Talk:Liberalism/Archive 1

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Aug 2004 discussion of multiple definitions of "liberal"

At first read this page seems very US centric in its definition of liberal, in that it trys to merge the two "new"(?) and "classical" visions. Seen from outside, they just seem like the same name for two very different ideologies. Opposing "conservative" to "liberal" is unique to the US as well.

It could be useful to acknoledge that difference and divide the page in two rather than try to reconcile the the irreconcilable.

The article does not discuss the modern American usage of the term "liberal" at all. It should be mentioned. Once it is I do not know how to avoid the conclusion that the term "liberal" as used in the current American political parlance is completely absurd. [The only thing that remotely approximates it is "fiscal liberal", which has nothing to do with the term "liberal" as understood in this article.] 05:36, 10 January 2010 (UTC)05:36, 10 January 2010 (UTC)05:36, 10 January 2010 (UTC)~~

I do not agree, the updates I made were certainly not US centric, since I am an European liberal. But liberal has not only various meanings in the US, but also in Europe. In my country we have two liberal parties with different political positions. Also modern European liberals root their philopsophy in classical liberalism. Gangulf 21:58, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Sorry I was not clear enough, nevermind the US centricity, it seems illusory to try and reconcile the two definitions. They are two different ideologies, and it would be more honest to have two different pages, or at least on should seperate them clearly in the article. Thatcher and Reagan are perfect illustrations of this incompatibility. 20:19, 19 Aug 2004 (GMT).
A clearer separation is, indeed, a good idea.

See below Gangulf 20:48, 4 Sep 2004 (UTC)

July 2004 rework

This version of the page liberalism is a merger of the pages Liberalism, Political liberalism and Classical liberalism.

The new text takes into account the position of political liberals and of classical liberals. The labeling of progressive liberal views as being social democratic views have been deleterd. Old versions of the pages can be found at

Gangulf 07:04, 27 Jul 2004 (UTC)

As part of an extensive edit, I have copy edited the second of the two sections of the article entitled "classical liberalism" (under "economic liberalism"). I've refrained from doing more than a copy edit, because I'm not sure exactly what to do with it. As written (both before and after my edits), it feels to me a bit like a manifesto rather than an objective description (although it seems reasonably on the mark). Does someone else want to take a shot at this section? -- Jmabel 07:00, Jul 25, 2004 (UTC)

I have attempted to clarify the passage that now begins "Generally in Europe..." However, I may have gotten it wrong. It referred to a "sense 1" now long gone from the article. Would someone familiar with European liberalism please have a look at this paragraph, see if they believe it to be accurate, and modify it if not? Thanks in advance. -- Jmabel 18:01, Jul 25, 2004 (UTC)

I made some corrections in this paragraph from my knowledge of European liberalism, being a bureau member of the ELDR. Gangulf 20:19, 25 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I've reworked the section now entitled "Evolution of liberalism". It was a bit of a mess (I suspect it evolved from different people expressing somewhat conflicting views). I've tightened it up a bit and added a few specifics that were previously missing. Along the way I lost two potentially useful passages, one because I couldn't work out how to get it in, the other because I couldn't see how it was relevant, though someone may be able to tie it back in. Here they are:

"Gladstone, a political liberal, was influenced by his correspondance with Lord Acton, a classical liberal."
  • This is true, but without saying what those influences are, it's little more than trivia. If someone can expand it, it could be a useful addition to the article. Similarly, it would be good if someone could expand on in exactly what ways Mill was influenced by his wife.
(of classical liberal views of the politics of liberal parties in former communist states) "...but doesn't match either the diversity of their opinions (see anarcho-capitalism) or the strictness of their anti-political claims (see libertarianism)."
  • Hmm. While anarcho-capitalism and libertarianism certainly derive from classical liberalism, neither one is identical to classical liberalism. Anarcho-capitalism, like political liberalism, is certainly an evolution (and deviation) from classical liberalism. Libertarianism is certainly closer to classical liberalism, but as we discuss in our articles on these two topics, the terms are not interchangeable. Since this is an article on liberalism -- a more mainstream concept than libertarianism, and far more mainstream than anarcho-capitalism, the views libertarians and anarcho-capitalists may have of central and eastern liberal parties seem to me a bit beside the point for this article and more relevant to the articles on libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism, respectively. Again, though, if someone can rewrite in a way more obviously illustrative of the topic of liberalism -- which is, after all, the subject of this article -- I won't object.

This is the end of my current major edit. I'll try to largely refrain from further editing the article the next week or so to make sure others get a fair chance to influence its direction. -- Jmabel 06:37, Jul 26, 2004 (UTC)

My recent updatings

  • I moved the paragraphs on the usage in diverse countries to the articles Liberalism in . The old text can be found here

talk:liberalism/old version usage liberalism.

  • I redrafted the paragraph on political liberalism, trying to keep it a neutral text.
  • I replaced the paragraph on evolution of liberalism just before Political liberalism
  • I merged the paragraph on Classical liberalism, redrafted to this article and put it just after Evolution of liberalism. The old tekst can be found at talk:liberalism/classical.
  • I redrafted the introuctory paragraph on diverse usages. The old tekst can be found at talk:liberalism/old version usages.

Gangulf 17:19, 26 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I'm going to gather that together again in Liberalism in countries. I think it is useful to see in one place how diverse the usages are, instead of having them only exist scattered around. -- Jmabel 17:02, Jul 26, 2004 (UTC)

I still have to summarize paragraph 5.1, since it is now double with the larger text on Classical Liberalism. Gangulf 17:20, 26 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Immanuel Kant

Sorry, but how is Immanuel Kant not a classical liberal?? He was practically a minarchist, and the last important philosopher of the enlightenment! --Lussmu 11:13, 8 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I believe that Gangulf who wrote this passage is currently on vacation. You might want to leave a note on his talk page to get his attention when he returns. -- Jmabel 17:51, Aug 8, 2004 (UTC)

"Exporting revolution"

After a recent edit, the paragraph that begins, "With the Depression of the 1930's..." now ends, "In Soviet Russia, a government arose which imposed collectivism on agriculture and took state command of every aspect of the economy, and promised to 'export revolution'." The latter part of this seems quite wrong. Enforced collective farms are indeed a Stalinist program; exporting revolution really isn't. Stalin was (especially at this time) precisely the champion of "revolution in one country"; exporting revolution was far more the plan of Lenin and Trotsky. I'll leave this for a bit to give the author of the passage a shot at editing to indicate what (if anything) he/she actually meant, but if no one modifies this soon, I probably will. -- Jmabel 05:51, Aug 17, 2004 (UTC)

The graf is badly written, I didn't intend to imply that Stalin himself supported export of Revolution in the 1930's (though many in Russia did, as did the Trotskyites) Let me see if I can rewrite it. Stirling Newberry 09:10, 17 Aug 2004 (UTC)

"classical liberalism" and "libertarianism"

I strenuously object to the claim that "classical liberalism" and "libertarianism" are one and the same. We've been through this all before, and I am not going to rehash the arguments. Normally, I would just revert this, User:Stirling Newberry has been making a bunch of edits, most of them good.

