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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/12410/capitalism-forever/

“Capitalism” Forever

April 7, 2010 by

In one view, because the word “capitalism” does not have the meaning we intend, we should cease using it. From its historical roots and etymological derivation it does not and has not meant “free markets.” I disagree. FULL ARTICLE by Walter Block and Jackson Reeves


Matt Stiles April 7, 2010 at 10:03 am

I still like the word “liberal.” If I have to clarify, I’ll go with “classical liberal.” I figure that most see “libertarian” as a Milton Friedman/Alan Greenspan ideology (ie. Monetarist). So if people are going to misunderstand me, I’d prefer to take the best and most descriptive word.Furthermore, to foster cohesion across the pond, “Liberal” and “liberale” are still defined in German and French respectively what it used to mean in English.

garegin April 7, 2010 at 10:18 am

i think block is missing the point. sheldon and carson have a problem with the capitalist mode of production, not just the word. in his speech he clearly mentions tugot and willingness of workers to be employed.

Steven Farrall April 7, 2010 at 10:42 am

Excellent piece, and words Do Matter. I have struggled for years to find a word or phrase that encapsulates all that is meant by ‘capitalism’. One thought. It isn’t really ‘free markets’. It’s ‘freedom and markets’.

fundamentalist April 7, 2010 at 11:02 am

I agree. “Free markets” and “laissez-faire” mean to most people I talk to that there is no law protecting life, liberty and property; corporations are free to murder, defraud and steal with impunity. I patiently explain that capitalism is free markets with the rule of law. That is news to most people. Socialists have a huge advantage over us because they control the schools and the mainstream media. If we define a word corrrectly, no one knows. But if socialists define it falsely, in order to denigrate the concept, it immediately enters the dictionary, all school textbooks, and the conversation in the media. Changing names won’t change any of that dynamic.

Paul Marks April 7, 2010 at 10:49 am

There is another distorting movement going on.

That is to use taxday to protest against “corporations” (rather than against the state).

The idea is similar to the attack on “capitalism” – i.e. that big companies get subsidies and other favours from government. And it is expanded into the idea that “corporations write our laws” (as if corporations actually dreamed up such things as the “Stimulus” Bill or the Healthcare Bill – rather than seeking to get loopholes and favours out of Bills that were actually thought up by highly ideological people, not corporate managers out for profit) and gradually libertarians are taken from being opposed to the vast bloated government – to working against Ford and Walmart instead. It is a move to get potential libertarians and turn them into leftists – at least that would be the practical effect of such a campaign

It reminds me of the campaign of the late Murry Rothbard back in the 1960′s (which both he and Karl Hess regreted when they looked back on it) “Left and Right Join Hands” – the campaign was meant to win leftists over in the campaign against the big government Administration of L.B.J. (and Richard Nixon – who was at least as bad). However, what it actually did was to expand the ranks of the hardcore (Marxist) left.

However, pragmatic many corporate managers may be – however prepared they are to make corrupt deals with the government (in the hope of money for the stockholders) we must keep clear in minds what the enemy is and what it is not.

The enemy is NOT “capitalism” or “corporations” the enemy is the vast bloated government – and the ideas (both Welfare State and far beyond that) that create it. For it is IDEAS (not corrupt deals with corporations) that motivated the people who created the “Great Society” entitlement programs – and it is IDEAS (far worse ideas) that motivate Barack Obama and those around him now.

Not “capitalist” ideas and not “corporation” ideas either.

If Mr Richman had written “I do not like using the term capitalism” then I would not be concerned (apart from the point that garegin mentions), it is this idea of a “Campaign against capitalism” that plays straight into the hands of the left.

Guard April 12, 2010 at 4:47 am

“The enemy is NOT “capitalism” or “corporations” the enemy is the vast bloated government”
Indeed. The corporations are created, established and upheld by government. They are simply another branch of government.

fundamentalist April 7, 2010 at 10:59 am

I can understand the frustration with the use of the term capitalism, but I agree with Block that we have no better alternative. Adam Smith called the system “natural liberty.” Why don’t we go back to using his term? Because it didn’t take. No one would know what you’re talking about, so guess what, you have to define it for them, just as we have to define what we mean by capitalism every time we use it.

As for “free market” and “laissez-faire”, common usage is no better. Most opponents of capitalism use those terms as synonyms for capitalism and the mean by them the absence of the rule of any kind of law whatsoever. For socialists, free markets and laissez-faire mean that large corporations can commit fraud, murder, and theft with impunity. And Block is right about the term “anarchy.” To most people it means rule of brute force.

