Talk:Liberalism/Archive 4

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Contributions before 1 july 2005 can be found at talk:liberalism/archive.

Those between 1 july and october 3 can be found at Talk:liberalism/archive2.

Those between 4 October and 30 October (a busy month!) can be found at Talk:Liberalism/archive3.

Tricky phrase

There was a sentence, describing the change between the views of (say) Thomas Hobbes and those of John Locke, that previously read "The definitive break was the conception that free individuals could form the basis of political stability, rather than having license to the degree that they did not threaten political stability." Note the tricky construct: having license to the degree that they did not do something. This is somewhat archaic English. Probably only a lawyer or an academic would unselfconsciously use it today. A presumably well-meaning editor got the sense of it backward, and changed it to "…having license to the degree that they threatened political stability," which reverses the sense. I restored the original. Another doubtless well-intentioned (and experienced) editor still misread this, and changed it to "…having license to such a degree that they threatened political stability," which says something else entirely. I have now reworded it to "…having license only insofar as they did not constitute a threat against political stability," which means the same thing as the original, but is presumably easier to understand. -- Jmabel | Talk 07:31, 4 November 2005 (UTC)

The sentence clearly needs to be rewritten entirely. I think you've changed it back around to the wrong way, but in any case it should be replaced with a sentence not so easily misread.
The point, as I understand it, is that early foes of liberalism feared the mob, and the definitive break from that view was the idea that free individuals could form a stable society and not a dangerous mob. First, do you agree that this is the point of the sentence? Second, would you like to try to make the point unmistakable, or shall I? Rick Norwood 13:19, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
Kind of agree. The sentence (which I did not originally write) doesn't disagree with what you just said, but its point was (and is, in my rewrite) slightly different. Its point is that prior to Locke, liberty (viewed as a danger, your point) was tolerated (missing from your interpretation) in moderation, with that toleration limited by the point at which an excess of liberty was perceived to become a threat to stability. Locke (and certain of his contemporaries) were novel in viewing it as a basis for stability, rather than a threat. Again, "to the degree that" is archaic, but not unclear. It does not mean "to such a degree that", it means "insofar as". I don't know how much you've read of Hobbes and Locke; I've read a good bit of both, though decades ago, so I can't easily cite, but the "before" view being cited here is essentially Hobbes'. -- Jmabel | Talk 21:59, 5 November 2005 (UTC)
I'm going to see if I can come up with a sentence that makes that point without being so easily misread. Also, I see some typos that need fixing. Rick Norwood 00:12, 6 November 2005 (UTC)

Liberal fundamentalism

I was going to attempt a rewrite of the Liberal Fundamentalsim section. It clearly needs one. But I cannot make heads or tails of what it is trying to say, so I'm not the one to try to rewrite it. I do think there is a good point or two hidden in there, somewhere. Rick Norwood 00:32, 6 November 2005 (UTC)

Good work on the rewrite of the Liberal fundamentalism section. Now it makes sense. Two small suggestions, which you can take or ignore as you like. Third to last paragraph, drop the "in the first place". Last paragraph, expand the contraction. Rick Norwood 13:53, 6 November 2005 (UTC)
Done, except for the contraction bit, which I don't think matters. Lucidish 20:23, 6 November 2005 (UTC)

Liberal Fundamentalism is a bogus phrase invented by macroeconomists to discredit the free market microeconomic thinkers. Its used by wanna-be liberals like Joseph Stiglitz...WHO IS NOT ACTUALLY A LIBERAL!!!!!! This page has been destroyed by people who dont even understand the meaning of words! -KDRGIBBY/patrick and why the heck does it not put my member name up here ever? I'm signed in and all.

It looks to me like "liberal fundamentalism" is an 'inkblot' term, without a specific meaning. A google search indicates it is used to mean any kind of liberalism the writer doesn't like, i.e. any allegedly unreasonable or irrational form. The whole section should be deleted. Hogeye 18:05, 7 December 2005 (UTC)

Basic Principles & Two Errors

I think that, right at the beginning of the article, there should be a list of basic principles of liberalism. Yes, I know there used to be one and it got deleted - though I don't know why. Probably there was no consensus about all the principles. I suggest a short list of principles, with a disclaimer that any given liberal may disagree with one or more. Something along the lines of: If an ideology is more or less compatable with a majority of the principles, they are deemed "liberal."

Here's a list of liberal principles. Note there is some overlap.

  • liberty/individual rights
  • rule of law
  • equality (of rights; under the law; anti-caste)
  • minimization/limitation of government power
  • local sovereignty aka self-rule
  • anti-imperialism
  • pluralism (politics-democracy; religion-tolerance; economics-free trade)
  • free market (in goods and ideas)
  • democracy (political pluralism and transparency)

On my first reading, I did find a couple of outright errors.

1) In the Revolutionary liberalism section, the article reads, "Franklin, Jefferson and John Adams would be instrumental in persuading their fellow Americans to revolt..." In fact, Franklin was a latecomer to the revolution, and was almost appointed Governor of America by King George at one point. So I will replace "Franklin" with "Thomas Paine."

2) In Post-revolutionary liberalism: Dignity, equality, liberty and property, the example doesn't make sense. The article implies that slavery is compatable with individual liberty(!), and sets up a false conflict between liberty and dignity. In fact, the abolition movement had many (e.g. William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglas) who opposed slavery on the basis of property rights. They often referred to slavery "man-stealing." The issue was not property vs dignity, but what is legitimate property.

A more general criticism is: underemphasis on the limitation/minimization of government power aspect of liberalism. The whole anti-statist strain of liberalism is totally ignored in the article, as far as I can see. How can we omit the quintessential liberal Frederic Bastiat? (The best liberalism in one lesson essay of all time IMO is The Law.) Where's Gustave de Molinari ("The Private Production of Security") and Herbert Spencer ("Social Statics", "The Right to Ignore the State"), Auberon Herbert, etc.? Hogeye 20:23, 16 November 2005 (UTC)

Your recent addition makes a good editorial, but not a good encyclopedia article. (Also, the liberalism article is already too long.) I like what you've written well enough to leave it alone, but my guess is that someone will revert it, since it is definitely not NPOV.
On the other hand, the paragraph you replaced is not NPOV, either. Both paragraphs suggest that one side or the other had control of the constitutional convention. The reality was that everyone had to compromise, giving up some of the things they wanted in order to get other things. Franklin's influence was probably what allowed the convention to actually produce a document that everyone would sign, instead of ending with no constitution at all -- a very real possibility.
As you mention, a list like yours has been attempted several times with no success. I think freedom, democracy, and equality under the law cover most of the items on your list.
The issue of property was one question discussed by abolitionists, but the morality was much more important. I can see John Brown and Harriet Beacher Stowe having a nice, quiet discussion over whose property rights were better served!
Also, I think the anti-statist branch of liberalism gets all of the mention it deserves. This is another of those minor strains of liberalism that will always have their passionate supporters but will never appeal to a majority. Nature abhors a power vacuum. Rick Norwood 21:12, 16 November 2005 (UTC)
There are a number of errors, grammatical and otherwise, in the editorial that Hogeye has added to the article. That Classical Liberals never considered redistributing the wealth suggests that the French Revolution never happened. That Woodrow Wilson, Jew hating member of the Ku Klux Klan and Princeton educated champion of the upper class, was the founder of modern American liberalism is -- well, surprising. That liberals are war hungry seekers after evil enemies to fight -- well ...
On the other hand, the new stuff makes interesting reading. I'm going to hold off on doing any editing until things settle down a bit. Rick Norwood 00:48, 17 November 2005 (UTC)

Hogeye's editorial

I had really hoped that somebody else would jump in and edit the huge changes that Hogeye has made to the article, all strongly POV (Business good! Government bad!). What he writes is too interesting to just revert and too POV to leave as is so, since nobody else is stepping up to the plate, I'm going to give it a try, a little at a time, with comments here. Rick Norwood 16:32, 17 November 2005 (UTC)

As I read over the article, I discover bigger problems than just Hogeye's edit. The first thing that is apparent is that the two sections "Origins of Liberal Thought" and "Origin of Liberalism" should be combined, together with other "origin" comments throughout the article. I'm going to give it at try. Rick Norwood 16:38, 17 November 2005 (UTC)

I've worked on 1.1, now moving on to 1.2. Please keep in mind, if your favorite passage is gone, that may be because it appears later on. Most of what I did was to eliminate repetition. Rick Norwood 17:38, 17 November 2005 (UTC)

Finished 1.2. Most of what I did here was to simplify and shorten. There was an awful lot of repetition. I tried not to remove any ideas. Rick Norwood 17:55, 17 November 2005 (UTC)

I've taken out of 1.3 topics that are discussed in detail in the next section. I've hardly even gotten to my original goal of editing Hogeye's changes, but the heavy repetition between the sections needed to be addressed first. Section two still contains a great deal of repetition.

I pause here for a day or two, so that others can comment on and improve on the changes I've made. I only urge that you remember that brevity is the soul of wit. Rick Norwood 18:09, 17 November 2005 (UTC)

I agree with you almost completely, the article was in good shape, but is now in bad POV shape. The way social liberalism is described now is very negative. I would suggest to revert to the old version and then try to improve it. Brevity is for me not the main goal. Electionworld 18:32, 17 November 2005 (UTC)
That would certainly be the easy way out, but Hogeye writes well, mostly, and makes some good points, so I would prefer to work with what he has written. Believe me, my finger hovered over the revert key for a long time before I decided the hard work of reworking what he has written was worth while. Rick Norwood 20:02, 17 November 2005 (UTC)
For example, Hogeye's most recent edit is clearly an improvement. Rick Norwood 20:15, 17 November 2005 (UTC)
OK, I start to rewrite some sections. The Hogeye text is at some places POV towards social liberalism and considers classical liberalism as the true form of liberalism. It is also too much about American liberalism. I attempt to use the good points and rewrites, and make it more neutral. Some additional remarks. In Etymology I removed Adam Smith. Minarchism is not classical liberalism's moderate form (it is quite radical). The citation of Bastiat is good for an opinion article. On discovered law, many liberals were prominent in codifying laws. Standaridzation of weights and measures was done by state authority, esp. by Napoleon, in many countries. Electionworld 13:10, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

Electionworld: "Minarchism is not classical liberalism's moderate form (it is quite radical)."
Minarchism may be radical by today's standards, but it was standard fare for the classical liberals. If you wish, I can trot out many quotes by Bastiat, Spencer, Herbert, etc. regarding their opposition to corn laws, govt education, govt interference in trade, pauperization (aka welfare, poor laws) and so on. So I put the minarchism ref back in.
Electionworld: " On discovered law, many liberals were prominent in codifying laws."
True - codifying, not decreeing. There is a difference between compiling past rulings (common law) and rulers making edicts. Blackstone did the former. Liberalism favors common law over political law. Hogeye 17:31, 18 November 2005 (UTC)
It is is going to be possible for you to make a contribution to this article, you will have to accept that your view of liberalism is a minority view. You are well read and you write well, but your ideology does not correspond to the ideology of a majority of liberals -- as your reference to the "War for Southern Independence" shows. Most liberals accept more government intervention than you would, to, for example, stop slavery, genocide, rigged elections, or dangerous business practices. Rick Norwood 19:22, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

I agree with Rick. Liberals were active in making a lot of new laws. In the Anglophone world they might have favoured common law, I don't know, but I do now that many liberals took an active rol in changing laws. Electionworld 22:24, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

Liberalism vs Nationalism

We need to discuss how liberalism relates to nationalism and centralization of power. One main principle of liberalism is limitation/minimization of government power. Centralization is clearly anti-liberal. So is nationalism - the notion that States should coincide with cultural/language divisions. Liberalism prefers self-government and local sovereignty. In the article, the following sentence in the Revolutionary Liberalism section is contradictory:

The revolutions placed increasing value on self-governance and national unity, and that a people could not be properly governed by those who were not nearby.

