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Samizdata quote of the day – are liberal conservatives sleeping with the enemy?

Tony Blair is a political virtuoso, whatever one thinks of his policies or ideas, and he stated the position very clearly. The 21st century is not a battle between capitalism and socialism. It is one between progress – that is, liberal progress – and conservatism. It follows that anybody who describes themselves as a ‘liberal conservative’ is sleeping with the enemy – or very badly confused.


Liberalism, fascism, and communism are all in essence justifications for a mode of rule which is fundamentally ‘princely’: all are predicated on the idea that the population is in some way benighted or corrupted and incapable of simply being left to its own devices, and therefore that government’s task is to reform it from the ground up (and indeed, that this is the basic narrative of History).

Against this stands conservatism, which alone among political philosophies holds that it is not that the people are benighted or corrupted when left to their own devices, but in fact that it is they who are the true repository of virtue. Goodness inheres not in the State, but in the familial, social, communal and religious institutions which people naturally create, and naturally congregate towards, and it is through embedding oneself within these institutions that one is made truly free – in the sense not of being free from ties, but in the sense of being free to realise one’s true potential. This does not exactly mean that there is no need for the State to exist at all, because man is fallen and there is a requirement for laws to be enforced and the people to be protected. But it means that the justification for the existence of the State derives from its reflecting, and preserving, the social norms of society, and its capacity to preserve that society’s way of life in a stable and secure way across time.

David McGrogan, in a virtuoso article There is no such thing as liberal conservatism

30 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – are liberal conservatives sleeping with the enemy?

  • Kirk

    Judging by performance and demonstrated acts, there’s no such thing as a “conservative” these days, either.

    The real battle is between people with common sense and the ones who live in their little self-created dream worlds, the ones that don’t actually, y’know… Work.

    Witness the spectacle of conserving conservatives here in the US: We put the Republicans in office in Congress and the Executive; what did we get to show for it? Anyone remember McCain refusing to end Obamacare? Remember how he campaigned on it, and how he behaved when confronted with an opportunity to live out his promise?

    Ain’t no such thing as a “Conservative”. They’re all captured by the depraved weirdoes on the so-called left.

    There’s really no battle, there; it’s all truthfully a battle between the control-freak types on both sides of the labels, and the inept and half-awake types that have bought into the “Conservative” swindle.

    Observe. Then, if you can, show me some proof that these “Conservatives” are actually doing anything they promise. Anywhere.

    Near as I can tell, all the supposed “Conservative” parties, world-wide? Put-up jobs, all of them.

  • Steven R

    McCain didn’t end Obamacare for any reason involving ideology or conservative ideals or anything other than he was angry that Trump was elected and he wasn’t. He was a petty and vindictive man who lashed out.

    Cancer didn’t take him soon enough.

  • Paul Marks

    This is the bizarre modern American definition of “liberalism” as statism, rather than liberty.

    Even when my father was born, 1913, people did go around declaring that statists such as Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Richard Ely (the academic activist and networking specialist) were “liberals” – they were widely understood to be OPPOSED liberalism.

    Is there a book on how American statists managed to capture the word “liberal” and reverse its meaning?

    That is the real question – I am aware of how British liberalism was corrupted into the statist “New Liberalism”, but I do not know how liberalism was turned into its opposite, statism, in the United States.

    Again is there a book on how American liberalism was turned from laissez-faire into its opposite?

  • Paul Marks

    As for the idea that Prime Minister Blair was a “liberal”.

    Prime Minister Blair was responsible for such things as the Company Act of 2006 – which meant that companies (corporations) in the United Kingdom have to follow a “social” agenda – pushing cultural and political doctrines, and as a retired Prime Minister he warmly supported such legislation as the “Climate Act” of 2008 which pushed totalitarian control of the economy (although this evil international agenda goes back at least to the Rio Conference of 1992), and the Equality Act of 2010 – which, basically, made it the law that every public body in the United Kingdom had to push the doctrines of Frankfurt School “Critical Theory” Marxism – when Conservative ministers wonder why Civil Servants, and other officials, obstruct them at every turn and fanatically follow a far left agenda – the answer is simple, the officials are following-the-law and their training under that law.