Socialists are fundamentally dishonest people. They can’t promote socialism without being dishonest. One of their chief dishonest weapons has been to redefine and distort the meanings of any term that classical liberals come up with. So I can guarantee anyone who hates the term capitalism and invents a new word for the system will find that socialists will have ruined it meaning with the common people before a year is over.

There is nothing we can do but remember to patiently explain what we mean every time we talk about something and expose the dishonesty of socialists in constantly inventing false definitions of words.

billwald April 7, 2010 at 11:13 am

As long as corporations are legally classified as “persons” they will own the state.

Anthony April 7, 2010 at 1:32 pm

All the more reason to weaken the state…

Stephan Kinsella April 8, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Corporations do not own the state. Rather the reverse is true. The state uses the propaganda that corporations are not possible without the state so that it is a grant of privilege that may be conditioned and thus used as an excuse to regulate and double-tax them. “To be a corporate person, you need our blessing; and that comes with strings attachd,” they say.

Nonsense. SEe my Corporations and Limited Liability for Torts.

David Roemer April 7, 2010 at 11:53 am

I stopped being a libertarian when I read Karl Rahner’s essay on the theology of power. This famous Catholic theologian defined power as the ability we all have, after the fall of Adam, to affect one another’s consciousness in a way that we have no control of. The definition of libertarians is based on utility theory: Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me. The more general and conservative definition justifies child support laws and not allowing gay marriages, abortions, and no-fault divorces. It also justifies, I must admit, slavery and anti-Jewish legislation.

There is another concept that should be defined, explicated, and examined: humanism/atheism. Humanists think that faith in God is irrational and our goal in life should be self-realization and helping our fellow man. There are a lot of people who don’t believe in the Bible or the Koran, but they give religion to their children and keep their lack of faith to themselves. Humanists think they are more rational than God-fearers but must know in the heart of hearts that this isn’t true. Herbert Spencer and Karl Marx were humanists. The former was obsessed with human progress and the latter was obsessed with interest rates on capital. They and their followers are liberals. Liberals change their political positions when their political positions no longer satisfied their emotional needs. Liberals are like feathers that blow this way and that in the wind.

Old Mexican April 7, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Re: David Roemer,

The more general and conservative definition [of libertarianism] justifies child support laws and not allowing gay marriages, abortions, and no-fault divorces. It also justifies, I must admit, slavery and anti-Jewish legislation.

This is a red herring, since you are not stating what this alleged definition looks like. One is supposed to take your word for it?

Barry Loberfeld April 7, 2010 at 11:57 am

We can provide a clear definition; it is the Left that is responsible for the obfuscation:

While many adherents of the Left made their peace with the poverty and tyranny of the Communist bloc, some did not, which to this day poses the question: How can these people continue to believe socialism a corrective for all the wrongs they denounce — we can recall Ralph Miliband’s classic Marxoid list of exploitation, poverty, war, imperialism, and the “crimes of the ruling classes” — when these always exist pervasively in those People’s Republics where every drop of capitalism, their hypothesized source, has been wrung from the social fabric? It’s not so much that they close their eyes as it is that they avert them — towards a sight in which they believe they find confirmation: the presence of these wrongs in the “capitalist West.”

And who can deny it? Who can deny, say, the West’s imperialism? But with this and the other stated evils, we must ask: What element of the semi-capitalist West was responsible — the free market or the coercive state? In Britain, who thundered the loudest against colonialism? The classical liberal advocates of laissez faire, who condemned imperialism long before the birth of the founder of the Soviet Empire. It was the “Tory socialism” of Disraeli, not the free market, that sent British troops overseas.

And the “crimes of the ruling classes”? What were these ever but the deeds, not of truly private businessmen, but of the State? What does Ralph Nader’s denunciation of “corporate socialism” concede except that the corporations owe their current privileges, not to laissez faire, but to government intervention? Which leads us to now ask: What exactly is the “capitalism” of these anti-capitalists? Is it “Little England”-ism or mercantilist imperialism? Free trade or protectionism? Laissez faire or interventionism — A or non-A? Just as theocracy cannot denote both the union and the separation of Church and State, so capitalism cannot be both the union and the separation of Firm and State.

Mike April 7, 2010 at 12:47 pm

“Praxeology” anyone? Now there’s a word worth spreading.