Stirling, I know you are following the "be bold" maxim, and much of what you are doing is good, but this is an article that has had a lot of work by a lot of people, and I think you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It would really be helpful if somewhere you could summarize the changes you are making. It's pretty hard to tease them out, because you are moving things around, as well. -- Jmabel 21:15, Aug 17, 2004 (UTC)

I'm also following wiki policy - the article as written is heavily POV, factually inaccurate and original work - in that it uses terms in ways which are particular to an ideology, or are not found anywhere else. Specifically: "political liberalism" does not mean in mainstream political philosophy anything remotely resembling what is used here. See Rawls Political Liberalism for the more common usage. In the top 1000 google citiations, and in amazon inside the book I could not find one citation of classical liberalism as used here which was not by a classical liberal. Instead, as the "liberalism" link uses it to mean "pre-welfare state liberalism", which includes a number of liberals who are not acceptable to "classical liberals".

If you have a citation of someone making a distinction between classical liberal and libertarianism by all means include it. However, this isn't how we feel about things, but about documenting how others use the term. I assert that, among non- "classical liberals" the term Libertarianism is the one used to describe the body of thought, and that this can be backed up by numerous cites from important works. My graf documented that liberatarianism is the term used by outsiders, and classical liberalism used by insiders, if there needs to be another clause along the lines of "within classical liberalism the term libertarian applies more specifically to..." but I could find no documentable and regular usage to cite. If you have one, by all means includie it.

If there is a controversy by all means document it - but to the broad majority of usage, "classical liberal" isn't a term at all, beyond meaning the long tradition of liberal writing, and not, as its adherents use it, a specific body of anti-communitarianism. Stirling Newberry 01:26, 18 Aug 2004 (UTC)

No way is that going to fly. Sorry, but there were arguments about the differences between Classical Liberalism and "Libertarianism" in the massive amount of text you deleted (and then replaced with things from some other article.) You cite Google results as a good way to see how other people define things - Google suffers from two major problems when it comes to this.

None of which were documented in any source what-so-ever. Wiki is not a standards body that decides on what defintions are based on arguments. I delted undocumented, POV, original writing. Which is wikipolicy.

Firstly, Google searches the internet - the internet is overwhelmingly US-dominated and US-centric - and is overwhelmingly US-dominated and US-centric.

Which is why I supplemented it with a search of available online text.

Secondly, if our definition is correct then there would be hardly any classical Liberals (we're saying it's a historical ideology (a dead one)) and thus their views would not be widespread on the internet and could not easily be searched for.

This is wiki, we aren't supposed to have "our" definition. We are supposed to be documenting the definitions in use, highlighting those that readers will most likely encounter. The two definitions of the term which I found overwhelming preponderate I documented. To refute the division requires a body of writing which self-identifies as classical liberal which outsiders would not call libertarian. I'm waiting for a single citation which does this. The other refutation would be to show that classical liberal has been accepted by people who don't self-identify being the same as the use the classical liberals make of it. I have yet to find one such reference in an mainstream text, instead, the consistent usage in English is libertarian.
No, the consitant usage in American English is "libertarian". In British English the phrase "Classical liberal" refers to the group of liberal philosophers from John Locke to about JS Mill. Their views can be seen as distinct from the views of Libertarians as there are broad disagreements on many areas.
From the point of view of mainstream political ideology there are no living classical liberals, it is indeed "dead". From the point of view of a group of people who call themselves "classical liberals" it is a living political philosophy. It is this that I am documenting, namely that there are two basically separate usages of the term, which are both consistent and distinct. Since the school of thought exists, it publishes and has adherents, it should be documented.
This is not represented in the article. It only documents the view that classical Liberalism and Libertarianism is one and the same.

I don't see how any person can agree that (apart from a Marxist) that Classical Liberalism is essentially "the absolute primacy of private property, the non-interference of the state in economics, called laissez-faire." I mean not even Adam Smith believed that - as was discussed in the article. If that was true then why did Classical Liberal thinkers come up with ideas such as rights, toleration and democracy? They have noting to do with the primacy of private property.

According to the people who call themselves "classical liberals" in the present, that is exactly what they assert. Howevever, from the POV of mainstream political ideology, these contentions are absurd. There are a few terrabytes of flame war over the issue. My response is "document and move on".
Being wholly reliant on people who seek to profit from their claims is not quite the Wiki NPOV policy.

I also fail to see how Libertarianism is anywhere nearer to Classical Liberalism then neo-Liberalism. The main linking point between the ideologies is the economics (dependant upon a slightly skewed look at the Classical Liberal view on economics.) Why then is Libertarianism given full hold over the phrase?

There are many who would argue that Libertarianism isn't classical liberalism at all. In fact, I would be one of them. However, I will again note that "classical liberal" is what they call themselves and the article as written documents that this usage is not agreed to by those outside of the self-identifying group.

I've also got to say

"In the top 1000 google citiations, and in amazon inside the book I could not find one citation of classical liberalism as used here which was not by a classical liberal. Instead, as the "liberalism" link uses it to mean "pre-welfare state liberalism", which includes a number of liberals who are not acceptable to "classical liberals"."

is plain stupid. If we are arguing over the definition of classical liberalism then we are arguing over who can be counted as a classical liberal.

I'm not arguing, I'm documenting that other people are arguing over it. We shouldn't be arguing over who is and who is not a classical liberal, we should be documenting "group X says that the definition of classical liberal is Y and therefore Z is the list of classical liberals, while group A says that the defintion of classical liberal is B and therefore C is the list of classical liberals". Now if the text I've produced doesn't do this clearly, I'm all in favor of making changes. But, from the documentation, I don't think it is possible to say that there isn't an argument or that the argument isn't sufficiently important to document. Whether the argument is reasonable, sensible, etc etc etc is something that others will have to judge.
You are not documenting it. You have written "Libertarianism or "Classical Liberalism"". Not Classical Liberalism and then maybe a subsection "Classical Liberalism and Libertarianism" - where you can actually document the argument.
Specificallly the text says that "classical liberal" is generally applied to "pre-welfare state" liberalism, and that there is a self-identifying group of people who call themselves "classical liberals" who are generally identified by others as "libertarians". There's some dispute about whether the word "libertarian" (English Usage) is the right word, but I feel I have the documentary evidence from important sources (such as Milton Friedman and others) which shows that Libertarian identifies what the outside, when it is being polite, calls the group of self-identifying "classical liberals"

