|Source: G. Stolyarov-|
What is liberalism and what is it about? The subject of this piece. Well at least in America and I'm not talking about how it's stereotyped today, but back in the day liberalism was thought to be about freedom, for the people to live their own lives. And that government was there to protect people from being hurt by others. But not to dictate how people (meaning free adults) live their own lives. Perhaps encourage moral healthy behavior like exercising for example and eating well and perhaps discourage unhealthy behavior. Like with tobacco and alcohol, taxes as examples. But that the people had the freedom to live their own lives as they see fit as long as they are not hurting anyone else with their freedom. That people meaning (free adults) had the right to be jerks (for lack of a better word) as long as they weren't physically hurting or threatening others with their jerkery. And that people meaning (free adults) had the right to even be stupid as long as their stupidity wasn't hurting anyone else physically.
To use as example. Liberals tend to be for legalizing but with regulation and taxation of marijuana. That it should be legal but that it should be treated like alcohol and tobacco and not be encouraged.
That people could own firearms even support the 2nd Amendment, but that people can't shoot innocent people with their firearms.
That a role of government was to protect people from the harmful actions of others, but not try to protect people from themselves. Liberalism and liberal, both come from the word liberty, meaning freedom, not socialism. (Democratic or otherwise) Liberalism is about maximize freedom and responsibility for the individual. As long as they are not hurting anyone else with their freedom. As well as equality of opportunity. Not economic justice, which is another way of saying equality of results. Meaning that everyone should have the same wealth. Even if some people are more productive than others. Which is a socialist value, two different things. As much as the Far-Right and even mainstream Conservatives like to try to tie liberalism as a socialist Ideology and in America trying to make America more like Europe and the Right have been very successful in doing that the last thirty years, the right wing is simply dead wrong. Whether they realize it or not.
Because liberalism has more in common with libertarianism or conservative libertarianism, than it does with socialism. (Democratic or otherwise) There are actually several definitions of liberal.
The political definition meaning one who believes in liberty and a defender of liberty, not big government and the welfare state. But there's a more common one meaning more or a lot. "I want a liberal amount of food or water, vacation time", whatever the thing is. That I believe people get confused with especially when they are talking about the role of government, a fascinating topic for me as a blogger. When someone says they want a liberal amount of government, meaning they want a lot of government, or that a government program is not liberal enough, meaning it's not big enough, it doesn't spend enough money, that person automatically gets classified as a liberal. When in fact they might just be someone and in a lot of cases this is true, someone who believes in big government and wants socialism.
A Socialist (democratic or otherwise) who wants a big government program created or made bigger. A lot of American politicians today who get classified as liberal because they want liberal sized government programs. Are actually not very liberal in many cases, but they are Socialists and tend to be Democratic Socialists. The Bernie Sanders and Dennis Kucinich's of the World. Major believers in the welfare state and democratic socialism.
To give you another example that I know you're just dying to here. When developing countries are talking about moving their economy's from a command and control economy, meaning the State owns the means of production of society which is a Marxist-Socialist economy and they are talking about liberalizing the economy, meaning opening it up with privatization and giving the people economic freedom, (again there's that word liberal meaning liberty) and in this case economic liberty. the ability of one to set their own course in life and not be dependent on government for their daily survival because they now have the ability to take care of themselves and get a good job in the private sector, they're talking about economic liberalization. Meaning capitalism and taking power away from the state and giving more people to the people over their own economic affairs.
Capitalism is basically liberal economics, because you give the people economic liberty to take care of themselves and not be dependent on government to survive financially. And you're taking a risk that they won't mess it up. (To put it mildly) When you make a liberal investment, you're making a big investment and generally taking a lot of risk as well. Which would make socialist economics conservative economics in a sense.
Conservatism has a lot of diversity in it. Because you keep the power with the state and really limit the ability if any for people to take risks on their own. Low-risk is very conservative. A low-risk investment is a conservative investment. So when you here someone especially a politician or public official, called or is viewed as a liberal, you should have an idea of why they are being labeled that. Because it could mean that they believe in individual liberty like myself which why I'm a liberal. Or it could mean they just want a lot of something. A liberal amount of whatever the something is.