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Proud Proletarian

What pray-tell is an Americanist-Liberal?

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An Americanist-Liberal is someone who has disdain of being constantly bombarded with the labels ”Conservative” and “Liberal” within the mainstream media, academia, and other common sources of information who use these terms without clear definition of what they are.
Most often then not the terms are thrown around the media-talk circuit on shows like those found on FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, etc. without regard for their actual meaning.
Put in their simplest terms a Conservative is an individual or group that believe that established institutions should remain as they are and not change irregardless of their detriment to society or individuals.
The actual opposite of a Conservative is a Radical rather than a Liberal.
A Radical is an individual or group who wish to effect change within a society to that of either a new form of government or return to the original principles of said society or government from a state which is found to be reprehensible.
Thus for purposes of this and all subsequent entries I make here on these boards, the terms Conservative and Radical shall be used in their actual meanings rather than those ascribed to them by the main stream press/media and other politically active groups.

The term which has been most abused in this back and forth between Conservatives and Radicals is the term “Liberal.”
I see within many circles online and off, a desire to be truly Liberal, but a total misunderstanding of what it actually means to be a Liberal.
Thus the question is begged as to what a Liberal really is.
The answer can be found in nearly any dictionary: a Liberal is one who holds individual freedom in the highest regard.
I would add that being Liberal is not dependent on either a Conservative or Radical agenda thus there are Conservative-Liberals and Radical-Liberals.
Some would contend that I am speaking of Libertarians, let me assure you that I am not.
Libertarians fall within their own category that cannot be considered Liberal because they are too extreme in their view of total individualism to qualify as actual Liberals in the truest sense.
It would be far more accurate to classify them as Liberal-Idealists in which the smallest amount of government is required for a society to operate efficiently and effectively.
Let me assure you that I am not of that opinion though I do not entertain socialist ideology either as it is diametrically opposed to the Liberal viewpoint as I will explain below.

If a label is truly required of a person who is of like mind as myself then I think that a Classical-Americanist-Liberal is the best description that I can find and I do try to abide by that philosophy.
However, more often than not when Conservative TV Opinion pieces are speaking of a “liberal” we viewers often get the standard “they’re a pinko commie type” line, by that same token when we see “Liberal” [Radical] TV Opinion pieces and they speak of “Liberalism” we so often hear how it demands of us that we must “do our share,” or “pay our debt to society” and/or other collectivist talking points.
These views of Liberalism are of course not correct but have, since the early 20th Century, been attached by those who push for so called “social justice” and the “redistribution of wealth” that Frederich Engels first spoke of in his work Socialism: Utopian and Scientific.
Since this stereotype is associated with the left-wing of the US, and for the most part the Democratic party, I became motivated to explain what a Liberal and Liberalism was and/or is, as opposed to what it is generally thought of as being.

So as not to confuse readers of this thread I have decided to start this first post on why the political left of this country cannot, or more correctly should not, be classified in the general term “liberal.”

I’ll start this article off with a quote from one of my favorite (English)philosophers:

Herbert Spencer

“The authoritarian sets up some book, or man, or tradition to establish the truth. The freethinker sets up reason and private judgment to discover the truth… It takes the highest courage to utter unpopular truths.”
That’s what this endeavor so often feels like, an unpopular “truth.”

Before I delve into the meat of what I would like to say allow me to note that I am in no way attempting to place a label of “good” or “evil” on Liberalism, the US left-wing, or the Democratic party. I am simply comparing the actions, political ideology, and agendas of the US left-wing, with that of the philosophy(ies) of Liberalism (in its pre-New Deal form) in order to properly demonstrate the clear incompatability that exist between the two concepts of Liberalism and what is actually Progressive-Socialism.

First I shall define what liberalism is in detail through the words of men who knew precisely what Liberalism is and were far greater in a posteriori knowledge of it due to the conditions in which they lived. That being under the abject tyranny of Feudalism as opposed to all of us who live under a truly Liberal document (The Bill of Rights and the US Constitution) today within the United States (pity it isn’t honored anymore).

In the words of Adam Smith;

“The natural effort of every individual to better his own condition is so powerful that it is alone, and without any assistance, not only capable of carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting a hundred impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often encumbers its operations.”
In the words of John Stuart Mill;

“The only freedom deserving the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental and spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.”
Mill went on to simplify this statement when he said; “Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”

In other words, the idea behind Liberalism, in its most basic form, is the idea that individual liberty and freedom of economic action, is to be held in the highest regard which as I stated previously is precisely what most dictionaries define it as.

The current Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary lists Liberalism as;

1) the quality or state of being liberal
2) A: a movement in modern Protestantism emphasizing intellectual liberty and the spiritual and ethical content of Christianity
B: a theory in economics emphasizing individual freedom from restraint and usually based on free competition, the self-regulating market, and the gold standard.
C: a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties.
D: the principles and policies of a Liberal Party
Seems simple enough, as well it should, but when the Progressives took control of the word in the early 20th Century the waters of Liberalism were muddied.
Take for example what we see listed on the popular online encyclopedia website Wikipedia;

Liberalism is an ideology, or current of political thought, which strives to maximize individual liberty through rights under law. Liberalism seeks a society characterized by free action within a defined framework. This framework is generally seen to include a pluralistic liberal democratic system of government, the rule of law, the free exchange of ideas, and economic competition. Liberalism rejected many foundational assumptions which dominated most earlier theories of government, such as the divine right of kings, hereditary status, and established religion. The fundamental principles of liberalism include human rights, especially the right to life, liberty, and property; equal rights for all citizens under the law; government with the consent of the governed as determined by open and fair elections; and transparency in government.That definition seems to emulate the idea of “holding individual freedom in the highest regard” but then the article there goes on to explain the “different forms” of “Liberalism” some of which are can be considered incompatible with the above definition from the article.