Mushindo April 7, 2010 at 12:52 pm

academic etymologysing aside, the basic reality is that in the minds of th eworld’s population, whether they support it or whether they think it evil, the term ‘capitalism’ has come to be shorthand for ‘The economic system practiced by the USA and the UK, and some other European and Asian countries as well’. It matters not to these minds that the economic system, as actually practiced in all those countries, is definitely not the ‘pure’ capitalism fondly envisaged by Austrians. It is awash with all sorts of conflicting and arbitrary interventions, with the central bank s stranglehold on the money markets being the grandaddy of all interventions. (Indeed, in the mind of a Chicagoite Monetarist, the central bank with its stranglehold on th emoney supply is part and parcel of the capitalist system they endorse as fervently as Austrians do theirs).

There was a time when the word ‘cute’ meant , more or less, ‘smartassed’. today it is almost universally taken to mean ‘adorable’. I personally know more than one old curmudgeon who never tires of lamenting the ‘incorrect’ use of th eword when some little girl gushes ‘awww cute’ when seeing something small and furry with big eyes. I hate to say it, but the zealous attempts here to protect the word from what it has come to mean in the minds of th emasses, remind me of those old guys. I regard the word ‘capitalism’ as a very apt label for ‘corporatist statism’, the ugly nexus between a partially-free market, and the state’s sticky fingers and brute force. That way, we can agree with our intellectual opponents upfront as to who the villain in the piece really is, before explaining why.

And of course, it saves me considerable breath at cocktail parties trying to refute the opening charge, ‘but look at how capitalism relied on slavery in the 18th centu……….’ That’s my cue to reply ‘Precisely! ..Theres nothing more dangerous than corporations in bed with the State, and of course oppression results. But in a really free market, slavery is inconcievable because……’. That gets me much further ahead much more more quickly than first having to go to extraordinary lengths to redefine the term itself.

fundamentalist April 7, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Who changed the common definition of capitalism? Socialists did through the schools and the media. What makes us think they will sit back and let you come up with a new name for the system they hate more than life itself without destroying it in the same way they destroyed the term capitalism? They have already done that we the phrase “free markets.” Visit any “progressive” or socialist web site and pay attention to their discussions of free markets. They have already defined “free markets” as anarchy with no law or government whatsoever and the rule of corporations, which can murder, steal and defraud at will. I have debated many “common” people who have claimed that free markets encourage slavery and that American slavery was a result of free markets and laissez-faire. Visit the Sojourners web site if you think I’m making this up.

BioTube April 7, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Well, the FSF chose “free software” deliberately knowing they’d have to educate just about everybody that it was free-as-in-speech instead of free-as-in-beer. Just about any term we choose will have the same problem, so we should pick the one most likely to give us an opportunity to explain. “Capitalism” seems to be our best bet.

Jim April 7, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Clinging to an idiosyncratic definition that is at odds with common usage may be a good way to make oneself feel smarter than other people, but is probably not the most effective way to pursuade people to one’s own views. None of Walter’s or Jackson’s arguments change the fact that defending capitalism is largely percieved by the public as defending the status quo. As long as libertarians continue to do so, libertarians will likewise be widely percieved to be apologists for the all to real and common exploitation of workers, consumers, and taxpayers by big business a la Goldman, Morgan, GE, Halliburton, etc., etc.

Dick Fox April 7, 2010 at 1:11 pm

I never have understood why we allow people to misuse a word then we stop using it because it is confusing. Those who call themselves liberal are anything but. Captialism is what it is. Let’s not let the insane run the asylum.

Fred Foldvary, Santa Clara University, California April 7, 2010 at 1:35 pm

There are three problems in the term “capitalism” that make it a weasel word:
1. It is ambiguous, used to label the current economy with intervention, and also to mean private enterprise.
2. This ambiguity is exploited for anti-market propaganda, to conclude that capitalism causes poverty and other social problems.
3. CAPITALism implies the primacy of capital over labor.
Why use such an inherently confusing term? If we mean the actual economy, say “mixed economy” or intervention. If we mean private enterprise and a pure free market, say that.

DD April 7, 2010 at 4:29 pm

There is nothing ambiguous about the literate meaning of “liberal” and I can’t think of any more ambiguous term in today’s politics.

But I agree that some words are better then others. “mixed economy” is economically incorrect, as Mises explained, but “Interventionism” or “The Hampered Market” as coined by Mises is very much accurate and revealing. I don’t know why we don’t use these terms more often and instead resort to more ambiguious words such as “corporatism” or “State Capitalism”. As for the latter, the naive person ignorant to the voluntarist philosophy will surely ask: So what did you want? Stateless Capitalism?

