Time for Conservatives to Take Back the Word 'Liberal'?

If it was good enough for Hayek, Milton Friedman and von Mises, it’s good enough for us. Indeed, there’s a movement afoot, writes Jeffrey A. Tucker:


For 2015, I would like to pick up an old campaign to take back the word “liberal” for the cause of human liberty. Or perhaps that’s too ambitious. Perhaps it is enough for each of us to do our part not to keep conceding the use of this glorious word to the enemies of liberty. It does not belong to them. It belongs to us.

This is not a tedious argument over definitions; this is about the proper identification of a magnificent intellectual tradition. Liberalism is about human liberty and its gradual progress over the last 500 years. It is not about state control. In the coming year, I’m determined to at least make my own language reflect this reality.

Since the fascist Left now calls itself “progressive” (a word a century old, which shows you just where their heads are at), the words “liberal” or “classical liberals” are ripe for the taking,

The core conviction of liberalism was that society contained within itself the capacity for self-management. The social order was self-organized. We didn’t need masters and slaves. Society did not need to be hierarchically organized. Everyone could have equal freedom. This was a radical idea, and it did indeed build the best of modernity as we know it.

Liberalism secured private property. It ended slavery. It brought equal freedom to women. It stopped wars of conquest. It broke down the class and caste systems. It freed speech. It stopped religious persecution. It opened economic opportunities for everyone. It cast moral disapproval on despotisms of all sorts.

It put the consumer in charge of production. It brought education, culture, leisure, and even luxury to the mass of men and women. It lengthened lives, brought down infant mortality, raised incomes, ended plagues and starvation, and ignited the fire of invention that gave humanity the ability to travel, communicate, and cooperate as never before and as one human family. It brought peace.

This is what liberalism did! How can we give up this word? We cannot. We will not.


Read the whole thing. You can sign the manifesto here.



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