Stirling Newberry 22:22, 18 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I think a revert is in order on the last change. Slizor 12:00, 2004 Aug 18 (UTC)

I don't think you have grounds for that. Stirling Newberry 22:22, 18 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I don't think you had grounds for a change in the first place Slizor 21:25, 2004 Aug 20 (UTC)

Stirling Newberry seems to suffer from acute americano-centrism. You will find that only in the US are Liberals socialists. Of course looking for confirmation on US websites will confirm this.
Joy, unsubstantiated anonymous personal attacks without citations. Stirling Newberry 20:36, 19 Aug 2004 (UTC)
We're still waiting for your citations... It may be hard to believe for you, but on most of the planet, no one has heard of the american definition, just like you seem to ignore the other defintion. Sorry but, coming from a country where the american definition is completely unheard of, you just seem like an ignorant waste of time. You will have to do the research yourself, just lookup any French/Spanish/German dictionary for liberal. [Just looked at the French version of this page, it's the "rest of the world" definition. - Why don't you take a look at it? Use an automatic translator if need be]
Undocumented, unsigned personal attacks from an IP address do not warrant any further responses on my part. Stirling Newberry 21:59, 19 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Undocumented modifications of articles should be removed from this site. Stirling's changes should be removed. These were not attacks by the way, simply objective facts. Sad that Stirling is so close minded, there are still many things for all of us to learn.

If you want to start an edit war, go right ahead. Stirling Newberry 23:40, 19 Aug 2004 (UTC)

From a Continental European point of view, the "Classical Liberals" and Libertarian are two different things. "Classical Liberals" are called "Liberals," plain and simple. "Classical" is only added to distinguish them from the "US Liberals" and "neo-liberals." The difference with Libertarism lies mainly in the role of the state, which is far from negligible in "rest of the world" liberalism. If you are looking for "Classical Liberals", then look for Liberalism (or liberalisme). The term "classical liberal" is only used to avoid confusions that stem from US cultural dominance. New Guy 20:36, 19 Aug 2004 (GMT)

Sweeping edits

Stirling, from what I can tell, you've made some rather sweeping edits. It's hard to work out exactly what you've changed, because you've moved a lot around. It looks to me like you've cut some material, and not followed the common policy of moving the cut material to the talk page to highlight what has been removed.

Could you try at least to provide us with a summary of any cuts you have made? -- Jmabel 05:00, Aug 20, 2004 (UTC)

No. Stirling Newberry 05:13, 20 Aug 2004 (UTC)

How do we make everyone happy?

This page doesn't seem to be talking about liberalism, as I understand it, but I realise a lot of these political terms can be vague and can have different meanings to different people.

My understanding of liberalism is that it is, in essence, an idelogy based on the idea that the goal of government is to maximise the freedom of the people. There seem to be two related but distinct areas where the water gets muddied:

  1. Liberalism has led people to different conclusions. In this case freedom is the core value, but it gets interpretted in different ways. The notions of "positive freedoms" fits in this category. If you believe that everyone should have the freedom that education brings, you are expressing a liberal ideology, because it is based on the principle of freedom. Other liberals may disagree that education makes you free, or may disagree that you are entitled to that freedom. Perhaps they don't approve of the constraint your freedom has on their freedom not to be taxed. These are issues about how to interpret liberalism. The idea that liberalism is about freedom is shared as a root for all these ideologies.
  2. The term liberalism has been adopted to describe social democratic ideologies, particularly in the United States. These ideologies focus on socialist principles, like community responsibility and state ownership. The core value is not "freedom" in these ideologies, and so for me they do not fit under the term "liberalism".

In other words, it seems to me that liberalism can mean (strictly) "based on freedom" or (US usage) "generally left-wing". I think both of these meanings deserves its own page. A lot can be written about how different idelogies have interpreted the core liberal value of freedom. Similarly, there's plenty to discuss about how left-wing ideologies evolve.

The current page seems to present the US usage, and presents it as if it were the evolution of some kind of cohesive ideology. I've read someone say that the US left wing claimed the term liberal in order to avoid the term "socalism" when that became politicaly unpopular. In other words they used the term for something related but different. This isn't an evolution of ideology, it's an evolution of language.

I think we need two pages, the question I have is what names can we give them to make everyone happy?

To get the ball rolling I suggest:

  • liberalism [for discussion of ideologies that hold freedom as their central principle]
  • liberalism (US usage) [for discussion of US left-wing ideologies with a more diverse set of principles]

I think some authors have been using the term "modern liberalism" to refer to the US usage, as if the stricter use of the term is out-dated. Don't get me started on that!

I want to stress that I'm not arguing for a particular ideology, or to say that a particular interpretation of liberalism (meaning freedom-ism) is right or wrong. What I'm arguing is that there are two distinct uses of the word liberalism. These need to be disambiguated, so we need two articles. What should we call them? Ben Arnold 04:53, 4 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I don't have time to go into this now in detail, but I think that both traditions have clear continuity of development from the same classical liberal philosophers. We have articles that cover more specific political philosophies within the liberal tradition (e.g. libertarianism or more specific national developments of liberalism. We could use more of these. This one is the broad article. Like the article on socialism or conservatism, it embraces many often contradictory currents within a stream. Somewhere in the encyclopedia we need an article for each of these broad streams that does that. This is the one for liberalism. Liberalism has more or less a single current down to about 1848, but after that it divides. If you try to say that social democratic elements have no part in liberalism, you end up in the position of having to say that John Stuart Mill wasn't really a liberal. -- Jmabel 19:58, Sep 4, 2004 (UTC)

Modern or social liberalism is more than liberalism us usage. Much of European liberalism is influenced by social thinking and the welfare state was also a liberal invention (Beveridge, Keynes, Bertil Ohlin).