National unity is almost always centralizing, creating rulers who are further away - not nearby. The USAmerican revolution (strictly speaking a secession rather than a revolution) was anti-nationalistic. It politically separated the Anglo nation, devolving the US colonies not only from England but also Canada. The Latin American liberal secessions were also against "national unity." They separated the Iberian (Spanish-speaking) nation into many many parts.

I am aware that in Italy and Germany, various city-states and small entities were forcibly united, but this was an anti-liberal trend. Many/most liberal historians consider the Germanic/Italian small entities as more liberal than their centralized successors. Cf: the writings of Lord Acton. Hogeye 17:30, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

Once again, your views are well argued, and would make an interesting article, but not in an encyclopedia, which must present mainstream views. The rules of wikipedia prohibit original research. Rick Norwood 19:24, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

It is interesting to debate nationalism and liberalism, but it is a fact that in the nineteenth century a lof of liberals were at the same time nationalist. This could lead to seccesion, but also to unification. Some parties were even called National Liberal Party. The german liberals wanted a democratic united/federal Germany as an alternative for the despotic rule in most principalities. That doesn't mean that 1870 Germany was a liberal project, but liberals favoured at that time unification. In Italy the liberal prime minister Cavour was one of the leading architects of the unification. Electionworld 22:39, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

Thanks, Derksen and Electionworld, for substantial improvements in the article. Rick Norwood 13:20, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

Derksen and Electionworld are one and the same. I tried to move my username, but I don't know how to do it. Electionworld 21:38, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

Electionworld> "but it is a fact that in the nineteenth century a lof of liberals were at the same time nationalist."
Thanks for your comments. I've been thinking about them, and trying to harmonize it with the liberal idea of limitition of State power. Would you agree that the unification favored by German/Italian liberals was motivated by a desire to free people from the residual feudal property arrangements of the time? They thought - probably correctly - that the feudal forms and castes could be best destroyed by a large-scale popular uprising (rather than one principality at a time, which could take forever.)
This is my take, and explains why e.g. Garibaldi was a unifier in Italy and a secessionist in Latin America. In other words: Liberalism is not nationalist (or anti-nationalist) - it favors liberty. If liberty is furthered by secession, so be it. If liberty is promoted by unification, so be it. (Perhaps unification is ultimately anti-self-government and counterproductive to liberty, but that's a different question - one for a debate, not an article.) Hogeye 00:12, 24 November 2005 (UTC)


I'm halfway through 2.1, and have, I hope, only elimited the worst of the repetition and streamlined the most convoluted sentences. Now I come to a question of substance. Was Kant a liberal? I would say not. Certainly, the purposes to which his writings were put by Belloch and the other English Roman Catholics were anything but liberal. So, I'm asking -- should Kant be cut? Rick Norwood 20:44, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

I am convinced that Kant should be in, but now I have the problem I am not a native English speaker. In the book "Filosofen van het klassieke liberalisme", one of the chapters is dedeicated to Kant, it is clearly shown that his ideas were liberal, by putting the emphasis on the autonomous free man. This book refers to the book of G. Dietze: Liberalism proper and proper liberalism (1985). Electionworld 22:39, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

I've never read Kant. (I tried a few times.) So I'll take your word for it. Kant stays in. Rick Norwood 13:08, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

Work on 2.1

I've spent the morning working on 2.1, Origins of liberal thought. I've replaced long words with shorter words, and tried to untangle long sentences, which sometimes forgot the number of their subject before they got to a verb. I've removed at least one internal contradiction, and added a quote from Adam Smith.

I think the section could be further improved by replacing paraphrase by apt quotes from the original writers. Rick Norwood 14:15, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

The Newberry edit

My recent edits are all attempts to modify the changes wrought by the Newberry edit, while keeping improvements that Newberry introduced. The biggest problem is that Newberry wrote without carefully considering what was already said in other parts of the article, so there was a large amount of duplication. If you want to restore something I've cut, please discuss it here, first. I may be able to show you that it is still in the article in a different section.

Newberry obviously has strong personal views. Where he has stated these views in the form of universals: "Economic liberals believe..." I have tried to moderate that to "Some economic liberals believe..., while others believe..."

Please, everyone, be aware that this article has had two major rewrites in less than a week. Several people are still working, carefully, section by section, on Hogeye's massive and highly POV rewrite. Please work with us instead of against us. Rick Norwood 00:34, 20 November 2005 (UTC)

I have strong views, but they aren't in the article. The defintion of economic liberalism is straight out of standard economics text books and usage for major publications such as the financial times. Stirling Newberry 04:21, 20 November 2005 (UTC)

I really, really dislike the names of "political", "economic", and "social liberalism". Any ideology worth discussing will address all of those subjects. Giving a single strain of liberalism the qualifier that describes one particular aspect that all ideologies will inevitably have, is not doing anyone any favors. I preferred "modern" and "classical". Whether or not the ghost of Ruz will come back to moan about America-bias, I don't know, and don't care. Let's bring those back.
And if we can't come up with acceptable names, then we should just stipulate arbitrary names for them, like "Liberalism-A" and "Liberalism-B".
And while we're at it, let's make explicit the distinction between "aspects" and "strains" on the page so there's no temptation for ambiguity. Lucidish 05:07, 20 November 2005 (UTC)
economic and social liberalism are both the terms in common use, both by critics and by advocates - Clairmont accuses it of creating an economic gulag, while Samuel Brittan defends it. Social Liberalism to apply to personal rights based liberal thought is likewise in large currency among groups - liberatarians, conservatives, liberals such as Schlesinger - who agree on little else. I'm at pains to point out that what editors think a philosophy "ought" to cover is irrelevant, we are here to document for our readers the usages of terms, controversies surrounding them and so on. I've taken the trouble to edit out the idiosyncratic notion that modern liberalism of the sort propounded by Dewey is "social liberalism", because this is simply incorrect in the face of usage. Political liberalism is the term used by Rawls and it is (relatively) widely accepted. That leave us with "classical liberalism" which is a self-description of particular groups that is not widely accepted outside of those groups, but which, since we are swamped with them is simply going to have to be lived with because editing it out or qualifying it will simply not stick to the page.
Prefering "modern" and classical is irrelevant - you aren't a noted expert, and that is not the usage that is common. More over the description "classical liberal" is highly inaccurate - since it includes support for policies (such as the gold standard) which were policies of conservative governments of the time, and not of liberal parties. Stirling Newberry 05:52, 20 November 2005 (UTC)
Some of the pains you're taking are evidently psychosomatic, since this is not a matter of oughts with respect to the philosophies themselves, as you suggest in the first part of that sentence, but rather, with the most relevant and economical way to refer to them so that people will understand what is being spoken of.
"Classical" and "modern" are also in common use both by defenders and critics: Google it. Hence: why I have an editorial preference, and hence, the problem. And, incidentally, adherence to the gold standard would be part of classical liberalism, but not libertarianism. Lucidish 01:58, 21 November 2005 (UTC)
(Con't): I can only see the merit of your claim wrt philosophies themselves if you're referring to this paragraph: "The early 19th century also saw the primary ideological conflict within liberalism brought forward. The two key concepts of liberalism are the dignity and equality of the individual ...". This is a substantive issue. Now, indeed, the claim about the right of the slave over their own body may be a novel one (unless historical research proves otherwise). But their individual rights of autonomy are far from new. So the way you're casting the issue of slavery -- as if it were necessarily a grand illustration of dignity vs. liberty -- is bogus. It can be cast that way (so long as it's understood as one possible interpretation among others), but it can just as well be cast as an issue of liberty alone -- after all, slavery is the very essence of having no liberty. This isn't just plain intuitive, but true by definition. Lucidish 02:10, 21 November 2005 (UTC)
I am both amused and curious to find out how the entirely NPOV paragraph which I have insisted upon is "pro slavery". It certainly is a surprise, among other things, to discover that the claim 'to be a slave is to be disenfranchised of the right to liberty' is somehow anti-abolitionist. Lucidish 20:36, 21 November 2005 (UTC)
Stirling Newberry -- obviously your knowledge of liberalism can improve this article. I still urge you to go more slowly and carefully. Here's why. In your most recent edit, you left this sentence: "His impact has proven to be lasting particularly in the Nordic area, but it also had a powerful effect in the later development elsewhere." But the person that the first word of the sentence refers back to is gone from the article. Only his picture remains. Also, you've inserted a paragraph on Hume between two paragraphs on Adam Smith. It really isn't necessary to get all of your rewrite done all at once. Rick Norwood 21:54, 20 November 2005 (UTC)

PS: What is your objection to "double-square-bracket link end-double-square-bracket s", over against "double-square-bracket link|links end-double-square-bracket. They look the same. They work the same.


