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"Classical Liberals"

Politesse

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An odd phenomenon I have encountered lately is that people who seem to be pressing for an eradication of social justice politics and a dismissal of critical conversations about history, gender, race, and other controversial issues have started self identifying as "liberals" or "classic liberals". Who started this, and what is it actually supposed to mean? Where and when did this classical age of liberalism occur, and is there some reason should we be fighting to reconstruct that age? What would a classically liberal society look like? When and why did "liberal" go from being an implied slur on conservative media to being a label of choice for the PragerU crowd?
 

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I totally understand this confusion. I feel it myself.

It seems to me that both liberal and conservative, as political descriptions, have been so bent out of shape that they're effectively meaningless.
Tom
 

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Politesse

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Well, they were always a bit dodgy if we're being honest. The incomplete reversal of US party positions (ie "Southern strategy" era, though I find that term rarther insulting to the actual South) made things that much more confusing, even when I was growing up. But it seems like we're now trying to jam at least five noticeably different political philosophies into the space of not just two politifcal parties, but into a perceived ideological moiety whose signifiers lead to more confusion than clarity. I get the practical value political alliances, but not investing self-identity into a bimodal categorization that no one can clearly explain.
 

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The word "liberalism" originally referred to an emphasis on human rights and personal liberty — freedom from government regulation, freedom from an imposed religion, freedom to accumulate wealth, et cetera.

American "liberals" moved to encourage government regulations, to tax wealth and so on. This led to a divergence in the meaning of "economic liberal," In Europe the term is applied to rightist parties with the meaning of pro-capitalist, or even what in America tends toward right-wing libertarianism. In America, the term "classical liberalism" is sometimes used to denote "economic liberal" in the European sense. In OP, we see that recently the term "classical liberalism" may also be used to contrast with the excesses of social policies of the American Left.

Now, what about social liberalism? Again the traditional meaning is about freedom: freedom of speech, right to privacy and so on. In the U.S. the Ds have traditionally been liberal socially, while the Rs are social conservatives.

But that has changed, at least in some people's views. Democrats have proposed censorships and book banning. Democrats often oppose the liberty to acquire guns. Forced integration and affirmative action oppose traditional liberties. (I'm explaining why some Democratic policies appear illiberal by definition. I am NOT taking sides: Obviously, many or most Republican policies are severely flawed.)
 

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About the only place I've heard of 'classic liberal' is with podcasters/youtubers who have sold out to the right wing, but don't want to be identified as a conservative or republican. Probably to try to attract those people who are not conservatives but are disillusioned with democrats. They play with the definition to bring 'liberal' in line with 'libertarian' bs, say they are free thinkers and accuse the left of trying to censor any speech/though that differs from them. That sort of stuff.
 

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I think the issue is that yes we need objective teaching of our history without white washing it, but the progressives say their narrative is the only just narrative.

Anything opposing the left's narrative is racist and prejudiced.

Someone writes a book defining Critical Race Theory, it filters into education, and any criticism is racist.

'Classic liberal' sounds like yet another invention. I expect it is a political ploy to differentiate liberal candidates politically fom te extreme progressives.

Biden periodically repeats his mantra, I am not a socialist I am a capitalist making a lot of money is ok. He has to distance himself from the Bernie Sanders' extreme progressive faction.
 

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The word "liberalism" originally referred to an emphasis on human rights and personal liberty — freedom from government regulation, freedom from an imposed religion, freedom to accumulate wealth, et cetera.
That's what I'm asking about. When and where was this "the original meaning" of liberalism, and why should we aspire to recreate that political system?
 

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Well, they were always a bit dodgy if we're being honest.
Definitely.

They are descriptors with more connotation than specific meaning.

Rich Bible thumping slavers amongst the Founding Fathers were considered "notorious liberals" because they supported representative government over "The Divine Right of Kings".

In a more contemporary setting, the 2016 U.S. election,

Trump and Sanders both proposed sweeping changes. To me, that made them "progressives". Clinton and Kasich both proposed small changes to the status quo, but mostly maintaining the status quo. That made them conservatives, to me. Cruz proposed reverting to a Bible based society. That looks reactionary, to me.

Cruz most resembles a "classical liberal". But a two centuries plus time span makes him reactionary now.
Tom
 

steve_bank

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There are dictionary definitions and there is contemporary meaning. It all depends on who is speaking.

For a conservative liberal or progressive is synonymous with communist or socialism. Excessive spending on social programs

To me 20th century American liberalism was about human rights. Civil and sexual righst. Decriminalize pot.

The west is called liberal democracy meaning the govt exists to ensure individual liberties and restrain political power. The opposite being China and Russia.
 

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Well, they were always a bit dodgy if we're being honest.
Definitely.

They are descriptors with more connotation than specific meaning.

Rich Bible thumping slavers amongst the Founding Fathers were considered "notorious liberals" because they supported representative government over "The Divine Right of Kings".

