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Chris
01-18-2014, 01:59 PM
I put this under history because the basis of the article and the brunt of the video is linguistic study of the use of the work "liberal."


“Liberal” (http://cafehayek.com/2014/01/dan-klein-on-the-origins-and-meaning-of-the-word-liberal.html)


Among the windmills at which I tilt is the misuse, in the English-speaking world, of the word “liberal.” I refuse to concede that honorable term to those who champion the initiation of physical force (or its threat) as an acceptable means of governing or changing society. I’m content to call such people “Progressives” (always with quotation marks, because there’s almost nothing progressive about “Progressivism”) but, perhaps inconsistently, I have never been able to bring myself to call such people or their means “liberal,” or to call their cause “liberalism.” I have always regarded myself as a liberal. And I still do.

“Illiberals” or “statists” are more appropriate descriptors of “Progressives.” (I have a slight preference for the term “statists.”)

In this speech last week in Stockholm, my GMU Econ colleague Dan Klein explores the origins, meanings, and history of the use of the term “liberal.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXNsk3A0CF8#t=2124

(The actual presentation is fairly dry and factual but only 30 some minutes long, the rest is Q&A.)

midcan5
01-18-2014, 05:38 PM
C -

That was much ado about nothing. I wasted thirty minutes on a person who admitted throughout he didn't know much but continued to talk. What was the point and did he not miss all of history while following a word to where? He also missed John Locke. Was there a point? 'You say potato, and I say potato. You say tomato, and I say tomato. Potato, potato. Tomato, tomato....'

"What improves the circumstances of the greater part can never be regarded as an inconveniency to the whole. No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable." Adam Smith 'The Wealth of Nations,' Book I Chapter VIII


"I. The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities..." Adam Smith

"The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life, seems to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another. Avarice over-rates the difference between poverty and riches: ambition, that between a private and a public station: vain-glory, that between obscurity and extensive reputation. The person under the influence of any of those extravagant passions, is not only miserable in his actual situation, but is often disposed to disturb the peace of society, in order to arrive at that which he so foolishly admires. The slightest observation, however, might satisfy him, that, in all the ordinary situations of human life, a well-disposed mind may be equally calm, equally cheerful, and equally contented. Some of those situations may, no doubt, deserve to be preferred to others: but none of them can deserve to be pursued with that passionate ardour which drives us to violate the rules either of prudence or of justice; or to corrupt the future tranquility of our minds, either by shame from the remembrance of our own folly, or by remorse from the horror of our own injustice." Adam Smith

Chris
01-18-2014, 05:41 PM
Obviously you didn't listen for he didn't say that at all. He presented a linguistic history of the word. Was there something you disagreed with--oh, wait, you didn't listen. And your canned quotes have nothing to do with the topic.

KC
01-20-2014, 09:33 AM
Finally had a chance to listen to it, very interesting. I can't really say I agree or disagree with him. He puts forward good evidence, but I'd like to know more about the counter argument (that "liberal" was imported from the continent), but his two basic points about the meanings of the word liberal, especially from our 21st Century perspective, seem intuitive.

midcan5
01-24-2014, 06:01 AM
Obviously you didn't listen for he didn't say that at all. He presented a linguistic history of the word. Was there something you disagreed with--oh, wait, you didn't listen. And your canned quotes have nothing to do with the topic.

Please allow one of my favorite writers to answer your question. "[T]he rhetoric of the enterprise is fucked. 95 percent of political commentary, whether spoken or written, is now polluted by the very politics it’s supposed to be about. Meaning it’s become totally ideological and reductive: The writer/speaker has certain political convictions or affiliations, and proceeds to filter all reality and spin all assertion according to those convictions and loyalties. Everybody’s pissed off and exasperated and impervious to argument from any other side. Opposing viewpoints are not just incorrect but contemptible, corrupt, evil. Conservative thinkers are balder about this kind of attitude: Limbaugh, Hannity, that horrific O’Reilly person. Coulter, Kristol, etc. But the Left’s been infected, too. Have you read this new Al Franken book? Parts of it are funny, but it’s totally venomous (like, what possible response can rightist pundits have to Franken’s broadsides but further rage and return-venom?). Or see also e.g. Lapham’s latest Harper’s columns, or most of the stuff in the Nation, or even Rolling Stone. It’s all become like Zinn and Chomsky but without the immense bodies of hard data these older guys use to back up their screeds. There’s no more complex, messy, community-wide argument (or “dialogue”); political discourse is now a formulaic matter of preaching to one’s own choir and demonizing the opposition. Everything’s relentlessly black-and-whitened. Since the truth is way, way more gray and complicated than any one ideology can capture, the whole thing seems to me not just stupid but stupefying." DFW http://www.believermag.com/issues/200311/?read=interview_wallace


