MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

“Libertarian” Is Just Another Word for (Classical) Liberal | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on September 16, 2019

https://mises.org/wire/libertarian-just-another-word-classical-liberal

Long post…

But rest assured, Lew Rockwell reminds us, things could be far worse “were it not for the efforts of a relative handful of intellectuals who have fought against socialist theory for more than a century. It might have been 99% in support of socialist tyranny. So there is no sense in saying that these intellectual efforts are wasted.”

Moreover, the success of liberalism is demonstrated in the fact that non-liberals have long attempted to steal the mantle of liberalism for themselves. In the English speaking world, it is no mere accident of history that social democrats and other non-liberal groups often insist on calling themselves liberal. The effort to expropriate the term “liberal” in the twentieth century was a matter of political expediency. Liberalism was a popular and influential ideology throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century. So it only made sense to attempt to apply the term to non-liberal ideologies and coast on liberalism’s past success.3

Today, we continue to see the legacy of liberalism worldwide in discussions over human rights, in efforts to increase freedom in trade, and greater autonomy from state intervention.  The fact that socialists and other types of interventionists win victories proves nothing about the irrelevance of liberalism. They only remind us how much worse things would be were it not for liberalism’s occasional successes. Moreover, efforts by governments to co-opt liberal vocabulary for purposes of building state power are to be expected. We see this often in the call for government managed “human rights” efforts and in calls for globally managed “free trade.” These measures aren’t liberal, but governments know saying liberal things and professing to pursue liberal goals makes for great PR.

Meanwhile, the answer to gains made by social democrats and socialists lies in strengthening the intellectual movement that is liberalism, which over time translates into political action. If liberalism is eclipsed today by other ideologies, the fault lies with us who have done too little, and with the defeatists who declare intellectual fights to be irrelevant to real life, or not worth the trouble.

Liberalism — that is libertarianism — has a long and impressive history that is all too often neglected. But it is, as Raico contended, an indispensable part of “our own civilization.” We’d do well to know more about its history.

Be seeing you

Difference Between Classic Liberalism & Progressivism Defined

 

 

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