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) rejection of traditional Judeo-Christian standards of morality as a proper foundation 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." 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.