Stephan Kinsella April 8, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Any term that Georgists don’t like must not be all bad.

Joe April 7, 2010 at 2:19 pm

If the word Capitalism is misunderstood it is because the definition has been changed. As we all know what the Socialists have done with the public school system. This is a bigger problem and has shown its results in the election of Barack H. Obama. There is a greater problem then just trying to make any particular word more pleasing to the dumb downed populace. You have to understand this has been going on for years. The citizen that was around when the Declaration of Independence was signed was more independent, and definately took responsibility for his life. Today the mindset is totally different and citizens believe that government is a resource to go to as a safety net. This will continue until the whole ponzi scheme comes crumbling down. It will take a while but it will happen. How do you stop the progress of this scenerio? I really wish I knew. I use the word Capitalism and I will continue to use it. Please don’t dumb down the language to a level of current thought. Bring the people around you an appreciation for what Capitalism has created in this world and feel proud of that fact.

Allen Weingarten April 7, 2010 at 5:33 pm

The term ‘capitalism’ implies the investment of capital (an economic process), which can be done by totalitarians. What we have in mind is ‘freedom’ to do as we please (a cultural & political system), provided it does not impede others from doing the same. This requires what Ayn Rand calls the non-initiation of force, which I word as ‘None have the right to initiate force, but the obligation to defend against those who do.’ This can be called the ‘free-market’.

fakename April 7, 2010 at 5:33 pm

why not just say we’re anti-statist? It is much easier for us to define ourselves by what we’re against since we aren’t really “for” anything plus, you can be against the state but you’ll never be confused as to the meaning of “anti-statism”.

garegin April 7, 2010 at 7:47 pm

i don’t think you people grasp the level of hatred that traditional anarchists have towards the capitalist mode of production. playing with words it not going to make a difference. most of them even oppose single-person businesses like hotdog stands. the entire beef is that a tiny minority controls the means of production and idles awaywhile the masses do actual work

Canescat April 8, 2010 at 7:45 am

I’m relatively new to all of this, having recently been “awakened” to the truth found in libertarian and free market capitalist thoughts. The above comments are as interesting and insightful as the article itself. As a newcomer I now understand and prefer libertarian, free market and capitalism as terms to define what I believe in. It’s my responsibility to educate others as they too awaken from the nightmare created by the powers that be. Keep feeding me the truth, it only makes me stronger. Don’t water any of this down because it will lose its impact on those that follow. People need to know not only the correct meaning and usage of the words but also how and why others have mangled and misused these same words.

Rich Baumann April 8, 2010 at 9:15 am

Capital, labor, and entrepreneurship. Economic production in a free market requires all three, so why is capital singled out? The use of “capitalism” as synonymous with a free market really makes no sense at all. Why not call it “laborism” or “entrepreneurism”? Using those terms as if they were synonymous with a free market makes just as much, or rather as little, sense as using “capitalism” with the same purpose.

The use of “capitalism” as synonymous with a free market is also completely out of line with both its current popular use and its historical origins. It has always been used to describe the existing economic system of special privileges and subsidies for the wealthy and well-connected. The economic system Thackeray was writing about when he first used the word was certainly not a free market, it was a system based on partnerships between big business and the state. When Marx later used the same term, he was writing about the very same thing, a system of privilege and subsidy, of wealth acquired through the political means, not the economic. That’s what capitalism is and has always been.

newson April 8, 2010 at 9:46 am

of the triumvirate, capital is probably that one most lacking. all third world countries are busting at the seams with entrepreneurship and labour. i like the idea of the centrality of capital.

Mark D Hughes April 8, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Walter, you once again have displayed your brilliant way with words. But this time, my old and trusted mentor, I must part ways with you and side with Sheldon. Gasps all around.

I have spent most of my adult life interacting almost exclusively with non libertarians (primarily lefties, but also a few righties). I learned very early on that using the “C” word in a discussion of what peace and freedom means would, 90% of the time, garner a response you would predictably get if you used the truly verboten “C” word at a sorority shindig (do they still have shindigs?).

I remember well the “epiphany” moment when I once and for all jettisoned the word “capitalist” as a moniker in my personal identity. It was, in fact, at the urging of an old friend (he introduced me to libertarian ideas while we were undergraduates at U.Vic) over drinks at the Queens University Graduate Club way back in the fall of 1984 (we both had partners there, he his wife and me my then girlfriend). His reasoning was impeccable (including many of the arguments Sheldon uses — but he also drew heavily from the writings of Laysander Spooner, the topic of PhD dissertation) and he provided such a wealth of alternative words that it literally changed my life.

