Saturday, July 19, 2014

Liberalism Unrelinquished

George Leef wrote about the Liberalism Unrelinquished site a few weeks ago, and I signed my name to its declaration, which reads

We the undersigned affirm the original arc of liberalism, and the intention not to relinquish the term liberal to the trends, semantic and institutional, toward the governmentalization of social affairs.

The signers are academics and journalists.

The word liberal meant of or pertaining to freedom until collectivists began to misuse it during the late 19th century.  Over the past 130 years the word, in Orwellian fashion, has been transformed from its root Latin meaning to of or pertaining to collectivism and authority.

The reason it was necessary for collectivists to claim that they are for freedom was that freedom, which lasted a few centuries here, increased the standard of living and quality of life.  Millions of immigrants flocked here for a reason that they did not understand: the opportunities here due to liberalism.   In contrast, the effects of the policies of the Democratic Party and its copycat sister, the Republican Party, has been increasing government, increasing control, and declining wealth.

Instead of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, today's America watches bleak futuristic films like The Congress, which sees technological advance as escapism attendant upon widespread decline and impoverishment.  Liberalism in its true meaning requires the opposite world view: Freedom results in innovation that makes us wealthier and frees us from oppression.

My wife just told me about Elizabeth Warren's 2011 statement:

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.

Obama picked it up when he said, "Look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own... If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help...Somebody else made that happen."

Of course, if you're unsuccessful you didn't get their on your own either.  If you're unsuccessful it's because of violent thieves like Obama and Warren.

In any case, when I think of all the Americans who died fighting for freedom, and I realize that their descendants elected the people whom they were fighting against, people like Hitler, Stalin, Obama, and Warren,  I was reminded of the importance of language.

Calling authoritarians liberal leads to authoritarianism, and I thank Kevin Frei and Daniel Klein, who started the Liberalism Unrelinquished site, for reminding us to use the word in the right way.

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