This page was getting massive; I've archived it up to the end of October - the last section being the removal of the {{NPOV}} tag. Apologies if I accidentally moved out anything still under discussion, but it's all still there at archive3 if it needs to be referenced. (And good work on the article, all - it seems to be less horrible than two months back...) Shimgray | talk | 22:26, 20 November 2005 (UTC)

Thanks, it was getting long. Lucidish 02:50, 21 November 2005 (UTC)


The following seems to me to have a somewhat tenuous connection to the etymology of the term, and possibly even to the topic of the article: "Livy's History of Rome from Its Foundation describes the struggles for freedom between the plebeian and patrician classes. Largely dormant during the vicissitudes of the Middle Ages, this struggle began again in the Italian Renaissance, in the conflict between the supporters of free city states and the supporters of the Pope. Niccolò Machiavelli, in his Discourses on Livy, laid down the principles of republican government." This is an article on liberalism, not republicanism. Both Livy and Machiavelli advocated a notion of a "republic of virtue" that had both some similarities to liberalism and some differences. Republicanism is not inherently more liberal than monarchy or aristocracy: it would be hard to make a case that Iraq under Saddam Hussein, a republic, was more liberal than the UK, a constitutional monarchy with a largely intact aristocracy.

In any event, if this belongs in the article, I believe it should be in ==Origins of liberal thought==, not in ==Etymology and historical usage==.

I don't want to wade in with an axe: on the whole, at a quick read the recent changes look pretty good. Is there something here I'm missing? And is there a reason not to discuss the rise of cities in Europe as a factor in the development of liberalism? -- Jmabel | Talk 02:06, 21 November 2005 (UTC)

The connection is just one of endorsement, as liberals tended toward republican and democratic institutional structures. Certainly no necessary connection, for exactly the reason you point out, but there's a fairly large contingent and historical connection between them. The article would be lesser off if it didn't talk about that sort of thing.
But I agree, that particular paragraph doesn't seem especially relevant.
The social changes that caused the rise of liberalism are pretty important, so the rise of cities seems well connected. It just needs to be presented in that light. Lucidish 02:38, 21 November 2005 (UTC)

I take it our edits crossed over. The cities matter is pretty well covered in ==Etymology and historical usage== (hence my removal of the remark about its omission); I think that is where this about Livy and Machiavelli should also go, if it is to be in the article at all. -- Jmabel | Talk 02:45, 21 November 2005 (UTC)

Machiavelli was already in the article. I added Livy to show where Machiavelli was coming from. I felt that the article implied that liberalism sprang from the Renaissance like Athena from the brow of Zeus, and wanted to show some of its roots. I agree that the link to the Latin roots of the word is tenuous, and would welcome a rewrite. I think Jmabel's idea of a brief paragraph on "Origins of liberal thought" is a good one. Rick Norwood 13:50, 21 November 2005 (UTC)

PS: Iraq under Saddam was no more a republic than England is today a monarchy. I'll believe England is still a monarchy when Queen Elizabeth II yells, "Off with their heads!" and the order is carried out. Rick Norwood 13:51, 21 November 2005 (UTC)

Classical liberalism

"Economic liberalism, sometimes called classical liberalism…". Whoa! Two different things. Classical liberalism stands in contrast to modern liberalism in that it includes the laissez faire policies of economic liberalism, but it cannot be reduced to economic liberalism. It also stands, emphatically, for freedom of speech, religion, etc. You can be an economic liberal without subscribing to any of those. We need to disentangle those two concepts. -- Jmabel | Talk 02:28, 21 November 2005 (UTC)

Yeah, it's a mess. See a few sections up for fisticuffs on the matter. Lucidish 02:42, 21 November 2005 (UTC)
The two most recent major edits, which left incoherence we are still trying to clean up, but which also contained some good ideas, were both by people who, to the extent we can judge their ideas from their writing, believe that if you just allow complete economic freedom, the marketplace of ideas will take care of everything else. I think this extreme is just as unlikely as the opposite extreme, that the government can solve all our problems. Extreme views tend to work badly in practice.
How about this formulation: Economic liberalism, which claims descent from classical liberalism...
Rick Norwood 13:55, 21 November 2005 (UTC)
All liberalism claims descent from classical liberalism. -- Jmabel | Talk 07:02, 22 November 2005 (UTC)

Modern liberalism

Here I took the liberty of making a few edits. Still, there are at least two other points I'd like to address that seem to call for some discussion.

  • Seriously ambiguous sentence (and it starts off with a weasel word, so I have no idea who is claimed to argue this, hence little hope of resolving the ambiguity). Emphasis mine, to point up the ambiguity. "Some argue that since all property owners depend on the protection of the government, holders of property only have the right to the surplus over the cost of protecting society." Does this mean to say "Some argue that since all property owners depend on the protection of the government, only holders of property have the right to the surplus over the cost of protecting society" or "Some argue that since all property owners depend on the protection of the government, holders of property have the right only to the surplus over the cost of protecting society"? I suspect that the second is what this meant to say, and "Some" meant "some modern liberals". Did I understand correctly?
  • Is there some reason "See also Welfare economics" is at the end of the paragraph? Wouldn't it make more sense right after "…and provide a basic level of welfare, intending to enable the best use of the talents of the population, and also, some would argue, to prevent revolution in favor of totalitarianism"?

Jmabel | Talk 02:35, 21 November 2005 (UTC)

I read it as meaning the second interpretation, too.
I must confess that I have no idea how to unweasel the words. Even if you added a citation, it wouldn't be a citation of everybody who holds that view. And no useful social labels come readily to mind. Lucidish 02:45, 21 November 2005 (UTC)
The most recent big edit was well informed and well intentioned but hasty, full of awkward sentences like those quoted above, and of paragraphs with no antecedent and out of order. It is going to take a lot of work from all of us to fix this. I wanted to wait and give the author of the edit a chance to fix his own mistakes, and so I just pointed out some of them above, and Jmabel and Lucidish have pointed out more. I think if he doesn't do something today, we need to get to work ourselves. Rick Norwood 13:59, 21 November 2005 (UTC)
The first paragraph re: dignity and liberty, by Newberry's account, is deeply unsatisfactory on logical and factual grounds. I've written a bit more about this a few sections up (the Newberry edit section). Lucidish 20:39, 21 November 2005 (UTC)
Before we try to do rewrites to satisfy Newberry, he needs to show some willingness to clean up the blatant errors he creates, as listed above. Rick Norwood 21:33, 21 November 2005 (UTC)

Forms of liberalism

I have some doubts over the present text of the paragraph Forms of liberalism. There are different forms of liberalism and I think the text on political liberalism is quite good. It might be the place add the democratic notion in this form: Political liberalism led to an approach of democracy nowadays often labelled as liberal democracy ... Economic liberalism, the text is allright. My doubts are about the text on Social liberalism and Modern liberalism. They might be too US-centric. The text on social liberalism more about ethical or cultural liberalism, but gives only a few lines on social liberalism. Social liberalism accepts not only, but wants government intervention on certain areas. Then Modern liberalism: that is the text that can be used on social liberalism. (see the article on Social liberalism). I would label that text as Social liberalism (in some countries also named Modern liberalism). I would prefer a text saying that there are four forms of liberalism: political liberalism, economic liberalism, ethical liberalism and social liberalism. Most liberals adhere to a mixture of these four forms. The final paragraph of this section should also be rewritten. One could say that in the English speaking world there is a stronger emphasis on social liberalism over economic liberalism, in continental Europe most liberals have a stronger emphasis on economic liberalism over social liberalism, but in fact most liberalism are somewhere between social liberalism and economic liberalism. I will try a rewrite. Electionworld 15:09, 22 November 2005 (UTC)

It is now obvious that Newberry has no interest in cleaning up the mess he made. I'll take a shot at it later on today. Rick Norwood 16:08, 22 November 2005 (UTC)

I've done what I think is a fairly mild rewrite of the Electionworld rewrite -- a comma here, a word there. There is one sentence, however, that I would like to change that I suspect may be controversial. It is:

Whether a tax code favors business or the poor is one measure of this conflict.

It seems to me that the conflice in the tax code is not between business and the poor, but between corporations and the working class. I would like the sentence to read:

Whether the tax code favors corporations or workers is one meansure of this conflict.

Comments? Rick Norwood 20:22, 22 November 2005 (UTC)

I didn't make a rewrite yet. Electionworld 22:27, 22 November 2005 (UTC)

Gee, I wonder whose rewrite I'm editing. It would be embarassing if it were my own. Rick Norwood 01:04, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

Definitely should be "business", not "corporations". The issue is not the form of ownership. The issue would be exactly the same with an unincorporated sole proprietorship. -- Jmabel | Talk 07:28, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

I don't know how things are in Europe, but here in the US, over the past five years, the tax structure has been rewritten specifically to favor corporations over small businesses -- especially corporations that contribute heavily to the Republican party. Or so it seems to me. But if, outside the US it the question is taxing businesses in general over against taxing individuals, then how about:

Whether the tax code favors businesses or workers is one meansure of this conflict.

Rick Norwood 13:38, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

I'm from the U.S., too. Other than the misspelling "meansure", that last would be fine with me. Yes, I agree that the U.S. has screwed small business (especially rural small business), but size of business (large v. small) is distinct from the form under which they are chartered (corporation v. partnership v. single proprietorship). -- Jmabel | Talk 06:04, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

Revolutionary Liberalism

I've done a light rewrite of the Revolutionary Liberalism section. Most of what Newberry has added to the article is good. I've mostly tried to fix a few infelicities of expression. Rick Norwood 21:27, 22 November 2005 (UTC)

chronological order

Please note that I am not trying to promote Anders Chydenius. I never even heard of him until I read about him here. I'm just trying to put the sections in roughly chronological order. Rick Norwood 14:36, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

Latest Changes/Corrections

I made several corrections to the article.

  • clarified the relation between classical liberalism and economic liberalism, i.e. now reads: Economic liberalism, a major plank of classical liberalism...
  • gave quickie defs of free trade, market forces...
  • Changed the hazy "Some would also allow market forces to act even in the area of human rights" to "Some would also allow market forces to act even in areas conventionally monopolized by governments, such as the provision of security and courts."
  • Changed "economic inequality that arises from unequal strength" to "economic inequality that arises from unequal bargaining positions," to make it more clear.
  • Replaced the inconsistent "Some view economic and social liberalism as two axes on a graph, and argue that less restriction is the fundamental unifying principle of both" with "There is a fundamental antagonism between "economic" and "social" liberalism, since the latter significantly weakens the notion of limited government."
  • Contrasted economic and social liberalism by adding, "For economic liberals, all tasks are better (and more morally) done by voluntary society. For social liberals, a wide range of tasks should be done (or can only be done) by government."
  • Contrasted classical liberal anti-interventionism (Just War theory) with modern liberalism's collective security interventionism ("internationalism").
  • Corrected the claim that liberalism is necessarily statist.
  • Deleted the reference implying that Alexander Hamilton was a liberal. He was in fact quite authoritarian, and he opposed most liberal elements of the US Con.
  • Removed tangential references to freemasons, Catholic martyrs.

