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libertarian...liberal...classical liberalsim...???

 
 
Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2004 03:26 pm
I have come to the history forum in search of answers from the very wise people who post here.

I am reading a book called "The Libertarian Reader : Classic and Contemporary Writings from Lao Tzu to Milton Friedman" which uses the words "libertarian" and "liberal" as synonyms for one another. Now it is my understanding that when the book uses the term "liberal" they are referring to "classical liberalism" or what is today called "libertarian."

What I am confused about is the difference between the word "liberal" as used in present day, "classical liberalsim," and libertarian. How do the terms differ? How did "classical liberalism" turn into the liberal of today?

Or am I so confused that I have the entire thing wrong?

you can see excerpts of the book on amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0684847671/ref=sib_dp_pt/104-7494205-2107908#reader-page
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 5,144 • Replies: 60
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2004 03:42 pm
I'm confused, too, jp. I look forward to responses to your questions.
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ehBeth
 
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Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2004 03:48 pm
One thing that seems quite clear is that the definition of liberal is quite different in the U.S. than it is in other countries.
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jpinMilwaukee
 
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Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2004 03:50 pm
ehBeth wrote:
One thing that seems quite clear is that the definition of liberal is quite different in the U.S. than it is in other countries.


Yes... which confuses things even more.
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2004 03:57 pm
ehBeth wrote:
One thing that seems quite clear is that the definition of liberal is quite different in the U.S. than it is in other countries.


Yes. In Oz there's a clear distinction between "small l" & "large l" liberals. Large L means the Liberal Party (conservative & the current government). Nothing liberal about the Liberals at all! Very Happy Confused
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Francis
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2004 03:58 pm
Here is a little contribution :

the word "libertarian" has been used by anarchists for far longer than the pro-free market right have been using it. Indeed, outside of North America "libertarian" is still essentially used as an equivalent of "anarchist" and as a shortened version of "libertarian socialist."
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Walter Hinteler
 
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Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2004 04:02 pm
Re: libertarian...liberal...classical liberalsim...???
jpinMilwaukee wrote:
What I am confused about is the difference between the word "liberal" as used in present day ...


I only can agree with this:

ehBeth wrote:
One thing that seems quite clear is that the definition of liberal is quite different in the U.S. than it is in other countries.


See here
Liberal International

:wink:
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2004 04:05 pm
Thank you Walter.
This is we're I get confused:

The freedom to be creative and innovative can only be sustained by a market economy, but it must be a market that offers people real choices. This means that we want neither a market where freedom is limited by monopolies or an economy disassociated from the interests of the poor and of the community as a whole.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2004 04:08 pm
Francis wrote:
Here is a little contribution :

the word "libertarian" has been used by anarchists for far longer than the pro-free market right have been using it. Indeed, outside of North America "libertarian" is still essentially used as an equivalent of "anarchist" and as a shortened version of "libertarian socialist."


Question

Quote:
Libertarians are classical liberals who strongly emphasize the individual right to liberty.
[...]
In the 20th century, so-called welfare state liberalism, or social democracy, emerged as the dominant form of liberalism, and the term liberalism itself underwent a significant change in definition in English-speaking countries. Particularly after World War II, most self-described liberals no longer supported completely free markets and minimal government, though they continued to champion other individual rights, such as the right to freedom of speech. As liberalism became increasingly associated with government intervention in the economy and social-welfare programs, some classical liberals abandoned the old term and began to call themselves "libertarians."

source: "libertarianism" Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service
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msolga
 
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Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2004 04:12 pm
"As liberalism became increasingly associated with government intervention in the economy and social-welfare programs, some classical liberals abandoned the old term and began to call themselves "libertarians."

Please pardon my igornace Embarrassed , but could this mean that "liberals" have much in common with socialists?
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2004 04:16 pm
Well, not at all - at least in Europe.

Here, most are (up to extreme) right. (The only exemption of some importance, I know of, are the Liberal Democrats in the UK.)
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Francis
 
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Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2004 04:23 pm
Agree with you Walter. In Europe, Liberals are right wing.
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2004 04:26 pm
Oh, I'm confused obviously, Walter. Confused I thought that liberals(as opposed to Libertarians) appeared to have a more compassionate view of government intervention in regard to the poor, for example.
But please don't let me side-track jp's thread. I should do a bit more research to clear up my confusion. Thanks, Walter.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2004 04:32 pm
Liberals and poor? Seems to exclude Laughing
(The German Liberals were/are known as the "Industry's/Industrialist's Party" :wink: )
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2004 04:37 pm
msolga wrote:
"As liberalism became increasingly associated with government intervention in the economy and social-welfare programs, some classical liberals abandoned the old term and began to call themselves "libertarians."

Please pardon my igornace Embarrassed , but could this mean that "liberals" have much in common with socialists?


In the political context of the US "liberal" is somewhat short of "socialist". This is, IMO, what makes discussing international politics a bit confusing because the word has a very different context elsewhere. A "Libertarian" here is propably closer to what the rest of the world would see as a "liberal".
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2004 04:40 pm
Walter

Confused It's my Oz confusion between "small l" & "large L" liberalism here. A small l liberal would, indeed, be inclined toward compassionate policies. Big L sounds like what you're describing in Europe. Language & culture - it's bewildering! But what the hell does it mean in the US? (No, don't answer that! Laughing )
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2004 04:52 pm
Well, I hope that's cleared it all up for you, jp! Sorry, I think I just contributed to your further confusion.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2004 04:53 pm
fishin' wrote:
In the political context of the US "liberal" is somewhat short of "socialist".


Thanks - but why are then the 'Democrats' called "liberal"?
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2004 05:50 pm
Walter Hinteler wrote:
Thanks - but why are then the 'Democrats' called "liberal"?


Conceptually, the Democratic Party claims to stand for the rights of the "common man". The party claims a history of supporting laborers and immigrants (who were generally relegated to labourous jobs). The claim - at least in the last centrury, it didn't start out this way - has always been that they have been upholding the rights of these individuals (in the classical liberal sense) by using the power of government to "equealize" the playing field between the common man and the "elitists" (you'll note the similarity to Marx there. Wink ).

If you study the party history it's an interesting trip. The party that was founded to stand up against the Federalists ended up consolidating a lot of power at the Federal level and then used that power in different welfare-ish programs to attempt to level the paying field between classes. In effect they became what they originally organzied to fight against.

"Liberal" doesn't necessarily equeal "Democrat" though. IMO, the two were joined together for good with the rise of John F. Kennedy. Kennedy, a Democrat, also accepted the endorsement of the NY "Liberal Party" in his 1960 campaign and in doing so he made the following comment in a speech. The opening line of the speech was "Why I'm a Liberal" and in it he said:

"Our responsibility is not discharged by announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for these reasons that liberalism is our best and only hope in the world today. For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the same time and for that reason a strong society. Its strength is drawn from the will of free people committed to great ends and peacefully striving to meet them. Only liberalism, in short, can repair our national power, restore our national purpose, and liberate our national energies."

With that, IMO, he sealed the tie of the Democratic Party with the "liberal" moniker.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2004 11:40 pm
Thanks again.

Your (the US') understanding of "socialist" is very different to the rest of the world as well. Laughing
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