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

 
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Dec, 2004 04:41 pm
You're not sure what is correct?
0 Replies
 
jpinMilwaukee
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Dec, 2004 08:21 am
It is my understanding that the federalists wanted a srong federal government to handle the military, foreign affairs, judicial affairs, and taxes but that the states were still left to decide other issues. Since congress is made up of people from the states they thought this would help limit the power of the federal government by giving some power to the states who are supposed to represent the people.

Anit-federalists still wanted a strong federal government but were weary of the balance of power and wanted to limit the power even more. They fought for the bill of rights to give power and rights back to the individual and wanted to take back some of the power from the federal government. They fought against the federal supreme court and felt those decisions should be left to the states (like you said).

The two groups aren't really as opposite as their names suggest, but rather the anti-federalists are a more extreme version of the federalists.

Is my understanding wrong?
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Dec, 2004 08:56 am
Re: libertarian...liberal...classical liberalsim...???
jpinMilwaukee wrote:
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?

To a first approximation, "classical liberalism" equals modern "libertarianism" equals "laissez-faire" in both economic and social matters. "Liberal" in the English-speaking world now refers to a moderate version of what Europeans call "Social Democracy" or "Democratic Socialism". The term "libertarian" in its modern sense came up in the late 1950s, so the libertarians in your reader who wrote before about 1958 probably referred to themselves as "liberal".

jpinMilwaukee wrote:
How did "classical liberalism" turn into the liberal of today?

In most of the world, it never did. In the German, French and Spanish languages, the word liberal still has the same meaning as in classical liberalism. In the English-speaking world, some time between the Progressive Era and the Great Depression, the meaning of the term "liberal" shifted for a variety of reasons such as:

1) Public opinion in England and America was hostile enough to Socialism that some Socialists found it prudent to refer to themselves as "Liberals".

2) The emergence of the "Robber Barons" suggested that laissez-faire policies produced the kind of monopolies and social inequalities it was supposed to prevent, and some liberals thought that state intervention could ameliorate the problem.

3) Beginning in the 1920, the Soviet Union did a good job of persuading Western intellectuals, contrary to the facts, that Communism was an efficient way of running an economy. This included liberal intellectuals, and judging by P.Samuelson's bestselling college textbook on Economics, they held on to this belief until the early 1980s.

4) The Great Depression was widely (and incorrectly) seen as a failure of Laissez-Faire capitalism, and the make-work programs to deal with it were widely (and in part correctly) seen as a correction of that failure by government. This persuaded many liberals that a higher level of government involvement in the economy was desirable.

5) Poverty makes you unfree, so extended welfare programs seemed like a liberty-enhancing project to many liberals.

By the end of World War II, the term "liberal" had finished its semantic shift. The few people who still considered themselves classical liberals were no longer happy to self-identify as "liberals", so they looked for a new word. In the 1950s, the term "libertarian" came up, and by the end of the 1960s, it had become the standard term for the people who held this belief.

I hope this answers your question.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Dec, 2004 09:08 am
Re: libertarian...liberal...classical liberalsim...???
Thomas wrote:
"Liberal" in the English-speaking world now refers to a moderate version of what Europeans call "Social Democracy" or "Democratic Socialism".


Both my "Liberal Democratic" and "Labour" friends in the UK would protest here, I suppose!
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jpinMilwaukee
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Dec, 2004 09:18 am
Re: libertarian...liberal...classical liberalsim...???
Thomas wrote:
I hope this answers your question.


It is a great start Thomas. Thanks for your thoughtful response.


A few more questions though...

I think what is confusing me the most is social problems and rights of individuals. It is my understanding that libertarian ideas believe that all people get equal rights but at the same time do not want government interference. You mentioned in your response that poverty makes you un-free which brought about expanded welfare systems. The idea of helping those in poverty become equal with others seems to fit into libertarian ideals but expanded welfare seems to oppose those same ideals. What would a libertarian solution to poverty be? I understand that may be a difficult question to answer so feel free to use a different example if you have one
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Dec, 2004 09:40 am
Walter Hinteler wrote:
Thomas wrote:
"Liberal" in the English-speaking world now refers to a moderate version of what Europeans call "Social Democracy" or "Democratic Socialism".

Both my "Liberal Democratic" and "Labour" friends in the UK would protest here, I suppose!

I said "a moderate version of" though. Would your UK friends find "Social Democracy in thinly diluted aqueous solution" acceptable? That's as far as I'm ready to go though.

jpinMilwaukee wrote:
The idea of helping those in poverty become equal with others seems to fit into libertarian ideals but expanded welfare seems to oppose those same ideals.

