Blogs > Liberty and Power > What Nearly Killed Liberalism

Oct 19, 2007 2:41 pm

What Nearly Killed Liberalism

The shifting meaning of the word liberal in the direction of statism has been analyzed often. But a few years ago Anthony de Jasay wrote a short comment on the matter that deserves attention. For Mr. de Jasay, the problem is not merely terminological. As he wrote in"Liberalism, Loose or Strict" (Independent Review, Winter 2005), while political ideas such as nationalism and socialism have had core principles,"Liberalism, I maintain, has never had such an irreducible and unalterable core element. As a doctrine, it has always been rather loose, tolerant of heterogeneous components, easy to influence, open to infiltration by alien ideas that are in fact inconsistent with any coherent version of it. One is tempted to say that liberalism cannot protect itself because its 'immune system' is too weak." His statement does seem to explain why liberalism has taken many forms over the centuries.
The rest of this week's TGIF,"What Nearly Killed Liberalism," is at the Foundation for Economic Education website.

Cross-posted at Free Association.

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Sheldon Richman - 10/19/2007

I'll save Roderick Long the trouble of mentioning that he has posted a possible criticism of a minor aspect of the article here.