Hogeye 03:00, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

I am neither sure what "vandalism" you claim to have fixed, nor why Sterling reverted your edit. What is going on here? Lucidish 03:09, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
Hogeye's edits are garbage - inaccurate, uncited, heavily POV and with a clear ax to grind. I'm going to revert his material almost on cite since he is neither editing in good faith, nor making positive contributions.
Once more for those who read only randroid propaganda:
"Social Liberalism" as a term for "socialist liberalism" is not accepted anyplace in the English Speaking world, though the terms "social Democracy", "mixed economy" and "eurosocialism" are sometimes used. For those keeping score at home, of the major parties claiming to be liberal in the E N G L I S H speaking world, three are modern liberalism, and one is an economic liberal party with self-admittedly conservative social policies (Australia). This article isn't in French, it isn't in Spanish, and it isn't from planet Randriod. Social Liberalism in English means only one thing: reduction of restrictions on personal behavior, especially including sex, drugs, rights of the accused and so on. It is often used by conservatives to denote permissiveness.
"Classical Liberalism" is used only by libertarian conservatives to mean economic liberalism. It's also historically inaccurate, since it includes things such as support for a gold standard and extreme laissez-faire which were the policies of conservative, not liberal, governments in the 19th century.
It is POV to attempt to assert these terms are generally used in the sense that libertarians use them, since it is not the general usage.
This is an encyclopedia, if Hogeye wants to set up a web site to propound his agreement with which ever form of libertarianism he belongs to, he's welcome to do so. However, on Wikipedia
are the rules that have been promulgated, and which all editors agree to adhere to in being here.
More over Hogeye's edits have been loaded with historical howlers - for example saying that Socialism was original statist - wrong, socialism was originally largely anarchist, and became statist over time, particularly with the advent of communism. Another particularly egregious error was the claim that museums and schools had been funded largely by private benevolence. This too is wrong - institutions such as these had always been funded either by the church, the state, or the aristocracy who were, at that time, not private individuals, but possessors of state powers and fiat. Removing Alexander Hamilton is another example of absolutely flaggrant and inexcusable bias on his part.
Hogeye is not editing in good faith, he is not obeying the rules he agreed to by participating, and he is not editing in an NPOV fashion - there is absolutely no balance to his contributions, there are all 100% anarcho-libertarian POV.

Stirling Newberry 04:16, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

My edits are not POV. I am willing and able to defend them.
First of all, I didn't invent the strains of liberalism. They were already there when I found the article. I found the categories to be quite descriptive and reasonable: political, economic, cultural, and social liberalism. None of the terms are really standardized.
Stirling> "It is POV to attempt to assert these terms are generally used in the sense that libertarians use them, since it is not the general usage."
They're not my terms. Some previous editor wrote them. I have used the term "classical liberalism," which I take to mean the original (say, pre-1850) liberalism, which as a matter of fact was strong on economic liberalism.

"I take it to mean" you aren't a notable source. You are also arguing that previous POV edits by people who share your POV are therefore not POV. This is circular reasoning. Wikipedia is not about wikipedia, is about external sources. The external sources in this case do not support your use of your idiolect. Stirling Newberry 05:59, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
You continue to write as if I somehow endorsed the terminology. I did not. Sure, I could have changed the whole terminology when I first saw this article a week or so ago. But I refrained. I don't recall ever using the terms "economic liberalism," or "social liberalism" before. For the latter, I would say "liberal socialism" and call a person with that ideology a "democratic socialist." They are, as the article notes, a hybrid of liberalism and socialism. Basically they've jettisoned the individual rights and limited government power part of liberalism, and replaced it with an invasive redistributionist State "for the public good." More often, I use the more general appelation statist socialist. Hogeye 07:16, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
I think (but am not sure since he doesn't really state his beef) Stirling is saying that he prefers the term "modern liberalism" to "social liberalism." To him, "social liberalism" means the same as what we call "cultural liberalism." But "modern liberalism" is not descriptive at all - "modern" is a vacuous adjective; it doesn't even give a hint about the redistributionist essence of this branch of liberalism. I'm not stuck on "social" for the descriptive term. I think Stirling's suggestion for a name is excellent: socialist liberalism. What do you think?

Incorrect. The issue here is the use of the term generally. Social liberalism is a term used exclusively by your sub-group, and not even by sub-groups which are in close agreement on other issues. Stirling Newberry 05:59, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

  • (Interspersing here) Sterling, I agree with much of what you are saying, but not this. Yes, "social liberal" is pretty common US usage to mean "liberal on social issues". As in "Bill Clinton as president was a fiscal conservative but a social liberal." Or "libertarians usually line up with social liberals on drug policy issues, reproductive rights, and free speech issues." -- Jmabel | Talk 06:13, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
    Sterling, re-reading, perhaps you simply did not write what you meant to write. Did you perhaps mean to say "Socialist liberalism is a term used exclusively by your sub-group…"? -- Jmabel | Talk 07:27, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
I think we all agree that "social liberalism" is not a good term for the article since it could be misinterpreted as cultural liberalism. Now, do we agree that socialist liberalism is better (more descriptive) than modern liberalism? Hogeye 07:16, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
  • (Interspersing again): Not at all. "Socialist liberalism" is a complete neologism. It certainly has no broad currency. -- Jmabel | Talk 07:29, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
Ignoring the ad hom stuff, let me respond to the following.
Stirling> "Hogeye's edits have been loaded with historical howlers - for example saying that Socialism was original statist..."
I never said that. On the contrary, I'm the guy who is careful to write "statist socialism" instead of "socialism" when appropriate. I am fairly erudite about the history of anarchism, Bakunin vs Marx Internationale debates, and such. After all, I'm an anarchist.

While you are here, you are a wikipedian. Stirling Newberry 05:59, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

Stirling> "Another particularly egregious error was the claim that museums and schools had been funded largely by private benevolence. This too is wrong - institutions such as these had always been funded either by the church, the state, or the aristocracy who were, at that time, not private individuals..."
My actual statement was: " Schools, libraries, museums, and art galleries, formerly founded mainly by private benevolence, were to be supported by taxes."
This is flatly incorrect. These institutions were overwhelmingly funded by church or state. Stirling Newberry 05:59, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
Stirling concedes that not all funding of "schools, libraries, museums, and art galleries" was done directly by the State - that churches and aristocrats also funded them. Needless to say, many "self-made men" also funded such, e.g. Ben Frankin (libraries, fire depts, postal services), the various "mechanics institute" libraries founded by mutuals. Most schools in USAmerica before the War of Southern Independence were privately funded. Didn't Rockefeller fund a lot of libraries and museums? Schools generally didn't fall under strict government control in the US until the late 1800's when "progressives" lobbied for the adoption of the Prussian model.
The question isn't control but funding. And you didn't take specific examples, but made a broad assertion about a verifiable overwhelming statement, one which was not true at the time when "liberals" (such as say Adam Smith) advocated state funding of educational institutions.
Okay. I'll amend it to: "Schools, libraries, museums, and art galleries, formerly funded" (not 'founded') "mainly by private sources" (not 'benevolence'), "were to be supported by taxes." Thanks for the catch. Obviously, Adam Smith would not have advocated state funding were it already state funded.
Stirling> "Removing Alexander Hamilton is another example of absolutely flaggrant and inexcusable bias on his part."
The article used to say that Alexander Hamilton was a liberal influence on the US Constitution. He was an influence, but not a liberal one. E.g. He wanted a president for life, and for the president to appoint state governors. He wanted a central bank. Hamilton was the uber-statist authoritarian of his day, an enemy of liberalism. Just ask Thomas Jefferson (through his writings.)

This is incorrect, Hamilton and Madison contributed to the design of the constitution and are both taken in mainstream history, rather than in your POV, to be "liberal" in the sense of the article.

True, Hamilton supported the US Constitution. He did so mainly because the Con represented a vast increase in central govt power compared to the Articles of Confederation. He was to become the US Treasurer, a powerful position. And perhaps he forsaw how easily the "enumerated powers" could be ignored.
Hogeye 05:43, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

Speculation, POV, uncited. On the other side of the scale is Hamilton's contributions to the Federalis Papers, including the importance of transperancy, the role of separation of powers, the importance of protection of economic minorities (read financial based capitalism) and checks and balances. All, despite your POV, have become part of liberalism, in the sense of the article.

Stirling Newberry 05:59, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

Newberry: your claims about "social liberalism" not being in use are false. As I've said in the Newberry Edit section. Google the phrase. Lucidish 17:23, 25 November 2005 (UTC)


This article is not about liberalism in the English speaking world, but about liberalism. The usage of modern liberalism might be right in the United States, but the better usage is social liberalism. I think the terms clearly should be political liberalism, economical liberalism, cultural or ethical liberalism and social liberalism. Certainly not socialist liberalism, since social liberalism and socialism or social democracy are different political currents. 07:38, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

  • "Economical liberalism" is a neologism. Should be "Economic liberalism". -- Jmabel | Talk 08:29, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
Social liberalism is a term normally used in international liberalism. I can remember speeches by Graham Watson who distinguished amongst others social liberalism. Modern liberalism is also not neutral, since also conservative liberals whould state that they are modern liberals. Electionworld 13:59, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

See below for my reasons for omiting "social liberalism". You will decide for yourself if they are good ones. On the subject of your other edit: "political liberalism" is support for "liberal democracy". Apart from my objection to using the word we are defining in the definition, "liberal democracy" as opposed to what other kinds of democracy? Rick Norwood 14:18, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

After further consideration, I now favor the term "social liberalism" over "socialist liberalism." Why? First of all, some social liberals are not socialist. Some justify government redistribution and "promoting the common good" on non-socialist grounds. E.g. Alexander Hamilton. Second, the term "social liberalism" has been used before in this manner. E.g.

