The word liberal first acquired a political meaning in Britain in the 1770s.
Article by Daniel B. Klein from Intercollegiate Studies Institute via AIER.
But prior to that, over many centuries, “liberal” had two meanings. First, “liberal” signified activities becoming of a free man—the liberal arts, the liberal sciences, the liberal professions. Liber in Latin means both “free” and “book.”
The other meaning was generous, as in “giving liberally” or “liberal supplies.” Generosity is characteristic of a free man, so this meaning relates to the first.
The two ancient meanings run deep in Western civilization. Calling leftists “liberal” evokes generosity and the blessings of the liberal arts and sciences. To call leftists “liberal” is to extol their character and purpose.
It was not for nothing that, between 1880 and 1940, collectivists arrogated “liberal” for themselves.
“Liberal” first obtained a political meaning from British writers, most importantly Adam Smith, who published The Wealth of Nations in 1776. Smith adopted “liberal” as the name for his “system of natural liberty.” The Wealth of Nations propounded “the liberal plan of equality, liberty, and justice,” and “the liberal system” of free enterprise. The book was immediately highly influential, and other thought leaders followed suit in adopting “liberal.”
“Liberal” suggested allegiance to the liberty principle. Still today we speak of removing restrictions as liberalization. Throughout much of the world today, “liberal economics” means economics favorable to freer markets.
From the political use of “liberal” arose “liberalism,” beginning in the 1820s. Some historians say it’s wrong to say that Smith advocated liberalism, because in his time the word liberalism wasn’t in use. But that’s like saying because the word racism was not used until after World War II, racism didn’t exist until then.
The liberalism of Adam Smith was the original political liberalism, or liberalism 1.0.
Calling leftists “liberal” enables leftists to claim ongoing affinity with Adam Smith and liberalism 1.0. It enables them to elide the conflicts between leftism and liberalism 1.0. It enables their hypocrisy, denial, and double standards. To correct these habits, they need us to refuse to call them “liberal.”
When we call leftists “liberal,” we relinquish the term. We then have difficulty claiming Smith and his tradition, because that was the liberal tradition.
The idea of “a liberal society” is the idea of a limited, constitutional government, which is necessary to uphold “the liberal plan of equality, liberty, and justice.” Liberalism 1.0 is the soul of Western civilization. (Larry Siedentop suggests that such emergence was the child of Christianity.)
Here in North America, “liberal” is used in the regrettable way. But around the world we see many political regimes that are theocratic, clientistic, tribalistic, or socialistic—usually coming in some combination thereof. Over against those repressive and despotic systems, we defend “liberal society” or “liberal democracy.”
Our defense of “liberal society” collides with our domestic discourse if we call leftists “liberal.” Calling leftists “liberal” makes one lose touch with the centuries-long arc of liberal civilization and the rest of the world. To call leftists “liberal” is to fail to advance Western liberalism as aspiration for illiberal societies.
To call leftists “liberal” is to acquiesce to semantic breakdowns of the 1880–1940 period. If we knuckle under to that semantic practice, it puts us in the position of knuckling under to all the semantic breakdowns of that period: liberty, freedom, justice, equality, equity, property, contract, liberal. Without understanding the great semantic breakdown of 1880–1940, one has trouble understanding the mess we’re in.
When liberalism 1.0 acquired sage formulation in the days of David Hume and Adam Smith, Britain was quite special for its stability and regularity in government, its rule of law, and its cohesiveness as a nation-state. Adam Smith’s “liberal plan” presupposes a stable polity that upholds a presumption of liberty in the regular, peaceful procedures of policy debate and issue-by-issue policy reform. By recovering “liberal,” we position ourselves for appreciation of the English-speaking polities. By calling leftists “liberal,” we tend to forsake the specialness and centrality of the Anglo experience.
By calling leftists “liberal,” we give way to a leftist narrative of liberalism—that liberalism originated during the French Revolution, and that Britain then imported liberalism from the Continent. In this narrative, liberalism chiefly concerned political participation and collective action, as opposed to liberty, or, as Smith put it, “allowing every man to pursue his own interest his own way.” By calling leftists “liberal,” we underwrite the wrong narrative, one that lionizes the French Revolution and that obscures the remarkable emergence and articulation of the liberty principle, notably in eighteenth-century Britain.
Liberalism 1.0 is what American conservatives like William F. Buckley, Russell Kirk, George Will, Peggy Noonan, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, and Jonah Goldberg wish to conserve. By calling leftists “liberal,” we obscure what the best American conservatives wish to conserve. I’d say that goes too for such leading media figures as Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Dennis Prager, and Ben Shapiro.
By calling leftists “liberal” we fail to call them by a name that suits them, such as: “leftists,” “lefties,” “left-leaners,” “progressives,” “social democrats,” or “Democrats.” By calling leftists “liberal,” we allow them to slip out of leftism’s anti-liberal legacy.