In a more contemporary setting, the 2016 U.S. election,

Trump and Sanders both proposed sweeping changes. To me, that made them "progressives". Clinton and Kasich both proposed small changes to the status quo, but mostly maintaining the status quo. That made them conservatives, to me. Cruz proposed reverting to a Bible based society. That looks reactionary, to me.

Cruz most resembles a "classical liberal". But a two centuries plus time span makes him reactionary now.
Tom
Change is only progressive if it moves forward. Trump wants to move the country back to fiefdoms, but without church involvement and with modern technology ( for the revenue streams)

Unless you are talking about cancer, in which case I can see Trump as a progressive.

Cruz is a classic conservative, desiring to return to some (largely mythological) version of a past utopia.

Also a classic slug.
 

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To me 20th century American liberalism was about human rights. Civil and sexual righst. Decriminalize pot.
But there was so much more going on than that.

From Social Security to the Interstate Highway System to The Great Society and the social safety net, the list of socialist improvements to the U.S. is huge. Tax and spend policies that greatly benefited society as a whole.
That was, at least at the time, considered liberal. It was definitely socialist. It

Made America Great
in the first place.
Tom
 

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Change is only progressive if it moves forward.
Every change moves forward.

Towards what is a different question.

Trump's Wall was a change moving away from "This Nation of Immigrants" to a country where his base didn't have to compete with foreigners for entry level jobs. That's a huge change.

Whether that's an improvement or not is a matter of opinion.
Tom
 

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Change is only progressive if it moves forward.
Every change moves forward.

Towards what is a different question.

Trump's Wall was a change moving away from "This Nation of Immigrants" to a country where his base didn't have to compete with foreigners for entry level jobs. That's a huge change.

Whether that's an improvement or not is a matter of opinion.
Tom
No. Regression is change. In a backwards direction.

Not all change is progress. A pile of lumber left in the back yard can progress to become a deck: progress.

Or it can be left to molder and rot. That’s still change. But not progress.
 

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No. Regression is change. In a backwards direction.
Now you've introduced yet another undefined word "regression".

Is making it easier for badly educated U.S. citizens to get entry level jobs regression? Millions of people think it's progress.

I'm not one.
But still, millions of people voted for Trump and Trump's Wall. Because they thought it progress. A huge sweeping change towards progress.
Tom
 

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An odd phenomenon I have encountered lately is that people who seem to be pressing for an eradication of social justice politics and a dismissal of critical conversations about history, gender, race, and other controversial issues have started self identifying as "liberals" or "classic liberals". Who started this, and what is it actually supposed to mean? Where and when did this classical age of liberalism occur, and is there some reason should we be fighting to reconstruct that age? What would a classically liberal society look like? When and why did "liberal" go from being an implied slur on conservative media to being a label of choice for the PragerU crowd?
It is an attempt to bad-faith the concept of being "a liberal", so as to make it impossible to distinguish whether someone is a regressive asshole by what they claim to be, perhaps even as a linguistic attack against the people who are, generally, normally considered as "liberal" through history.
 

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No. Regression is change. In a backwards direction.
Now you've introduced yet another undefined word "regression".

Is making it easier for badly educated U.S. citizens to get entry level jobs regression? Millions of people think it's progress.

I'm not one.
But still, millions of people voted for Trump and Trump's Wall. Because they thought it progress. A huge sweeping change towards progress.
Tom
Regression is a move away from a point.

It requires a point to be defined for it to be regression.

It makes sense that a regression to some would be progress for others, except the issue is that they are trying to "progress" towards something that everyone capable of thinking with more than a "Chinese room" (that concept really needs a better name...) level of operations understands that would be really bad for EVERYONE except a vanishing few, and that bloody wars which were fought to end that the first time would be for naught.

So, I will fight every bloody war I must fight in to not let that happen again.
 

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I have only been vaguely familiar with the term, but I have noticed that it's having a come back now. So, I looked around to find something that explains what it means and I found a pretty good piece that explains it fairly well, imo.

https://www.goodmaninstitute.org/about/how-we-think/what-is-classical-liberalism/

Prior to the 20th century, classical liberalism was the dominant political philosophy in the United States. It was the political philosophy of Thomas Jefferson and the signers of the Declaration of Independence and it permeates the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers and many other documents produced by the people who created the American system of government. Many of the emancipationists who opposed slavery were essentially classical liberals, as were the suffragettes, who fought for equal rights for women.

Basically, classical liberalism is the belief in liberty. Even today, one of the clearest statements of this philosophy is found in Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. At that time, as is the case today, most people believed that rights came from government.

People thought they only had such rights as government elected to give them. But following the British philosopher John Locke, Jefferson argued that it’s the other way around. People have rights apart from government, as part of their nature. Further, people can form governments and dissolve them. The only legitimate purpose of government is to protect these rights.

It has become fashionable, especially on university campuses, to view the founding fathers as hypocrites because many were slave owners and they appeared to believe that women, slaves, Indians and other groups were not entitled to the same rights as white, male property owners.