"Communitarianism, in any event, is best defined, in my view, as social-liberalism. (A more ‘radical’ form of social-liberalism, given to activism within liberal democracies but by no means anti-liberal as such, is espoused by self-proclaimed ‘progressives’.) The opposing wing of liberalism is libertarianism. Both social-liberalism and libertarianism are firmly rooted within the liberal tradition, as our account of liberalism will suggest. What might better be labeled the libertarianism-communitarianism dispute, then, is best understood as a major contemporary dispute within liberalism."[1]

Note that this writer favors a historical classifation:

"From the historical perspective, there are perhaps six elements in the liberal tradition of thought.[19] (Such lists are inevitably somewhat arbitrary and of fairly little value, but the following may help to orient us at the outset, giving some idea of who it is that we are referring to.) They are:
(i) classical English liberalism (Hobbes, Locke, etc.);
(ii) ‘continental’ Enlightenment liberalism (Rousseau, Voltaire, Constant, Kant, Humboldt, etc.);
(iii) utilitarian liberalism (Bentham, Mill, etc.);
(iv) Russian liberalism (Desnitskii, Radishchev, Herzen, Chicherin, etc.);
(v) British Idealist liberalism (T.H. Green etc.);
(vi) Twentieth Century liberalism (Berlin, Hayek, Nozick, Rawls, etc.)."

This essay is pretty good, and I recommend that other editors here check it out, if only to get a fresh perspective. A Critical Introduction to Liberalism

If people don't like the term "social liberalism," here are two descriptive alternatives I could live with: "redistributive liberalism" or "utilitarian liberalism." Hogeye 16:36, 25 November 2005 (UTC)

You think Nozick and Rawls would like to be put together? Nozick was a libertarian.
Let's be economical about our distinctions. The goal is to emphasize the difference between modern and classical forms of liberalism (however they are going to be called). Other distinctions deserve mention, but in a different context. IE: Utilitarianism in liberalism is not especially relevant in policy terms, only in foundational/ethical terms. I suggest a twofold section, the first being dedicated to the modern/classical division, the second section exploring more theoretical differences. IE: utilitarian vs. deontic theorists. Lucidish 17:17, 25 November 2005 (UTC)
In McLaughlin's historical classification, Rawls and Nozick belong together. In our article's ideological classification, you are totally right, Lucidish: they don't belong together. In our classification, Rawls is a social liberal, while Nozick is an economic liberal.
Lucidish> "The goal is to emphasize the difference between modern and classical forms of liberalism."
Oops! Then we are not on the same page, so to speak. In my understanding, we have taken the ideological approach rather than McLaughlin's historic approach. I'm sorry if I confused things. I quoted McLaughlin for edification purposes only. I like our ideological classification better.
Lucidish> "Utilitarianism in liberalism is not especially relevant in policy terms, only in foundational/ethical terms."
Yes, but it is hard to separate these, especially when discussing the ideological schools. I.e. Economic liberalism is generally based on natural law (or supernatural law) rather than on utilitarian considerations. Economic liberals almost always speak in terms of "inalienable rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness," and freedom of association/trade. OTOH social liberalism is based on utilitarianism - the notion of "the public good."
Maybe I was being a bit too grand about the goals of the section; there's enough room for making any number of distinctions we like. But ideally I'd like to separate things so that the point of the distinctions that we're making is clear (and hopefully, not too redundant). At the very least, I like the idea of splitting the 'forms of liberalism' section into two, first along historical lines, and then on ideological ones.
Natural law vs. consequentialist sources of justification may be worth noting as a third distinction, "meta-ethics", though it should be noted that they aren't unique or necessary to adopting liberal ideas. Natural law or utilitarianism are both so general that they can make room for socialism (for example). Lucidish 21:26, 28 November 2005 (UTC)


(Please excuse me for shouting.) Rick Norwood 13:11, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

Seriously, please write more slowly and carefully. Several people are working carefully through the article, cleaning up the writing more than anything else. But the rapid changes are coming faster than we can work. As an example, from one of the first paragraphs changed:

"...ideology a mixture of the forms listed belows and will combine..."

If you cannot be bothered to write carefully, at least pause between rewrites long enough for others to fix your mistakes. I am not taking sides on the dispute. I do not even know who wrote the line quoted above. But it is one of many that need fixing. Can we have a truce, while the wounded are cleared from the battlefield? Rick Norwood 13:44, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

I have rewritten a single paragraph. I will not do any more rewriting in this article today. The point of my rewrite, in addition to fixing the solecism mentioned above, is simply to define our terms. These are the words the article in fact uses, and they are, it seems to me, as good as any others. Let us avoid the errors of the "Abortion debate" article, where the pro-life people keep trying to call the other side "baby murderers".

Let me explain why I left out "cultural liberalism". It seems to me that what we are calling cultural liberalism is in fact the common ground that all liberals share, and that the topics mentioned under cultural liberalism should be mentioned instead in the section below, where common beliefs are discussed. After all, the root of "liberalism" is freedom. Are any of us in favor of laws that unnecessrily restrict individual liberty? Rick Norwood 14:11, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

Any of us is not relevant, since not all editors consider themselves to be liberals. Not all liberals support euthanasia, the usage of soft drugs, gay marriage etc. So therefore cultural liberalism should be in. I would more doubt if political liberalism should be included, since all liberals nowadays want a liberal democracy. Some want more direct democracy, but that is inside the strife after democracy. Electionworld 14:25, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

The distinction I've learned is that Athens was a democracy, Rome a republic. Is what you mean by "liberal democracy" representative democracy, that is, a republic? Rick Norwood 15:04, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
May I refer you to the article on Liberal democracy (I do not know in what state it is now). Typical for a liberal democracy is the balance between individual rights and majorities taking decisions. It is allways a representative democracy, but can also have direct democratic features (like referenda). A Liberal democracy can be a republic, but monarchies like Sweden are also liberal democracies. The former GDR labeled itself as a democracy: the people had the power (they said). Electionworld 17:52, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for the explanation. Rick Norwood 19:50, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

Hogeye's recent edit

Hogeye apparently chooses not to resist the temptation to make huge changes very rapidly. That leaves the rest of us working on this article only two choices. We can either revert everything Hogeye writes or we can wait until Hogeye has finished rewriting the entire article to reflect his point of view, and then attempt a rewrite to bring it more in line with mainstream views.

Frankly, I don't like either of those choices, and so I will continue to make small changes, mostly in the area of grammar, and discuss any controversial change here, first.

I would like to point out to Hogeye that, in the past twenty years, the redistribution of wealth he talks about so often has been almost entirely in the direction of a concentration of wealth in the hands of those who already possess the greatest wealth. Also, that not everyone agrees that when people do things just because they want to do them this is necessarily a form of vice. Rick Norwood 17:53, 25 November 2005 (UTC)

I made four small incremental edits and one major edit. The major edit was the Points of conflict section where I was simply undoing a major edit by Stirling - 22:36, 23 November 2005. I have given my reason for the change above, in the "Basic Principles & Two Errors" section. In short, the claim that slavery is an example of a conflict between liberty and dignity - that somehow liberty is compatable with slavery - is ridiculous.
I replaced that faux conflict with a real conflict - the one between negative and positive rights, i.e. the conflict between justice and using State power to promote fraternity/equality. I also, as I recall, clarified and expanded upon the major conflict in foreign policy: Non-interventionism vs. collective security. I have no idea why Stirling prefers the faux conflict to these substantial conflicts. He has given no reason for his revert that I can see.
Rick: "In the past twenty years, the redistribution of wealth he talks about so often has been almost entirely in the direction of a concentration of wealth in the hands of those who already possess the greatest wealth."
I agree, wholeheartedly. Well, except I would say more like eighty years. Massive redistribution in the US dates from the New Deal, though some would say WWI (with its War Boards and such) or the enactment of the income tax, or the creation of the Fed. It is interesting that many who favor social liberal redistribution don't realize that, overall, the direction of redistribution is from poor to rich. Perhaps they are too enamored with government power to see the reality of its use. Despite their good intentions, they are screwing the poor through State.
Rick: "Not everyone agrees that when people do things just because they want to do them this is necessarily a form of vice."
I agree. I was trying to get across the idea that the State should not prevent someone from doing something that, at worst, harms only himself. Perhaps the relevant John Stewart Mill quote would go well at that point in the article.
The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. - John Stewart Mill, On Liberty.
Lysander Spooner expressed this idea in his famous essay Vices Are Not Crimes: A Vindication of Moral Liberty. Perhaps you can word it better. Hogeye 18:46, 25 November 2005 (UTC)
I would not dream of trying to improve on John Stweard Mill. I think the quote belongs in the article.
We agree on many things, but you seem to think that, without government protection, the tyrany of the majority would not trample the rights of the minority, that the strong would not tyranize the week. Personally, without government, I don't think I would survive five minutes. Rick Norwood 19:13, 25 November 2005 (UTC)

Wow! Yes, we differ immensely here, Rick. I think that government power is the most likely and dangerous means by which tyranny of the majority can be imposed! Look at the bloody French Revolution for an example of the tyranny of the majority. Or the US War of Northern Aggression. Or the Soviet "people's" starvation of the Ukraine. Or the Hutu genocide of the Tutsis. Or the Holocaust.
The majority have neither the opportunity nor the means to impose much of anything without the machinery of State (monopoly police, soldiers, and courts) to do the violence. OTOH stateless and minimal govt societies have been quite peaceful compared to statist systems. Per Bastiat, there are three basic choices:
"The Choice Before Us - This question of legal plunder must be settled once and for all, and there are only three ways to settle it: 1. The few plunder the many. 2. Everybody plunders everybody. 3. Nobody plunders anybody. We must make our choice among limited plunder, universal plunder, and no plunder. The law can follow only one of these three. Limited legal plunder: This system prevailed when the right to vote was restricted. One would turn back to this system to prevent the invasion of socialism. Universal legal plunder: We have been threatened with this system since the franchise was made universal. The newly enfranchised majority has decided to formulate law on the same principle of legal plunder that was used by their predecessors when the vote was limited. No legal plunder: This is the principle of justice, peace, order, stability, harmony, and logic. Until the day of my death, I shall proclaim this principle with all the force of my lungs (which alas! is all too inadequate)." - Frederic Bastiat, The Law
Rick> "Personally, without government, I don't think I would survive five minutes."
?? Where do you live, if I might ask. I live in the evil US empire, and rarely if ever feel endangered by my fellow men. The greatest danger by far to me is the State, which could dispossess, imprison, or kill me at any time for various reasons. Where I feel safest is e.g. in non-urban parts of Costa Rica, where there is more or less de-facto anarchy. (BTW, Costa Rica has no standing army. Jefferson, if alive today, would no doubt be more approving of CR than the USEmpire.)