The solution to this particular confusion is that "equality" is an ambiguous term in politics, and libertarians believe in some kinds of equality but not others. Specifically, libertarians believe that the government should provide equality under the law and equality of opportunity, meaning things like equally good public school. But they don't believe that equality of outcome is desirable as an end in itself. Modern liberals do believe that equality of outcome is desirable, and they believe that the government should intervene into market outcomes to redistribute some income from the rich to the poor.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Dec, 2004 09:45 am
Well, as said above, in -at least- one English speaking country - namely in England - some could have slightly different views on this.

The Liberal Democrat History Group's website is a rich source to confirm that. (There, Liberal History Online gives a nice overview about liberalism in England/Great Britain, IMHO.)
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Dec, 2004 10:00 am
I imagine that the American usage of "conservative" and "liberal" in the political context has some connection to the British usage of those terms in the historical context. The Tory and Whig parties in Britain began using the terms "Conservative" and "Liberal" around the time of the parliamentary reform and Corn Law debates -- roughly the 1830s and 1840s. The Whigs, which were closely identified with the urban mercantile interests, espoused free trade, whereas the Tories, which drew their strength from the "country" interests (i.e. the landed gentry), favored protectionism. When the Peelite wing split from the Tory party and went over to the Whigs in the aftermath of the repeal of the Corn Laws, they brought the "liberal" label with them (they had been called the "liberal conservatives" to distinguish them from the "ultras"). In a sense, then, Robert Peel was the founder of both modern political conservatism (with his publication of the Tamworth Manifesto) and modern political liberalism (when his followers infused the Whig party with their ideals of free trade "classical" liberalism).

I'm not sure when the terms "liberal" and "conservative" first came into use in US politics, but I imagine that the usage paralleled that found in Great Britain. "Liberals," on the whole, were urban, mercantile, interested in electoral reform, and dedicated to free trade. "Conservatives," on the whole, were rural, agricultural, resistant to reform, and dedicated to protectionism. In the post-bellum nineteenth century, however, it would have been difficult to label either major party "conservative" or "liberal." In that era, for instance, the Republicans were more likely to be the free traders and the Democrats were more likely to be the protectionists. By the first half of the twentieth century, however, Republicans became more associated with protectionism while Democrats became more associated with free trade (and it looks like those positions have reversed once again in the wake of NAFTA).

The notion of "big government liberalism" versus "small government conservatism" played little role in this period, since there was really nothing but "small government" in the US before the 1910s. Social welfare legislation, after all, was largely unknown before that time -- and Republicans were just as likely to offer those kinds of laws as were Democrats.

I would surmise that, as the terms "conservative" and "liberal" became more firmly attached to the parties' economic platforms, they also came to be attached to other positions espoused by the two parties. So if, for instance, there was a "conservative" position on the tariff, one could assume that the same person would also have a "conservative" position on international relations or social welfare or public works. Terms that had primarily economic meanings would, by this process of association, be transferred to non-economic issues.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Dec, 2004 10:01 am
Walter Hinteler wrote:
Well, as said above, in -at least- one English speaking country - namely in England - some could have slightly different views on this.

That's interesting, Walter. From your source, it seems that the British Liberals shifted towards the left like their American counterparts in the 1920s ("Despite a renewed burst of energy under Lloyd George, which saw the party fight the 1929 general election on a radical platform of Keynesian economics, the Liberals were by then too firmly established as the third party to achieve any direct influence on government. ") They merged with the Social Democrats in 1988, supporting my description as 'Social democracy in diluted aqueous solution'. But in the 1990s, the success of New Labor pushed them back to where the European liberals were. I guess that's why the Brits don't need the word "libertarian".

I hadn't been aware of this recent change. Thanks for teaching me something today!
0 Replies
 
jpinMilwaukee
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Dec, 2004 10:03 am
Thomas wrote:
The solution to this particular confusion is that "equality" is an ambiguous term in politics, and libertarians believe in some kinds of equality but not others. Specifically, libertarians believe that the government should provide equality under the law and equality of opportunity, meaning things like equally good public school. But they don't believe that equality of outcome is desirable as an end in itself. Modern liberals do believe that equality of outcome is desirable, and they believe that the government should intervene into market outcomes to redistribute some income from the rich to the poor.