This page gives a broad overview of liberalism, so I certainly would not prefer a separation. earlier versions were more clear on that overview. Typical national discussions on liberalism could be discussed on pages like Liberalism in the United States (this page exists allready). Thatcher and Reagan are by the way no liberals, not even in an European sense. They might adhere to some liberal market ideas, but liberalism is more than market. Gangulf 16:20, 4 Sep 2004 (UTC) (sorry, first placed it in the wrong place. I do agree with Jmabel)

This page as evolved in a clear pro-progressive liberalism pov. Referring to progressive liberalism as "modern" or - worse - "evolved" in an insult to so-called "classical" liberals, who were forced to adopt this terminology following the evolution of the word "liberalism" in the USA. "classical" liberalism far from disapearing, contrary to what is suggested by the tone and wording ofthe article. To the contrary, all political parties are moving in it's direction, and it has been the governing force between all international agreenents for the last 50 years. From a practical pov, however, it seems inevitable that more US liberal will work on this page, due to the origin of wikipedia and the language of the entry. Hence the inevitable bias. It could therefore be useful to separate the entries, one would be "progressive" liberal play ground, while the other would be a "classical" liberal sandbox. Starting by opposing "conservatism" and "liberalism" is another example of this bias. Gandulf, Thatcher and Reagan embody European liberalism. Especially Thatcher. I have to support Ben Arnold entirely. I do fear, however, that US-liberals (who will naturally me a majority here) will lack the brad mindness to grant room space to an ideology oposed to theirs. Hence the need for two distinct playgrounds.
Let's be clear, I am an European, not an American liberal, member of a party situated in the centre of the political spectrum in my country, a party srongly in favour of free market, but at te same time emphasizing the need of hindering monopolies and cartels and the need for social policy. Thatcher was the leader of the British Conservative party and was never involved in liberal politics. Most European liberals wouldn't consider her to be a liberal, neither would they consider Reagan a liberal in the European sense of the word. It is a misunderstanding that libertarians in the US are like European liberals. This would disregard decades of development in European liberalism (with a possible exception for France, where the world liberal became synomym with minarchism. There is a place for a separate libertarian playground at libertarianism. Liberalism and conservatism have always been different ideologies in Europe as are liberalism and social democracy.
If the term Evolved liberalism bothers you, i do not mind to replace it with modern liberalism, as it was used before, i would mind using the word social liberal, since only a part of modern liberalism would consider itself social liberal. --Gangulf 14:29, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)
BTW, there is also a separate page for United States liberalism, which could be used for a discussion/playground on American liberalism. --Gangulf 14:31, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I think "evolved" liberalism is a poor choice of words, and we should lose it. I myself tend to write (in other contexts) "liberalism (in the U.S. sense)"; I've also seen "American liberalism" or "U.S. liberalism" but that ignores its influence in the UK and (to a lesser extent) Continental Europe. "Cold War liberalism" now seems archaic. "New Deal liberalism" seems, again, too U.S.-centric. As an American I have no problem with "modern liberalism".
Yes, it is an interesting matter that classical liberalism and classical conservatism have somewhat converged, given their different philosophical roots. In the U.S., to the best of my knowledge, most people in this convergence call themsleves "conservative", not "liberal". One of the few such mainstream U.S. politicians I know who ever tries to reclaim the word "liberal" is Jack Kemp. Are there other examples in the English-speaking world? There is no question that the word connotes differently in French or Spanish, and we mention that, but this is, ultimately, the English-language Wikipedia, and the fact that words likethis don't map perfectly across languages should be mentioned (as it is), but should not be central to the article. -- Jmabel 21:17, Sep 17, 2004 (UTC)
I will change Evolved liberalism into modern liberalism, but what that I do not mean US Liberalism, but I think what is now mainstream liberalism in Europe and outside. --Gangulf 21:55, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Gandulf, you are from the Netherlands, aren't you? I understand that their definition is at a cross-road between the US and Euro version. It fits yours, but is not representative of, for instance, the French or Spanish meanings. It would be pointless to argue where Thatcher or Reagan would fit, that reminds me of those endless and pointless discussions to classify music bands...
My user name is Gangulf, not Gandulf. I don't know whose comment this is, since it anonimous. European liberalism is pluriform, but I am active in international liberal politics. I have had contact with liberal politicans from many European countries (and Canada). Dutch liberalism doesn't differ form European liberalism, but both currents inside liberalism are present in NL. None of them is libertarian. Even what we might call conservative liberals in the NL accept state intervention on a lot of issues. Minarchism doesn't exits there. But this is the same in countries like Britain, Luxembourg, Scandinavian countries etc. Though most US liberals would be considered left-wingers and European liberal would be considered more to the right wing, I really doubt if American liberalism is more to the left than European liberalism. May be the whole American spectrum is more to right wing. I am always amazed that even left-wing Americans can support capital punishment. Really, if liberalism is only about economics, one mght consider Reagan and Thatcher as liberals, but liberalism is not only about economics, it is about individula self-determination. Historically conservatism and liberalism are antipodes, that is not typical American. So, I wouldn't mind labelling Thatcher and Reagan neo-liberals, but they don't fit in the liberal tradition. --Gangulf 20:17, 18 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Citations, please

"...although some would consider this a misinterpretation of Hayek or of what constitutes liberalism." (italics mine)

This is nothing but POV disguised by a weasel word. I'm sure it's not the only case of this in the article -- probably not even in the paragraph; I only noticed it because it's new. It's a reasonable opinion, and I'm not inclined to delete it, but can't people do a little legwork and find relevant citations for someone other than themselves holding such an opinion? -- Jmabel 22:47, Sep 9, 2004 (UTC)


I made an attempt to make it less US and shorter, still don't know what to do with the paragraph 'Modern liberalism in practice'. It seems to overlap the other paragraphs. An discussion on US liberalism can take part in the article Liberalism in the United States. -- Gangulf 18:00, 10 Sep 2004 (UTC)

American liberalism

BTW, as an European liberal democrat I sometimes doubt if American liberalism is really left wing. I think many Europeans would consider the Democrat presidential candidate not to be left-wing. As far as I know he isn't against the death penalty. In European liberalism there is a general consensus that the death penalty is not liberal at all. -- Gangulf 18:00, 10 Sep 2004 (UTC)

The following quote, from the fifth paragraph of the "Classical Liberalism" section:

  • American thinkers were also heavily influenced by liberal ideas. Both the third and fourth Presidents of the United States, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) and James Madison (1751-1836), put the Liberal movement's ideas into practice. Not only did they set up a liberal democracy, they also furthered liberal ideology's influence on the American system of government ...

They did not set up "a liberal democracy"; quite the contrary, they were (quite rightly) opposed to democracy, and would turn over in their graves at the modern American idea of "liberal"! They set up "a republic, if you can keep it" (and you kept it for about 60 years)

A republic is a state with a non-hereditary head of state. You can have a democratic republic - the terms are not mutually exclusive (infact they go well together - unlike a capitalist democracy.)