    If this is “liberalism” then Prime Minister Gladstone and President Grover Cleveland were ANTI liberals – and Lenin, Mussolini and Mao were “liberals”.

    Mussolini’s Fascism is closest to the economic system of “public-private partnership” “Stakeholder Capitalism” that people such as Mr Blair and former President Clinton support.

  • David Roberts

    A Conflict of Visions by Thomas Sowell, I think, best describes the current political scene.

  • Steven R

    Paul Marks asked:

    Again is there a book on how American liberalism was turned from laissez-faire into its opposite?

    Americana: A 400-Year History of American Capitalism by Bhu Srinivasan and Hamilton Versus Wall Street: The Core Principles of the American System of Economics by Nancy Bradeen Spannaus are the starting points you want.

    Basically it came down to normal people deciding they’d had enough abuses at the hands of industry and big business and the robber barons, they were tired of seeing their life savings wiped out when banks failed, and the sheer physical size of the United States. Laissez-faire economics may very well have worked in pre-industrialism Europe and America but by the late 1800s the cracks had grown to the point they could no longer be ignored and the little folks demanded change. We can argue all day whether or not the changes were all for the better but we do have some benefits like OSHA, trust busting, environmental laws, food safety, bank regulation, and child labor laws that didn’t exist under the hands-off approach that came before the 1880s.

  • We can argue all day whether or not the changes were all for the better but we do have some benefits like OSHA, trust busting, environmental laws, food safety, bank regulation, and child labor laws that didn’t exist under the hands-off approach that came before the 1880s.

    I would argue many “trust busting” laws have very bad effects. Same is true of food safety, an area the USA is hardly a world leader (some worst practices are now legally mandated in USA)… applying fraud laws to food would have actually worked better. US bank regulations are why US banks do not dominate the world. And whilst some child labour laws had positive effects, I would argue the extended legal infantilization of people has not been an unmitigated good.

  • Runcie Balspune

    The old definitions can’t explain differences any more, the world is split between those who want to get on with their own lives and those who want to get on with other people’s lives, all politics stands firmly in the latter now, and use any excuse to impose it, be it war, crime, pandemics or climate.

  • Kirk

    Perry de Havilland said:

    I would argue many “trust busting” laws have very bad effects. Same is true of food safety, an area the USA is hardly a world leader (some worst practices are now legally mandated in USA)… applying fraud laws to food would have actually worked better. US bank regulations are why US banks do not dominate the world. And whilst some child labour laws had positive effects, I would argue the extended legal infantilization of people has not been an unmitigated good.

    I have to agree with you. Although, I think the bank thing is probably net “good” rather than bad… I shudder to think of Wells Fargo dominating international finance, or any of the other perennial bankster-based failures we have going over here.

    The vast majority of the things the “Progressives” got up to are now enshrined as “standard”. They never should have been; child labor laws? LOL… Look around ya, see if you think those kiddies running rampant in the inner city shouldn’t be employed doing something besides what they are. They certainly aren’t learning; the ones who want to? Absolutely should. The ones who’re there only because the truant police are making them? Nope, nope, nope… You can’t force an education on someone that doesn’t want it and isn’t capable of making the effort. They should have other options besides crime and dealing drugs… Workplace apprenticeships, for example. Mass public schooling has been a disaster, on so many levels. The really smart kids that would benefit the most? Wind up held back with their “peers” that can’t do the work, and never will be able to. So, said “smart kid” gets bored, rebels, causes trouble… This is a good thing? Come again?

    The “Progressive Experiment” is going to be seen as something that was either proximate cause or heavily contributing factor for the death of Western civilization. None of their bullshit worked; most particularly? The bans on alcohol and narcotics. What they managed to do was turn something that was manageable into this behemoth of “forbidden fruit” that is far more powerful than it ever would have been absent all the idiocy. Imagine if marijuana had never gotten all the attention, and all the various idiots engaged in making it this super-strength easy-abuse creation that it is today… That came straight from the demonization of it all, and the binge-drinking idiocy of American alcohol culture came right with it. You handle alcohol the way we do, as opposed to, say… Germany? Then, you get this insanely abusive culture and the usage that goes with it.

