Liberalism can refer to a number of political philosophies derived from Classical liberalism. In this article the American political platform referred to as "liberal" within the United States is contrasted with other meanings of the word, particularly in Europe and in other parliamentary democratic systems.
- "Whereas Liberalism is the triumph of emotion over reason (as defined historically), Conservatism is an applied intellectual process; based on observation, deduction, and the study of provable historical fact." Sandy Stringfellow
- "One of liberalism's many problems is that once an idea or program is proved wrong and unworkable, liberals rarely acknowledge their mistake and examine the root cause of their error so they don't repeat it." Cal Thomas
In the U.S. the word liberal is usually used to describe the platform espoused by the Democratic Party, that is, support of social welfare systems, redistribution of wealth, and government regulation of the economy - combined with a certain brand of individual libertarianism, emphasizing social equality, and (to a certain extent, these days increasingly radical) rejection of traditional Judeo-Christian standards of morality as a proper justification for law.
The economic aspects of this ideology are to a large extent a product of the New Deal policies of the Great Depression era, as well as Lyndon B. Johnson's "Great Society." It also should be noted that a good portion of the Liberal economic philosophy has certain roots in the teachings of Karl Marx, such as the overall focus on social equality and the outrageous rejection of the Judeo-Christian morals. It should be noted, however, that Liberals are not pureblood communists: Unlike their redder brethren, Liberals are far more insidious and dangerous, as they have successfully infiltrated the American society and now threaten the American way of life.
The Democratic Party's idea of social liberty and equality, though, came much later, partly as a result of the civil rights and counterculture movements of the late 20th century. It continues to be fueled by various youth movements and the interests of numerous special interest groups.
Europe and elsewhere
In Europe, liberalism refers to a political position that leans toward greater individual liberties and less government intervention in general. In short, this is the philosophy closest to classical liberalism, and is commonly referred to in the United States as libertarianism. In Europe and elsewhere, then, the opposite of liberalism is not conservatism, but authoritarianism.
Because of this, the terms "conservative liberalism" and "liberal conservatism", which are seen as contradictory in the U.S., are not so in Europe. "Conservative liberalism" simply refers to a less radical libertarian philosophy, and is often referred to as "law-and-order liberalism." Liberal conservatism is simply a variant of conservatism willing to allow for individual liberties, and, in a way, describes the ideology of the American Republican Party. Such examples of this obvious line of thought include the civil rights movement, when the Republican Party (and a few southern Democrats) just wanted to maintain the African American's right to have the choice of forced segregation.
The Liberal Party of Australia is the right-leaning party, in opposition to the liberal Labor Party, and is not to be confused with liberalism as an ideology.
For more information please see: Nazism and socialism
The Ludwig von Mises Institute declares:
|“|| The identification of Nazi Germany as a socialist state was one of the many great contributions of Ludwig von Mises...
The basis of the claim that Nazi Germany was capitalist was the fact that most industries in Nazi Germany appeared to be left in private hands.
What Mises identified was that private ownership of the means of production existed in name only under the Nazis and that the actual substance of ownership of the means of production resided in the German government. For it was the German government and not the nominal private owners that exercised all of the substantive powers of ownership: it, not the nominal private owners, decided what was to be produced, in what quantity, by what methods, and to whom it was to be distributed, as well as what prices would be charged and what wages would be paid, and what dividends or other income the nominal private owners would be permitted to receive. The position of the alleged private owners, Mises showed, was reduced essentially to that of government pensioners.
De facto government ownership of the means of production, as Mises termed it, was logically implied by such fundamental collectivist principles embraced by the Nazis as that the common good comes before the private good and the individual exists as a means to the ends of the State. If the individual is a means to the ends of the State, so too, of course, is his property. Just as he is owned by the State, his property is also owned by the State.
There is debate about the similarities between Nazism and socialism. Despite whether Nazism is socialist or not, they, with the help of general improvement of economic conditions in Europe, helped propel Germany out of the Great Depression with their economic policy.
Similarities between Communism, Nazism and liberalism
|Communist Manifesto||Nazi Party Platform||Analysis|
|1||"Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes."||"We demand an agrarian reform in accordance with our national requirements, and the enactment of a law to expropriate the owners without compensation of any land needed for the common purpose. The abolition of ground rents, and the prohibition of all speculation in land."||The stripping away of land from private owners. Liberalism today demands "eminent domain" on property.|
|2||"A heavy progressive or graduated income tax."||"We demand the nationalization of all trusts...profit-sharing in large industries...a generous increase in old-age pensions...by providing maternity welfare centers, by prohibiting juvenile labor...and the creation of a national (folk) army."||The points raised in the Nazi platform demand an increase in taxes to support them. Liberalism today demands heavy progressive and graduated income taxes.|
|3||"Abolition of all rights of inheritance."||"That all unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished."||Liberalism today demands a "death tax" on anyone inheriting an estate.|
|4||"Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly."||"We demand the nationalization of all trusts."||Central control of the financial system.|
|5||"Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State."||"We demand that there be a legal campaign against those who propagate deliberate political lies and disseminate them through the press...editors and their assistants on newspapers published in the German language shall be German citizens...Non-German newspapers shall only be published with the express permission of the State...the punishment for transgressing this law be the immediate suppression of the newspaper..."||Central control of the press. Liberals today demand control or suppression of talk radio and Fox News.|
|6||"Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, &c, &c."||"In order to make it possible for every capable and industrious German to obtain higher education, and thus the opportunity to reach into positions of leadership, the State must assume the responsibility of organizing thoroughly the entire cultural system of the people. The curricula of all educational establishments shall be adapted to practical life. The conception of the State Idea (science of citizenship) must be taught in the schools from the very beginning. We demand that specially talented children of poor parents, whatever their station or occupation, be educated at the expense of the State. "||Central control of education, with an emphasis on doing things their way. Liberals today are doing things their way in our schools.|