Slizor 13:35, 2004 Sep 13 (UTC)

Liberal democracies are representative democracies. This term is synonymous with "republic". (unsigned)

No, "liberal democracy" term is not synonymous with "republic". Republic merely refers to the lack of a monarch. The UK and Spain are liberal democracies, but not republic. Saddam Hussein's Iraq was a republic, but not a liberal democracy. During the French Revolution, France became a democracy before it became a republic. -- Jmabel|Talk 20:22, Oct 13, 2004 (UTC)

Free-Speech and Capitalism

Why is Free-Speech and Capitalism under Liberalism, while Conservatism claims to be the opposite of this? Conservatism is much more into Free-Speech (further right and you get Libertarianism) and Capitalism than Liberalism. (anonymous question 29 Sep 04, moved from where it was interspersed above)

I'm not sure what in the article you are referring to. The word "capitalism" doesn't even appear in the article. As for free speech, it was a concept central to 19th-century liberalism and remains central to the conception of liberal democracy today. While there are some self-described liberals who may want to limit certain speech they find politically offensive (see political correctness), they are a small minority: the usual contemporary liberal view on this is that the cure for the ills of free speech is more free speech.
As for "Conservatism claims to be the opposite of this", I literally have no idea what you are referring to.
Libertarians are, like modern-day liberals, heirs to the 19th-century liberal tradition (the article discusses this). I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "further right and you get Libertarianism", but, indeed a case could be made that Libertarians are, precisely, right-wing liberals. Conservatism doesn't enter into that matter at all. Libertarians embrace the rationalism that is associated with liberalism, not the traditionalism that is part of the underlying definition of conservatism.
Hope that helps answer your question. I suggest you read this article and conservatism and they may help make this all clearer. -- Jmabel 04:56, Sep 30, 2004 (UTC)


I also think, this page is too strongly from an US point of view, i.e. too strongly influenced by the historically and philosophically wrong use of the term "liberal" in US-Politics. What is written under "'Modern' liberalism in practice" tries somehow to reconcile this US-only meaning of the term with the historical, philosophical and rest-of-the-world meaning of "liberal". This does not work. There should be an section "meaning in US-politics" which clearly states that in this context the term is simply used as an synonym for "left-wing". 14:59, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)

The person who made the previous comment also added the "disputed" tag to the article. Question: can an anonymous person raise a dispute? I happen to think that this person is simply wrong:
  • At most this is an NPOV issue. There is no statement in the previous paragraph indicating that there is anything factually wrong with the article.
  • As has been much discussed, the historical shift in the meaning of the word of "liberalism" is not exclusively American, although that is where it has been most dramatic. It begins as early as John Stuart Mill. Similar changes have come about in the meaning of the word in the UK and to a lesser extent in Germany and Scandinavia; I suspect this is true in several other countries as well, but someone else will have to follow that up.
  • Perhaps we should use a different term than "modern liberalism", since several people seem to find it confusing. In an earlier version of one of the articles that has been merged into the present article, I used "liberalism in the U.S. sense", but I believe that was changed precisely because one or more Europeans said, in effect, "no, it increasingly has that meaning here, too."
  • Besides all that, liberal in the U.S. is not a "synonym for 'left-wing'". Its hard to imagine any person arguing that (say) U.S. Trotskyists are "liberals", or that the SDS was a "liberal" organization. "Liberal" in the U.S. refers mainly to a certain swath of left-of-center politics, but not to the entire left.
I'm open to suggestions on how we should handle this, but unless the anonymous User: makes himself/herself known by an account name and/or indicates a disputed fact, I'm inclined at least to downgrade this to an NPOV dispute. Other thoughts? -- Jmabel 18:34, Sep 30, 2004 (UTC)
You're correct to note that the American use of liberalism isn't an accident or idiosyncratic. I also agree that the term "modern liberalism" is not very good. I prefer "social liberalism". The key distinction between liberals like Hayek and liberals like (say) Canadian liberalism is that the former doesn't believe in "positive rights", while the latter does. In other respects they seem equal. Regulation is an issue of degrees; both agree that some regulation is necessary, but disagree to the extent. Both believe in progressive taxation (Adam Smith did, for example). Both think that a free market is preferable to a planned economy. Etc. Mr/Mrs Anon will just have to clarify their position before any sense can be made of it.Lucidish 19:19, 23 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Reaction to criticism

In an attempt to comly with the criticism I revised the article, making it shorter, less US centric. --Gangulf 19:09, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)

At a quick read, it is now rather the opposite of US-centric, which is to say that it seems almost to ignore the U.S. It will probably be a bit of time until I can read it closely, but Gangulf, usually when making massive cuts to an article lots of people have worked on, one moves the cut material either to the talk page or to a separate page linked from the talk page. Did you do this and I just don'e see where? It's really hard for me to sort out what was removed rather than just lightly edited. I don't think much of it was unencyclopedic, so I suspect a lot of it should be redistributed to other articles. But maybe not. Hard to tell when there is no easy way to look at it. -- Jmabel 19:47, Oct 7, 2004 (UTC)

I will try to do it again in steps. It is not less US-centric then Canada-centric or UK-centric, it takes more into account the development of liberalism outside the US. I think it is an improvement, but if you cannot compare old versions with the new version, then there is a problem. It will take two steps: 1. additions and deletions, 2. moving sections in the article. -- Gangulf 21:00, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Thanks, I'm sure that will help; it would probably help even more if significant cuts (those without roughly equivalent replacement) are accumulated on a single page. -- Jmabel 22:49, Oct 7, 2004 (UTC)

incomprehensible sentence

I have removed the following sentence from the tail end of the section "Liberalism and social democracy" because it is incomprehensible to me: "This is essentially in contrast to the views by libertarian government finalists in relation to the reports granded by the Commonwealth during sectors four, five and twelve." If anyone can put it in clear terms, and if it is apropos, go for it. -- Jmabel | Talk 06:48, Nov 1, 2004 (UTC)

Liberalism vs. social democracy

Rewrote or dleted most of it, since I felt it was inaccurate. Not particualry happy with my version either. Perhaps the whole section should be simply deleted. Is it needed? Davidweman

I think a paragraph is needed to make clear that liberalism and social democracy are not the same but opponent ideologies (as are liberalism and conservatism) --Gangulf 07:25, 3 Nov 2004 (UTC)
But the point is, what is the key difference between social democrats, democratic socialism, and social liberalism? Is there any key text that makes this clear? Lucidish 19:11, 23 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Is Neo-Liberalism a legitimate philosophy?

I think the part about neo-liberalism is POV. I agree that it is worth describing the term, however my feeling is that it is used more in a derogatory fashion, particularly by people on the left who use it as a label to denounce conservative-like policies by parties that officially describe themselves as liberals or socialist. In particular, I oppose to naming people as being neo-liberals; as far as I know no one ever self-described him/herself as being neo-liberal, and therefore labeling Tony Blair or Gerhard Schrõder as neo-liberal simply denotes an opposition to their policy, which is fair but does not belong here. Maybe something along the lines of "Parties like the british labour party (and ...) have recently adopted right-wing policies which run contrary to their historical roots. This has led to some accusations of neo-liberalism" would be better.

I have not changed the article myself because there still exists the possibility that some people actually claim to be neo-liberals; if so, please inform me.