    Most of my peers when I was in high school treated beer and other stuff as something that they could only get on the sly; it was a big deal to go to a kegger out in the snow and ice, ‘cos that was where you could drink underage. Me? I grew up in a European-rules household, and the only rule was, take a beer out of the fridge, put another in, and don’t drink the last one, either… If you knew what was good for you. Because of that, when the other guys wanted me to go freeze my ass off for a drink, I was more like “Uh… Yeah… I can do that at home, where it ain’t 30 freakin’ below zero…”

    Zero romance, zero attraction to it. I don’t think I ever got more than slightly buzzed on alcohol until I was well into my military career, and that was the one and only time I allowed that to happen. It was disastrous enough that I decided that alcohol and a military career were not two things that could go together, sooooo… Yeah. Teetotaler for a long, long time.

    I honestly can’t think of a single Progressive point or program I can find “harmless”, let alone a net positive for our society.

  • Paul Marks

    Steven R – I asked how the word “liberalism” had its meaning reversed in the United States.

    Instead of answering my question, you provide some Collectivist agitprop. As society gets more complicated so government interventions do more, rather than less, harm. Economic development is the way to reduce the things you, rightly, deplore – if passing laws removed them then Latin American countries (which have every regulation known to man) would be wonderful places – in reality regulations rather than economic growth over time, just push people into the “Black Economy”.

    So I rather doubt that your book references would answer my question either.

    By the way the history is wrong as well as the economics, as in all countries it was not ordinary people who demanded the various harmful government interventions – it was the elite, the academic elite (such as Richard Ely) and the financial elite – such as the bankers who wanted the creation of the Federal Reserve to back up, and EXPAND, their Credit-Money Bubbles.

  • Paul Marks

    As for “Trust Busting” – this is a corrupt process by which efficient business enterprises, such a J.J. Hill’s Great Northern Railroad, are attacked by the state on behalf of commercial rivals. Ordinary people may be manipulated into supporting this process – but they lose by it.

    I know that Tucker Carlson thinks the politics of Theodore Roosevelt, on Trust Busting and so on, were beneficial – he also thinks that space aliens visit the Earth, and that Colonel Douglas MacGregor is a friend of Israel.

    Both space aliens visiting the Earth and Colonel MacGregor being a friend of Israel are more likely things than an interventionist government, after the manor of Louis XIV and Colbert or the American Progressives, being beneficial rather than harmful.

    Americans used to know this – when men like A.L. Perry, rather than men like Richard Ely, wrote their economics textbooks.

    That interventionism is harmful on logical (not just empirical) grounds was made clear by Ludwig Von Mises in “Destructionism”, the last section of his work “Socialism”, and in his “Human Action”.

    But my specific question remains – how did the word “liberal” get stolen in the United States, have its meaning reversed – made the opposite of what its meaning had been, “liberal” now meaning someone who wishes to destroy liberty (both economic liberty and Civil Liberties) rather than expand liberty, roll-back-the-state, how was the word stolen and its meaning reversed?

    Is there a book that explains this?

  • Steven R

    I’m sorry Paul, I didn’t realize that giving an explanation about how and why stuff happened is collectivist agitprop. You asked for books explaining the history of how the US went from “anything goes” to DC getting involved and I tried to give a brief explanation and a few books titles, which you dismissed out of hand. I don’t know how the term liberal changed any more than I know how the term conservative changed in the US, but you seem to only want explanations to questions that only fit into your worldview in any event, so perhaps you should stop asking unless you expressly state that you just want reinforcements to your own prejudices first.

    In the future I will simply ignore your endless posts on every subject to save myself the frustration of reading them, and I certainly won’t be replying to them simply to avoid bothering your with my collectivist agitprop.


  • Kirk

    The more “interventions” there are, the more potential and likelihood that said interventions will make things worse.