Forms of liberalismPolitical liberalism is the belief that individuals are the basis of law and society, and that society and its institutions exist to further the ends of individuals, without showing favor to those of higher social rank. The Magna Carta is an example of a political document that asserted the rights of individuals even above the prerogatives of monarchs. Political liberalism stresses the social contract, under which citizens make the laws and agree to abide by those laws. It is based on the belief that individuals know best what is best for them. Political liberalism includes the extension of the right to vote to women, non-whites, and those who do not own property. Political liberalism emphasizes the rule of law and supports liberal democracy.

Economic liberalism, many of whose adherents term it classical liberalism, is an ideology which supports the individual rights of property and freedom of contract. The watchword of this form of liberalism is “free enterprise”. It advocates laissez-faire capitalism, meaning the removal of legal barriers to trade and cessation of government-bestowed privilege such as subsidy and monopoly. Economic liberals want little or no government regulation of the market. Some economic liberals would accept government restrictions of monopolies and cartels, others argue that monopolies and cartels are caused by State action. Economic liberalism holds that the value of goods and services should be set by the unfettered choices of individuals, that is, of market forces. Some would also allow market forces to act even in areas conventionally monopolized by governments, such as the provision of security and courts. Economic liberalism accepts the economic inequality that arises from unequal bargaining positions as being the natural result of competition, so long as no coercion is used. This form of liberalism is especially influenced by English liberalism of the mid 19th century. Libertarianism is the closest present representative of this intellectual tradition today. Minarchism and anarcho-capitalism are forms of economic liberalism. (See also Free trade, Neo-liberalism, liberalization )

Cultural liberalism focuses on the rights of individuals pertaining to conscience and lifestyle, including such issues as sexual freedom, religious freedom, cognitive freedom, and protection from government intrusion into private life. John Stuart Mill aptly expressed cultural liberalism in his essay “On Liberty,” when he wrote, “The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.” Cultural liberalism generally opposes government regulation of gambling, sex, prostitution, the age of consent, abortion, birth control, terminal illness, alcohol, and marijuana and other controlled substances. Most liberals oppose some or all government intervention in these areas. The Netherlands, in this respect, may be the most liberal country in the world today.

Social liberalism, also known as reform liberalism, arose in the late 19th century in many developed countries, influenced by the utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill. Some liberals accepted, in part or in whole, Marxist and socialist exploitation theory and critiques of “the profit motive”, and concluded that government should use its power to remedy these perceived problems. According to the tenets of this form of liberalism, as explained by writers such as John Dewey and Mortimer Adler, since individuals are the basis of society, all individuals should have access to basic necessities of fulfillment, such as education, economic opportunity, and protection from harmful macro-events beyond their control. To social liberals, these benefits are considered rights. These positive rights, which must be produced and supplied by other people, are qualitatively different from the classic negative rights, which require only that others refrain from aggression. To the social liberal, ensuring positive rights is a goal that is continuous with the general project of protecting liberties. Schools, libraries, museums, and art galleries were to be supported by taxes. Social liberalism advocates some restrictions on economic competition. It also expects governments to provide a basic level of welfare, supported by taxation, intending to enable the best use of the talents of the population, to prevent revolution, or simply “for the public good.”
There is a fundamental antagonism between economic and social liberalism. Economic liberals see positive rights as necessarily violating negative rights, and therefore illegitimate. They see a limited role for government. Some economic liberals see no proper function of government (anarchists), while others would limit government to courts, police, and defense against foreign invasion (minarchists.) Social liberals, in contrast, see a major role for government in promoting the general welfare – providing some or all of the following services: food and shelter for those who cannot provide for themselves, medical care, schools, retirement, care for children and for the disabled, including those disabled by old age, help for victims of natural disaster, protection of minorities, prevention of crime, and support for art and for science. This largely abandons the idea of limited government. Both forms of liberalism seek the same end – liberty – but they disagree strongly about the best or most moral means to attain it. Some liberal parties emphasize economic liberalism, while others focus on social liberalism. Conservative parties often favor economic liberalism while opposing cultural liberalism.
While all four of these “types” of Liberalism may seem independent they in fact are simply facets of the same entity.
John Stuart Mill and Ludwig VonMises were both Liberal thinkers, and while they do have minor disagreements in ideas, the core beliefs are the same.
Mill and VonMises ideals are incompatible with those of Marx and Engels. While all four men would certainly decry the evils of Mercantilist/Corporatist governments (like the US is today) their solutions to the problems brought on by Mercantilist/Corporatist systems are radically different from one another (Laissez Faire/Austrian economics verses Socialism).
Thus it is only a fool who thinks that Liberalism is harmonious with Socialism as Socialism (especially Scientific-Socialism) clearly puts the needs of the collective over that of the individual therefore the two are mutually exclusive of each other.

Within the United States it is considered common knowledge that the “left-wing” political parties of the United States see government regulation of the economy as a “good thing” which promotes economic equality also known as egalitarianism. However, this poltical ideology is not compatable with the free-market system of most forms of liberal thought.

The “left-wing” rhetoric of “collective rights,” “Social Justice,” and “social equality” are among the litany of the left’s ideologies which are diametrically opposed to the tenets of Liberalism.