Interesting stuff... so if I am reading this right, a person should have the same opportunities to become successful but it is up to them to make the best of those opportunities.
0 Replies
 
jpinMilwaukee
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Dec, 2004 10:07 am
Welcome joe... thanks for the input. It really is quite interesting how the parties change overtime and even take on each others talking points.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Dec, 2004 10:07 am
Thomas

Reading the different Election Manifestos (from 1945 onwards) might be interesting as well :wink:
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Dec, 2004 10:11 am
(As an aside:
of course, there's still a [small] Liberal Party in the UK.)
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Dec, 2004 10:14 am
jpinMilwaukee wrote:
Interesting stuff... so if I am reading this right, a person should have the same opportunities to become successful but it is up to them to make the best of those opportunities.

That's the idea. Please note, though, that libertarians tend to have rather narrow view of "equality of opportunity". Giving everyone a decent highschool education would qualify. But almost no libertarian accepts the recent convention of using "equal opportunity" as a euphemism for "preferences and quotas favoring minorities". They think admission to universities should be color-blind, but they oppose rejecting the better-qualified candidate in order to accept the candidate who belongs to a favored minority. More specifically, libertarians tend to oppose the kind of programs labelled "Affirmative Action". They don't believe that the kinds of "action" described by this term are actually affirmative.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Dec, 2004 10:19 am
Walter Hinteler wrote:
Thomas

Reading the different Election Manifestos (from 1945 onwards) might be interesting as well :wink:

Oh absolutely -- thanks again! For example, just look at this gem from the Liberal's 1945 program:

Quote:
6. HOUSING

There is a house famine in the land, Liberals will not be satisfied until there is a separate dwelling for each family at a reasonable rent. This can be achieved only by a completely new approach, applying to housing the same drive as was used to produce aircraft and munitions of war. The responsibility should be placed on a Minister of Housing and no vested interests can be allowed to stand in the way. Local authorities must be enabled to borrow at a low rate of interest, and in no part of the country be allowed to ignore their obligations. Other agencies who are ready and able to provide houses should be encouraged.

Are you sure this wouldn't qualify as democratic socialism for your British friends?
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Dec, 2004 10:27 am
I'm friendly with the MP (and the Labour Party there*) of one of the new towns, which were founded in the 40's/50's :wink:

*Although I've won last year a prize (a crate of beer) from the Conservatives there, who are saying exactly the same and made a survey Laughing
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Dec, 2004 10:49 am
PS about the housing problem: For an instructive comparison, you may find it interesting to contrast the 1945 program of Great Britain's Liberal Party with the arguments of two, soon-to-be-prominent, classical liberals of the time. Their names were Milton Friedman and George Stigler, the year was 1946, and the forum was a journal called Popular Essays on Current Problems, where they published an article called Roofs or Ceilings-- the Current Housing Problem. In this article, they made a rigorous, eloquent, and I think persuasive case that the free market, not government, should sort out housing shortages. I have never understood why "Milton Friedman" is so often used as a term of abuse among German trade unionists, who say they want to solve problems like this yet have historically favored policies that made them worse.
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Dec, 2004 05:37 pm
jpinMilwaukee wrote:
It is my understanding that the federalists wanted a srong federal government to handle the military, foreign affairs, judicial affairs, and taxes but that the states were still left to decide other issues. Since congress is made up of people from the states they thought this would help limit the power of the federal government by giving some power to the states who are supposed to represent the people.

Anit-federalists still wanted a strong federal government but were weary of the balance of power and wanted to limit the power even more. They fought for the bill of rights to give power and rights back to the individual and wanted to take back some of the power from the federal government. They fought against the federal supreme court and felt those decisions should be left to the states (like you said).

The two groups aren't really as opposite as their names suggest, but rather the anti-federalists are a more extreme version of the federalists.

Is my understanding wrong?


It's hard to qualify right or wrong in any of this because there are varying degrees of "enthusiasm" for any political position. The Federalists, at the time our Constitution was written, didn't necessarily want to eliminate all state government but there were some that advocated that it wasn't necessary. (There are people that occassionaly question why we still have indivdual states now)

The anti-Federalists wanted a strong Federal government in the respect that they wanted the Federal government to be able to perfom the functions it was assigned but they didn't want it doing anything else and they were concerned that the Constitution gave it to much power.

The main body of the Constitution is basicly a Federalist document (although concessions were made to get it passed). Imagine what power the Federal government would have by now if the Bill of Rights hadn't been demanded by the anti-Federalists. The Anti-Federalists would be more like todays "State's Rights" and "Home Rule" advocates.
0 Replies
 
lexi199
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Dec, 2004 05:42 pm
all I know about those words is that they are wierd
0 Replies
 
lexi199
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Dec, 2004 05:43 pm
all I know about those words is that their wierd
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