    You cannot control chaos. The most you can do is to dance with it by adapting to ever-shifting circumstances. If you try to intervene to “solve” a given problem, what you are actually doing is responding to a frozen condition, because whatever that problem is, it’s already shifted by the time you get around to creating, legislating, and implementing your “solution”. As such, you’re trying to deal with the situation as it was two or three iterations ago, and that’s a recipe for failure.

    Centralized planning and centralized “solutions” will always fail in the face of ever-changing conditions. You will never, ever be able to manage it all, because you lack the omniscience and wisdom of God. Trying to make believe you’ve got that? Failure. Always, ever, certain failure.

    Happened to every single attempt at socialism and communism ever, and it keeps happening every time some idiot thinks he’s God.

  • Paul Marks

    Even as far back the 1920s and 1930s some American supporters of the Soviet Union, one of the worst tyrannies in the history of humanity (and certainly the worst tyranny that existed on Earth in the 1920s), were being called “liberals” – and only a few people protested that that this was a total reversal (an inversion) of the word “liberal”.

    How did this happen? How did the word “liberal” get its meaning reversed in the United States, from meaning someone who supported liberty (who wanted to roll back the state – reduce government spending, repeal regulations and so on) to meaning someone who wants to exterminate liberty (which is what “liberal” means in the United States today) how did this happen? How did the Collectivists get to steal the words liberal and liberalism?

  • Paul Marks

    Steven R – I asked a specific question, and you changed-the-subject.

    And not only did you change the subject – the claims you made, both in economics and history, were false.

  • bobby b

    They took the word rightfully at the beginning – liberals were indeed fighters for liberty at one time – but then, as the liberals of the 60’s and 70’s became the rulers and stopped being concerned about liberty, they simply kept the label long after they had discarded the principles.

    I think the word “conservative” is now used as unrighteously in some respects as is “liberal.” They both have become historical origin-marker labels more than descriptive terms.

  • Paul Marks

    bobby b – it happened before the 1960s.

    Liberal went from meaning someone who wanted lower government spending and taxes, to someone who wanted higher government spending and higher taxes, DECADES before the 1960s.

    President Calvin Coolidge pointed this out – like President Harding, President Coolidge was a liberal (by the traditional definition) – but now people calling themselves “liberals” wanted bigger, not smaller, government.

    Of course President Coolidge was also a conservative – as the tradition of America was liberty.

    Just as Edmund Burke “the Old Whig” was both a conservative and a liberal – there was no contradiction.

    But somehow the definition of the word “liberal” has been reversed.

    Of course sections of the Liberal Party in Britain had weird (and very wrong) ideas even in the 19th century – but this was not considered liberal or liberalism (small “l”).

    I ask again – is there a book that explains how Collectivists managed to steal the words “liberal” and “liberalism” in the United States and reverse the meaning of these words?

  • Paul Marks

    Perhaps the problem is in the word – in its general, non political, use.

    In French the word liberal is tied very strictly to liberty – but in English “liberal” not only means pro liberty (roll back the state, reduce government spending, taxation, regulation and so on) – it also means, “a generous person” as in “liberality” – being generous and kind.

    Is this the opening the Collectivists (the forces of evil) used to take the words “liberal” and “liberalism” and reverse their political meaning.

    Instead of a generous and kindly person – a generous and kindly STATE.

  • Paul Marks

    By the way it is a good article – for example it is indeed utterly bizarre that President Franklin Roosevelt, many of whose “New Deal” policies were based on Mussolini’s Fascist Italy (Mussolini correctly defined Fascism as the opposite of liberalism) is called a “liberal” and his statist policies are called “liberalism”.

    Woodrow Wilson’s statism (to be seen in his book “The State” as well as in the totalitarian work “Philip Dru: Administrator” written by his close associate Colonel House) was correctly understood as an anti liberal – his “New Freedom” being old serfdom by another name, but somehow Franklin Roosevelt (a follower of Wilson) was being called a “liberal” by the 1930s – and few people objected to this usage.

    The liberals (in the traditional meaning of the term) mostly (not all of them – but most) just accepted the stealing of the words “liberal” and “liberalism” and the reversal of the meaning of these words. Calling themselves conservatives instead.