While it is clear that the “liberal” left-wing has pushed for the “civil rights” of homosexuals, women, and minorities, the laws which “protect” these rights are often subject to government scrutiny and can be “adjusted” to meet the agenda of a political administration or regime within the United States at the stroke of a judicial gavel, political pen, or agenda driven public-initiative.
Prime examples are the recent state bans on gay marriage and bans on firearms (or the heavy regulation thereof) in numerous states.
Liberals do not ban anything, what they do in place of such laws is to either stay out of the personal lives of the individual (as in the case of Abortion or Gay Marriage) or provide severe punishment for the abuse of said rights; an example would be a mandatory death-penalty for use of a firearm in a crime that results in the death of another person (be it negligence or otherwise). For actual Liberals, one person’s rights end where another’s begins.

Liberals are NOT advocates of so called “civil rights.”
Legally speaking, civil rights are rights appertaining to a person in virtue of his citizenship in a state or community (Black’s law Dictionary; page 1487). These rights are subject to the powers of the state and can be regulated by the state.

Whereas natural rights are rights which grow out of the nature of man and depend upon personality, as distinguished from such as are created by law and depend upon civilized society (Blacks Law Dictionary; page 1487). These rights exist because the individual exists and not because of the will of the state or the masses.

I maintain that the political “left-wing” of the United States is not Liberal in any sense of the word other than that of social “liberal”, as they no longer adhere to the ideal of individual liberty and have traded the defense of natural rights for civil rights.

Bill Clinton expressed his view of individual rights in USA today, back in 1993 (Page 2A)
“We can’t be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans…”
Bill Clinton further emphasized his feelings about individual freedoms on MTV’s “enough is enough” on 3-22-94.

“When we got organized as a country and we wrote a fairly radical Constitution with a radical Bill of Rights, giving a radical amount of individual freedom to Americans, it was assumed that the Americans who had that freedom would use it responsibly…. [However, now] there’s a lot of irresponsibility. And so a lot of people say there’s too much freedom. When personal freedom’s being abused, you have to move to limit it. That’s what we did in the announcement I made last weekend on the public housing projects, about how we’re going to have weapon sweeps and more things like that to try to make people safer in their communities.”
Though the political “left-wing” gives lip-service to the ideals of freedom, their actions, in the form of laws, on all levels of govenment betray their true nature.

That nature being one of social “Liberalism” or just plain socialism/communism depending on which end of the “left-wing” spectrum in the US you are looking at.

In general American [left-wing] “liberalism” currently consists of the following agenda;

from Wikipedia;

The following views are associated with American liberalism, though many people who consider themselves liberal would accept some of these views and reject others:

  • Support for government social programs such as welfare, medical care, unemployment benefits, and retirement programs.
  • Support for increased funding for public education.
  • Support for trade unions, teachers’ unions, and government protections for organized labor.
  • Regulation of business – OSHA, against child labor, monopolistic practices, etc.
  • Support for civil rights:
  • Support laws against discrimination based on gender, race, age, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.
  • Support laws guaranteeing rights of women and minorities, particularly racial and religious minorities, the disabled, and gays.
  • Support for such programs as affirmative action and transitional multi-lingual educational programs for children whose first language is not English.
  • Support broad voting rights.
  • Support for reproductive rights
  • Support for strong environmental regulations.
  • Support for public transportation.
  • Support for minimum wage requirements.
  • Support for government funding to alternative energy research.
  • Opposition to the death penalty.
  • Support for animal rights – as an issue of ethical human behavior.
  • Support for gun control.
  • Support for a progressive tax system.
The above list is a fair overview of the major political agenda and philosophy which surrounds the current American left-wing.
This line of thinking leaves many questions as to its validity of being purely Liberal.

Where is the “holding individual freedom in the highest regard?”

Where is the free-market system of Laissez Faire?

Where are the rights of personal property?

Where are the constitutionally protected inalienable rights of Americans?

It is certainly not Cultural Liberalism, Economic Liberalism, or Political Liberalism. I suppose it must then be Social “Liberalism.”

However, what I see in that list above, closely resembles the communist manifesto, which lists its ten basic goals as;

From the Communist Manifesto:
  • 1) Abolistion of property in land and application of all land to public purposes.
  • 2) A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
  • 3) Abolition of all right of inheritance.
  • 4) Confiscation of the property of emigrants and rebels.
  • 5) Centralization of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
  • 6) Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
  • 7) Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; cultivation of wast-lands; and improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
  • 8 ) Equal liability of all to labor. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
  • 9) Combination of argriculture with manufacturing industries; and gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the population over the country.
  • 10) Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.
This line of similar political thinking is of interest because most “left-wing” or leaning “liberals” claim to be diametrically opposed to communism and/or socialism.

Yet the redistribution of wealth, and the regulation of the economy by the government are among the “holiest of holies” of left-wing “liberal” politics. Two political goals which are also espoused by both communist and socialist political thinking.

Another point of interest is the general claim by “left-wing” “liberals” that their ideology comes from the age of classical liberalism. I find this strange because the great thinkers of that age (Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Jeremy Bentham, and John Stuart Mill) espoused Laisse Faire economics and individual feedoms. Yet the actions (the laws they push for and support) of the “liberal” left-wing, specifically the Democratic Party, is contrary to these ideals.

The major turning point for what would become social or modern “Liberalism” was of course, the New Deal plan of FDR, Woodrow Wilson was certainly a contributor to this change in the direction of the term Liberalism, but none popularized and thus corrupted the term as much as FDR.