Norwood edit

I have limited my changes to section 1.2. I took out a lot of repetition. I will not make any additional changes today. Rick Norwood 19:08, 25 November 2005 (UTC)

I like Rick's changes in the "social liberalism" section. He made it more concise, and removed some redundent material. I do question one thing: whether the means should be made clearer to the reader. The section speaks to the motivations and goals of social liberalism, but (misleadingly, IMO) omits the means social liberals use to accomplish those ends. I.e.
"Social liberalism ... expects governments to provide a basic level of welfare."
Do social liberals advocate selling off government buildings or land to provide this service? Auction off the airwaves? No, they advocate expropriation of people's property to do it. I think that this important fact should not be hidden or sandbagged. Call it coercive redistribution, or plunder, or spoliation, or whatever, but don't evade the means entirely, as if government creates goods out of thin air.
I think I'll fix this, using the least connatative of the terms above: redistribution. Hogeye 19:13, 25 November 2005 (UTC)
Please make it clear that the means advocated by social liberals are the means advocated by Adam Smith in Wealth of Nations, taxing those best able to pay to provide for the general welfare.
Here's the pertinant Smith quote:
"The subjects of every state ought to contribute toward the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state..." - Adam Smith, "Wealth of Nations."
Don't you think that Smith's endorsement of a flat tax (proportional to income) should be in the Smith article? Another fact most people don't know about Smith is that he held the (now discredited) labor theory of value, giving ammunition to Marx, Bakunin, et. al. I think (check this) that Smith was also anti-capitalist regarding land - that he supported Locke's proviso. Many modern supporters of capitalism (e.g. Austrian economists) consider Jean Baptiste Say as a more consistent supporter of capitalism than Smith. E.g. Say had a subjective theory of value rather than the labor theory of value.
Somehow I don't think that the sub-section sketching social liberalism needs to get into this. After all, most social liberals favor a progressive tax, not a flat tax. But more importantly, Adam Smith's tax was aimed at funding a rather minimal State, not for the purpose of redistributing wealth. Hogeye 19:48, 25 November 2005 (UTC)
I've done my bit for today, but let me explain why I dislike the phrase "redistribution of wealth". The image that word conjurs up is wealth as a fixed number of gold pieces, which can only be given to some by taking away from others. Wealth is not a fixed quality, but expands and contracts freely to fit the constraints on its production. Rick Norwood 19:25, 25 November 2005 (UTC)
Rick> "The image that word ["redistribution"] conjurs up is wealth as a fixed number of gold pieces, which can only be given to some by taking away from others."
Hmmm. I understand, then, why you dislike that term. However, "redistribution" has no such implication to me. The term (to me) has zero impliction that wealth is zero-sum game - it says nothing about where the wealth originally came from at all. Of course, the redistribution itself can be considered zero-sum - the State obviously does not create new wealth by robbing Peter to pay Paul. Obviously, theft is not productive; it's parasitic. As Franz Oppenheimer put it, there are two ways to acquire wealth: the "economic means" (production, trade, gift) and the "political means" (plunder). Hogeye 19:48, 25 November 2005 (UTC)
On the contrary, under the rule of the modern state, total world wealth has almost quadrupled in the past fifty years. The state collects taxes, uses those taxes to pay government workers. The government workers spend the money, increasing sales. Increased sales result in increased production. Increased production results in private sector jobs, increased tax revenues, and increased profits. Everybody benefits. Rick Norwood 00:44, 26 November 2005 (UTC)
Despite the rule of modern States, society has produced a lot of wealth in the past 50 years. Production of wealth has been negatively correlated with taxation, i.e. the States which rip off their citizens the least have prospered the most.
Rick, your next claim is a classic example of the broken window fallacy. The money-spending and sales would occur whether the wealth was in the rightful hands of its owner or whether it was stolen by the State. Thus there is no increased spending or production; the uses and purchases have simply been shifted from voluntary society to the State. Please read "That Which is Seen, and That Which is not Seen," by Fred B. Or "Economics in One Lesson" by Hazlett. You don't want to fall for this fallacy again.
If anything, there has been a loss in wealth, since people tend to use their own money more efficiently than the State uses other people's money. I.e. There is less housing and food and computers bought by the people, but more bombs and munitions blown up in faraway deserts, more money spent in imprisoning non-violent drug users, more blown on public monuments and pork-barrel projects. Society spends more wisely than the State. Hogeye 15:10, 26 November 2005 (UTC)
It would be fun to discuss this, Hogeye, but this is not the place for it. The views you express are libertarian, not shared by most liberals. The place for them is in the article on libertarianism. More general views belong here. Rick Norwood 22:43, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

Points of Conflict

We have a semi-edit war regarding the (former) first paragraph in this section. Was the slavery issue a case of liberty vs. dignity, or was it a conflict concerning What is valid property? Put in another way, does the right of life, liberty, and property, properly understood, mean a right to hold slaves? I say "no," but apparently someone disagrees, since they keep presenting the right of property as pro-slavery. I can't tell whether this is an honest misunderstanding, or POV-pushing by an anti-propertarian. Hogeye 22:49, 25 November 2005 (UTC)

  • They're all a bunch of welfare queen jihadist communists, why bother at all? just block them from editing and fix the article without their input, this isn't an autobiogrohpy--Abon 1234 15:12, 26 November 2005 (UTC)
    • Abon 1234: modern censorship ? Electionworld 19:49, 26 November 2005 (UTC)
    • Hogeye: I reverted it to the old version, since you did not only change this first paragraph in this section, but also the rest. Electionworld 19:49, 26 November 2005 (UTC)
    • I started to edit this section to make it more neutral. Citing Bastiat is for this article not necesary (if we add citations the article will be far more longer). The text about favouring common law instead of decreed law is not motivated and is certainly not true for all strains of liberalism. The article is not neutral towards Woodrow Wilsons vision. Electionworld 20:01, 26 November 2005 (UTC)
  • It seems to me that 1.2 is in pretty good shape. I made two small changes. I replaced "coersive redistribution" with "taxation". Yes, taxation is coersive redistribution. And eating a hamberger is devouring the burned flesh of dead animals. A statement can be true and still be strongly POV. The other change was to add the word "liberal" in one place, just because the sentence seemed to flow better.
  • I hope we can now move on, instead of endless editing the same paragraphs. Rick Norwood 23:19, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

I've revamped the whole section. I organized it into several semi-discrete conflicts. If you don't like my illustrative quotes, that's okay - I'm not adamant about them. Hogeye 00:03, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

It's not implausible to state that property rights were an issue in the arguments against abolitionism. That's what the entire fiasco was about: whether or not humans (or, in the case of American slaves, one who is considered to be "3/5ths human" - whatever that means) could be another person's property. That is a foolish claim, which Locke could've told anyone; but retrospectively, we can report what people argued, and that was certainly one of the arguments made.
No, the only foolish retrospective claim about the argument re: slavery is that it was a grand divide between dignity vs. liberty. It wasn't. Slavery is the loss of liberty. This takes no mental time to compute. Lucidish 01:21, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

I removed the citations. If we start adding citations in this article and do that in a balanced way, we will end up with thens or more of citations. Furthermore: It is not right to use authoritarian to label social liberalism. Authoritarianism is not a neutral term. Furthermore, Social liberals do not believe in a planned society, but want to have governmenmt action in some fields to correct the excesses of the natural order. They still put the individual first (as I as a social liberal would say: all individiduals first), which makes the difference with socialism and collectivist ideoligies. I deleted the sentence The utilitarian notion of the public good began to overshadow the rights of the individual, since social liberals would argue that the notion of the public good is there for protecting the rights of the individual (one cannot be free if one is starving). The war section is far to US-centric and forget that even German classical liberals agreed with the outbreak of World War I. One cannot say that classical liberals are pacifists and social liberals are not. Not-intervention of the US would I believe have led to more and longer war misery in Europe. By intervening in Europe, the US gave in both world wars Peace a change over war and oppression. Isolationism is not the same as pacifism. I reverted this section to the pre-Hogeye text, but would favour deletion of this section. Electionworld 09:07, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

Good points, Electionworld. I disagree with most of them, but respect and admire your efforts to figure out the truth.
Electionworld: "It is not right to use authoritarian to label social liberalism. Authoritarianism is not a neutral term."
Hogeye: True, "authoritarianism" is not neutral, but the term "authoritarian" is. "Authoritarian" is used as a relative term, meaning the opposite of libertarian (as a relative term.) E.g. If a government becomes more authoritarian, it becomes less libertarian. Authoritarian government is simply an NPOV synonym for the candy-coated (POV) "activist government."
Norwood: In actual use, governments are called "authoritarian" if they are undemocratic. Franco's government in Spain was often called "authoritarian". It is true that all governments are authoritarian to a greater or lesser degree -- how can a government govern except through authority. In that sense, to say "authoritarian government" is like saying "four sided square". Hogeye, you seem determined to recast this article in libertarian language. This language seems natural to you, because you use it so often. To those of us who are liberals but not libertarians it sounds like cant.
I see your point about "authoritarian government." If not preceeded by "more" or "less" it is redundant. The article no longer uses the term "authoritarian government." A slight rephrasing solved the problem. I.e. "The popular belief that government authority could solve these problems led to social liberalism eventually becoming the dominant strain of liberalism." Hogeye 04:24, 28 November 2005 (UTC)
Electionworld: "Social liberals do not believe in a planned society, but want to have government action in some fields to correct the excesses of the natural order. They still put the individual first..."
Hogeye: Yes, but planning is a necessary part of "correcting the excesses," and govt authority is the means. They may put individuals first, but not individual rights (aka negative rights), which was claim in the article.
Electionworld: "I deleted the sentence: The utilitarian notion of the public good began to overshadow the rights of the individual, since social liberals would argue that the notion of the public good is there for protecting the rights of the individual (one cannot be free if one is starving)."
Hogeye: We agree on the ideas I think - this is largely a semantic argument. Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that liberals believe freedom has two components: a) individual rights, and b) the proper environmental conditions? Whereas economic liberals hold (a) to take precedence, social liberals consider (b) to be just as important as (a), and are willing to make trade-offs between the two. In this light, the following seems more accurate: Social liberals argue that the public good notion is to maximize individual freedom in society, but it may require violation of a given individual's rights.
Norwood: "violation" is not NPOV. Is it a violation of your right to swing your fist if my nose gets in your way? Except under anarchy, rights always involve a trade-off. Libertarian theory has everything working out for the best under minimal government, but since libertarian theory has never been tried in practice, this is an article of faith. You try to assert it as a proven fact. Social liberalism believes that freedom for the many requires some limits on the freedom of the most powerful. Yes, this "violates" the freedom of the most powerful, but that is not a neutral formulation.
I don't understand. Are you saying that claiming X is a "violation" of rights is necessarily POV? Why? I strongly disagree with your claim that rights always involve a trade off. That makes me wonder what your definition of "rights" is. To me, and most people who have studied general moral rights, one of the most significant features of rights is that they trump other moral considerations. That's what makes them so powerful. That's why a rights claim carries more weight to a claim of benefit, need, or desire. Definition: A (general moral) right is a moral claim to freedom of action.
It is a fact that maximizing rights may involve a violation of rights. One example: You are the sheriff. The lynch mob outside wants to hang an innocent man. You know that they will riot, killing many innocent people if you don't turn him over to the mob. If you consider rights as principles, as side-constraints on conduct, then you won't turn him over. If you want to minimize rights-violations, you will turn him over. It is not POV to point out to the freedom maximizer that he may have to violate individual rights. Any govt welfare system involves violating some people's right to the fruits of their labor - taxing some - to give to others. Hogeye 04:24, 28 November 2005 (UTC)
Electionworld: "One cannot say that classical liberals are pacifists and social liberals are not."
Hogeye: This was not the claim at all. The claim was that early (classical) liberals supported non-interventionism (which is not the same as pacifism). In particular, they supported Grotius' Just War theory. The notion of world collective security is a 20th century thing - largely a response to WWI. Today's social liberals almost unanimously support the UN, and most support outfits such as NATO. This is a major deviation from Just War theory. Hogeye 19:06, 27 November 2005 (UTC)
Norwood: For what it's worth, I agree with Hogeye on this one. Rick Norwood 22:51, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

