Post by Steve Hayes
I already tried this at alt.usage.english - no luck.
When I say "old-fashioned liberal," I'm thinking of people like Wendy
Kaminer, former board member of the ACLU and author of maybe ten
books. (She's now 70.)
This reminds me an anecdote Wendy Kaminer tells in the introduction to
her 1996 book True Love Waits. The editor of the National Review asked
her to write a book review. She protested that she's "an old-fashioned
liberal," and he reassured that it was okay, because she's "sensible."
"But you don't understand," I explained. "I believe in the welfare
state. People think I'm conservative because there are messages about
self-reliance in my work, and I value self-reliance, but I don't
expect it of children." There was a long pause. He stopped reassuring
me that I was sensible.
Offhand, though, I can't think of any well-known people who call
themselves classical liberals anymore.
So what's the difference? Thanks.
I suppose I could call myself an "old liberal". because I'm old, and I
ceased to be a card-carrying Liberal when the Liberal Party was forced
to disband in 1968.
The article doesn't do much to clear up the confusion, though it does
provide a few interesting historical snippets.
But I would say there are three types of liberals, who are all to be
seen in the article, though not distinguished there.
Let's get the theological l;iberals out of the way -- the article
calls them "old liberals", and distinguishes them theologically from
the "early liberals".
The economic liberals -- nowadays called "neoliberals" -- are Hayek,
von Mises et al.
The people who liked to call themselves "classical liberals" are
similar, in that they liked to combine political liberalism with
economic liberalism as in the days pre-Marx.
Political liberals are the ones who dig human rights, the ones who
think people should be free and their freedom should be guaranteed by
law. As in things like Bills of Rights and the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights and things like that.
The difference between pre-Marx and post-Marx is that Marx analysed
the workings of capital. And the neoliberals want capital to have the
same or more rights than people.
For Christians who are political liberals but not economic liberals
(since the article mentions Christians), the principle is simple: the
Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Economic power,
like the sabbath, was made for man, and not man for the economic
forces, whether, like the neoliberals, you call those forces "the free
rein of the market mechanism" or like Marxist leninists, "the
dialectical forces of history".