Yet this attitude misses the forest for the trees. In 1776, the world was full of hypocrites. It was not full of people who believed in individual rights. In fact, outside of a handful of people, who mainly lived in America, no one in the world believed in classical liberalism. For example, many people at the time may have thought that slavery was distasteful. But almost no one in the world thought that you have a right not to be a slave.

Although many of our democratic institutions find their roots in ancient Greece and ancient Rome, in those societies slavery was a normal and natural part of everyday life. In ancient Greece, for example, slaves outnumbered non-slaves, with the average household owning as many as three or four. More than one-third of all the people living in ancient Rome were slaves.

The United States is the first government in the history of the world whose founding documents endorsed the idea of individual rights that are prior to the government’s founding and that legitimize the government’s founding.

Once it was granted that some people have natural rights, it was inevitable that the idea would spread to everyone else. Good ideas have to start somewhere. People who live in the United States today and who are not white, not male and not property owners nonetheless have the same rights as everyone else precisely because almost 250 years ago, a group of men went to war to defend the idea that they had rights.

I guess you could say that classical liberalism was an ideal, an ideal who's goals were never fully met. It's one thing to value an ideal, quite another to put it into practice.

I think that Goodman is somewhat conservative, but he did a good job of explaining the history of classical liberalism. Most intellectual conservatives seem to support the concept of classical liberalism, which is not the same as the way the term liberalism is usually perceived of these days, from what I can tell.
 

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Regression is a move away from a point.
Nonsense.
Moving away from a point is changing.

It might be for the better. It might not. Whether you think it's for the betterment of the human situation is a matter of opinion.
It requires a point to be defined for it to be regression.
Nonsense.

I understand that you consider changes that suit you to be progress and changes you disapprove of to be regress.

But you aren't an ultimate authority. Your opinions mean little to me.
Tom
 

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No. Regression is change. In a backwards direction.
Now you've introduced yet another undefined word "regression".

Is making it easier for badly educated U.S. citizens to get entry level jobs regression? Millions of people think it's progress.

I'm not one.
But still, millions of people voted for Trump and Trump's Wall. Because they thought it progress. A huge sweeping change towards progress.
Tom

I gave you a definition but fine, here's a dictionary definiton.
Regression: .

1. a return to a former or less developed state.

"it is easy to blame unrest on economic regression"

2. STATISTICS

a measure of the relation between the mean value of one variable (e.g. output) and corresponding values of other variables (e.g. time and cost).
I'm not certain why you decided to introduce a different point but:

Progress is also from a defined point. Is providing badly educated US citizens entry level jobs progress? It is if your starting point is unemployment. It is if it's predicated on the assumption that entry level positions garner a living wage. It is if the term entry level position implies that progress in levels of training and responsibility and pay can reasonably be expected to be forthcoming and attainable.
 

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Regression is a move away from a point.
Nonsense.
Moving away from a point is changing.

It might be for the better. It might not. Whether you think it's for the betterment of the human situation is a matter of opinion.
It requires a point to be defined for it to be regression.
Nonsense.

I understand that you consider changes that suit you to be progress and changes you disapprove of to be regress.

But you aren't an ultimate authority. Your opinions mean little to me.
Tom
Tom, I don't mean to pick on you but you really are not up on your definitions. Maybe consult a dictionary.
 

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An odd phenomenon I have encountered lately is that people who seem to be pressing for an eradication of social justice politics and a dismissal of critical conversations about history, gender, race, and other controversial issues have started self identifying as "liberals" or "classic liberals". Who started this, and what is it actually supposed to mean?
I suspect in contemporary context this occurred in the early 2010s when far right wing fuckwits didn't want to be called conservatives because there was still that stigma around George W Bush, Sarah Palin etc. Sargon of Akkad was the first cunt I remember using the phrase "Classical liberal", in this manner. It's used nowadays as a dog whistle for being a scumbag.
 

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An odd phenomenon I have encountered lately is that people who seem to be pressing for an eradication of social justice politics and a dismissal of critical conversations about history, gender, race, and other controversial issues have started self identifying as "liberals" or "classic liberals". Who started this, and what is it actually supposed to mean?
I suspect in contemporary context this occurred in the early 2010s when far right wing fuckwits didn't want to be called conservatives because there was still that stigma around George W Bush, Sarah Palin etc. Sargon of Akkad was the first cunt I remember using the phrase "Classical liberal", in this manner. It's used nowadays as a dog whistle for being a scumbag.
Sargon of Akkad...

What a fucking racist piece of shit!

He's a fucking MASTER of gaslighting and bad faith though.

I recently watched an Eric "Big Money" Salvia of "Internet Comment Etiquette" make a video where he deconstructs that toolbag Sargon like a butcher rendering a corpse, after Sargon released an hour long video where he actually rose to Eric's post, and then went on for maybe an hour or two about how Americans only see "race", and "why won't you let us have just white people on a screen! England is a country with no black people and even if it were they weren't here in the time of our legends and LoTR was written by an English guy so it must be assumed that Middle Earth was as same-same looking as English people" like WHAT?

Idiot was too fucking blind to see that the reason Americans see racism in that view is because it is RACIST. The only reason a British racist like Sargon doesn't see that is because he lacks 200 years of direct in-your-face racism to bring his detector into tune.

