Liberal, and Classic Liberal, and Progressive

The Moderate Voice comments on American vs. European Liberalism:

A couple of days ago, an American commenter asked me why I kept on referring to –liberals” as –progressives”. I explained that what is called –liberalism” in America these days is, in many ways, the opposite of what is called –liberalism” in Europe. In short, the term –liberalism” kept its meaning here, while it changed in America. Because I am a proud European liberal, I do not like to call American progressives ‘liberals’: I believe that the term liberal has been raped in the U.S. and continues to be raped every single day.

The use of “Liberal” in US politics is something that used to drive me nuts. But, like many forms of nuts, I finally just gave in and went with it. I know that today’s Liberal is not a true Classic Liberal, but I guess I don’t think it’s worth trying to argue.

Free Frank Warner, on the other hand, makes sure everyone knows he’s a real Liberal…


  1. By historical standards, Bush would be considered a liberal, for trying to change the status quo in the Middle East. As Milton Friedman stated ‘ the consistent liberal is not an anarchist’ as the revolutions of the 60’s prove.

  2. I had a argument with a friend about this topic. It is true that Liberal is derived from Classical Liberal and their ideology is based upon private property, individual liberty, free trade, etc. In Australia, their ‘conservative’ party is actually called the Liberal Party of Australia which is allied to the US Republican Party via the International Democrat Union. Somewhere in the 1850s, socialist came on the scene and at the top of their to do list was elimination of private property which was at the heart of Classical Liberals. In Europe these bastards are called socialists. But here in the USA they took the name liberal, probably to hide their intentions. Now, that the term liberal has been shamed in the US, they are trying to hide behind progressive. I have a problem with that too because when I think progressive, I think Teddy Roosevelt who sure they hell supported private property, individual liberty and a rational immigration policy among other issues.

  3. Hi there, great stuff! In the early 19th century, economic liberals, political liberals, and, to a much lesser extent, socio-cultural liberals, were all still pretty much on the same page, in terms of practical political issues. That changed with the rise of ‘the social question’ i.e. a potentially explosive industrial working class. Economic liberals (‘classical’) continued to argue for laissez-faire and industrial growth as the way to resolve the short-term issue of quality of life for workers. Socio-cultural liberals became romantic, relativistic, radicals of various sorts through the next century. Political liberals split between laissez-faire and socialism, the latter group believing that vigorous state action was necessary to resolve social inequalities of distribution, etc., etc., etc. Oh well, much more could be said, but I hope this helps a bit!