UnHoly 03:24, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I read the paragraph again and try to find out what in the text is POV. I couldn't find it. So please what in the text is derogatory. BTW, being a liberal in the European sense of the word I see a clear distinction between neo-liberalism and liberalism in the way that neo-liberals share the exonomic philiosophies of (versions of) liberalism but do not necesarily share other liberal values. --Gangulf 07:12, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think it is POV in the sense that it puts a label on a political party that the party might not approve of. One can describe neo-liberalism as a school of thought, that is fine, but assigning people to a particular school of thought seems wrong. It is like if I said "The Republican party is a totalitarian party". There might be an argument made to that effect, some people will agree and others not, but simply mentioning would certainly be NPOV. At least for current political parties and events, I think we should refrain from using labels, except when the concerned people themselves claim that label.
In particular, I oppose to the part "Examples include the German Social Democratic Party and the British Labour Party. This last case has led to the odd situation where the Labour Party, is inceasingly seen as being to the right of the Liberal Democrats." Maybe I would replace it by "For example, critics of the German Social Democratic Party and the British Labour Party accuse them of pursuing neo-liberal policies. This last case has led to the odd situation where the Labour Party, is seen by some (many?) as being to the right of the Liberal Democrats."
By the way, I am Canadian, it is also possible that we just have a different vision of the label. Can you give me an example of a european politician/party who claims to be neo-liberal?
UnHoly 16:28, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Now I understand. No, I do not think anybody would label himself as a neoliberal. It is a description by others to label the economic policies of certain politicians. We might have to change the text a little bit. --Gangulf 22:22, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think that the philosophy is legitimate, if ridiculous. It is explicitly held by many people. It's just that people who hold the neo-liberal philosophy don't use that term to describe themselves. This is in part, because "neo-liberals" aren't liberals, in part because of confusion. Neo-liberals seem to support free trade unqualified, almost as a basic right -- while liberals (both classic and modern) supported it for certain reasons, like comparative advantage, because suppression of economic freedom leads to suppression of political freedom, etc. The problem is that those who are called "neo-liberals" don't recognize that they are radically different from classical liberals, and are confused in that respect. I dislike the term "neoliberal" because I reflexively hate any term with the "neo" prefix, and think it is misleading, but for now I think it will do. Lucidish 18:32, 19 Dec 2004 (UTC)


I have added a mention that the original meaning of "liberal" in Spanish is "generous", someone that gives away expecting no return (Royal Academy of Spanish dictionary). Te Cádiz constitution gave many rights to the citizens, that the Monarchy did not want them to have. -- (anon)

That is also the older meaning of the word in both English and French. However, I'm not at all sure that was the intended connotation when the word was first used as a political term: I believe the intent was from "liberty" not this earlier meaning of of "liberal". Does anyone have any citations to bear this out either way? -- Jmabel | Talk 20:16, Dec 14, 2004 (UTC)
c.1375, from O.Fr. liberal "befitting free men, noble, generous," from L. liberalis "noble, generous," lit. "pertaining to a free man," from liber "free," from PIE base *leudheros (cf. Gk. eleutheros "free"), probably originally "belonging to the people" (though the precise semantic development is obscure), from *leudho- "people" (cf. O.C.S. ljudu, Lith. liaudis, O.E. leod, Ger. Leute "nation, people").
Earliest reference in Eng. is to the liberal arts (L. artes liberales; see art (n.)), the seven attainments directed to intellectual enlargement, not immediate practical purpose, and thus deemed worthy of a free man (the word in this sense was opposed to servile or mechanical). Sense of "free in bestowing" is from 1387.
With a meaning "free from restraint in speech or action" (1490) liberal was used 16c.-17c. as a term of reproach. It revived in a positive sense in the Enlightenment, with a meaning "free from prejudice, tolerant," which emerged 1776-88. Purely in ref. to political opinion, "tending in favor of freedom and democracy" it dates from c.1801, from Fr. libéral, originally applied in Eng. by its opponents (often in Fr. form and with suggestions of foreign lawlessness) to the party favorable to individual political freedoms. But also (especially in U.S. politics) tending to mean "favorable to government action to effect social change," which seems at times to draw more from the religious sense of "free from prejudice in favor of traditional opinions and established institutions" (and thus open to new ideas and plans of reform), which dates from 1823. Lucidish 21:16, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Based on that, I will revert the anonymous addition claiming that "generous" was the meaning. -- Jmabel | Talk 02:34, Dec 17, 2004 (UTC)
I suppose some of the above should make its way into the article. I'd love to have the specifics of that c.1801 usage, because the 1812 Spanish Constitution is the earliest use I know from my own reading. -- Jmabel | Talk 02:37, Dec 17, 2004 (UTC)
Evidently it's quite a bit older than that. From Oxford English Dictionary, re: the sense of liberal we're talking about (having to do with freedom):
1490 CAXTON Eneydos xii. 44 Wyll thou commytte & vndresitte thy lyberal arbytre to thynges Impossyble.
1526 Pilgr. Perf. (W. de W. 1531) 131 And where there is a quicke wytte & a liberall tong, there is moche speche. c1594 KYD Sp. Trag.
(1620) I4 It lyes not in Lorenzos power To stop the vulgar liberall of their tongues.
1599 SHAKES. Much Ado IV. i. 93 A ruffian Who hath indeed most like a liberall villaine, Confest the vile encounters they have had.
1604 {emem} Oth. II. i. 165 Is he not a most prophane, and liberall Counsailor?
1608 MIDDLETON Fam. Love V. ii, I stand The theme and comment to each liberal tongue.
1613 BEAUM. & FL. Captain II. ii, And give allowance to your liberall jests Upon his person.
1670 COTTON Espernon III. IX. 469, I shall not..attempt to pass so liberal a judgment upon a person I am, for so many respects, oblig'd to honour.
1689 WOOD Life 31 Aug., Mr. Henry Dodwell..liberal in his discourse at London, so much that a gent. threatened to bring him into danger.
1709 STEELE Tatler No. 79 {page}4 The Old Devil at Temple-Bar,..where Ben. Johnson and his Sons used to make their liberal Meetings. Lucidish 03:29, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Yes, but these are the older and only marginally related meaning: "generous, open". A "liberal tongue" means speaking freely (often over freely); similarly a "liberal purse", spending freely. This issue here is only the use of the word in its political sense. -- Jmabel | Talk 03:53, Dec 17, 2004 (UTC)
Right. Well here then's the 1801 reference.
1801 HEL. M. WILLIAMS Sk. Fr. Rep. I. xi. 113 The extinction of every vestige of freedom, and of every liberal idea with which they are associated. for decoding Lucidish 17:21, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Except that is clearly not what the abbreviations here mean: that would be "Sanskrit French Report". I'm sure it's actually Helen Maria Williams, Sketches of the State of Manners and Opinions in the French Republic (published in the correct year). -- Jmabel | Talk 20:35, Dec 17, 2004 (UTC)
You're welcome. Lucidish 02:56, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Yes, I suppose there should have been a "thank you" in there. Thank you. Anyway, it led me to write and article about Helen Maria Williams, which we previously lacked. -- Jmabel | Talk 01:40, Dec 19, 2004 (UTC)