But damn did he try to use a shitpile of sophistry to handwave around that. He was competing for a DARVO award on that one, as if it's anything less than cultural hegemony to demand American companies making movies in America to play for Americans do... Anything.

GB already took a swing at that and whiffed. Oh God... those cartoons... they haunt my nightmares...

I can see that twat having the balls to abuse language by claiming 'liberalness'

It'll be funny to see what ends up happening to him after he bit Troll Bait though...
 

steve_bank

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In his day JFK woud be consdered liberal. It has shited left, today he might be called right of center conservative. The right has shifted elft.

Clinton was a left of cenrw erliberal. Soicl programs with physcal resposbility. He ran on and sibned off on welfare reform. No lgeneral lifteime on welfare. Limited benefits.

He had budget surpluses for fiscal years 1998–2001, the only such years from 1970 to 2018. Clinton's final four budgets were balanced budgets with surpluses, beginning with the 1997 budget. The ratio of debt held by the public to GDP, a primary measure of U.S. federal debt, fell from 47.8% in 1993 to 33.6% by 2000.

Biden is a progressive as much as he avoids the term.

Large scale govt spending on social programs and the govt provides all, Such as his proposal to fund national day care. He fits the conservative worse case progressive scenario.

To me liberals are associated with social change and support. Conservatives are for social and economic status quo.

Keep in mnd before the 60s the southern democrats were more the party of racism and Jim Crow.

Political terms are a moving target.
 

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Sargon of Akkad...

What a fucking racist piece of shit!

He's a fucking MASTER of gaslighting and bad faith though.
And is utterly incapable of holding a thought without segwaying into some other bullshit. Other examples of bad faith dickheads are Sam Harris, Eric Weinstein, Bill Kristol, Jordan Peterson, Bari Weiss, David Rubin, and Ben Shapiro.

Here's an article highlighting the sort of person who uses this phrase and the final paragraph sums it up nicely.

What classical liberalism really is is a way to justify conservative thought without having the courage to stand behind the ugliest conservative ideals.
 

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Sargon of Akkad...

What a fucking racist piece of shit!

He's a fucking MASTER of gaslighting and bad faith though.
And is utterly incapable of holding a thought without segwaying into some other bullshit. Other examples of bad faith dickheads are Sam Harris, Eric Weinstein, Bill Kristol, Jordan Peterson, Bari Weiss, David Rubin, and Ben Shapiro.

Here's an article highlighting the sort of person who uses this phrase and the final paragraph sums it up nicely.

What classical liberalism really is is a way to justify conservative thought without having the courage to stand behind the ugliest conservative ideals.
Of course, those eloquent in bad faith end up being elevated in a way few progressive persons are.

Cults of personality grow up around such.

I had deconstructed most of Sargon's vile racist bullshit even before Eric jumped in to also say similar things to what I said.

Of course, that exchange was my first exposure to Sargon.

It's funny insofar as Eric also in his commentary pointed out that there was a fair bit of rambling footage that was cut, because it was entirely off topic.
 

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Well, they were always a bit dodgy if we're being honest.
Definitely.

They are descriptors with more connotation than specific meaning.

Rich Bible thumping slavers amongst the Founding Fathers were considered "notorious liberals" because they supported representative government over "The Divine Right of Kings".
"Liberal" had very different connotations at that time; it wasn't applied to either of the parties that existed at the time, as it was more so a character trait or flaw. Generosity, whether kindliness or indiscretion was the contextual implication. It was not until the French Revelution that it came to be applied to Enlightenment ideals whether positively or negatively, and that largely in Europe. It was not a part of the American political discourse until much later still, becoming commonplace in the dispute over the New Deal and its various, mostly still controversial, reforms. I suspect had anyone brought up the ideas associated with the modern political uses, though - anti-monarchism, freedom of religion, rule by consent, etc - I think the vast majority of Americans would agree with those ideas as a matter of course, regardless of their particular political leanings. It seems a very odd label to claim, especially since its connotative meaning of opposing social change and critique is very nearly opposite to its original sense, which at the time was quite literally revolutionary.


In a more contemporary setting, the 2016 U.S. election,

Trump and Sanders both proposed sweeping changes. To me, that made them "progressives". Clinton and Kasich both proposed small changes to the status quo, but mostly maintaining the status quo. That made them conservatives, to me. Cruz proposed reverting to a Bible based society. That looks reactionary, to me.

Cruz most resembles a "classical liberal". But a two centuries plus time span makes him reactionary now.
Tom

I can't say I quite follow your meaning here. Progress cannot refer to the notion of change in and of itself; things are always changing one way or another. I also don't really associate the Trump platform with sweeping changes as such; his previous occupancy of the White House was marked by certain changes, to be sure, but they mostly took the form of undoing the work of his previous administration . His only coherent social policy positions are lines like "great again" or "America first", generally defined quite hazily and indistinctly rather than as concrete projects of social reform. What exactly did he reform?