I gave Dan a C- he could have received a failure grade for his wandering dissertation that failed to demonstrate what he was really getting at. :lol:

Chris
01-24-2014, 07:25 AM
Please allow one of my favorite writers to answer your question. "[T]he rhetoric of the enterprise is fucked. 95 percent of political commentary, whether spoken or written, is now polluted by the very politics it’s supposed to be about. Meaning it’s become totally ideological and reductive: The writer/speaker has certain political convictions or affiliations, and proceeds to filter all reality and spin all assertion according to those convictions and loyalties. Everybody’s pissed off and exasperated and impervious to argument from any other side. Opposing viewpoints are not just incorrect but contemptible, corrupt, evil. Conservative thinkers are balder about this kind of attitude: Limbaugh, Hannity, that horrific O’Reilly person. Coulter, Kristol, etc. But the Left’s been infected, too. Have you read this new Al Franken book? Parts of it are funny, but it’s totally venomous (like, what possible response can rightist pundits have to Franken’s broadsides but further rage and return-venom?). Or see also e.g. Lapham’s latest Harper’s columns, or most of the stuff in the Nation, or even Rolling Stone. It’s all become like Zinn and Chomsky but without the immense bodies of hard data these older guys use to back up their screeds. There’s no more complex, messy, community-wide argument (or “dialogue”); political discourse is now a formulaic matter of preaching to one’s own choir and demonizing the opposition. Everything’s relentlessly black-and-whitened. Since the truth is way, way more gray and complicated than any one ideology can capture, the whole thing seems to me not just stupid but stupefying." DFW http://www.believermag.com/issues/200311/?read=interview_wallace


I gave Dan a C- he could have received a failure grade for his wandering dissertation that failed to demonstrate what he was really getting at. :lol:



One of these days you might actually read the OP and come close to being on topic. We're discussion the history of a word, not sure what you are and, frankly, don't care, it's all canned spam.

jillian
01-24-2014, 07:28 AM
One of these days you might actually read the OP and come close to being on topic. We're discussion the history of a word, not sure what you are and, frankly, don't care, it's all canned spam.

and one of these days maybe you won't lash out because you don't understand his post instead of debating him.

see how that works

Chris
01-24-2014, 07:30 AM
and one of these days maybe you won't lash out because you don't understand his post instead of debating him.

see how that works


Nothing to contribute to the topic, jill?

jillian
01-24-2014, 07:32 AM
Nothing to contribute to the topic, jill?

just pointing out that YOU don't.

apparently that's your basic rule, right? tell everyone they aren't "debating".

you'll have to get over it.

and thanks for yet another opinion piece from someone confirming your own biases who wants to pretend he knows how others think.

Chris
01-24-2014, 09:46 AM
just pointing out that YOU don't.

apparently that's your basic rule, right? tell everyone they aren't "debating".

you'll have to get over it.

and thanks for yet another opinion piece from someone confirming your own biases who wants to pretend he knows how others think.


Uh, I created the OP, that ought to count as a contribution. The video lecture is about a linguistic analysis of the historical origins of the use of the word liberal. See KC's comment, he watched and listened. It's not an opinion piece, or even all that much political. I don't think you watched it, nor did midcan.

Chris
02-16-2014, 03:56 PM
Follow up...

Liberal (http://cafehayek.com/2014/02/liberal.html)


My GMU Econ colleague Dan Klein writes, in The Atlantic, on the history of the term “liberal.” A slice:



My research with Will Fleming finds that the Scottish historian William Robertson appears to be the most significant innovator, repeatedly using “liberal” in a political way, notably in a book published in 1769. (I presented more details in a lecture at the Ratio Institute, viewable here.) Of the Hanseatic League, for example, Robertson spoke of “the spirit and zeal with which they contended for those liberties and rights,” and how a society of merchants, “attentive only to commercial objects, could not fail of diffusing over Europe new and more liberal ideas concerning justice and order.”

Robertson’s friend and fellow Scot Adam Smith used “liberal” in a similar sense in The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776. If all nations, Smith says, were to follow “the liberal system of free exportation and free importation,” then they would be like one great cosmopolitan empire, and famines would be prevented. Then he repeats the phrase: “But very few countries have entirely adopted this liberal system.”

Smith’s “liberal system” was not concerned solely with international trade. He used “liberal” to describe application of the same principles to domestic policy issues. Smith was a great opponent of restrictions in the labor market, favoring freedom of contract, and wished to see labor markets “resting on such liberal principles.”

