It’s amazing how many different words the statists have used, over the years, to dress up their same, tired philosophy. They’ve called it Conservative, Progressive, Fascist, Nationalist, Communist, Socialist, Egalitarian, Centrist, Third Way, Green, Monarchist, Loyalist, Revolutionary, but, here in North America, the one that really grinds my gears is liberal.
Liberal is our word, the ‘our’ being what are presently called libertarians. People are identified as libertarian if they are “socially-liberal and economically-conservative.” It seems in this parlance, liberal means free on the social spectrum and conservative means free on the economic spectrum. Doesn’t that seem like a language trick to confuse people? The powers-that-be give you two labels from which to choose: liberal offers you social freedom and economic slavery, and conservative the opposite. That way, if you believe in something like social AND economic freedom, you either have to take on one of the existing labels with some silly modifier (market liberal, paleoconservative, et al) or accept a less-catchy term like libertarian.
The great injustice is that the term liberal was outright stolen from libertarians by the socialists of the early 20th century. ‘Liberal’ comes from the latin root liber, meaning free. A liberal has always meant someone who believes in freedom, in other words a modern libertarian. In Continental Europe, it is still largely used in this manner. Over here, the early socialists had a problem they didn’t face in Europe: no one believed their bullshit. Americans discovered political liberty, and it had served us well. So, the socialists figured out how to turn our own language against us. They called our notion of liberty ‘negative liberty’ and their notion of government interference ‘positive liberty.’ You see, now it wasn’t enough to have the potential to fulfill your desires, you were now entitled to fulfill them. What that meant for the people who now had to work toward YOUR goals was ignored, as was the debate over whose goals would be pursued (usually it translates into the politically well-connected). So, now we had moved from liberals to negative liberals. Once the socialists got their foot in the door linguistically, many people found a way to justify their instinctual drives for cheating and violence. Soon after, liberal came to only mean socialist, and lost all of its libertarian connotation.
Some of us now call ourselves classical liberals, while a great many others identify as true conservatives. The latter is laughable, though it has translated into electoral success, because libertarians have always fought the conservatives – those who wanted to maintain their grasp on power through monarchy, aristocracy, theocracy, or else-wise. Even the modern ‘conservative coalition’ is just a nonsensical mix of libertarians, nationalists, and christian democrats set up by a man that I would call a (classical) liberal: Ronald Reagan.
Well I say we ditch the epithet and take back our word. I am a liberal: I believe in severely-restricted government, reforming our electoral system, returning power to the States, voting independent, and increasing personal and economic liberty in every way. I do not vote Democrat: those people are socialists. I do not vote Republican: those people are nationalists. I am neither left-wing nor right-wing, left-leaning nor right-leaning, for the only true dichotomy is between freedom and slavery. I do not believe there is such a thing as positive liberty, except insofar as all liberty is positive if you exclude other ideologies masquerading as liberty. I am a liberal, a libertarian, a free-marketeer, a propertarian, a minarchist, but mostly I am a liberal. And they are not.