Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The History of Liberalism

Barbara O’Brien at The Mahablog posts an interesting article about the history and changing character of liberalism and conservatism.
It is good to remember that, over time, the parties have reinvented themselves considerably. A century ago Republicans were (more or less) the progressives, and Democrats were, um, not. But if you look back over time at what American liberalism and conservatism have stood for, then for the past century or so liberalism (I’m talking real liberalism, not the made-for-TV version) has been about economic and social justice, whereas conservatism had been about protecting property, wealth, and privilege from the unwashed populist mob. And as much as my sympathies lie with the liberal side of the equation, I would argue that in a healthy political climate these two sets of values should balance and moderate each other.

Furthermore (emphasis original):
[A] whole generation of people... has been conditioned to accept, unquestioningly, the propaganda of the Right. “Free markets” are intrinsically good. “Deregulation” is always right. Any sort of government regulation is bad. “Big government” is bad. “Limited government” is good. And they mindlessly regurgitate these ideas without understanding their historical context or even thinking them through.

I say that none of these things is intrinsically bad or good.

Read the whole article.

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