I also don't think Mr. Trump considers himself a "liberal", and though as far as I can see, it appears that most people who use the term "classical liberal" claim to oppose Trump and his more radical behaviors, though they still vote for him and defend the vast majority of his tweets/positions.
 

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Trump's Wall was a change moving away from "This Nation of Immigrants" to a country where his base didn't have to compete with foreigners for entry level jobs. That's a huge change.
A change? The position of American Republicans on immigration has changed very little over these past forty years. I remember going on a drive once with a friend and his mother, who in response to something on radio chuckled and suggested that what they should do is make "the wall" - I think she assumed it already existed - an electric one so they could just zap anyone to death who tried to sneak in. She cracked up laughing, as did her son. He was about my age, maybe seven or eight. I was shocked speechless, not having been raised by the same sort of parents and certainly not understanding the political conversation, who exactly this woman wanted to electrocute, or why it was funny. Not the last such conversation I ever heard growing up in rural California on the white side of town, but it left a strong first impression. I don't see that Trump's plan is particularly novel. Even the Democrats strongly supported walling up progressively longer sections of the border until Trump turned it into a media fiasco, he certainly didn't invent the concept of walls, nor their application to the situation at the current Mexican border.
 

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I have only been vaguely familiar with the term, but I have noticed that it's having a come back now. So, I looked around to find something that explains what it means and I found a pretty good piece that explains it fairly well, imo.

https://www.goodmaninstitute.org/about/how-we-think/what-is-classical-liberalism/

Prior to the 20th century, classical liberalism was the dominant political philosophy in the United States. It was the political philosophy of Thomas Jefferson and the signers of the Declaration of Independence and it permeates the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers and many other documents produced by the people who created the American system of government. Many of the emancipationists who opposed slavery were essentially classical liberals, as were the suffragettes, who fought for equal rights for women.

Basically, classical liberalism is the belief in liberty. Even today, one of the clearest statements of this philosophy is found in Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. At that time, as is the case today, most people believed that rights came from government.

People thought they only had such rights as government elected to give them. But following the British philosopher John Locke, Jefferson argued that it’s the other way around. People have rights apart from government, as part of their nature. Further, people can form governments and dissolve them. The only legitimate purpose of government is to protect these rights.

It has become fashionable, especially on university campuses, to view the founding fathers as hypocrites because many were slave owners and they appeared to believe that women, slaves, Indians and other groups were not entitled to the same rights as white, male property owners.

Yet this attitude misses the forest for the trees. In 1776, the world was full of hypocrites. It was not full of people who believed in individual rights. In fact, outside of a handful of people, who mainly lived in America, no one in the world believed in classical liberalism. For example, many people at the time may have thought that slavery was distasteful. But almost no one in the world thought that you have a right not to be a slave.

Although many of our democratic institutions find their roots in ancient Greece and ancient Rome, in those societies slavery was a normal and natural part of everyday life. In ancient Greece, for example, slaves outnumbered non-slaves, with the average household owning as many as three or four. More than one-third of all the people living in ancient Rome were slaves.

The United States is the first government in the history of the world whose founding documents endorsed the idea of individual rights that are prior to the government’s founding and that legitimize the government’s founding.

Once it was granted that some people have natural rights, it was inevitable that the idea would spread to everyone else. Good ideas have to start somewhere. People who live in the United States today and who are not white, not male and not property owners nonetheless have the same rights as everyone else precisely because almost 250 years ago, a group of men went to war to defend the idea that they had rights.

I guess you could say that classical liberalism was an ideal, an ideal who's goals were never fully met. It's one thing to value an ideal, quite another to put it into practice.

I think that Goodman is somewhat conservative, but he did a good job of explaining the history of classical liberalism. Most intellectual conservatives seem to support the concept of classical liberalism, which is not the same as the way the term liberalism is usually perceived of these days, from what I can tell.
Thank you Sohy, a more substantive post than most have thus far offered, though I can't say that particular revision of American history makes a great deal of sense to me, ignoring as it does nearly all of the disputes of political philosophy that in fact existed prior to the 20th century. There most certainly were bitterly opposed political philosophies and parties among the framers of the Constitution, a major reason why it took twelve years to formulate a consensus document on that front and only seventy for the state thus established to collapse into Civil War. People living at the time would have been most surprised to learn that they were all happy adherents of the same political ideology, I am certain.

It is certainly true that Americans in general value and claim "liberty" as a key virtue, though it has meant wildly different things to different people at different times, and continues to do so. Americans have paradoxical desires as well, or at least often do, as they desire to expand their personal liberties maximally but also characteristically value "strong leadership" usually coded in rather classically chauvinistic terms, and also have a way of taking exception to the ways others express their liberties.

Mr Goodman's review of attitudes concerning slavery is deeply anachronistic and does not well represent the contemporary debates on the issue among any of the times and communities he references. I don't really get the "yet", as being a hypocrite in good company does not logically absolve one of the charge of hyposcrisy. There is no rule that says only people in a numerical minority can be hypocritical, even if it were true that slavery were as universally beloved an institution as he seems to be implying.

