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News Link • Philosophy: Liberalism

Authentic Liberalism Vindicated

•, by Anthony Gregory
 1: The Great Liberal Heritage

If any one word is responsible for more confusion in the United States than “liberalism,” I’d surely like to know what it is. To the average American, a liberal is someone who votes Democratic, favors redistribution of wealth from rich to poor, wants more government regulation of the market, probably champions gun regulations, loves public education, and generally stands on the opposite side of the spectrum, such as it is, from what passes as “conservative” these days.

Yet outside the United States, and for more than a century, “liberalism” has carried a different meaning, something quite distinct from, if not diametrically opposed to, the modern American definition. Liberalism is the tradition of Adam Smith and John Locke and the more radical of the Founding Fathers – the tradition of the British opponents of the Corn Laws, of French economists and legal theorists such as Frédéric Bastiat, and of Americans who questioned the very necessity of the state in the late 19th century.

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