Before the New Deal gave the term liberalism its modern American meaning, it was a little-used word that referred to a belief in laissez-faire economics and limited government. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the president who defined liberalism for most Americans, came to power in the midst of blinding economic misery at home and barbarism abroad. A month before Roosevelt took office in March 1933, Adolf Hitler took power in Germany and Joseph Stalin was liquidating millions of peasants in the Ukraine. Democracy, according to the “best” minds of the age, was a pleasant nineteenth-century myth out of place in a world where, as World War I had demonstrated, mass sentiment could be manufactured like bicycles. Democracy, said Benito Mussolini in Italy, was insufficiently dynamic. “All the experiments of our time,” he crowed, “are anti-liberal.”

Overwhelmed by the collapse of the economy, bankers and business[men] urged the president to take extraordinary powers. The respected liberal journalist Louis Fischer spoke for many when he argued that given the collapse of capitalist democracy, the country had to choose between “capitalistic dictatorship and white terror on the one hand and Soviet dictatorship on the other.”

On the right, laissez-faire economists argued that the depression had been brought on by the trade unions which had undercut capitalism by reducing profit margins. The depression could be ended only if Roosevelt seized the emergency powers necessary to restrict democracy and restore profit margins. From the left came the assertion that prosperity could be restored only through a command economy that would necessarily restrict individual liberties. There was, said Roosevelt’s 1936 presidential opponent, Alf Landon, “no half-way house between these two systems.”

But in a nation ravaged by depression and doubt, Roosevelt chose not to choose. He neither rolled back democracy nor expropriated the expropriators. Instead, through word and deed, he made democracy a fighting faith again. Roosevelt seized on liberal, until then a word of minor importance in the American political vocabulary, to describe his New Deal, his attempt to temper economic individualism with social[ist] democratic safeguards. For millions of Americans those safeguards–such as Social Security and bank deposit insurance–would become synonymous with the liberalism they repeatedly supported at the ballot box from 1932 to 1964.

Roosevelt’s use of the term liberal angered those like Herbert Hoover who associated the word with limited government and laissez-faire economics, but its connotations of tolerance helped ward off those who labeled FDR’s policies “communistic” or “fascist.” “My friends,” said Roosevelt, turning the tables on Hoover, “I am not for return to that definition of liberty under which for many years a free people were gradually regimented into the service” of big business. Yet, Roosevelt’s liberalism was, in its unprecedented challenge to American individualism, more radical than anything the nation has seen before or since.

Many of FDR’s specific programs drew on earlier reforms, but New Deal liberalism as a whole broke with its predecessors like progressivism by giving up on the hope of reconstructing the Jeffersonian ideal. The Great Depression had decimated the independent middle classes, the small business[men] and farmers who had been the bulwark of self-government. Roosevelt redefined democracy for a mass society of industrial workers. He incorporated the wage-earning masses into the nation’s political life by supporting the growth of trade unionism. Government, through New Deal laws like the Wagner Act which enabled labor to organize, became the guarantor of the independence once supplied by property ownership.
FDR’s New Deal Liberalism created much of the semi-socialist state his detractors feared. This New-Deal caused a considerable drain on our economic system [Keynesian Economics/Corportavism at that time] and produced some of the most wasteful government programs to date.


New Deal, in U.S. history, term for the domestic reform program of the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt; it was first used by Roosevelt in his speech accepting the Democratic party nomination for President in 1932. The New Deal is generally considered to have consisted of two phases.
The first phase (1933–34) attempted to provide recovery and relief from the Great Depression through programs of agricultural and business regulation, inflation, price stabilization, and public works. Meeting (1933) in special session, Congress established numerous emergency organizations, notably the National Recovery Administration (NRA), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA), the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Public Works Administration. Congress also instituted farm relief, tightened banking and finance regulations, and founded the Tennessee Valley Authority. Later Democratic Congresses devoted themselves to expanding and modifying these laws. In 1934, Congress founded the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission and passed the Trade Agreements Act, the National Housing Act, and various currency acts.

The second phase of the New Deal (1935–41), while continuing with relief and recovery measures, provided for social and economic legislation to benefit the mass of working people. The social security system was established in 1935, the year the National Youth Administration and Work Projects Administration were set up. The Fair Labor Standards Act was passed in 1938. The Revenue Acts of 1935, 1936, and 1937 provided measures to democratize the federal tax structure. A number of New Deal measures were invalidated by the Supreme Court, however; in 1935 the NRA was struck down and the following year the AAA was invalidated. The President unsuccessfully sought to reorganize the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, other laws were substituted for legislation that had been declared unconstitutional.

The New Deal, which had received the endorsement of agrarian, liberal, and labor groups, met with increasing criticism. The speed of reform slackened after 1937, and there was growing Republican opposition to the huge public spending, high taxes, and centralization of power in the executive branch of government; within the Democratic party itself there was strong disapproval from the “old guard” and from disgruntled members of the Brain Trust. As the prospect of war in Europe increased, the emphasis of government shifted to foreign affairs. There was little retreat from reform, however; at the end of World War II, most of the New Deal legislation was still intact, and it remains the foundation for American social policy
The Supreme Court of the day put a stop to some of the New Deal, finding many of the new laws of FDR’s plan to be patently unconstitutional.
FDR’s push towards collectivized work forces and increased government control mixed with actual relief for the Great Depression;

  • United States bank holiday, 1933: closed all banks until they became certified by federal reviewers
  • Abandonment of gold standard, 1933: allowed more money to be put in circulation to create a mild inflation
  • Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), 1933: employed young adults to perform unskilled work for the federal government
  • Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), 1933: a government program that ran a series of dams built on the Tennessee River
  • Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), 1933: provided breadlines and other aid to the unemployed
  • Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), 1933: paid farmers to not grow crops (Anyone else see a contradiction here?)
  • National Recovery Act (NRA), 1933: created fair standards in favor of labor unions
  • Civil Works Administration (CWA), 1933: provided temporary jobs to millions of unemployed
  • Public Works Administration (PWA), 1933: employed middle-aged skilled workers to work on public projects, cost $4 billion
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) / Glass-Steagall Act: insures deposits in banks in order to restore public confidence in banks
  • Securities Act of 1933, created the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), 1933: codified standards for sale and purchase of stock, required risk of investments to be accurately disclosed
  • Indian Reorganization Act, 1934
  • Social Security Act (SSA), 1935: provided financial assistance to: elderly, handicapped, delinquent, unemployed; paid for by employee and employer payroll contributions
  • Works Progress Administration (WPA), 1935: a reiteration of the PWA, created useful work for skilled workers
  • National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) / Wagner Act, 1935: granted right of labor unions to exist
  • Judiciary Act, 1937: FDR requested power to appoint a new Supreme Court judge for every judge 70 years or older; failed to pass
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 1938: established a maximum normal work week of 40 hours, and a minimum pay of 40 cents/hour
The New Deal reflected Progressive ideas that Roosevelt and most of his sycophants had absorbed in their political youths early in the 20th Century. Those ideas being a total impatience with economic chaos, distain for monopolies, and a belief fueled by determination that government regulation of the economy (the very core of socialist philosophy) was the answer to the country’s economic woes; with an emphasis on the belief that poverty was usually a product of social and economic forces, and not a personal moral failure.

None of what FDR pushed for during his four terms as President embodied the majority of liberalism, as understood in the US, prior to his “New Deal”.

The term “liberal Democrat” became a new phrase used by the New Deal Progressive-Socialist-Democrats.

During and after World War II, the Democrats expanded their use government power to cure every and all social ills. They argued against their detractors that the ”equality of opportunity” and the ideal of an “egalitarian” system of economic regulation demanded vigorous government spending and authority. Not however, on a case by case basis in response to emergency or economic threats to the stability of the country, but permanently, as a necessary function of federal policymaking. This paradigm shift from the sacred Democratic promise against the intrusion and abuse of government power could not be more clear.

The New Deal and the “Liberalism” which followed is completely contrary to the philosophy of classical Liberalism which I laid out in the begining of this article.
As the founders of what truly is Liberalism have said over two and a half centuries, the key element which comprises the core of whether something is indeed Liberal or not is that of Holding Individual Freedom in the Highest Regard.

From the words of the very men who created what Liberalism is we can see what should be defined as Liberal verses what is currently being pushed on us as “Liberal.”

Adam Smith:

“It is the highest impertinence and presumption, therefore, in kings and ministers, to pretend to watch over the economy of private people, and to restrain their expence, either by sumptuary laws, or by prohibiting the importation of foreign luxuries. They are themselves always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society. Let them look well after their own expence, and they may safely trust private people with theirs. If their own extravagance does not ruin the state, that of their subjects never will.”
John Stuart Mill:

Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling, against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them.
Herbert Spencer:

The liberty the citizen enjoys is to be measured not by governmental machinery he lives under, whether representative or other, but by the paucity of restraints it imposes upon him.
and another from Spencer:

The function of Liberalism in the past was that of putting a limit to the powers of kings. The function of true Liberalism in the future will be that of putting a limit to the powers of Parliaments.
Perhaps none so much as Thomas Jefferson embodied the very soul of what truly is Americanist-Liberalism. He is a hero of mine, and the father of Americanist-Liberalism IMHO:

Speaking on centralized banks and the evils of such institutions that are more often then not viewed as “too big to fail.”
We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debt, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our calling and our creeds…[we will] have no time to think, no means of calling our miss-managers to account but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers… And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for[ another]… till the bulk of society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery… And the fore-horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.
Thomas Jefferson on dangers of government taking too large a role in the lives of the individual citizens of the United States:

I am for a government rigorously frugal and simple. Were we directed from Washington when to sow, when to reap, we should soon want bread
Thomas Jefferson on banking in general (he wasn’t a fan apparently):

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a moneyed aristocracy that has set the Government at defiance. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs.
TJ on the dangers of pure Democracy verses that which is bound by a constitution and its tenets. We see here that a Liberal does not believe in positive rights but rather negative ones:

Bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.
Here TJ is addressing the needs of a proper Liberal society to excercise in the most efficient way to ensure domestic tranquility:

A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walk.
Thomas Jefferson’s warning about big-government and his affirmation of his faith in the individual:

The way to have good and safe government is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to everyone exactly the functions in which he is competent … It is by dividing and subdividing these Republics from the great national one down through all its subordinations until it ends in the administration of everyman’s farm by himself, by placing under everyone what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best.
Thomas Jefferson’s warning against welfare:

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
Thomas Jefferson’s warning about the use of a private centralized banking system (like the Federal Reserve for example):

If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them (around the banks), will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.
Another warning about the “redistribution of wealth” by TJ:

…Enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man, acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter — with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more.. .a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities
Thomas Jefferson knew what it took to create a healthy economy and it is far more simple then we have been lead to believe:

Agriculture, manufacturers, commerce, and navigation, the four pillars of our prosperity, are then most thriving when left most free to individual enterprise.
Here is the last TJ quote I’ll burden you readers with, but it is certainly a very relevent one even for our day and age. It’s a pity we as a nation did not heed this man’s warnings:

The system of banking [is] a blot left in all our Constitutions, which, if not covered, will end in their destruction… I sincerely believe that banking institutions are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity… is but swindling futurity on a large scale
Samuel Adams may not have sonsidered himself a Liberal but he certainly understood its principles:

Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: first, a right to life; secondly, to liberty; thirdly to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can.
Some pre-New Deal and most of the post-New Deal Modern “Liberalism” consists of so called social “liberals” who advocate many ideas and philosophies which closely resemble socialism.