What I think I'm getting here is "classical liberalism" makes appeals to a lot of vague values held in common by the vast majority of Americans, but has very little coherent meaning beyond the abstract, and is being used in the present dialogue to present a certain view of history favored by conservative politicians and scholars who feel sidelined and attacked by the fifty years or so of academic historical and social studies. This, I cannot muster up much sympathy for. There indeed was a very long time (after the Civil War and before the advent of the Civil Rights Era) during which white Northerners of a certain socioeconomic background could go to history class and not told anything that might make them feel bad about their ancestors, but non-whites, queers and poors are citizens too, and do not deserve to be dismissed as unimportant or outright written out of our own history any more so than anyone else, nor should the job of the historian or the scientist be too soothe people's feelings in any case.

I am concerned that the very notion of free academic inquiry is being thus assailed by a group that claims to hold free academic inquiry as a central virtue. We have always been, as I said, a nation of cruel ironies and frequently paradoxical mindsets. It worries me that the "undecided middle" is apt to be swindled by such biased reformulations of the past and distortions of the present, at a time when the very functioning of the electoral process seems to be imperiled. It is worth remembering how those who first embodied this "classical liberalism" chose to express it politically - through overt and organized political violence. Voting machines were not involved, nor any other meaningfully democratic process. I think the threat of a reprise is not an irrational concern as regards 2024.
 

Loren Pechtel

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The word "liberalism" originally referred to an emphasis on human rights and personal liberty — freedom from government regulation, freedom from an imposed religion, freedom to accumulate wealth, et cetera.
That's what I'm asking about. When and where was this "the original meaning" of liberalism, and why should we aspire to recreate that political system?

Classic liberals are about equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.
 

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That is classic conservative bullshit because it presumes that the "rules" have been agreed upon by everyone, not imposed by the powerful to entrench their position.
But you need to show that the rules are actually unfair. This comes back to the same thing as always--using disparate results as proof of racism. Yeah, it's only claimed to be evidence of, but it's taken on faith and not subject to rebuttal. Thus it's functionally considered proof.
 

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Change is only progressive if it moves forward.
Every change moves forward.

Towards what is a different question.

Trump's Wall was a change moving away from "This Nation of Immigrants" to a country where his base didn't have to compete with foreigners for entry level jobs. That's a huge change.

Whether that's an improvement or not is a matter of opinion.
Tom
No. Regression is change. In a backwards direction.

Not all change is progress. A pile of lumber left in the back yard can progress to become a deck: progress.

Or it can be left to molder and rot. That’s still change. But not progress.

Fundamentally you are assuming a 1D world, a line from shit to heaven that we can move forward or backwards along. The real world isn't 1D, though, and we do not know the best point to be at. Change is a vector, not a scalar.
 

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The word "liberalism" originally referred to an emphasis on human rights and personal liberty — freedom from government regulation, freedom from an imposed religion, freedom to accumulate wealth, et cetera.
That's what I'm asking about. When and where was this "the original meaning" of liberalism, and why should we aspire to recreate that political system?

Classic liberals are about equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.
Who says that? It sounds like nonsensical capitalistic propoganda to me, not a coherent political philosophy of any sort. If you have preditably unequal outcomes, that should be a pretty obvious indication to out that equality of opportunity is a myth.

When the assembly line starts churning out broken pipe valves, do you turn to the supervisor and say "I guaranteed proper functioning of the machine, not proper results"? No, because he would point out the blooming obvious: properly functioning machines don't produce broken products.
 

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The word "liberalism" originally referred to an emphasis on human rights and personal liberty — freedom from government regulation, freedom from an imposed religion, freedom to accumulate wealth, et cetera.
That's what I'm asking about. When and where was this "the original meaning" of liberalism, and why should we aspire to recreate that political system?

Classic liberals are about equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.
Sure they are. So long as they get to define equality of opportunity. It's when the equality of outcome comes into play that they start crying unfair advantage!
 

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Classic liberals are about equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.
Sure they are. So long as they get to define equality of opportunity. It's when the equality of outcome comes into play that they start crying unfair advantage!
Conservatives insist that equality before the law is all there is to equality of opportunity. It is not.

Opportunity-and-wealth-equality.png


Conservatives also insist that laws apply equally to all people. Nixon's 'War on Drugs' is proof that some laws are specifically aimed at particular demographic sectors of a society. Nixon's Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs, John Ehrlichman explained in 1994:
The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.
and
"Look, we understood we couldn't make it illegal to be young or poor or black in the United States, but we could criminalize their common pleasure. We understood that drugs were not the health problem we were making them out to be, but it was such a perfect issue...that we couldn't resist it."

- John Ehrlichman, White House counsel to President Nixon on the rationale of the War on Drugs.

"[Nixon] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks" Haldeman, his Chief of Staff wrote, "The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to."

http://www.thomhartmann.com/forum/2012/09/nixons-drug-war-re-inventing-jim-crow-targeting-counter-culture#sthash.YCOFmFZO.dpuf
The realisation that some laws are meant to apply to select strata of society is not new. A century before Ehrlichman's confession Anatole France remarked sarcastically: "the majestic equality of the laws, which prohibits the rich as well as the poor to sleep under the bridges, to beg in the streets and to steal bread."