    How did this happen? How did these words get stolen and their meaning reversed.

  • Roué le Jour

    Does it really require a whole book? You observe a group being oppressed, black slaves being a good example, so you agitate for their liberty. You are a liberal. But things do not turn out as expected. You note that in spite of now having their freedom, their circumstances haven’t improved much. You conclude that a long period of enslavement has dulled their ability to take advantage of their liberty and so agitate for them to receive help. You have gone from objecting to bad intervention to seeking good intervention but you are still a liberal.

    Jesus said “The poor will always be with us.” This is an absolute statement of fact. To give alms to the poor is good, but to attempt to eradicate poverty is madness.

  • Paul Marks

    As for British conservativism.

    The pro statism strand in the Conservative Party of such people as Derby (Earl of Derby – the former Lord Stanley) and Disraeli, has always been opposed by what Professor Greenleaf (“The British Political Tradition” Volume II) called the “libertarian strand” within the party – of which, yes, Liz Truss is an example (sadly betrayed by a totally corrupt establishment – funded, directly or indirectly, by the Credit Money of the Bank of England – one can imagine what “Old Whig” Edmund Burke would have had to say about such an institutionally corrupt economic and political system).

    There were also pro anti liberty people in the British Liberal Party – the British Liberal party always had illiberal (pro statism) people within it.

    The “New Liberalism” was the victory of the ANTI liberal elements in the Liberal Party (who had always been there), over the liberal forces in the Liberal Party.

    But it was not as sudden or as extreme as what happened in the United States – where the meaning of the words “liberal” and “liberalism” was reversed (turned on its head) in only a few years.

  • Paul Marks

    Prime Minister Derby has been overshadowed by Disraeli – but he was, if anything, even more statist.

    J.S. Mill said that the political philosophy of Derby could be summed up with one word – “liberticide” everything from semi prohibitionist views on alcohol (although many in the Liberal Party also had such illiberal opinions – indeed far more than in the Conservative Party, at least in my home town) to endless ideas for more government spending.

    For example, as early as 1831 (when Disraeli was just a novelist) Derby, then Lord Stanley, had managed to convince the government to introduce a system of state education in Ireland.

    The national police force had already been created in Ireland, at a time when police forces were very rare in England – and the Poor Law Tax was to be introduced in Ireland in 1838 – a few years later it was massively increased by Sir Charles Trevelyan and each Poor Law Union in Ireland was made to bail out bankrupt Poor Law Unions – thus dragging down the whole country.

  • Paul Marks

    Roue le Jour – if you start to agitate for more government spending and regulations, whether to “help blacks” or anyone else – then you are not a liberal, as that word was traditionally understood.

    Liberalism meant being pro liberty – reducing government spending, taxes and regulations, not increasing these things.

    By the way – American “Progressives” (statists – Collectivists) mostly hated blacks anyway, not that it would have made any difference if they had liked them. Eventually they started to claim that they liked blacks (they did not claim that back in the days of Woodrow Wilson and co) – were they sincere in their claim that they now liked blacks? I do not know – but it makes no difference if they were sincere or not, the policies will have the same terrible effects regardless of intentions.

  • Paul Marks

    “To give alms to the poor is good” – if a person is using their own money and is careful in how they spend it (do not pour liquid into a container with no base on it – Aristotle on undisciplined giving) then YES.

    But taking money by force (taxation) and throwing it around is NOT good – it ends in utter disaster, if people do not want me to tell the story of Trevelyan in Ireland yet again (1 in 3 Irish people either dying or having to flee a smashed economy), then just observe what is happening in American cities.

    This, that taxes and government spending need to be reduced, was liberalism 101 – liberal Presidents such as Grover Cleveland or Calvin Coolidge well understood this.

    As for the idea that the fake “liberals” who started to appear in America in the 1920s and 1930s were motivated by compassion – that does not fit with their support for the vicious tyranny and mass murder of the Soviet Union.

    And if anyone says “they did not know” – yes they did know, many of the New Dealers knew very well what was going in statist places such as Fascist Italy and (even worse – indeed vastly worse) the Marxist Soviet Union.