Particularly those found in the writings of many Corporatists like Keynes for example:

“It is not true that individuals possess a prescriptive ‘natural liberty’ in their economic activities. There is no ‘compact’ conferring perpetual rights on those who Have or on those who Acquire. The world is not so governed from above that private and social interests always coincide. It is not a correct deduction from the Principles of Economics that enlightened self-interest always operates in the public interest. Nor is it true that self-interest is generally enlightened; more often individuals acting separately to promote their own ends are too ignorant or too weak to attain even these. Experience does not show that individuals, when they make up a social unit, are always less enlightened than when they act separately.”

-John Maynard Keynes, “The End of Laissez Faire” (1926), in Essays in Persuasion (New York: Norton, 1963), p. 312
The “transformation” of the ideology of Liberalism did not go unnoticed and the opponents of the “New Deal Liberals” were quick to point out the holes in the left-wing veneer.

“In the United States, the good ship Liberalism … has been boarded and captured by a pirate crew of state interventionists and near-socialists whose ideals are unrecognizably different from those of the historic founders of Liberalism and who regard Karl Marx as more relevant to modern conditions than Adam Smith.”

-William Henry Chamberlin, The Evolution of a Conservative (Chicago: Regnery, 1959), p. 39.
John Dewey’s explaination on the subject (I’m more of a James' Pragmatist myself ) clearly shows the relationship of economic socialism to the New Deal “Liberalism”.
He (Dewey) admits that there was a change from actual Liberalism to what can only be described as socialist-Liberalism.

“Gradually a change came over the spirit and meaning of Liberalism. It came surely, if gradually, to be dissociated from the laissex-faire creed and to be associated with the use of governmental action for aid to those at economic disadvantage and for alleviation of those conditions…. The majority of those who call themselves Liberals today are committed to the principle that organized society must use its powers to establish the conditions under which the mass of individuals can possess actual as distinct from merely legal liberty.

“Since liberation of the capacities of individuals for free, self-initiated expression is an essential part of the creed of Liberalism, Liberalism that is sincere must will the means that condition the achieving of its ends. Regimentation of material and mechanical forces is the only way by which the mass of individuals can be released from regimentation…. The notion that organized social control [i.e., government control, or state control] of economic forces lies outside the historic path of Liberalism shows Liberalism is still impeded by remnants of its earlier, laissez-faire phase. Earlier Liberalism regarded the separate and competing economic action of individuals as the means to social well-being as the end. We must reverse the perspective and see that socialized economy is the means of free individual development as rhe end.”

-John Dewey, Liberalism and Social Action (New York: G.P.Putnam’s Sons, 1935), pp. 21, 27, 90.
Clearly Dewey is trying to play the part of the apologist for the blatantly obvious hijacking of the term Liberal by the Progressive-Socialist movement that had all but destroyed itself during the time of Pres. Woodrow Wilson.

Perhaps the best summary of what social “Liberalism” is (that I have found thus far);

“Modern Liberalism has shifted to a belief in one or another degree of what may be called, in a general sense, statism. It has an always critical and sometimes wholly negative attitude toward private economic enterprise. Liberals accept and advocate a multiplication of the substantive activities of government in nearly all social institutions, extensive government controls over the economy, and at least some measure of government ownership and operation. Modern Liberalism insists that the entry of government into nearly every phase of social life, except religion, aids rather than hinders the attainment of the good life and the good society.

“… modern Liberalism has absorbed an important segment of the ideology of Socialism. Liberalism does not … share the total demand of orthodox Marxian Socialism: for nationalization of all major means of production, transport, and distribution; and … the non-Communist Socialist parties in most Western nations have dropped this extreme position during the past decade or so. The ideological movement has gone both ways: just as Liberalism shifted toward Socialism in its doctrine of the state and its economics, so has the reformist or democratic wing of traditional Socialism shifted toward Liberalism. The two have come close to meeting in the concept of what has come to be called ‘the Welfare State,’ and there meet up with other currents from radicalism….”

“… Liberals almost always support the side of government control, planning, financing, or take-over when this is posed as a specific issue.”

-James Burnham, Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism (New York: John Day, 1964), pp. 91-92.
Sadly the conservatives seem to be the ones who understand the difference between the “New Deal” or social “Liberalism” and what is termed classical liberalism, rather than those who claim to believe in Liberalism.

Barry Goldwater made this point quite well;

“… Liberals would plan our lives for us under the banner of Democratic [Party] administrations and the ever greater flow of federal largess.

“Behind all the premises of [Liberal] planners lies a cynical contempt for the individual freedoms which make Americans different from most of their contempories around the world. … The [Liberal] New Dealers … would legalize their direction of our lives under the guise of economic grants and other giveaways, ….”