Although we can do little to change public policy, we can change our own personal semantic practice. Such an improvement enhances wisdom, which pays off in the grand scheme of things. To advance universal benevolence, use words wisely.
If we are to stand up for liberal civilization, we must first appreciate the great arc of liberalism—that is, the development of liberalism, beginning, say, with the printing press in the fifteenth century and its subsequent ups and downs, and across liberal civilization, not just the American scene. Such higher appreciation is sabotaged by calling leftists “liberal.”
In The Lion King, the spirit of Mufasa tells Simba: Remember who you are.
You are not an “anywhere,” but a “somewhere”: a son or daughter of liberal civilization.
Build your own med-kit by filling it with various Med Packs of your choosing. You know what you need.
Reprinted from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute
American Patriots Uniting to Fight Tyranny from, Well, Everywhere
We’re building a new conservative news network. Based on responses from fellow patriots, we’re heading in the right direction.
It may be hard to believe based on what we’re seeing around the nation today, but there are many reasons to be hopeful. First and foremost, the false narrative that most of America hates traditional values or the foundations of our nation are finally being proven false. Despite the best efforts of globalists and Neo-Marxists, patriotic Americans are starting to unify in droves. Meanwhile, Joe Biden can barely muster a half-filled auditorium to deliver his message to the scant few watching CNN and the paid shills in the “crowd.”
The “silent majority” that drove Donald Trump to victory in 2016 and 2020 (yes, he won by a landslide but was robbed along with the American people) is finally starting to realize we cannot stay silent any longer. We used to win with our votes, but those are being stolen. We used to win with truth, but the radical left and their agents in mainstream media, Big Tech, and academia are building a post-truth society to drown out reality. Today, we are waking up to the realization that only through direct action and fearlessly spreading the truth can we overcome the nefarious forces working against us.
We are proud to be working our way up to the tip of the conservative media spear. Our network is growing. We’re establishing strong partnerships with like-minded news outlets and courageous journalists. Even as Big Tech suppresses us, the honest messages they’re trying to quash are finding their way to the eyes and ears of patriots across the nation. With the help of new content partners like The Epoch Times and The Liberty Daily, we’re starting to see a real impact.
Our network is currently comprised of nine sites:
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Some of our content is spread across all of these sites. Other pieces of content are unique. We write most of what we post but we also draw from those willing to allow us to share their quality articles, videos, and podcasts. We collect the best content from fellow conservative sites that give us permission to republish them. We’re not ego-driven; I’d much rather post a properly attributed story written by experts like Dr. Joseph Mercola or Natural News than rewrite it like so many outlets like to do. We’re not here to take credit. We’re here to spread the truth.
The slow and steady reopening of America is revealing there was a lot more economic hardship brought about from the Covd-19 lockdowns than most realize. While we continue to hope advertising dollars on the sites go up, it’s simply not enough to do things the right way. We are currently experiencing a gap between revenue and expenses that cannot be overcome by click-ads and MyPillow promos alone (promo code “NOQ” by the way).
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Will America-First News Outlets Make it to 2023?
Things are looking grim for conservative and populist news sites.
There’s something happening behind the scenes at several popular conservative news outlets. 2021 was bad, but 2022 is proving to be disastrous for news sites that aren’t “playing ball” with the corporate media narrative. It’s being said that advertisers are cracking down, forcing some of the biggest ad networks like Google and Yahoo to pull their inventory from conservative outlets. This has had two major effects. First, it has cooled most conservative outlets from discussing “taboo” topics like Pandemic Panic Theater, voter fraud, or The Great Reset. Second, it has isolated those ad networks that aren’t playing ball.
Certain topics are anathema for most ad networks. Speaking out against vaccines or vaccine mandates is a certain path to being demonetized. Highlighting voter fraud in the 2020 and future elections is another instant advertising death penalty. Throw in truthful stories about climate change hysteria, Critical Race Theory, and the border crisis and it’s easy to understand how difficult it is for America-First news outlets to spread the facts, share conservative opinions, and still pay the bills.
Without naming names, I have been told of several news outlets who have been forced to either consolidate with larger organizations or who have backed down on covering certain topics out of fear of being “canceled” by the ad networks. I get it. This is a business for many of us and it’s not very profitable. Those of us who do this for a living are often barely squeaking by, so loss of additional revenue can often mean being forced to make cuts. That means not being able to cover the topics properly. Its a Catch-22: Tell the truth and lose the money necessary to keep telling the truth, or avoid the truth and make enough money to survive. Those who have chosen survival simply aren’t able to spread the truth properly.
We will never avoid the truth. The Lord will provide if it is His will. Our job is simply to share the facts, spread the Gospel, and educate as many Americans as possible while exposing the forces of evil.
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JD Rucker – EIC