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A satirical conception of the liberal brain.

Liberalism encompasses a wide variety of philosophies and ideologies which value individual liberty, freedom of thought and equality of opportunities. A liberal can be a believer in many of the following political positions:

Liberalism in North America today

Democrats and many media outlets in the U.S. often have a liberal bias.[7]

Liberal Rankings of Congress Members

The National Journal compiles the votes of each congress member each year and uses the information to create rankings[8] of how liberal each member of the United States Congress is. In addition to showing the voting records of each member and given an overall all ranking of liberalness, the National Journal also ranks congress members by liberalness in the areas of social, economic, and foreign policy.

Liberalism in Europe today

In Europe, on the other hand, parties that call themselves liberal are moderate in outlook, ranging from centre-left to centre-right, promote typically economic and business freedom. The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe[9] is an party of the European Parliament that represents most liberal parties from European countries. Similar policies are promoted by many liberal parties throughout the world,[10] such as the Liberal Party of Australia.[11]

Trade unions and socialist parties often criticize politicians that promote lower taxes on business, or more flexible hiring and firing laws, by calling them "liberals" or neoliberals. Thus, just like in the US, "liberal" is often used as a term of abuse. But when someone is called "liberal" in Europe, it is an entirely different to the meaning in the US. In fact, the US meaning of liberal is more similar to the politics of European socialist or social democratic parties.[12]

Historical Liberalism

In history, the word "liberal" has meant different things at different times, and was associated with individual liberty in prior centuries. In the postwar period, liberals supported government intervention in the economy and welfare state policies, as well as peaceful coexistence with the communist block, which are not liberal policies in the sense of classical liberalism. After the end of the cold war, with the demise of socialism and communism, many liberals embraced some ideas from economic neo-liberalism, and coined it the "Third Way". In the area of national security and foreign policy liberals in the U.S. failed to define a consistent stance, even after the events of 9/11 and the beginning of the war in Iraq. Liberals generally support affirmative action, gay marriage, and abortion.[13]

Original meaning: Classical Liberalism

Liberalism is a political philosophy with freedom as its core value. The term was originally applied to supporters of individual liberties and equal rights, but, in America, the term has come to represent a movement of social change that often conflicts with conservative values such as moral values and tradition.

See Classical Liberalism. Compare Libertarianism.

Alternative meanings of 'liberal'

One definition of liberal is anything that is not conservative. For example, the American Heritage Dictionary includes this definition of "liberal":[14]

  • Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas ...

Liberal Organizations

Source: The Politix Group

See Also

Further Information


  1. Politically Correct Terrorism The Conservative Voice, August 21, 2007
  2. Democrats Aim To Kill Abstinence-Only Program Funding, Fox News, Monday, June 25, 2007
  3. Greenpeace, for example.
  4. Stefaan Walgrave and Joris Verhulst, The February 15 Worldwide Protests against a War in Iraq: An Empirical Test of Transnational Opportunities. Outline of a Research Programme(PDF).
  5. The Warren Court, led by liberal Justices William O. Douglas, Hugo Black, Abe Fortas, William Brennan and Chief Justice Earl Warren issued 36 decisions granting First Amendment rights to obscenity and pornography. These decisions remain fully supported by liberals today.
  6. For example, the liberal wing of the U.S. Supreme Court issued the 5-4 Kelo v. City of New London decision authorizing the taking of private property by government in order to give the property to another private entity rather than convert it to a public use.
  7. Media Bias basics. Media Research Center.
  8. http://nationaljournal.com/voteratings/index.htm
  9. http://www.alde.eu
  10. http://www.liberal-international.org/
  11. [1]
  12. [2]
  13. "Political liberals tend, for whatever reason, to be ardent supporters of both gay rights and pro-choice programs." Greenberg and Bailey [3]
  14. Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/liberal