Liberalism is one of those terms that has been hacked to pieces with time. To many, the word "liberalism" has simply become an dirty word or insult that gets bandied about.
This is problematic for me as I consider myself a liberal. I value liberty.
Liberalism as a Political Camp
The term "liberal" is commonly used as a synonym for the left in the Conservative/Liberal (left v. right) dichotomy that many news reporters use to frame political debates.
I dislike this use of terms as political camps are always swapping positions on issues. One cannot say anything universal about the position of political camps, because these positions change with each election or bout of political intrigue.
Two Views of Liberalism
One cannot saying anything meaningful with words that change meanings with the political winds.
Since I cannot talk about liberalism in general, I will talk about a specific change in the term "liberalism" that took place between the classical and modern era.
In my writings, I will refer to thought systems that I will call "classical liberalism" and "modern liberalism."
Classical Liberalism is a thought system that arose in the classical rational style that dominated Western culture from Aristotle's discovery of the syllogsim to Modern era.
Politically, the classical period was dominated by emperors, kings and feudal lords that suppressed the people and engaged in an unending series of petty land wars.
Classical Liberalism was largely a refinement of classical rational style. The classical liberal rejected the failed political system, but kept a very successful logical system that brought about the scientific and industrial revolutions.
Classical Liberalism reached its height with the founding of the United States. Proponent
The central features of modern liberalism are: a free market, protection of property rights, a limited government (the leaders of which are elected) and high regard for reason.
Modern liberalism is largely a reaction to classical liberalism. Modern Liberalism holds at its core the dialectical systems of Kant, Hegel and Marx. Hegel had all sorts of tricks for proving that freedom is slavery and slavery freedom.
Marx noted that the middle class was the primary winner of classical liberalism. He predicted that the losers in the classical liberal paradigm would form an alliance then overthrow the new classical liberal order and create a new world order called Communism.
Modern Liberals dislike the violence and oppression espoused by Marx; however, most seem entranced by the idea of intelligentsia united against the middle class.
The term liberalism has been mushed to pieces. A large number of people calling themselves liberal favor big government, despise the middle class and have a low regard for classical logic.
A large number of modern liberals also call themselves Progressives.
A Muddled Term
As mentioned, the term "liberalism" has really been muddled to the point that it is useless. In the current political climate, "Conservatives" argue for limited government while "Liberals" demand bigger government and more regulation.
I find my sympathies lie with the classical liberal tradition, and believe there is merit in noting how Dialecticians have managed to change the meaning of liberalism into its opposite.
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- Classical Liberalism and Perspective (added 2008-06-17 by kd) I claim the perspective played an important role in the development of the classical liberal ideals, and that the de-emphasis of perspective is part of the modern progress tradition.
- Vanishing Point (added 2008-06-12 by kd) I write a GD program to display the Vanishing Point.
- GD Library Sample (added 2008-06-09 by kd) I decided to use the PHP GD Library for graphics. This graphic shows the basic mathematics of perspective.
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