"Protective vs. distributive justice" isn't right, since the term distributive justice subsumes both entitlement theories as economic liberals prefer, and end-state theories as social liberals prefer. Cf: Anarchy, State, and Utopia by Nozick. I changed the title to "Negative Rights vs. positive welfare." Hogeye 22:42, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

Section 1.3

"Some modern liberals have rejected the classical Just War theory emphasizing neutrality and free trade, for interventionism and collective security."

I do not understand the meaning of the dependent clause at the end of this sentence. Please explain, rewrite, or delete it.

Thanks. Good catch. I rewrote it as follows: Some modern liberals have rejected the classical Just War theory, which emphasizes neutrality and free trade, in favor of multilateral interventionism and collective security. Hogeye 00:05, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

If Gustav de Molinari is important enough to cite here, he should have at least a wiki stub.

Oops. Gustave. spelling error. He does have an article. Hogeye 00:05, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

The only change I made in 1.3 was to fix agreement of subject and verb and eliminate an unnecessary "e.g." Rick Norwood 23:27, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

I am going to work on 2.2 now, where I see a number of awkward sentences and misspelled words. I will not change any other section (other than those mentioned above) today. Rick Norwood 23:35, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

Section 2.2

My edits in 2.2 have been mostly cosmetic -- breaking up overlong sentences, fixing grammar and spelling. There is, however, one paragraph smack dab in the middle which breaks up the flow and doesn't seem to belong:

"The contractual nature of liberal thought to this point must be stressed. One of the basic ideas of the first wave of thinkers in the liberal tradition was that individuals made agreements and owned property. This may not seem a radical notion today, but at the time most property laws defined property as belonging to a family or to a particular figure within it, such as the "head of the family". Obligations were based on feudal ties of loyalty and personal fealty, rather than an exchange of goods and services. Gradually, the liberal tradition introduced the idea that voluntary consent and voluntary agreement were the basis for legitimate government and law. This view was further advanced by Rousseau with his notion of a social contract."

What does this have to do with "Revolutionary Liberalism"? I seems to me to be a little mini-editorial on economic theory. I enjoyed reading it, but why is it here?

Leave? Move? Delete? What is your opinion? Rick Norwood 00:16, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

I think the purpose of the paragraph is to create the setting for revolutionary change. Did you know that, before the American Revolution, governors and cronies of the king were trying to collect quitrent? Quitrent is a feudal thing - rent paid to a landlord who's family holds title to the land forever. I like the attempt to show how liberalism was a reaction to feudal forms, especially in Europe. The *individual* right of property was a big deal. You didn't have to be royalty or a state-approved guild or corporation. *Anyone* could own stuff.
Maybe it just needs some editing or a rewrite. Hogeye 01:07, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

Here, it breaks the flow of the section, and seems off topic. Maybe it would fit in somewhere else in the article. One ongoing wikiproblem is articles that look like a crazy quilt. Rick Norwood 14:58, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

Liberal conservatism

Somebody added liberal conservatism as a form of liberalism. I allways considered it as a form of conservatism and most liberal parties do not consider the liberal conservative parties in any way as sister parties. I doubt that it should be listed as a form of liberalism. Electionworld 14:43, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

I don't know much about liberal conservative parties. Maybe there should be a separate article on the subject. Rick Norwood 14:59, 27 November 2005 (UTC)
I added it. And there is an article on liberal conservatism. As the new paragraph says, it is a hybrid of conservatism and liberalism. I'm inclined to take the view that in many developed countries (especially in the Anglosphere), there are very few real conservatives in the original sense of the word, and nearly all of those now claiming to be "conservatives" are actually liberal conservatives, i.e. they are economic liberals. Whereas the liberal parties are usually made up of social liberals and/or neo-liberals. Nevertheless most of the parties listed as examples are expressly "Liberal" in name, and have liberal conservative ideologies. The Liberal Party of Australia is perhaps the best example of this phenomenon. Grant65 | Talk 15:09, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

OK, it belongs in the aerticle, but on another place: it is not a form of liberalism, but conservatism combined with economic liberalism. I made a subsection under liberalism today. Electionworld 15:30, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

As far as I'm concerned, "conservatism" is one of those words that is hopeless and useless. People take it to have content that it doesn't have. So I won't be able to take the word seriously enough to give any suggestions about "liberal conservatism", except maybe to pick a better way of saying what's attempting to be said (whatever it is), and in a way that has broader currency. Lucidish 21:31, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

How the article stands today.

A great deal of good work has been done by many hands to improve this article. However, two things have happened. One is that hasty changes have introduced errors. The other is that the article gets longer and longer. Once again I urge: take is slow, keep it short. Rick Norwood 15:36, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

Work on 2.3

I have attempted a rewrite of 2.3. I will not make any other changes to this article today. My major changes were to move paragraphs that belonged under a different subhead to that subhead. I also removed a lot of repetition and shortened long sentences. Rick Norwood 16:27, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

Back to "justice" on the one side and "welfare" on the other.

I will leave you two gentlemen to fight it out. I'll see you here tomorrow. Rick Norwood 22:29, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

attempt to move the discussion to the bottom of the page

Hogeye, you are so accustomed to the rhetoric of libertarians that it sounds as natural to you as it sounds artificial to others. I am not going to try to argue with you -- I've learned from long experience that arguing with a Libertarian is as useless as arguing with a Marxist, and for the same reason -- neither philosophy has ever been put into practice and so the pure theory has never had to conform to harsh reality. Not all claims of "rights" are POV. Some claim rights given by God (the right of the Jews to Isreal), some claim rights due to nature (the right to life), and everyone has rights under law (the right to a speedy trial). But only libertarians claim the "right" not to be taxed. Nobody likes taxes, but most people accept the necessity of taxation to avoid massive deficits and to fund government services that the majority of citizens have voted in favor of. It is not "injustice" because it is part of the social contract. Rick Norwood 13:54, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

Oops -- I tried to argue with you after all. I guess I just couldn't resist.  : ) Rick Norwood 13:56, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

Rhetoric is irrelevant. Whether people dislike taxes, or a majority vote for it is irrelevant. The issue here is whether expropriation of people's wealth violates the right to life, liberty, and property, a right endorsed by all liberals. This is an article about liberalism, you know. Even social liberals will admit that taxation violates some people's right to the fruits of their labor. They justify it by claiming that freedom for the collective is maximized by selective rights violations. Other examples of permissable rights-violations for some social liberals: conscription during war, zoning, tariffs, minimum productivity laws, regulations on businesses, price-fixing, occupational licensure, etc. Are you also going to argue that conscription (slavery by state) doesn't involve violation of rights? Face it - the notion of maximizing freedom (using government power to create positive conditions for freedom) involves engaging in some rights violations. Hogeye 14:19, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

I knew I should have known better than to try to argue the point. The only real point is this -- non libertarians, who are in the majority, are not going to accept a rewrite of this (or any other) article using libertarian rhetoric and values. I'm sure there are libertarian encyclopedias where this point of view is appropriate. It can't happen here. Rick Norwood 14:30, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

False statements in 2.3

Reading over the current version of 2.3, I find a number of statements that are flatly false. First, social liberalism, in England at least, was a major force in the 18th Century. The article suggests that it did not begin until the 19th. Second, the idea that inequality of wealth increased in the 19th Century is absurd. That century saw the rise of the middle class. Inequality of wealth was much greater before the Industrial Revolution. Third, the Industrial Revolution did not greatly decrease infant mortality. That came later. The use of doctors during childbirth greatly increased infant (and female) mortality, because doctors, unlike midwives, refused to wash their hands when moving from a diseased patient to a healthy one. The population explosion that followed the Industrial Revolution was largely due to the increased food supply and to Jenner's discovery of vaccination (1796). Rick Norwood 15:20, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

I like your spirit of inquiry, Rick, but I have to question a couple of points.
  • Rick: "Social liberalism, in England at least, was a major force in the 18th Century."
I don't believe it - can you provide a citation or something? When we examine thought before 1800, virtually all writers were economic liberals, not social liberals. Going through the people mentioned in the "Origins of Liberal Thought" section, not one person is a social liberal. There's Locke, Say, Smith, Jefferson, Hume, Kant - all economic liberals. Even Rousseau seems to be one - judging from his rather sparce description of the state in "Social Contract." Of course, Wilhelm von Humboldt was a minarchist economic liberal. Incidently, I'm reading Humboldt's online book The Limits of State Action (1792).
Glad to cite examples. Benjamin Franklin is one, writing on the subject of welfare in England before the American Revolution, he complained that the existance of welfare was undermining the work ethic and making life too easy for British workers. He warned against America ever trying such a social experiment. (I would quote chapter and verse, but the book is at home.)
So Ben Franklin was clearly an economic liberal, not a social liberal. I'm still waiting for an example. - Hogeye
Another major example is John Wesley, who strongly urged the people to vote in favor of laws easing the life of the worker, ending slavery, and regulating child labor and the conditions of working women. Do you want more?
False. Wesley was not an activist, nor even a liberal. He was against slavery, but that in itself doesn't make him a liberal, let alone a social liberal. Here's a quote for you:
In most cases, Wesley appealed to people, either individually or as members of groups, to act out of love for God and for neighbor. He did not urge structural changes in either society or government, and usually did not urge passage of specific legislation. Marquardt describes Wesley as, "...a convinced Tory of the moderate (non-Jacobite) wing...." Wesley believed government authority was derived from God rather than from the people, so he supported the constitutional monarchy of Eighteenth Century England. - John Wesley's Social Ethic review by John Lunn[2]
I'm still waiting for an example of a pre-1800 social liberal. Hogeye 17:24, 29 November 2005 (UTC)
  • Rick: "The idea that inequality of wealth increased in the 19th Century is absurd. That century saw the rise of the middle class."
Again, I request a citation. I'm not convinced, but you may be right here. Yes, there was a new middle class, but there was also a massive increase in population and urban poor, and a new type of wealthy people - capitalists and entrepreneurs.