The concept of equality before the law was an essential principle of liberals in the 17th and 18th centuries. The were the classic liberals in the days when equality before the law did not exist. They were opposed to the formal privileges only available to members of the nobility, aristocracy and monarchy because of the social strata they happen to be born in. The original definition of 'left' and 'right' actually came from the physical division between defenders of the status quo and the liberal progressives during a meeting of the National Constituent Assembly in France on 26 August 1789, when the former assembled to the right of the speaker and the latter to his left. The classic liberals were the left.

Classic liberalism was a progressive force in countries where they opposed formal privileges determined by birth and divine right was in effect. It agitated for change. With feudal privileges gone, or at least reduced to not much more than vestigal remains, classic liberals are determined to keep the new legal framework unchanged. They have become conservatives in the true sense of that word; they want to conserve conditions as they are now.

Disclaimer: Nuances had to be sacrificed for the sake of brevity. The situation is not nearly as black and white as it appears in this post.
 

Trausti

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Who says that? It sounds like nonsensical capitalistic propoganda to me, not a coherent political philosophy of any sort. If you have preditably unequal outcomes, that should be a pretty obvious indication to out that equality of opportunity is a myth.
People are not equal in ability. Siblings are not equal in ability. There was this mass human experiment in eastern Europe which tried to disprove this. Didn’t work.

warsaw.jpg
 

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Change is only progressive if it moves forward.
Every change moves forward.
Moving "forward" in society usually means improvement. Whether something is an improvement is a matter of opinion according to you. Which means every change cannot be moving forward in a normal sense of the word.
That is classic conservative bullshit because it presumes that the "rules" have been agreed upon by everyone, not imposed by the powerful to entrench their position.
But you need to show that the rules are actually unfair. This comes back to the same thing as always--using disparate results as proof of racism. Yeah, it's only claimed to be evidence of, but it's taken on faith and not subject to rebuttal. Thus it's functionally considered proof.
"Actually unfair" is not an objective standard - that is the point.
 

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Moving "forward" in society usually means improvement. Whether something is an improvement is a matter of opinion according to you. Which means every change cannot be moving forward in a normal sense of the word.
It isn't just me, it's everyone.

Millions of Americans believe that Trump's Wall would be a move forward towards improvement. I'm not one, but yeah it's a matter of opinion.
Tom
 

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Change is only progressive if it moves forward.
Every change moves forward.

Towards what is a different question.

Trump's Wall was a change moving away from "This Nation of Immigrants" to a country where his base didn't have to compete with foreigners for entry level jobs. That's a huge change.

Whether that's an improvement or not is a matter of opinion.
Tom
No. Regression is change. In a backwards direction.

Not all change is progress. A pile of lumber left in the back yard can progress to become a deck: progress.

Or it can be left to molder and rot. That’s still change. But not progress.

Fundamentally you are assuming a 1D world, a line from shit to heaven that we can move forward or backwards along. The real world isn't 1D, though, and we do not know the best point to be at. Change is a vector, not a scalar.
You are right - the world is not 1D or even 2D. Which makes your position about
Moving "forward" in society usually means improvement. Whether something is an improvement is a matter of opinion according to you. Which means every change cannot be moving forward in a normal sense of the word.
It isn't just me, it's everyone.

Millions of Americans believe that Trump's Wall would be a move forward towards improvement. I'm not one, but yeah it's a matter of opinion.
Tom
If it is a matter of opinion, then clearly any change can also be viewed as a move backwards (regression) as well.
 

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If it is a matter of opinion, then clearly any change can also be viewed as a move backwards (regression) as well.
Exactly. It depends on who's view we're talking about.

To me, Trump's Wall was a move forward in a direction I despised. I cherish our status as "The Nation of Immigrants". Had Trump accomplished building it, I'd want to regress to that status.

Not everyone would.
Tom
 

rousseau

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It seems like something changed after Marx gained influence and completely upended the conversation. Before him people just wanted economic freedom, after him people started feeling that anything but absolute equality was a problem.

IMO, we're at a point in history where there is a lot of pushback toward, and misunderstanding of, natural science and how it applies to politics and economics. Many people with grand ideals, but not a very deep understanding of how the world actually works.

A couple centuries ago we just wanted democracy.
 

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A couple centuries ago we just wanted democracy.
I'm not sure who "we" is here.

The country I live in, USA, certainly wasn't founded on that.

It was Founded by a batch of wealthy male WASP people. They certainly didn't believe in democracy. They just wanted voting rights for themselves, and a government that represented them.

Over time we expanded on their high falutin' hypocrisy. Now even black lesbians get to vote(mostly).