-Barry Morris Goldwater with Jack Casserly, Goldwater (New York: Doubleday, 1988), pp. 99-100.
Throughout the post-New Deal era, conservatives and what can be termed “true liberals” or “classical Liberals” have been trying to point out the similarities between New Deal “Liberalism” (and the Post New Deal Liberalism) and socialism for quite some time.

The National Review magazine tried to point this out in 1958;

“(1) … contemporary Liberalism is in agreement with Communism on the most essential point — the necessity and desirability of Socialism; (2) … it [Liberalism] regards all inherited values — theological, philosophical, political — as without intrinsic virtue or authority; (3) … therefore, no irreconcilable differences exist between it [Liberalism] and Communism — only differences as to method and means; and (4) … in view of these characteristics of their ideology, the Liberals are unfit for the leadership of a free society, and intrinsically incapable of offering serious opposition to the Communist offensive.”

-Frank S. Meyer, “The Meaning of McCarthyism,” National Review, Volume V (June 14, 1958), p. 566.
A custom and policy of the social “liberals” within the United States has been to label the Republican and Libertarian party platforms, and economic liberalism, as a step “backwards”. This little tid bit makes an interesting point about this trend of the left-wing, and further distances them (IMHO) from “true” or Americanist-Liberalism;

“… the dominant political orientation of American intellectuals has been Liberal and Left….

“Because the great majority of intellectuals [in the U.S.A.] are Liberal, it is essentially Liberals who define what is meant by the term ‘Conservative.’ In the Liberal vision, Conservatives are people who want to either preserve the status quo or go back to some earlier and ‘simpler’ times. However politically effective such conceptions may be, in putting alternatives out of court, there are great cognitive difficulties with such characterizations. For example, there is not a speck of evidence that earlier times were, in fact, “simpler,” though, of couse, our knowledge of such times may be cruder. Moreover, the status quo in the United States and throughout much of Western Europe is a Liberal-Left status quo, entrenched for at least a generation. Alternatives to this [status quo] are arbitrarily called ‘going back,’ even when these alternatives refer to social arrangements that have never existed (the monetary proposals of the Chicago economists, for example), while proposals to continue or accelerate existing [Liberal-Left] political-economic trends are called ‘innovative’ or even ‘radical.’ Conservers of Liberal or Socialist institutions are never called by the pejorative term, ‘Conservative.’ Neither are those who expouse the ideals, or repeat the very phrases, of 1789 France. In the broad sweep of history, the systemic advantages of decentralized decision making are a far more recent conception than the idea that salvation lies in concentrating power in the hands of the right people with the right principles. Adam Smith came two thousand years after Plato, but contemporary versions of the philosopher-king approach are considered new and revolutionary, while contemporary versions of systemic decentralization are considered ‘outmoded.’ Such expressions are themselves part of a vision in which ideas may be judged temporally, rather than cognitively — what was adequate to older and simpler times being inadequate for the complexities of modern life.”

-Thomas Sowell, Knowledge and Decisions (New York: Basic Books, 1980), pp. 366-367.
Another “golden calf” of the social “liberal” is tolerance. While Libertarians and Americanist-Liberals (and others) truly are tolerant of everyone, so long as they respect the individual rights of other people, left-wing social “liberals” quite frankly are not;

“Contemporary Liberalism honors diversity and tolerance above all, but what it calls by those names is different from what has been so called in the past. Its diversity denigrates and excludes ordinary people, and its tolerance requires speech codes[political correctness], quotas, and compulsory training in correct opinions and attitudes. Nor do current Liberal totems and taboos have a clear connection with letting people live as they wish. Prohibitions, both grand and petty, multiply. To outsiders, the rules often seem simply arbitrary: prayer is forbidden, while instruction in the use of condoms is required; smoking and furs are outrages, abortion and sodomy fundamental rights.

“Tolerance” is traditionally understood procedurally, to mean letting people do what they want. Contemporary Liberals understand it substantively, to require equal respect as a fact of social life. …substantive tolerance requires pervassive administrative control of social life. A regime that adopts substantive tolerance as its goal must be intolerant procedurally because it must control the attitudes people have toward each other, and any serious attempt to do so will require means that are unforgiving and despotic.”

-Jim Kalb, “Stalking the Wild Taboo” (
Lastly, I’m throwing this one in for good measure, much of what he (the author of the following quotes) says is inflamatory (even to me) but overall holds some truth. Modern social “Liberals” [Progressives actually] do espouse a belief that mankind is inherently good, this position falls inline with both Marx’s communism, and most forms of socialist thought, while it does not conform to the philosophy of classical liberalism;
Even Thomas Jefferson saw mankind as a fallen creature (not necessarily in the Biblical sense) who required discipline in virtues and morality in order to remain civilized.

“How can decent and often very smart people hold Liberal positions?

“There are many reasons, but the two greatest may be naivete and narcissims. Each alone causes problems, but, when combined in the same person, are particularly destructive.

“At the heart of Liberalism is the naive belief that people are basically good. As a result of this belief, Liberals rarely blame people for the evil they do. Instead, they blame economics, parents, capitalism, racism, any anything else that can let the individual off the hook.

“A second naive Liberal belief is that, because people are basically good, talking with people who do evil is always better than fighting, let alone killing them. ‘Negotiate with Saddam,’ ‘Negotiate with the Soviets,’ ‘War never solves anything,’ ‘Think peace,’ ‘Visualize peace’ — the Liberal mind is filled with naive cliches about how to deal with evil.

