What do you think of when you hear the word “liberal”? Hippies? Commies? Vegans? SJWs? Clintons? Well, you could not be more wrong. The word “liberal”, you see, has been misappropriated by people who believe in big government and identity politics. Somewhere between the New Deal and the New Left the word “liberal” was stolen from its rightful owners: classical liberals.
Classical liberalism upholds the values of limited government and individualism. Adam Smith. John Stuart Mill. George Orwell. Dave Rubin. All of these great men have been classical liberals: believers in the power of men and women to forge their own paths through life, free from the state and social justice warriors.
“The only freedom which deserves the name,” wrote Mill, “is that of pursuing our own good, in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.” Amen to that, John. You put the class in classical liberalism.
The problem is that almost nobody knows what classical liberalism is. However many reports the Cato Institute releases, and however many people Dave Rubin interviews, people still associate the word “liberal” with Barack Obama. What is needed is a manifesto for classical liberals. Here, then, in brief, are the core principles of classical liberalism:
- Free Speech. Free speech is good, of course, but it is especially good for classical liberals. As a classical liberal, you will want to talk about free speech as much as possible. The beauty of doing so is that talking about the wonders of free speech as a means of enabling unfettered inquiry and debate, and the evils of censorship in stifling such activities, is far easier than actually using free speech to, say, uncover hidden truths or create original art. Any idiot can defend free speech and so it is a comfortable message to fall back on. Upholding the value of free speech is also a good way to flirt with controversial questions without actually committing to a judgement on their answers. Where do I stand on inherited differences, say, or comparative religion? Hrm, well, I dunno, but I support the free speech of people who have opinions! Sing it loud, liberals, and sing it proud: free speech is good.
- Individualism. Classical liberals defend the freedom and uniqueness of the individual. We are all individuals. Say it with me, people: we are all individuals. Classical liberals oppose tribalism. For classical liberals, individuals and not groups are what count. Sure, the history of man is the history of tribes, and human societies have always featured group loyalties and group differences, but the important thing to bear in mind is that free speech is good.
- The Enlightenment. The greatest triumph of human civilisation was the Enlightenment, a golden age in Western history where intellectual giants like Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, John Locke and David Hume promoted the virtues of classical liberalism while the French lopped off the heads of their aristocrats for some reason. The Enlightenment taught men to cast off the superstitious myths of religion and social hierarchy and embrace objective facts like natural rights and human progress.
- Equality. Leftists believe in equal outcomes, a goal that leads to the gulags of Venezuala. Classical liberals believe in equal opportunities. Everyone, whatever race, gender or sexual preference, should be considered on their merits and not their backgrounds. Kids born to unemployed single moms in Nowhere, Pennsylvania should be allowed to apply for the same jobs as kids from Richville, Maryland, and if they don’t succeed, well, they have only themselves to blame.
- Capitalism. Classical liberals are capitalists, and oppose government intervention in the market. Classical liberals support the self-expression of the individual, which thrives optimally in a world of corporate power and marketing. Classical liberals are not libertarians, and do not support eliminating regulations and social services. To what extent should they be allowed, and on what bases? Well, free speech is good.
- Cultural appropriation. Leftists oppose “cultural appropriation,” or the combining of different elements of different cultures to create something new. In doing so, they are akin to white supremacists who support monolithic cultural entities. Classical liberals support cultural appropriation. No one “owns” a culture, and we make progress when we exchange ideas and influences. Thus, classical liberals celebrate the high cultural values of “sexy squaw” Halloween costumes and fusion cooking.
- Horseshoe theory. As seen above, classical liberals have observed that the far left and the far right are both not only bad but eerily similar. One supports a world of racial diversity, feminism, gay rights and independent trade unions while the other supports ethnonationalism, patriarchy, traditional morality and the corporative state. As you can tell, there is hardly any difference between them.
- Democracy. Year after year, across the world, voters have endorsed statist candidates of the right and left. They have yet to hear the message of classical liberalism. If men and women who support economic redistribution and authoritarianism would only read On Liberty or Rights of Man they would become classical liberals and we could achieve the dream of a sensible, moderate President who would cut taxes, legalize marijuana, trigger SJWs and discuss the great issues of the day on The Joe Rogan Experience.
I hope this manifesto has convinced you to embrace the classical liberal inside yourself. From birth, we are assailed with collectivist propaganda: in our schools, in our churches, on our televisions, on the Internet, in our universities and in our jobs. The time has come to wake up from your statist slumbers. Listen to our podcasts, read our books, like, comment and subscribe, donate to our Patreons, and be an individual.