    Whatever motivated them – it was NOT compassion.

    And they are certainly not motivated by compassion now.

  • TDK

    My attempt to answers Paul’s question

    When you are a Socialist in a country that deplores Socialism you gravitate to the least worst party (from your POV). So in the late 19th century the Republicans were slightly more connected with big business, and the Democrats more interested in interventionism. So you join the latter but you don’t say out load “I’m a Socialist” (at least not then). You claim falsely that you are a liberal who wants only the best. Gradually over time, people like you dominate but the label Liberal persists and you even think that what you stand for is in fact Liberalism.

    “Liberal Fascism” is a reasonable book to cover these developments.

  • TDK

    …. by Jonah Goldberg of course

  • Paul Marks

    TDK – I am not sure that in the late 19th century the Democrats were more interested in state intervention, there were pro and anti liberty factions in both the Democrats and Republicans. As for business – business groups are often pro state intervention (capitalists tend to hate laissez faire capitalism – although, yes, each individual is different there is no “class opinion”).

    Roue le Jour is correct (that came to me over night) that some people converted from liberalism out of COMPASSION – although, of course, they did not remain liberals when they started to advocate illiberal policies – such as higher government spending.

    There is nothing wrong with wanting to greatly reduce poverty – even hoping to eliminate poverty over time, the questions is “how is it done”? By liberal or illiberal means – by rolling back the state or extending the state?

    President Garfield (this is the example that occurred to me over night) seems to have been motivated by real compassion – for example he wanted to create an American Civil Service as he seems to have thought this would make government better, and he wanted to create a special system of schools for black people (it is also often forgotten that the supporters of the “Residential School” system for children from various tribes were not “racists” – they were ANTI racists, indeed they coined the term “racist” to describe their opponents) – President Garfield believed this was the way of preventing freed black people becoming an “American peasantry”.

    Firstly what is terrible about a “peasantry”? The floods of 1927 that destroyed a lot of black owed farms along the Mississippi were terrible for black people – they had to go to the cities looking for work (as their farms had been destroyed) – this did not turn well for black people.

    But returning to the 19th century – Senator Roscoe Conkling (also a Republican like President Garfield- but from the pro liberty faction of the party) pointed out that President Garfield, although with the best of intensions, had betrayed the basic principles of liberty.

    A Civil Service undermines Constitutional control of government – the people can vote out a President or a Congress, but if the officials remain in place (following their own agenda) what has been achieved by voting out the President and Congress? And as for a system of Federal government schools for a specific racial group – firstly the Federal government has no Constitutional authority to run schools (outside Washington D.C. and military bases) and treating individuals differently because of their race, Senator Conkling pointed out, violated the 14th Amendment – and was an outrage of the basic principles of liberalism. Yes President Garfield was motivated by real compassion (I accept that) – but he had lost-the-plot. As for the idea that government schools would transform people for the better – well with the benefit of hindsight (20-20 vision – yes I know) we now the absurdity of that idea.

    Senator Roscoe Conkling was a liberal, what he believed in was liberalism – liberty, roll back the state (lower taxes, less government spending, commodity money – gold), his young opponent in the New York Republican Party, Theodore Roosevelt, was not a liberal – he was a statist, he believed (for example) in hanging people without trial (lynching – for example some Italians who may or may not have been Mafia), he believed in wars of conquest, he believed in more government spending, taxes and regulations.

    What I want to know is how radical ANTI liberals such as Theodore Roosevelt (or his Democrat cousin Franklin Roosevelt) came to be called “liberals”, how their statism (the opposite of liberalism) came to be called “liberalism”.

    I keep asking the question because I do not get proper replies – I get replies that do not even grasp that liberalism is about liberty, about rolling back the state, less government spending, lower taxes, less regulations, and (vitally important) honest money – rather than the Credit Money Bubble fraud of governments and allied banks and other government dependent corporate entities.

    Edmund Burke, the “Old Whig”, was both a liberal and a conservative (there is no contradiction) so was Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Were they perfect? Of course not – but they were the right side.

