Source:The New Democrat
“In James Grant, it sometimes seems, the nineteenth century has been resuscitated. Towering, gaunt, bow-tied, and pinstriped, he writes with a sly wit that recalls the novels of William Thackeray. His signal achievement is a fortnightly cult publication bearing the antique title Grant’s Interest Rate Observer. He is a nostalgic believer in the nineteenth-century gold standard. He eyes modern banking innovations with stern, starch-collared suspicion, as though peering at them through a monocle. Even traditional financial instruments elicit a wry scorn. “To suppose that the value of a common stock is determined purely by a corporation’s earnings,” Grant once wrote, “is to forget that people have burned witches, gone to war on a whim, risen to the defense of Joseph Stalin and believed Orson Welles when he told them over the radio that the Martians had landed.”
Now, Grant has written a delightful biography of Walter Bagehot, the great nineteenth-century Englishman in whom Grant perhaps recognizes a grander version of himself: the would-be Victorian sage is paying tribute to the authentic one. From 1861 until his death in 1877, Bagehot served as the third and most famous editor of The Economist. He was a confidant of William Gladstone, the dominant liberal politician of the era, and his words exercised such sway over successive governments that he was regarded as an honorary cabinet minister. After Bagehot’s death, a contemporary remarked that he might have been the most fascinating conversationalist in London.
Like Grant, Bagehot was a vivid wordsmith and a cult figure. Unlike Grant, Bagehot was generally a modernizer, a believer in progress, and therefore an opponent of the gold standard. (Bagehot’s views on certain matters, such as gender and race, were far from enlightened.) In his slim 1873 volume, Lombard Street, Bagehot explained how central banks should quell financial panics by printing currency and lending it liberally—“to merchants, to minor bankers, to ‘this man and that man,’ whenever the security is good.” To Grant’s evident dismay, this formulation.”
From Foreign Affairs
“On January 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy was sworn into office and delivered one of the most famous inaugural addresses in U.S. history.”
“Liberal democracy is generally understood to be a system of government in which people consent to their rulers, and rulers, in turn, are constitutionally constrained to respect individual rights. However, widely divergent views exist regarding the meaning of consent and individual rights, of the particular forms of government that are best suited to the preservation of popular rule and the protection of rights, and of the types and effectiveness of constitutional constraints within particular forms of government. Nonetheless, liberal democracy is common throughout most of the developed world.”
Before I get into how should a Liberal be, perhaps I should get into what Liberals aren’t.
If you look at what stereotypical Liberals are, they represent almost nothing as far as what Liberals actually are and if anything if you look at what stereotypical Liberals are ( as some people call Modern Liberals ) and what real Liberals ( or Classical Liberals ) are supposed to be, they look almost as different as Communists and Ayn Randian Objectivist-Libertarians: with the so-called Liberals believing that government should try to do practically everything for everybody and that free choice and private ownership should be as limited as possible, if permitted at all. With Randian-Libertarians thinking that government should do practically nothing for people, if anything at all.
If you look at the so-called Liberals going back to the late 1960s and all through the 1970s, you would think that Liberals are nothing but rebellious leftist-hipsters who believe everything that America represents is immoral and bigoted and that they want to tear down the system ( or as they would say, the man ) and replace it with a socialist state.
Radical leftist groups from the late 1960s and early 1970s like Students For a Democratic Society and The Weather Underground and other militant socialist groups, didn’t even call themselves Liberals. It was the so-called mainstream media that did that. They were people who literally believed that liberal democracy is bad and communism is good. And today you see groups like that on the Far-Left in America that are supposed to be the Liberals of today, but who aren’t militant: groups like The Left Forum, Democratic Socialists of America, ( who call themselves Democratic Socialists, not Liberals ) the Occupy Wall Street movement from early in this decade just after the Great Recession, and other left-wing, socially and politically active political organizations in America.
That if you’re a Liberal, you’re supposed to be a rebellious hippie ( either from the 1960s or today ) who believes that everything that America stands for and even our form of government is immoral and that it’s your job to tear that down ( either through democratic means or otherwise ) and replace it with some type of Scandinavian socialist state. You’re supposed to believe that the socialist dictators of the world like in Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, and other places are actually decent moral people and if there’s anything wrong with them at all, it’s America’s fault and that we forced them on those countries. And that it’s America who are the real authoritarians and terrorists in the world.
The so-called Modern Liberal is supposed to believe that capitalism is racist and bigoted, that personal freedom is dangerous, people are stupid and therefor you need big government to babysit people and manage their lives for them. That free speech is supposedly bigoted and therefore has to be regulated so that no one is offended. Well, anyone who isn’t a member of some minority group ( except for Jews ) in the country. But free speech for anyone who has something to say about any member of a majority group. And free speech for anyone who has something negative to say about anyone on the Right ( including the Center-Left, who look Right compared with the Far-Left ) or any member of a majority group.
So-called Liberals are supposed to believe that anyone who sets out to get a good education and become financially independent in life and them accomplishes those objectives, even if they donate part of their wealth to charity, is somehow immoral and bigoted. The so-called Liberals from back in the day and today are people who not just question capitalism and private ownership, but are looking for alternatives to replace those actual liberal values. We’re seeing that with young Democratic voters in the Democratic presidential race right now.
So I just laid out what Liberals aren’t, even if the so-called mainstream media is too clueless or brainless to get that. And I’ll tell you what it means to be a Liberal, at least to me.
If you look at the word liberal and liberty, they’re very similar because liberal comes from liberty. ( Not big government, socialist, communist, collectivist, welfare state ) If you look at the words liberation, liberalize, liberalized, they’re all not just very similar to liberal because they’re the same things.
When countries liberalize their economies, their societies, their government’s, they’re opening them up and expanding individual freedom. Not expanding the government and taking away free choice and free ownership. We’re seeing that in Cuba today with is more liberal today than they were even 15 years ago with Cubans now being able to own and start their own businesses and own their homes. When they were a pure communist state under Fidel Castro, they were less liberal than they are today.
To put it simply: a Liberal is someone who believes in liberty, not big government. Liberals, believe in liberal democracy and the liberal values that it represents: like individual rights like free speech, personal freedom, property rights, limited government, decentralization of power, ( both governmental and private ) checks and balances, free, fair, and open elections, quality of opportunity, equal rights, equal justice, pluralism, diversity, a race, ethnic, gender, and religious-blind society where individuals are judged exactly as that, not as members of any group. Liberals are not Anarchists or Communists: we want government to defend all of our rights for every one us, not to do nothing, or try to run our lives for us. These are the liberal values of liberalism, not collectivism.