His advice has served me well ever since. Many is the time I have been able to join in a conversation with a group of “anti-capitalist” protesters (both left and right) at the BC legislature or in Ottawa or at some G(fill in the number) summit just by saying: “Capitalists. Yah. Don’t you just hate those basterds.” — all the while holding my trusty placard (I keep it in the trunk of my car) which reads simply “Peace and Free Enterprise.” The “contradiction” between my statement and my placard never fails to elicit an amused and/or genuinely curious response. Either way, it has always given me an easy and non-confrontational opportunity at some quick educating about what freedom and peace really means.

David K. Meller April 8, 2010 at 6:51 pm

the word “capitalism” does indeed offer a great deal in popularizing the free market, private property, and self reliance based type of society which we libertarians champion. It also, unfortunately, has unpleasant baggage from a century plus misuse by Marxists, Keynesians, and other enemies of such a society which in effect imply its opposite.

It retains some of that negative odor today.

Capitalism is probably quite usable for us if we take the trouble to distinguish what we mean by “capitalism” with what our critics mean by it. Fortunately, this should be fairly easy to do.

There are at least three words available, describing all of the evil and filth associated with “capitalism” in the minds of anticapitalists, yet being clearly distinguished from it, and the free market which it describes. Those words are “corporatism” , rule by state chartered and state privileged corporations; mercantalism–government policy designed to benefit existing businesses at the expense of the rest of us, especially entrepreneurial and innovative challengers–and kleptocracy, a self-explanatory word meaning ‘government of (and by) thieves!

Widespread use of these words, and perhaps others like them, by friends of “capitalism” to emphasize the differences between the “society of status” vs. “society of contract” as Herbert Spencer described it, would rescue “capitalism’s good name, and provide critics of the current social order with much better descriptives to work with.

David K. Meller

Mark D Hughes April 8, 2010 at 8:01 pm

David, I like what you say. Unfortunately, even words like “corporatism” and “mercantilism” will probably require a lengthy explanation before most “anti-capitalist” will get the picture — by which time your will have probably lost their interest. And with kleptocracy (which I especially like), you will almost certainly generate hostility as it forces them to confront their own complicity in supporting the corruption of the state. Nevertheless, good luck.

Slightly off topic, in your post you write “the word “capitalism” does indeed offer a great deal in popularizing the free market, private property, and self reliance based type of society which we libertarians champion.” I’m not all that sure “self reliance” is as useful or accurate a term for defending “capitalism” as you may think. It is clearly one of the foundations of Rand’s idea of capitalism. However, on this, I think she is dead wrong. I take my marching orders from Mises in this regard. In his, always brilliant, defense of capitalism he never fails to emphasis that it is first and foremost a system based on cooperation. In fact, it is the only economic system which is dedicated to cooperation, i.e., the cooperation of voluntary exchange. And, by definition, the volubtaryness of free enterprise is the only system which can ever guarantee a peaceful world. Rugged self reliance may play a great role in fiction or on the frontier, but it seldom, if ever, has much of a place in a genuine capitalist system. Remember, Mises’s use of methodological individualism in no way implies primacy of “self reliance.”

If I may presume to, I recommend that the next time you engage an anti-capitalist (particularly a lefty) emphasize cooperation, voluntaryness and peace… you will cut through their initial resistance like butter.

Gernot Hassenpflug April 9, 2010 at 1:29 am

Cooperation means exchange of value. I don’t have Mises’ intellect or way with words, so I cannot make a direct link, but I would venture that self-reliance expresses responsibility under whose guiding vision things of value can be carefully nurtured and thus lay the foundation for cooperation. Unlike those who wish instead to use the authority of other’s to force people to cooperate with them though they themselves have less of nothing of value to exchange.

anonymous April 9, 2010 at 5:05 am

I don’t think the word capitalism should be relinquished. The battle of ideas involves a battle of words and of course meanings of words change with changed usage… why concede a meaning which will cause misunderstanding when an outsider examines economics texts discussing capitalism as a system of free exchanges of value? I don’t see danger in capitalism being a homonym, providing that the user of the word defines what they mean in their use of the word capitalism, and not to use the term again in the same explanation with the conflicting meaning. We don’t demonise other homonyms.

