Thursday, December 02, 2004

Where have all the liberals gone?

This recent BBC Radio 4 program Where have all the liberals gone? looked at the bad name liberals have got for themselves in the US. It also illustrated the definitional problems liberalism suffers from when you consider the massive difference between classical and modern liberals.
Here is a taste:
Liberals even flip-flop about what liberalism is: an ideology, or a point of view; a way of using the state, or a way of resisting it. When liberalism started in the nineteenth century it targeted tyranny: then, as governments became more democratic, liberals embraced the state to free people oppressed by poverty and inequality, and give them rights. In today’s politics responsibilities displace rights. In a world threatened by violence and dissolution, electorates demand a state that is more restrictive, less permissive; less tolerant, more tough. In America, liberalism’s already a term of abuse.


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