“Indeed, the very use of the word ‘evil’ greatly disturbs Liberals. It shakes up their child-like view of the world, their view that everybody is, at heart, a decent person who is either misunderstood or led to do unfortunate things by outside forces. [Editor's Note: A notable exception to the Liberal's unwillingness to use the word "evil" is his very strong tendency to rhetorically localize evil in those individuals and groups whom he labels "reactionaries," "Rightwing extremists." "greedy capitalists," "corporate vested interests," "racists," "Fascists," "war mongers," "militarists," "Red Necks," "male chauvinists," "homophobes" and "socially and culturally backward elements," as well as in Conservatives and other non-Liberals who oppose Liberal policies and offer non-Liberal policy alternatives. Almon L. Way, Jr.]

“The second major source of modern Liberalism is narcissism, the unhealthy preoccupation with one’s feelings. We live in the Age of Narcissism. As a result of unprecedented affluence and luxury, preoccupation with one’s psychological state and a hedonistic culture, much of the West, America included, has become almost entirely feelings-directed.

“That is one reason “feelings” and “compassion” are two of the most often used Liberal terms. “Character” is no longer a Liberal word because it implies self-restraint. ‘Good’ and ‘evil’ are not Liberal words either, as they imply a standard beyond one’s feelings.” [Editor's Note: An important exception to the Liberal's reluctance to use the word "good" is his very strong inclination to characterize as "good" basic human nature, Liberals, Liberalism, and the Liberal political agenda. Almon L. Way, Jr.]

-Dennis Praeger, “What Makes a Liberal? (, August 12, 2003.
Liberalism in its true form is nothing like what we have been taught is “Liberal.”
Thankfully there are those who understand this still and the torch of real Americanist-Liberalism continues to be past down from generation to generation with the hopes of undoing the damage to the good name of Liberalism and restoring the United States to a real Liberal nation as its Constitution and Bill of Rights were written and ratified for it to be.

Fredrich August Von Hayek (Nobel Laureate of Economic Sciences 1974) laid bare the sheer foolishness of the social or collectivist line of thinking which dominates the current crop of Progressive-Socialist “Liberals”;

“Even more significant of the inherent weakness of the collectivist theories is the extraordinary paradox that from the assertion that society is in some sense more than merely the aggregate of all individuals their adherents regularly pass by a sort of intellectual somersault to the thesis that in order that the coherence of this larger entity be safeguarded it must be subjected to conscious control, that is, to the control of what in the last resort must be an individual mind. It thus comes about that in practice it is regularly the theoretical collectivist who extols individual reason and demands that all forces of society be made subject to the direction of a single mastermind, while it is the individualist who recognizes the limitations of the powers of individual reason and consequently advocates freedom as a means for the fullest development of the powers of the interindividual process.”

His [Von Hayek] definition of a liberal (source: “Why I Am Not a Conservative,” postcript to The Constitution of Liberty [1960] (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1972), p. 402);

“The [classical] liberal, of course, does not deny that there are some superior people — he is not an egalitarian — but he denies that anyone has authority to decide who these superior people are.”
So herein lies the question of how can the left-wing, as a whole, consider themselves liberal?
They stand against all forms of liberalism outside the New Deal Liberalism and the doctrines which decended from that. The “new” forms of liberalism they do currently espouse have been corrupted into socialism in all but name.

In contrast to classical liberalism, socialism, is the political and economic theory that advocates a system of collective or government ownership and management of the means of production and distribution of goods. Because of the collective nature of socialism, it is to be contrasted to the doctrine of the sanctity of private property that characterizes capitalism. Where capitalism stresses competition and profit, socialism calls for cooperation and social service.
In a broader sense, the term socialism is often used loosely to describe economic theories ranging from those that hold that only certain public utilities and natural resources should be owned by the state to those holding that the state should assume responsibility for all economic planning and direction. In the past 150+ years there have been innumerable differing socialist programs. For this reason socialism as a doctrine is ill defined, although its main purpose, the establishment of cooperation in place of competition remains fixed.

To “call a spade a spade” Progressivism, modern liberalism, social liberalism, New Deal Liberalism and left-wing politics in the US in general, is by its own actions and admissions, in the form of law and party platforms, socialist.

With that long-winded piece, allow me to make my point.

The Democratic Party, and the left-wing cannot be classified as Liberal or be easily reconciled with Liberalism, and in fact, the left-wing as a whole does not represent Liberalism in any form, while the Democratic Party as a whole does not represent any form of Liberalism other than social/modern liberalism which in and of itself is not Liberalism but rather Progressive-Socialism.

Within the United States there is, to my knowledge, no political party which is wholly an Americanist-Liberal party, while it is my opinion the Libertarian party comes close, that party falls short of classical liberalism, as its platform is too minarchist and shrinks the powers and duties of government far beyond that envisioned by many of the philosophers of classical liberalism and thus Americanist-Liberalism.

The Republican Party, is truly a corporate-conservative party, with some elements that advocate economic liberalism, but overall the party is corporate-conservative/Corporatist in my understanding of the meaning of the word.

Thus I conclude this article with the hope that the reader now has a clear and concise understanding of what IS and what IS not an actual Liberal.
The Americanist hyphenation that I use simply indicates that the philosophy of Liberalism is that which is embodied within the Constitution and its Bill of Rights as they are written NOT as they are interpreted by judicial degree.


  1. Prime Administrator's Avatar
    I must admit Proud Proletarian, I may not agree with everyting you've got in this blog entry, but I do admire your style and no nonsense approach to politics.