What Is Liberalism and Why Does It Matter?

I say the word “Liberalism” is being misused and that it matters.

I say this:

has a lot to do with it and is why it matters.

Change my mind.

Liberalism , political doctrine that takes protecting and enhancing the freedom of the individual to be the central problem of politics. Liberals typically believe that government is necessary to protect individuals from being harmed by others, but they also recognize that government itself can pose a threat to liberty.

E. Britannica

Describes my views to the T.

I guess I am an actual liberal

I like this definition better.

“the belief that it is the aim of politics to preserve individual rights and to maximize freedom of choice.”


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Liberalism is being generous with the resources of others that far exceeds your own personal generosity.

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It is my understanding that the term “liberal” originated in the French revolution, takes its origin in the word liberty, and thus means/meant less monarchy, less government generally and therefore more liberty.

But since “liberally” also means “freely” or “without restraint” (eg liberally apply rock salt to an icy sidewalk) over the years, anything the done without restraint "throwing liberal amounts of money to solve any problem, or apply a gov’t program not JUST to those who need it but apply it without restraint) the use of the term changed.

All words develop and change over time. Probably there is not a single word in English, (or any language) that did not used to mean something else. That is WHY dictionaries have more than one definition for words. Depending on which dictionary you consult, the definitions of a word are arranged either from oldest use to most modern use, or from most common use today to least common use today.


“but they also recognize that government itself can pose a threat to liberty.”

What is the logical extension of this phrase?

1.1 The Presumption in Favor of Liberty

“By definition,” Maurice Cranston says, “a liberal is a man who believes in liberty” (1967: 459). In two ways, liberals accord liberty primacy as a political value.

(i) Liberals have typically maintained that humans are naturally in “a State of perfect Freedom to order their Actions…as they think fit…without asking leave, or depending on the Will of any other Man” (Locke, 1960 [1689]: 287). Mill too argued that “the burden of proof is supposed to be with those who are against liberty; who contend for any restriction or prohibition…. The a priori assumption is in favour of freedom…” (1963, vol. 21: 262). Recent liberal thinkers such as as Joel Feinberg (1984: 9), Stanley Benn (1988: 87) and John Rawls (2001: 44, 112) agree. This might be called the Fundamental Liberal Principle (Gaus, 1996: 162–166): freedom is normatively basic, and so the onus of justification is on those who would use coercion to limit freedom. It follows from this that political authority and law must be justified, as they limit the liberty of citizens. Consequently, a central question of liberal political theory is whether political authority can be justified, and if so, how.
Liberalism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Are you still?

If it is not expressly illegal, it is legal.


I prefer looking at this way:

“Classical liberalism is a political and economic ideology that advocates the protection of civil liberties and laissez-faire economic freedom by limiting the power of the central government. Developed in the early 19th century, the term is often used in contrast to the philosophy of modern social liberalism.” (Emphasis mine.)

This is why I don’t view the Modern Liberal as a genuine liberal. Libertarians are more in line of what a traditional liberal would be. The modern Liberal is much more in line with Socialism than Liberalism.

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They’re fake liberals hiding behind liberalism to achieve their power.

We see who and what they are. :wink:

Of course. I’ve been on this board continually acknowledging the damage the government has done in the black community. From local police to congress.

I also recognize that this same government should be responsible for keeping us safe. All of its people…

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Using your definition what is the difference between a classical liberal and a conservative? Social issues?

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The fact is that today’s Democrat preaches much more about Socialism (to the masses that is) than Liberalism. Here is the definition of Socialism:

Socialism , social and economic doctrine that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources. According to the socialist view, individuals do not live or work in isolation but live in cooperation with one another. Furthermore, everything that people produce is in some sense a social product, and everyone who contributes to the production of a good is entitled to a share in it. Society as a whole, therefore, should own or at least control property for the benefit of all its members.”

As Obama said “you didn’t build that!”

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Should Blacks be exempt from great libs social experiment?

Here’s another quote from the link I posted:

“Based on a belief that social progress was best achieved through adherence to natural law and individualism, classical liberals drew on the economic ideas of Adam Smith in his classic 1776 book “The Wealth of Nations.” Classical liberals also agreed with Thomas Hobbes’ belief that governments were created by the people for the purpose of minimizing conflict between individuals and that financial incentive was the best way to motivate workers. They feared a welfare state as a danger to a free market economy.”

Ironically I would say that outside of social issues today’s Republican is much more in line with classical Liberalism than today’s Democrat.


Neither one of them is going to like that.

I’m not sure we can get “outside of social issues”. Is government itself not a “social issue”?

In lot of way…repugs are going home.

To be honest there is not much in the definition (from my link) of Classical Liberalism regarding social or religious issues.

Is it implied?