But, no, a couple of centuries ago democracy was a delicacy reserved for the elite. It wasn't for the little people.
Tom
 

Loren Pechtel

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The word "liberalism" originally referred to an emphasis on human rights and personal liberty — freedom from government regulation, freedom from an imposed religion, freedom to accumulate wealth, et cetera.
That's what I'm asking about. When and where was this "the original meaning" of liberalism, and why should we aspire to recreate that political system?

Classic liberals are about equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.
Who says that? It sounds like nonsensical capitalistic propoganda to me, not a coherent political philosophy of any sort. If you have preditably unequal outcomes, that should be a pretty obvious indication to out that equality of opportunity is a myth.

When the assembly line starts churning out broken pipe valves, do you turn to the supervisor and say "I guaranteed proper functioning of the machine, not proper results"? No, because he would point out the blooming obvious: properly functioning machines don't produce broken products.
What you are missing is that there can be other factors at work that society doesn't control.

Do you agree with the current approach of punishing Asians and Jews for cultures that value education?
 

Loren Pechtel

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That is classic conservative bullshit because it presumes that the "rules" have been agreed upon by everyone, not imposed by the powerful to entrench their position.
But you need to show that the rules are actually unfair. This comes back to the same thing as always--using disparate results as proof of racism. Yeah, it's only claimed to be evidence of, but it's taken on faith and not subject to rebuttal. Thus it's functionally considered proof.
"Actually unfair" is not an objective standard - that is the point.
Saying it isn't objective doesn't make it so. The "evidence" is always based on disparate outcome, not showing a problem with the laws. Show how the law is wrong, don't just claim it is and expect us to take it on faith.
 

rousseau

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A couple centuries ago we just wanted democracy.
I'm not sure who "we" is here.

The country I live in, USA, certainly wasn't founded on that.

It was Founded by a batch of wealthy male WASP people. They certainly didn't believe in democracy. They just wanted voting rights for themselves, and a government that represented them.

Over time we expanded on their high falutin' hypocrisy. Now even black lesbians get to vote(mostly).

But, no, a couple of centuries ago democracy was a delicacy reserved for the elite. It wasn't for the little people.
Tom

That's fair, but the world doesn't and can't change completely overnight. The expansion of rights takes time, and eventually minorities were recognized.

My point was that a few centuries ago the main social issue was despotic government (generally across Europe). These days capitalism and social inequality is the target of most liberals.
 

Trausti

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A couple centuries ago we just wanted democracy.
I'm not sure who "we" is here.

The country I live in, USA, certainly wasn't founded on that.

It was Founded by a batch of wealthy male WASP people. They certainly didn't believe in democracy. They just wanted voting rights for themselves, and a government that represented them.

Over time we expanded on their high falutin' hypocrisy. Now even black lesbians get to vote(mostly).

But, no, a couple of centuries ago democracy was a delicacy reserved for the elite. It wasn't for the little people.
Tom
When the US was founded more than two centuries ago, it was the most progressive society in the history of the world. Yet, people now shit on it.
 

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That is classic conservative bullshit because it presumes that "pathe "rules" have been agreed upon by everyone, not imposed by the powerful to entrench their position.
But you need to show that the rules are actually unfair. This comes back to the same thing as always--using disparate results as proof of racism. Yeah, it's only claimed to be evidence of, but it's taken on faith and not subject to rebuttal. Thus it's functionally considered proof.
"Actually unfair" is not an objective standard - that is the point.
Saying it isn't objective doesn't make it so.
"Unfair " (or "fair) cannot be an objective standard, because the notion of fairness and unfairness depend on personal feelings.
 

laughing dog

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A couple centuries ago we just wanted democracy.
I'm not sure who "we" is here.

The country I live in, USA, certainly wasn't founded on that.

It was Founded by a batch of wealthy male WASP people. They certainly didn't believe in democracy. They just wanted voting rights for themselves, and a government that represented them.

Over time we expanded on their high falutin' hypocrisy. Now even black lesbians get to vote(mostly).

But, no, a couple of centuries ago democracy was a delicacy reserved for the elite. It wasn't for the little people.
Tom
When the US was founded more than two centuries ago, it was the most progressive society in the history of the world. Yet, people now shit on it.
On what basis can you make the claim that a country that was founded with legal slavery, the denial of a political voice to a gender or to those without property was the most progressive society in the history of the world?
 

bilby

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A couple centuries ago we just wanted democracy.
I'm not sure who "we" is here.

The country I live in, USA, certainly wasn't founded on that.

It was Founded by a batch of wealthy male WASP people. They certainly didn't believe in democracy. They just wanted voting rights for themselves, and a government that represented them.

Over time we expanded on their high falutin' hypocrisy. Now even black lesbians get to vote(mostly).

But, no, a couple of centuries ago democracy was a delicacy reserved for the elite. It wasn't for the little people.
Tom
When the US was founded more than two centuries ago, it was the most progressive society in the history of the world. Yet, people now shit on it.
On what basis can you make the claim that a country that was founded with legal slavery, the denial of a political voice to a gender or to those without property was the most progressive society in the history of the world?
Blind patriotism, coupled with an abject ignorance of the majority of the history of the world would be my guess.
 
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