I consider the economic definition to be preferable in any form of economic discussion as there already is a substantive denoting the system of interventionism, monopoly privilege and corporate welfare, and that is what needs to be thrown out there more instead of doing something very unwise and conceding the meaning of a word which has had its meaning twisted a bit in political discourse.

For an example of the changed meaning of a word through abandonment of another held meaning, consider the word ‘idiot’. In popular discourse it means a mentally deficient person. Etymologically, ‘idiot’ is derived from an Ancient Greek term used derisively to describe a person who did not take part in political life. Another example is the word ‘cute’, which was once an abbreviation of ‘acute’ but has now come to mean ‘adorable’. Use these words in conversation with anyone with their former meaning, without an elaboration of what one is using it to mean, and one will interpret it with the definition they are most familiar with. If there is held to be one meaning, said person is likely to dismiss the speaker as speaking nonsense. If there are two or more possible meanings the listener will expect clarification. I don’t think the first scenario there should arise. Elaboration isn’t vile, but enables access to concepts which use that second definition.

Expect hostile twistings of words in politics because words aren’t property. They are only possessed insofar as they mean something, and that meaning must be kept alive.

(Also, etymologically, capitalism would seem a nice word to keep, as the Latin caput (gen: capitis) means ‘head, fount, source’.)

Guard April 12, 2010 at 5:15 am

Words slowly devolve from specific meaning to vague sentimental content, from having a definition to having a feeling, from denotation to only connotations. This is part and parcel with both the political and economic degeneration of the nation. Language, like money, is debased and inflated in its meaning. The first person to re-define the term reaps the most benefit from the fraud, just as the first person to get the newly created fiat money reaps the most benefit from inflation. The good news (if it can be called that) is that the inflation of language will lead to collapse just as surely as continued monetary inflation and socialism, and in lock step with it. There are natural limits that simply cannot be exceeded. Removing the basis in reality for the definition of a word has precisely the same effect on language as removing the basis of value from money has on the economy. Consider the story of the tower of Babel as, at least, a metaphor. Altering the definitions of words in order to reap a temporary political and economic benefit is actually a way to consume the capital of language itself. Once all the value, capital that has actually been accumulated over centuries, has been consumed from the language, the tower collapses.

CSJ April 13, 2010 at 5:36 am

Here is a new idea I am trying out… (instead of capitalist or libertarian)

How about using the term “True Liberal”?

We *are* Liberals — libertarian, economic liberal, liberally minded, classical liberal. Students of liberty, defenders of liberty. Trying to be liberators to some extent. Even to the less educated, the term “liberal” is noticeable for having “liberty”, easily explaining the basis of our philosophy. It projects liberty.

But also, practically, lefties are used to being called “liberal”, and kind of took it on for a badge of courage–so they can’t demonize it at this point. Or at least less likely. When I use “liberal” in a debate there is much less hostility than capitalism or libertarian.

Also, it differentiates us from big government conservatives. Obviously we are Liberals, so we are not them. Liberals are different than conservatives–we may be ok. Statists who are called Liberals may see us as friendlies, allies against their perceived enemies. Therefore it might also attract more “progressives” to examine True Liberal ideas, and skepticism of aggregated power.

“TRUE”. Why True? “True” sounds solid, like somebody sure of their convictions, not wishy-washy. True is rooted in TRUTH. Everybody listens when they expect to hear some true piece of wisdom. “Truth to power” is a common phrase.

Practically, “true liberal” differentiates from a “regular liberal” so would not alienate limited government social conservatives.

I’m a True Liberal… (yay? nay?)

Mark D Hughes April 13, 2010 at 4:06 pm

I recommend reading one of Hayek’s often forgotten but, in my opinion, most interesting essays: “Why I Am Not A Conservative” in “The Constitution of Liberty” (1960). You can also find it at: http://fahayek.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=46

In it, and for several good reasons, he proposes the label “Whig” as the moniker we should return to:

“We should remember, however, that when the ideals which I have been trying to restate first began to spread through the Western world, the party which represented them had a generally recognized name. It was the ideals of the English Whigs that inspired what later came to be known as the liberal movement in the whole of Europe[15] and that provided the conceptions that the American colonists carried with them and which guided them in their struggle for independence and in the establishment of their constitution.[16] Indeed, until the character of this tradition was altered by the accretions due to the French Revolution, with its totalitarian democracy and socialist leanings, “Whig” was the name by which the party of liberty was generally known.”

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