Don't forget that in Italy there was, expecially in the years of fascism (which was both antiliberal and antisocialist), a group of philosopher which tried to establish a syntesis between the apparently opposed doctrines of liberalism and socialism. I'm referring for example to Piero Gobetti, Carlo Rosselli, Gaetano Salvemini, Norberto Bobbio. But even british such as Bertrand Russell and John Maynard Keynes where in a certain sense partly liberal and partly socialist!-- 11:10, 23 Dec 2004 (UTC)

This kind of synthesis is called 'modern', 'new', or 'social' liberalism, included in the article. Lucidish 19:09, 23 Dec 2004 (UTC)


Can Rosseau be cited as a father of liberalism? For what I know, his concept of "general will" and his opposition to representative democracy drive him away from liberalism. Some liberals are very critical against him (he has even been accused to be the precursor of communist totalitarianism - poor Jean-Jacques!) I think that Rousseau should be considered a father of democracy but not of liberalism (even if some of his ideas deeply influenced leftish liberals such as John Stuart Mill)-- 15:00, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC)

He certainly wasn't a proto-liberal, but I do think he was influential on early liberalism. The notion of a social contract rather than a God-given order of things; the emphasis on education rather than birth; probably much more, but this is in 30 seconds of thinking about it. -- Jmabel | Talk 21:40, Dec 24, 2004 (UTC)

Liberalism and Social Democracy, negative and positive liberty

I agree with everything written here and particularly like the section addressing Liberalism and Social Democracy. However, this sentence makes no sense:

"Social democracy is also generally believed to place more of an importance to a positive conception of rights and liberties, as opposed to a more strictly (though by no means completely) negative one more commonly associated with liberalism."

I am new -- is it possible for author to clarify this sentence? (anon 14 March 2005)

To clarify, what I meant by that is that social democrats place positive rights as of equal or near-equal importance to negative rights. A 'positive conception of rights and liberties' means that they agree with the concept that people have a right to things, such as health care, education etc, whereas liberalism is more generally focussed on a negative conception of rights, where it is more a right to be free from coercion. A positive conception of liberty is a full form of self-determination, you have the right to determine your own fate, and obstacles to that self-determination, such as poverty and privation. A negative conception of liberty is one where freedom is being unrestricted by things such as government power. Liberalism in general supports greater precedence for the negative version, with neoliberalism viewing it as the sole one worth consideration. Social democracy tends to balance them, often making no distinction. I drew this conclusion upon reading Ed Broadbents contribution 'Liberalism or Social Democracy in the 21st Century' (off the top of my head, I might have the title wrong) in the book 'The Future of Social Democracy' edited by Peter Russell, where he (once the leader of the social-democratic New Democratic Party here in Canada, and currently a member of Parliament for the NDP) argued essentially that, the difference between liberalism and social democracy is the focus, whether more on negative liberty for the former, or positive liberty with negative liberty and equality on the latter's part. I hope that helps clear things up. (Curufinwe 15 March 2005)

The above isn't a lot clearer than the sentence in the article, though it's longer. They key point is: "negative liberty" means freedom from government interference, "positive liberty" involves government action to create conditions that ostensibly facilitate greater human liberty. Feel free to rewrite more clearly in the article. -- Jmabel | Talk 08:09, Mar 15, 2005 (UTC)


On what basis were the following references removed from the article? Assuming someone actually used them as references, I can see no grounds to remove them.

  • Haworth, Alan, 1994. Anti-Libertarianism: Markets, Philosophy and Myth. New York, Routledge. ISBN 0-416-08254-4 Parameter error in {{isbn}}: Invalid ISBN.
  • Michael Scott Christofferson "An Antitotalitarian History of the French Revolution: François Furet's Penser la Révolution française in the Intellectual Politics of the Late 1970s" (in French Historical Studies, Fall 1999)
  • Piero Gobetti La Rivoluzione liberale. Saggio sulla lotta politica in Italia, Bologna, Rocca San Casciano, 1924

Jmabel | Talk 07:58, Mar 17, 2005 (UTC)

I removed the references. Since these references were only used for very small part of the article, I thought it was wise to delete the references and replace them by a paragraph further reading. Gangulf 15:46, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)
If they are actual references, validating statments in the article, they belong there. See Wikipedia:cite sources. They weren't mine, by I presume that's what they were. I am restoring them. If any of what you listed under "Further reading" was significantly drawn upon in writing the article, that should be there, too. -- Jmabel | Talk 03:33, Mar 20, 2005 (UTC)

Europe/US false dichotomy

First I'd like to thank everyone who's worked on this article. It's way more NPOV than when I last read it. I have a little grumble about the sentence that begins:

Both European liberalism and American liberalism see their tradition...

This commits a sin committed all over Wikipedia, the presumption that the world has two continents Europe and the United States. It seems to me that the New Zealand and Australian use of the term liberal is broadly in line with the European use, the sentence needs to be reworked to demonstrate this. Problem is I don't know how to do that without spoiling the prose.

Ben Arnold 10:35, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I made a change in his paragraph. Ben is completely right and this even counts for Canadian liberalism, which is quite close to the progressive variant of European liberalism. Gangulf 11:14, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Controversy over French/Italian meaning

"In France and in Southern Europe, the word 'liberal' can refer either to the traditional liberal anti-clericalism or to economic liberalism" (preceding "However, in recent years in France, the word is being increasingly used by proponents of laissez-faire capitalism and minarchists to describe themselves; in reaction, ultra-libéral is a pejorative term aimed by a large section of the French left-wing against those whom they regard as having extreme capitalist views") was modified to "In France and in Southern Europe, the word 'liberal' refer to conservative parties.". I believe this was entirely correct as it stood, and the change leaves out one prong of the ambiguous French (and Italian) meaning. I am reverting, and will stand by the text that has long been here unless someone can make a strong case that this historic meaning of anti-clericalism has passed out of contemporary French usage. -- Jmabel | Talk 20:51, Apr 10, 2005 (UTC)

There is a difference between France and the other South European states. I think in France liberalism is used by libertarians in the US sense of the word, mainly following the ideas of Bastiat. I made a small adjustment of the text. I am not so sure anymore about anti-clericalism as part of the French meaning of liberalism. Electionworld 06:39, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
It may or may not be part of the meaning today, but it certainly was within living memory. -- Jmabel | Talk 21:13, Apr 11, 2005 (UTC)

Clarify though history?

