Modern “liberals” are leftists on the order of the Jacobins of the French Revolution led by the bloody tyrant Robespierre. Recent events have shown modern liberalism to be an intolerant ideology that will brook no dissent or contrary point view. Modern liberals see government as the center of their universe and cannot conceive of any limitation on the growth and power of government. They are quick to smack down any dissent from that view of life. Brendan Eich was forced out as CEO of Mozilla, a company he founded, when it was discovered that he contributed $1,000 to a voter initiative in California in 2008 that defined marriage as between a man and a woman (the same view held by Barack Obama at the time). The slightest support for traditional marriage is now called bigotry and the Gay Mafia will mobilize to take you down for it.
Condleeza Rice was recently disinvited to give a commencement speech at Rutgers when a few students objected because she supported the Iraq invasion by the Bush administration (Democrats at the time also supported it). Anyone who questions the hysteria over so-called human-caused global warming (or climate change, climate chaos, or whatever the current buzz words happens to be) is now called a “denier,” a term meant to equate them with holocaust denier. This involves a bit of irony since we are also seeing instances of K-12 schools run by liberals (that would be all of them) changing their curriculum to include the suggestion that perhaps the holocaust didn’t occur.
The Obama administration has recently ordered college administrators to adopt new guidelines on sexual assault that essentially makes any male student so accused guilty until proven innocent.
These and other developments were the subject of Daniel Henninger’s WSJ column last week in which he wrote, “I think its fair to say that something has snapped.” Indeed, liberals are going nuts. Like Robespierre, they are hell bent on eliminating any and all opposition to their political agenda. So far, Heaven help us, they don’t have a guillotine.
True liberalism is now called Classical Liberalism. It was the dominant political philosophy in America prior to the 20th Century. The closest thing to Classical Liberalism that can be found today would be libertarian conservatism and the Tea Party movement. A good definition of Classical Liberalism was given by Ralph Raico of the Ludwig von Mises Institute:
“Classical liberalism” is the term used to designate the ideology advocating private property, an unhampered market economy, the rule of law, constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and of the press, and international peace based on free trade. Up until around 1900, this ideology was generally known simply as liberalism. The qualifying “classical” is now usually necessary, in English-speaking countries at least (but not, for instance, in France), because liberalism has come to be associated with wide-ranging interferences with private property and the market on behalf of egalitarian goals. This version of liberalism — if such it can still be called — is sometimes designated as “social,” or (erroneously) “modern” or the “new,” liberalism.
A similar view was expressed in 1965 by Yale Brozen, in his essay, The Revival of Traditional Liberalism, which is reprinted at Page 573-74 of The New Individualist Review:
A DISCUSSION OF the revival of liberalism should begin with a description of what it is—particularly since our latter-day reactionaries have stolen the name. They have stolen the label for a good reason: it stands for the opposite of what they propose. These reactionaries are attempting to disguise their desire to apply the interventionist policies of seventeenth-century mercantilism to twentieth-century society.
Literally, liberalism meant to liberalize or liberate—to make free—to permit men to do or say whatever they wished. Of course, there was a constraint implied in this. No man could do anything which affected the liberty of others. To permit some men to intervene in the lives of others would be the opposite of making men free. This would make some men unfree—subject some men to tyranny by others. The classical liberal was and is opposed to all forms of tyranny.
This constraint on the individual, to preclude what has been called license, implies equality in the right to be free. Opposition to all tyranny is equalitarian. Unfortunately, some economists imbued with the equalitarianism in liberty implied by opposition to tyranny came to confuse liberalism with another position—equalitarianism in the distribution of income. They began to scrutinize every public policy for its effects on the distribution of income.
“A growing number of economists, indeed, implicitly argue that no other injustice equals in enormity that of large differences in income.” From this position began the rationalization of intervention to make those lower on the income scale better off by methods other than removing the barriers to self-improvement or to charitable actions by private persons. At first it was argued that the state should be used to transfer income from those higher on the income scale. From this it was an easy step to forcing people low on the income scale (and others) to do what the interventionist felt would be good for them, even though these people did not wish to do these things. The new tyranny was born—or rather the old tyranny was re-born.
The radicals of the 1960’s (my generation) reacted against the “establishment” as a bigoted and intolerant regime in control of universities and government. That wasn’t true at the time, but now that those radicals of the 1960’s are the ones in charge of academe and government, it is.