Throughout all of history, with rare exceptions, there have been a small number of very rich people, the patricians, nobels, upper class, what have you. In no case did they ever number more than five percent of the population. Ninty-five percent of the population were farmers, and subject to plague, pestilence, famine, and death. The scientific revolution and the Industrial Revolution greatly increased wealth and trade, and made possible the existance of a middle class (first seen in the Italian city states of the Rennaissance). The French called the new middle class the Third Estate or the bourgeoisie. For the first time, a large number of citizens were able to live fairly comfortable lives. Their houses had more than one room, and did not have thatch or turf for a roof. Yes, urban poverty was terrible by modern standards, but notice that people still flocked to the cities. As bad as urban poverty was, it was better than farming.

My impression was that they were driven off the land, e.g. by the enclosure acts and status-related land grabs, not by choice. But I'll study up on this and get back to you. Hogeye 17:23, 29 November 2005 (UTC)
  • Rick: "Industrial Revolution did not greatly decrease infant mortality. That came later."
I agree that the early part of the Industrial Revolution had little or no decrease in the infant mortality rate, but the latter part did; and as you imply, the Industrial Revolution resulted in lower infant mortality. Maybe the claim in the article needs rephrasing.
"Any student of the period knows that the population started to grow dramatically in the second half of the eighteenth century, but, instead of contenting themselves with giving estimates, King and Timmins choose to explain the techniques used by specialists such as Wrigley and Schofield to estimate the population at a time when official figures were non-existent or inaccurate. They go on to analyse the causes of that spectacular rise—in particular a lower age at first marriage associated with greater marital fertility and a fall in infant mortality."[3]
"The Industrial Revolution brought not only increasing wealth, but a dramatic lengthening of life expectancy and fall in infant mortality — in other words, an unprecedented growth in population."[4]
These are good points, Rick. Keep up the good work. Hogeye 19:06, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

another attempt at 2.3

My main goals in this rewrite of 2.3 are

1) Keep it short and to the point; avoid repetition. 2) Remove popular misconceptions. 3) Organize ideas under the appropriate heading.

As always, I will not make any other changes today, and welcome comments and corrections. Rick Norwood 23:06, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

Possible error in the Natural rights vs. utilitarianism section: "Mill wrote in favor of providing the material, educational, and moral conditions for freedom to bloom." Can you provide the citation for that statement? I admit, the only thing I recall reading by JS Mill is "On Liberty." I realize that there is a major discrepancy between his economic/cultural liberalism in "On Liberty" and his later advocacy of utilitarianism, but I am not aware that he wrote in favor of government intervention in education, or govt aid to the poor, or (totally contrary to "On Liberty") govt improvement of people's "moral condition." Yet that is the implication (given the context) of the italicized statement above. Hogeye 19:22, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

John Wesley a Liberal?

Somehow, John Wesley the theologian has been cast as a liberal in our article. Yet neither the Wikipedia article about Wesley, nor other articles I examined on the internet consider him to be a liberal in the political sense. (One describes him as liberal in the generosity sense, and many refer to liberal arts.) Since Wesley wasn't a liberal, shouldn't we delete him (and his picture) from the article? Hogeye 17:24, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

I will research John Wesley and report back. Certainly, his anti-slavery, anti-child labor stance put him in the liberal camp. Other notes on the current state of the article, which looks pretty good to me, at least through the section we've been working on: The word "apiece" is used incorrectly. The correct usage is in, for example, we were paid ten dollars apiece, meaning ten dollars each. Also, there must be a better head for the first vs. that we can all agree on. Just noticed Hogeye's comments above. I'll respond when I get home from work -- that's where the Ben Franklin book is. Nice pictures, Electionworld. Rick Norwood 21:53, 29 November 2005 (UTC)
A google of "John Wesley child labor" gave me this: "John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, recommended child labor as a means of preventing youthful idleness and vice."[5] Hmmm. Hogeye 22:30, 29 November 2005 (UTC)
Here is the Ben Franklin quote, from a letter he wrote to his friend in London, Peter Collinson. I can't find a date for the letter, but it was clearly before the American Revolution. He wondered if "the laws peculiar to England which compel the rich to maintain the poor have not given the latter a dependence." Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson, page 148-9. As for John Wesley, the Britannica says, "As a social reformer Wesley was far in advance of his time," but since I do not find evidence that he urged the reforms he recommended to be funded by the state rather than the church, I'll withdraw his name from consideration. Rick Norwood 01:04, 30 November 2005 (UTC)
Maybe we're not on the same page. I though you were arguing that Franklin was a social liberal (in order to support your contention that social liberalism started before 1800.) The quote echos a common complaint of economic liberals - that statist welfare causes pauperization (i.e. is counter-productive and mires people in poverty). The quote implies that Franklin is an economic liberal, not a social liberal. He's against "compelling the rich to maintain the poor." Hogeye 18:06, 30 November 2005 (UTC)
No, I understand that Franklin is not a social liberal -- at least, not in the sense of expecting the government to help people in trouble. He was very much an exponent of private enterprise -- an a very enterprising one at that. My point was that somebody had to be redistributing the wealth in England in order for Franklin to complain about it. Rick Norwood 20:29, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

I do not believe that Wesley was a liberal. He might have shared some views with liberals., bit that doesn't make him a liberal. Furthermore I am not convinced that social liberalism allready started in the 18th century. There was government action, but that was not the result of a scoial liberal view. Electionworld 22:40, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

Moving on to 2.4.

I notice a missing word in the second sentence. Rick Norwood 13:45, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

The following paragraph has somehow gotten into the "liberalism vs. totalitarianism" section, where it clearly does not belong. I'll try to find a home for it somewhere else.

The Great Depression of the 1930s shook public faith in laissez-faire capitalism and "the profit motive," as well as the ability of unregulated markets to produce prosperity. Many liberals were troubled by the political instability and restrictions on liberty caused by the growing inequality of wealth. Key liberals of this persuasion, such as John Dewey, John Maynard Keynes, Winston Churchill, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, argued for the creation of a more elaborate state apparatus to serve as the bulwark of individual liberty, permitting the continuation of capitalism without resorting to totalitarianism. Some liberals, including Hayek, whose work The Road to Serfdom remains influential, argued against these institutions, believing the Great Depression and Second World War to be individual events, that, once passed, did not justify a permanent change in the role of government.

Rick Norwood 13:58, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

It turns out there is a serious problem with this section. It implies that Keynsian economics arose as a response to the totalitarianism of Hitler and Stalin. But Keynsian economics was developed in 1929, much earlier than the rise of totalitarianism. I think this section needs to be broken into two sections, one on the Great Depression and the rise of Keynsian economics, the other on liberalism vs. totalitarianism. Rick Norwood 14:44, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

I've rearranged the paragraphs in chronological order, creating a new section on Liberalism and the great depression. In doing so, I've made a few minor changes, but the major change is to remove the impression that Keynsian economics arose in response to Hitler. Rick Norwood 15:02, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

With regret, I reverted Hogeye's recent edits. I liked the fact that they shortened the article, but they were replete with Libertarian jargon, which is non-standard language. I left in the Libertarian jargon about positive rights vs. negative rights, because Hogeye explained it in terms a non-Libertarian could understand. But to to put freedom in conflict with social liberalism is to assume that the Libertarian case is proven -- that the loss of personal freedom due to poverty is offset by the gain in personal freedom on the part of the economically dominant class. Also, to equate Fraternity, which is man helping his fellow man, with voters voting in their own self-interest, is pure Libertarian jargon -- nobody who is not a Libertarian, or who has not at least had a Libertarian roommate in college, is going to understand what you mean. Rick Norwood 20:39, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

The positive/negative rights distinction is not at all libertarian. It is neutral, and was originally made (I believe) by Isiah Berlin, a liberal philosopher.
But for reasons like the ones you've given, I've insisted upon the inclusion of this sentence in the forms-of-liberalism / social liberalism section: "[for social liberals] ensuring [positive rights] is a goal that is at peace with the general project of protecting liberties". Lucidish 22:56, 30 November 2005 (UTC)
I had to revert the Conflicts section (except without Bastiat quote) for several reasons.
  1. The other version falsely claimed that the Individual Rights vs. Positive Welfare dispute arose within liberalism in the 18th century. It did not arise until the 19th century.
  2. Ben Franklin was barely a liberal, and his quote does not illustrate the conflict at all.
  3. It redundently repeated the problems with industialization, again and again.
  4. It got into irrelevant stuff like the voting franchise, which has nothing to do with this conflict.
I don't see any libertarian jargon at all. As Lucidish pointed out, the negative-positive rights terminology is standard, not specifically libertarian.
I had to partly revert the conflicts section.
  1. I argued some times against citations
  2. I agree with the remarks of Hogeye on social liberalism in the 18thc cnetury
  3. Social liberalism does also belief in individual rights, even in more inidividual rights than economic liberalism does (it includes positive rights), so that is not what divides the two. An alternative coulkd be negative versus positive rights. Electionworld 08:58, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
I agree that all the recent changes have been improvements, except that above Lucidish says, "at peace with" while in the article it says "continuous with". How about "is part of"? Rick Norwood 13:31, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
That was my revision, sorry for not pointing it out. I thought the "continuous" phrase would be more clear to people. It's not too big of a deal, just minor phrasing. Lucidish 21:04, 1 December 2005 (UTC)