Classical liberalism or liberism?

To all Friends:

Often you may see postings or articles in English denouncing the 'liberals' which might be confusing to some. I thought it might be appropriate to write a few lines on the subject of what is meant be the word 'liberal' since the political meaning of this word, at least in the English language, needs clarification. Please note here we must differentiate between today's generally accepted meaning of a word, its original meaning and the underlying concepts. Let me explain. English is not a language where the definition of words is laid down by a committee of white-haired old men in some institute as is French and German. The English language is defined by its general use and English language dictionaries are made by recording the frequency of word use and the meaning given to the words used over a specific time frame. I wander a little from the subject so to return....

The political concept, reaching its pinnacle round the end of the 19th century, of what we can also call "classical liberalism" is:

a political philosophy based on the belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties
- Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
This is a very high-minded philosophy so why not wholeheartedly support it? The reason is simply, as with many of the 'isms', over time its ideals have been corrupted and those political parties which today masquerade under the name of 'liberalism' in English speaking countries have so lost anything to do with these noble ideals as to be indistinguishable from the original concept.

To counter this change of meaning variously writers have used different ways to express their particular meaning. The original 19th century concept of classical liberalism is often called "libertarianism" in America. In any writings originating out of the US today this form may well be used. However, in Continental Europe when non-English mother tongue Europeans write in English they invariably use the word 'liberal' to express what I would call "classical liberalism". Unfortunately we must live with this apparent confusion. But words mean what people intend them to mean and it is understanding what the other person wants to say that is important. As an example of this confusion I recently noted that the Norwegian Progressive Party, which may well describe itself as classical liberal, identifies its political leitmotiv as being 'liberal'.

Thus, whenever you see talk about liberals in British or American articles reference is being made to the politics of an expansive government and the unbridled welfare the groups of 'elites' throughout the system, in government with its hoards of often foreign advisers, in the universities and other educational institutions, in the media, even in the church and also in the many international organizations, whether of 'minority' groups or 'New World Order' globalists, who have taken it upon themselves, for whatever reasons, to lay down the rules and through the media to try (and usually succeed) to convince us that what they are doing is in our best interests.
But make no mistake. What this breed of liberals in reality is doing, whether per design or otherwise, is bringing about the downfall of western society as we have known it till now.

Posted on April 1, 2001 from the public domain


Posted by: John aus Paris