is that it basically converged into liberalism over the course of the late 19th century, and that this needs to be made clear. In general, an expansion of the sections on continental radicalism, and particularly on France, would help this a lot. john k 23:57, 16 July 2006 (UTC)
I removed the "Liberalism template", as it equates a bit too easily radicalism with liberalism, overviewing the 19th century conflict between (Radical) Republicans and (Liberal) proponents of constitutional monarchy, as well as the fact that liberals were in favor of census suffrage whilst Radicals favored universal suffrage. That radicalism was later absorbed by liberalism doesn't entitle this template which ignores important distinctions, and forget that not a few Radicals were lot closer to the Republican tradition than to liberalism, and some, as the Chartists, really close to Socialism, while some modern parties, such as the Left Radical Party, despite having embraced social-liberalism, has still more to do with the left-wing (in France) than with the right-wing (and French liberals are usually considered as locating themselves at the right-wing, on the contrary of US liberals which has a different meaning). Tazmaniacs 15:44, 21 July 2006 (UTC)
In the anglophone world in general, "Liberals" tend to be on the left (except in Australia, for some reason). I don't see the association of the Left Radicals with the Socialists as being dispositive of whether they're liberals or not. john k 17:02, 21 July 2006 (UTC)
PS: a specific Radicalism template would be lot more appropriate than this annexion of a political tradition by another one. Tazmaniacs 15:44, 21 July 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps we should start off by making this article better. john k 17:04, 21 July 2006 (UTC)
I can see the problems with the terms in France, but it doesn't justify removing the template liberalism, since even according to Tazmaniacs radicalism was mostly absorbed by. Electionworld = Wilfried (talk 14:28, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
Electionworld you do not seem to have taken my point. That radicalism was mostly absorbed by liberalism doesn't justify such template, which precisely enforces this absorption. The problem is not only about France, but about all others countries. See Chartism for example. Again, Radicalism may very well be said to belong to the Republicanism tradition & not to the liberalism tradition. So why not put a "Republicanism" template, rather than a liberal one? There is no reason to privilege the liberal reading of history over the republican reading. In other terms: this template is a sign of POV, and should therefore be removed. Tazmaniacs 17:23, 24 July 2006 (UTC)
The template is problematic, not least because it lists Radicalism as a "school" of Liberalism: the main articles on Liberalism don't seem to have much explanation about this "school". As the article shows, it was a complex movement or series of movements largely concerned with egalitarian widening of the franchise, which can also be considered as an antecedent of Socialism as well as having strong ties to Republicanism, and the template definitely gives a misleading impression. The continental European adoption of the term after the Napoleonic Wars and usage after the label fell out of use in the UK is interesting, and it will be welcome if this aspect can be developed further. ..dave souza, talk 21:54, 24 July 2006 (UTC)


I like the origin part. It appears as a misunderstanding considering the American colonies representational efforts. The due process to continue with governmental abilities were seemingly transformed as a departing agreement of which, perhaps started in England. Newspapers and Pamphlets brought an encouragement to the colonists basing the representation of Parliaments acquisition amongst different party relations. The colonies in effort of a government, perhaps now loosing the choice to conduct an affiliating system. If history has a displayed organizational governing in the american colonies it would in relation to the King of England and other authoritative countries be in recognition to have the power to form a governing system. As we know it factions were important in the coalition of governing, governments and the association of an authoritative relationship. When recognized this is a possibility in due process. The DeLancey Faction was part of this method to a standard obligational awareness, perhaps the beginning of a forming government. We will see the progress of it through the authoritative awareness of the King of England and the procedures of a justice. Such a justice in example is the self taxation and the authority to print the currency as to the part of commerce in recommendation towards the continued trade. A freedom in due course. The study continues.David George DeLancey (talk) 17:53, 1 July 2012 (UTC)