Elsewhere, Smith draws an important contrast between regulating “the industry and commerce of a great country … upon the same model as the departments of a publick office”—that is, to direct the economy as though it were an organization—versus “allowing every man to pursue his own interest his own way, upon the liberal plan of equality, liberty and justice.” In drawing such a contrast, Smith again is signaling the label “liberal” for the latter, which he favors.



Regular readers of this blog know that I never use the term “liberal” to describe people who look first to government as the “solution” to their real and imaginary problems; and I never use it to modify the word “policies” when the policies in question involve greater government control over people’s lives and property. In short, I refuse to give that noble word to people who are, in my opinion, illiberal. I might here be tilting at lexicographical windmills, but Dan’s essay gives some background for the motives of those of us who continue to call ourselves – and to regard ourselves as – liberals.


Note: The Dan Klein referred to here is the same as in the video. His full article s here: The Origin of 'Liberalism' (http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/02/the-origin-of-liberalism/283780/).

kilgram
02-16-2014, 04:27 PM
Well, I've not been able to watch the whole video, too much boring. But for what I've understood he mentions a strange theory that Liberalism was imported from French revolution. Well, I've always been taught that Liberalism comes from England. And the founders of this word are the philosophers of the XVII like Locke or Hobbes.

And in the from the second half of XIX century Liberalism took a new line, the Social Liberalism, and now we have Economic Liberalism (Classical) and Social Liberalism.

Chris
02-16-2014, 04:34 PM
Well, I've not been able to watch the whole video, too much boring. But for what I've understood he mentions a strange theory that Liberalism was imported from French revolution. Well, I've always been taught that Liberalism comes from England. And the founders of this word are the philosophers of the XVII like Locke or Hobbes.

And in the from the second half of XIX century Liberalism took a new line, the Social Liberalism, and now we have Economic Liberalism (Classical) and Social Liberalism.



What Dan Klein argues is while it may have been used previously, it was the Scots who first used it politically.

Chris
02-16-2014, 04:38 PM
From the above linked The Origin of 'Liberalism' (http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/02/the-origin-of-liberalism/283780/):


The term was exported to Europe and the United States as well. Some scholars have argued that the modern usage of “liberal” originated on the European continent before spreading to Britain. But using Google’s scans of books in French, Spanish, Italian, and German, we can see that usage in these countries trails Britain. I wouldn’t go so far as Arthur Herman does in the title of his splendid 2001 book, How the Scots Invented the Modern World, but it was Scots who originated the use of “liberal” in a political sense.

On the Continent, “liberal” was used, as compared to in Britain, more to denote constitutional reform and political participation, as opposed to natural liberty. Britain’s exceptional history of stable government and islandhood helped to make Smith’s focus on natural liberty possible. In his recent book Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World, Daniel Hannan quotes Smith in a 1763 lecture. After the 1707 union of England and Scotland the “dominions were then entirely surrounded by the sea … No foreign invasion was therefore much to be dreaded ...They were therefore,” Smith continued, “under no necessity of keeping up a standing army.” The Parliament shared power with the Crown, under a rule of law. “In this manner,” Smith said, “a system of liberty has been established in England before the standing army was introduced; which as it was not the case in other countries, so it has not been ever established in them.”

Germanicus
02-16-2014, 07:23 PM
LIBERALISM means the desire of peoples for political liberty., i.e, to have a constitution or a parliament, to govern themselves. Where men have succeeded in obtaining the right to govern themselves there has generally followed a marked improvement in the conditions of life. The French Revolution besides teaching liberal principles to the leaders of the century also showed men how to improve their daily life. The Reform Bills in England, the revolts in Naples and Spain, the Frankfurt Parliament of 1848, Socialism, these were liberalism in action.
-The New Compendium of Modern History/George Bohman

I didnt watch the video.

edit- hey, isnt Americas real father, Englishman John Locke the Father of Liberalism?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Locke

edit- John Locke......... you ARE the father. (:

edit- Compendium is a cool word hey.

Chris
02-16-2014, 07:31 PM
The New Compendium of Modern History/George Bohman

I didnt watch the video.


The difference between the Scottish/English sense of liberalism and the French sense is two part. The Scots/English thought in terms of natural liberty, by which they meant national liberty, the liberty of the group, whereas the French thought of liberalism in terms of the individual, which allowed them to justify leveling as much as possible the social order found in traditions and institutions. The other difference is the Scots/English sought negative liberty, essentially the right to be left alone in the pursuit of happiness, the obligation of government to adhere to equal rights before the law and otherwise leave you alone; whereas the French sought positive liberty, essentially the right to political means of to get what you want, the obligation of government to make people equal and provide for happiness.