  • TDK

    …there were pro and anti liberty factions in both the Democrats and Republicans

    Yes I agree, governments of all shades tend to say one thing and then do the opposite. It’s hard to date exactly when the Democrats started to become more interventionist but certainly by the Wilson administration the party was dominated by “philosopher kings”, although I concede that Teddy Roosevelt was not dramatically different. Having said that I also concede that throughout their history both parties have fielded candidates that look as if they would be more at home in the opposition.

    The point I was trying to get to is that Liberalism is the acceptable badge for Progressives, Socialists and others. Example: Upton Sinclair was fairly obviously a Socialist and ran for that party with desultory results – I think the peak was 50,000 votes. Later he badged himself as a Democrat achieving 800,000. The Republicans called him a communist with some success. Clearly the badge of Liberal was much more acceptable and the Democrats claimed to be Liberals. The conclusion being that describing someone a Liberal is an example of how collectivists are much better at branding than individualists. “We are progressive”; “we are the party that wants to eliminate poverty”; “For the Many, not the Few”.

  • Paul Marks

    I should have wrote that some people converted from classical liberalism, from the belief in liberty – lower government spending, taxes, regulations and so on, out of a sincere but MISGUIDED compassion – misguided because their statist policies did (and do) harm.

    However, I continue to believe that the leaders of the Collectivist movement were not (and are not), in the main, motivated by compassion – as for their stealing the words “liberal” and “liberalism” and turning the meaning of these words on their heads (reversing the meaning of the words), such behaviour is outrageous – and the failure of more people to condemn, at the time, what was being done, is deeply dispiriting.

  • Paul Marks

    TDK – yes the decision of Theodore Roosevelt, a strange mixture of an attractive personality and terrible opinions, to leave the Republican fold in 1912, liberated the Republican Party of some of its worst elements – whereas Woodrow Wilson and his allies led a movement which came to eventually dominate the Democratic Party (although a key point in the history of the Democrats was the Convention of 1896 – when the pro liberty faction, led by Grover Cleveland, was defeated).

    But it should be remembered that Herbert “The Forgotten Progressive” Hoover was a follower of Theodore Roosevelt and was a Big Government person as President (although he may well have repented later in life) – the idea that President Hoover followed free market polices is a wild lie, almost as bad as the idea that laissez faire policies were followed in Ireland in the late 1840s – in reality tax-and-spend polices were followed in Ireland – with terrible results.

    President Hoover was the first peace time American President to try and prevent Real Wage rates falling during a bust (in every Credit Money bust from 1819 to 1921 Real Wages had been allowed to fall – so the Labour Market could clear) – thus the terrible MASS UNEMPLOYMENT of the 1930s.

    As for taxes – taxes on imports were pushed to (I think) the highest level in American history, and the top rate of income tax was pushed to over 60% (I think it was 63%) – only 20 years before the highest Federal income tax rate was ZERO, there was no income tax. A growth from zero per cent income tax to a top rate of over 60 per cent (with taxes on imports going up – not down).

    By the way – President Richard Nixon was also admirer of Theodore Roosevelt, and it showed in the policies of President Nixon – massively increasing domestic government spending, supporting universal government health “insurance” (not done till “Obamacare” – but an idea of Theordore Roosevelt copying the Prussia of Bismarck), wage and price controls, and so on.

    President Nixon used to quote a line, supposedly from Disraeli, “conservative men, liberal measures”.

    Why anyone should admire Disraeli, President Nixon did not explain – but he did show his utterly confused understanding of the words “liberal” and “conservative”.

    If liberal means “anti liberty – pro big government” then such men as President Grover Cleveland, President Warren Harding and President Calvin Coolidge were clearly not “liberals”, and neither were such men as Senator Barry Goldwater or President Ronald Reagan – although Richard Nixon himself would indeed by a “liberal” in this utterly inverted and twisted sense (although not “liberal” enough for the Marxists and neo Marxists).

    And how can “men” be “conservative” if they are pushing radical (and very harmful) measures?

    Like so much of what President Nixon said – it sounds clever, but, when examined, does not make any sense.