( I edited this comment. ) -- Ej0c, 2 May 2005)

Perhaps adding more history can clear things up more readily than wordsmithing definitional material. (May belong in Liberalism in the United States ).

It cenrtainly doesn't belong here, it might belong in Liberalism in the United States Electionworld 18:10, 2 May 2005 (UTC)
I dunno. Who more represents the liberal impulse: Keynes/Roosevelt/Galbariath or Lincoln? -- Ej0c, 3 May 2005)
In what realm? Neither Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus nor Roosevelt's internment of the Nisei was exactly liberal. Roosevelt was probably more consciously identified with the liberal tradition than Lincoln, mainly because the term didn't have a lot of currency in the U.S. in the mid-19th century. -- Jmabel | Talk 05:50, May 4, 2005 (UTC)
If i may say, this seems focusing on the small and negative, while minimalizing the great and positive. -- Ej0c, 5 May 2005
Lincoln freed the Slaves!! Many parts of this article associate Liberalism with individual liberty. Lincoln, undoing the very worst part of the US Constitution; and completing the compromised work of the 18th century Liberal Revolutions ( Liberalism#The_Liberal_Revolutions ), would seem to stand behind none in advancing the liberty of men. -- Ej0c, 5 May 2005

For now, three data points:

  • 1840's The Abolitionism movement met the liberal impulses of the free-soil movement. Of the latter: "Their vision for an ideal society was of small-scale capitalism, with white American laborers entitled to the chance of upward mobility opportunities for advancement, rights to own property, and to control their own labor. Many free-soilers demanded that the slave labor system and free black settlers (and in places such as Oregon Chinese immigrants) should be excluded from the Western plains to guarantee the predominance there of the free white laborer." Origins of the American Civil War The result, the Republican party and Abraham Lincoln, ended slavery. -- Ej0c, 29 April 2005)
  • 1900's "Roosevelt who bears the nickname, "Trust Buster". Once President, Roosevelt worked to increase the regulatory power of the federal government. He persuaded Congress to pass laws that strengthened the Interstate Commerce Commission which later, investigated Rockefeller, Carnegie, Schwab, and other trust and corporate titans of industry. Under his leadership, the federal government brought forty-four suits against corporate monopolies, most notably J.P. Morgan's Northern Securities Company, a huge railroad combination. Roosevelt also established a new federal Department of Labor and Commerce. He encouraged the Newlands Reclamation Act of 1902 to promote federal construction of dams to irrigate small farms and placed 230 million acres (930,000 km&sup2) under federal protection. Additionally, T.R. was instrumental in the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 as well as the Meat Inspection Act of 1906. Conservationism He also worked hard on conserving environmental wonders and resources, and is considered by many to be the nation's first conservation President. Roosevelt set aside more Federal land for national parks and nature preserves than all of his predecessors combined." Theodore Roosevelt
  • 1970's Some might say that the last US liberal who still bore the title was Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Today in the US, individuals and groups who self-identify as liberal (or progressive) more properly fit the description of reactionary. Like the 19th century reactionaries, they typically resent substantial change in the current policital order. The list of things they oppose runs far longer than any agenda they may collectively embrace. Beginning with John F. Kennedy's war to liberate the South Vietnamese, and skipping forward through tax reform, defense reform, budget reform, welfare reform, trade barrier reform, education reform support for freedom fighters, support for faith-based charities, up through the war to liberate 25 million people, liberals maintain a very long list of programs and initiatives they oppose. The lone major policy initiative spearheaded by, and identified with, liberals is nationalized health care. The image of the 'liberal' has become the protest march.

(And the discussion on my original note): As conservatives have taken over most of the statehouses, the Presidency, and both houses of Congress, liberal frustration increasingly shows an ugly side: censorship. A person who strongly supports a conservative point of view, no matter how thoughtful, may often be labeled "biased" or "not open-minded". (unsigned, but appears to be User:Ej0c, 27 April 2005)

  • I just love people who have nothing to offer but condescension and a superior attitude. Wikipedia is not a soapbox. -- Jmabel | Talk 05:20, Apr 28, 2005 (UTC) This was a response to a comment that has now been completely changed by its author. -- Jmabel | Talk 02:24, May 3, 2005 (UTC)
    • Condescension? How about, "liberals...usually stand in contrast to conservatives by their broader tolerance and in more readily embracing multiculturalism." Some people might find that condescending. (Vote for Bush, drag your knuckles on the ground). Wikipedia is not a soapbox I worked hard on those few lines; you are free to think about them, see if there is truth to them, and add them to the definitions if you please. Or, you can dismiss my contribution with pejorative labels. -- Ej0c
      • I would say that tolerance is, indeed, one of the hallmarks of liberalism. It's exactly what (otherwise divergent) libertarians and social liberals have most in common with each other. Multiculturalism is slightly trickier, but I do think that most who actively embrace it are liberals. Conservatives in most countries tend to privilege dominant historic national cultures. Socialists tend to have the "project" of building the New Man (or, I suppose, these days, the New Person): think of how many communist regimes were intolerant of religion and of minority cultures. Liberalism tends to embrace the diversity of cultures as a positive. In all of these cases, these are only tendencies: you can find people in any of these categories who differ from this model, but I think that with the qualification of "usually", what the article says is correct. -- Jmabel | Talk 04:34, Apr 29, 2005 (UTC)
        • And I would say that the live 'liberals' I have encountered consistantly use words like 'intolerant' and 'condescending' to describe persons whose political or academic thoughts differ from their own.

As I began; the historical scholarship in this entry is great. Where it seems to begin to need work is in the 1840's where the Abolitionism movement met the liberal impulses of the free-soil movement. Of the latter: "Their vision for an ideal society was of small-scale capitalism, with white American laborers entitled to the chance of upward mobility opportunities for advancement, rights to own property, and to control their own labor. Many free-soilers demanded that the slave labor system and free black settlers (and in places such as Oregon Chinese immigrants) should be excluded from the Western plains to guarantee the predominance there of the free white laborer." Origins of the American Civil War The result, the Republican party and Abraham Lincoln, ended slavery. -- Ej0c, 29 April 2005)

Conservative Contrast

"[Liberalism] is sometimes held in contrast to conservatism." Sometimes? How about oftentimes? (anon 5 May 2005)

  • A matter of time and place; see especially liberal conservatism for the fact that some parties claim to be both. Liberalism is also held in contrast to socialism, authoritarianism, etc. In the U.S. since WWII, the political spectrum is seen as liberal vs. conservative; there have been (quite a few) other places and times where that is the case but it's far from a universal. -- Jmabel | Talk 07:06, May 6, 2005 (UTC)