Just Call Me Liberal

BQI Editor’s Note

This is an older article that I’m just receiving from a friend. It contains a great analysis of liberalism and conservatism. Low and behold, imagine my amazement when I discovered that after years of faithfully defending my conservative ideology I now discover that I’m actually a flaming liberal. Kind of hard to conjoin liberal with BQI but by the definition below it is now my new reality.

Who woulda thunk?

Just Call Me Liberal

Individual property rights, Constitutional limitations on government, Individual freedom from restraint, Free Markets

By Mike Jensen Monday

I’m a liberal. A flaming, radical liberal. This may surprise several of my readers—both supporters and opponents—who I’m sure would consider my positions to be very conservative. The problem is, what most people consider “liberal” and “conservative” really has nothing to do with the true meanings of “liberal” and “conservative.”

For example, traditional liberalism as a dictionary definition is a doctrine stressing the importance of the following:

1.    individual property rights,

2.    constitutional limitations of government,

3.    free markets, and

4.    individual freedom from restraint.

Traditional liberals believe that these principles will bring about an order that benefits all of society.

Those certainly sound like conservative principles, don’t they? Those are principles I believe in, but they’re certainly not principles espoused by those who we call “liberals” today. Modern liberals oppose all of these. Consider the following:

Individual property rights: when President Bush proclaimed American society an “ownership society,” Hillary Clinton made light of the term and called it an “on your own society.” She preferred what she called a, “we’re all in this together” society—you know, that whole communal living thing. So much for the importance of individual property rights.

Constitutional limitations on government: From the days of FDR we’ve seen the unchecked growth of government. Modern “liberals” all support massive expansion of the government into areas never authorized by the Constitution or foreseen by the founders of this country. Universal, government-provided health care is just one example of this.

Free markets: In the same speech where Clinton made light of private property rights, she made the point that “fair markets” were more important than “free markets.” “Fairness doesn’t just happen. It requires the right government policies,” according to the Secretary of State. So much for free markets. Welcome to the era of “fair markets,” or again, as Marx called it, “communism.”

Individual freedom from restraint: From banning smoking in restaurants (a reality in more and more states across the country) to limits on CO2 production to high taxes, modern liberals are more than happy to restrain individual freedom using the argument that there is some disconnected “societal good.” Again, thank Karl Marx for that argument.

So how is it that those who share no values with true traditional liberals (such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Samuel Adams, George Washington, Patrick Henry, and John Hancock, among others) have come to take that name as their own?

President Roosevelt co-opted the term “liberal” for his big-government programs back in the 1930s, leaving those who opposed these new powers to call themselves “conservatives.” Thus we have the modern use of the terms.

But I don’t like the term “conservative.” It sounds too much like, “unwilling to try new things” or “afraid to run risks.” And that’s not me, and it’s not the other conservatives I know. We do try new things. This nation was a new thing—and a big risk—founded by “liberals” who shared modern-day “conservative” beliefs. Those who built this nation over the past 200+ years were also certainly not afraid to run risks.

So I declare myself a “liberal” in the traditional sense of the word. I am a liberal in the mold of the Founding Fathers, and I share their beliefs. But if I choose to reclaim the term “liberal” in its traditional sense, what about modern liberals? Do we call them “conservatives”? That name doesn’t really fit them, either. They’re also willing to try new things, so long as it involves more government and less freedom.

How about we just call modern liberalism what it really is: totalitarianism

So maybe we need to review the position of modern liberals on the principles already discussed. Modern liberals

1.    oppose private property ownership, preferring ownership by the state, or “we’re all in it together” ownership,

2.    they prefer no limits—Constitutional or otherwise—on governmental power,

3.    they want heavy government intervention in the economy to create “fair markets” (whatever that means) rather than supporting free markets, and

4.    they’re more than happy to restrain your freedom if they can find any excuse to do so.

Actually, this isn’t difficult to label. In fact, we’ve all seen this belief system before. It was prevalent in the former Soviet System and still is to a great degree in China. Cuba operates under a similar system, as does Venezuela. Much of the Middle East operates under similar rules, as does much of Latin America and Africa.

How about we just call modern liberalism what it really is: totalitarianism.

By Mike Jensen Most
Mike Jensen is a freelance writer living in Colorado. He received his M.A. in Professional Writing from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he wrote his first book, Alaska’s Wilderness Highway. He has since published Skier’s Guide to Utahalong with humor, travel, and political articles for various magazines and newspapers. He is married with five sons, and spends his free time at a remote cabin in the Colorado Rockies.
Mike can be reached at: