Classical Liberalism vs Modern Liberalism (Socialism) — A Primer

Exclusive for
Article Type: 
Published Date: 
Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The term "liberal" originally stemmed from the human quest for free inquiry and the study of the liberal arts. Aristotle explained that the greatest pleasure a free man could possess is to have the economic means to indulge himself in the study of nature, books, science (philosophy) — and the liberals arts, rather than to be forced to labor endlessly with no free time for leisure and the contemplation of life.

Liberal persons (e.g., philosophers, teachers, citizens, politicians) used to refer to those who engaged in free discourse, the free exchange of ideas, tolerance of other points of view (without necessarily approving of those views), personal autonomy, minimalist government with personal liberty, freedom to pursue happiness, health, occupation, and life in general. The ancient form of "liberalism" virtually disappeared with the Dark Ages.(1)

The Classical Liberals awoke from the slumber of antiquity during the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason with the writings of John Locke, Sir Edward Coke, David Hume, Adam Smith, Baron MontesquieuRichard Steele, Joseph Addison, etc., and reached a climax of political influence in the 18th and 19th centuries in Great Britain with the ascendancy of MPs (and subsequently PMs) Charles James Fox and William Gladstone, and in France with the physiocrats, i.e., A.R.J. Turgot, Marquis de Condorcet, and the intellectual giants: Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755; photo, left) and Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850).

Today, the term Liberalism has been hijacked and subsequently transmogrified in stages — utilitarianism, social welfarism, social liberalism, and finally and to speak more plainly, socialism. And, unfortunately, it appears that there is no turning back.

A similar process has occurred with the term progressivism, a curious but well-calculated term intended to deceive and confuse the concept of advancement in civilization with the attainment of political goals (socialism) — as if socialism was real progress in the path of history.

And yet, as V. I. Lenin wrote, the dialectical materialism of socialism is "one step forward and two steps backward"!
Edmund Burke
British statesman Edmund Burke (1729-1797; photo, right), a father of modern conservatism, ended his long time friendship with Charles James Fox (1749-1806; photo, left below), when the latter as MP not only defended the ideals of the French Revolution but finally appeared to be more of a social liberal than a classical liberal. (These are my words, but they plainly describe the historical facts.) This final philosophical somersault took place in the latter half of the 19th century (i.e., sometime after Karl Marx and Friedrich Engel published their Communist Manifesto in 1848).

And so the Liberal Party of the true Classical Liberals died more or less with William Gladstone, and in its place was born the British Labor Party of modern liberalism, essentially striving not just for better labor conditions, but increasingly toward wealth redistribution and socialism, and the abandonment of liberty and laissez faire capitalism.(2)

In the USA, where the Industrial Revolution wrought gigantic steps in real economic progress and improvements in the standard of living for all, faux "progress" (socialism) came a bit later and largely in the 20th century (and in minuscule doses) until the presidency of FDR.(3)

Arrange it or explain it any way you wish, today's knowledgeable conservatives are largely the former Classical Liberals; and today's social liberals are knowledgeable socialists, big government democrats, or "liberal" Democrats.

Charles James FoxClassical Liberals believed in free trade, less taxation, minimalist government, freedom of religion, personal freedom, republican and constitutional principles of government, laissez faire economics, noblesse oblige, an informed electorate, freedom with responsibility, etc.

The term "liberal" has been perverted today to mean the opposite of what it once meant, and even dictionaries have not been able to keep up with the political transformation of the term.

Who are the modern political liberals in the USA? They are those who want more government; more rules and regulations to control the lives and businesses of others; more taxation for the redistribution of wealth; the yielding of sovereignty to a godless, corrupt United Nations at the expense of their own country; banning religion from secular life; maximalist government control to enforce "equality" — but where some are still more equal than others, particularly themselves as the elite, "liberal" impostors.

They want to control the lives of others and ban any pleasure they deem offensive or unhealthy for the rest of us. They are authoritarians. We must call them modern liberals, collectivists, progressives, socialists, but they are not classical liberals who believed in freedom.(4)

Conservatives and Objectivists are today's Classical Liberals, and they are best (although admittedly imperfectly) represented by the GOP. The alternative is the overt, left-wing, big-government, authoritarian socialism of the U.S. Democratic Party!

In summation, Classical liberalism = Modern Conservatism; Modern liberalism = Socialism


1) Faria MA. Vandals at the Gates of Medicine — Historic Perspectives on the Battle Over Health Care Reform. Hacienda Publishing, Inc., Macon, GA, 1995.

2) Faria MA. The Political Spectrum (Part II) — The Center: A Democracy or a Constitutional Republc? Hacienda Publishing, October 14, 2011

3) Faria MA. A Brief History of Socialism in America. Hacienda Publishing, September 28, 2011.

4) Faria MA. The Political Spectrum (Part I): The Totalitarian Left From Communism to Social Democracy. Hacienda Publishing, September 28, 2011.

Written by Dr. Miguel A. Faria

This article may be cited as Faria MA. Classical Liberalism vs Modern Liberalism (Socialism) — A Primer., May 21, 2012.  Available from:

Copyright © 2012 Miguel A. Faria, Jr. M.D. 

Your rating: None Average: 4 (11 votes)
Comments on this post

British political history

History of British Politics extracted from Wikipedia

"The Conservative (Tories) Party can trace its origin back to 1662, with the Court Party and the Country Party being formed in the aftermath of the English Civil War. The Court Party soon became known as the Tories, a name that has stuck despite the official name being 'Conservative'. The term "Tory" originates from the Exclusion Bill crisis of 1678-1681 - the Whigs were those who supported the exclusion of the Roman Catholic Duke of York from the thrones of England, Ireland and Scotland, and the Tories were those who opposed it. Both names were originally insults: a 'whiggamore' was a horse drover (See Whiggamore Raid), and a 'tory' (Tóraidhe) was an Irish term for an outlaw...

"Generally, the Tories were associated with lesser gentry and the Church of England, while Whigs were more associated with trade, money, larger land holders (or "land magnates"), expansion and tolerance of Catholicism... After becoming associated with repression of popular discontent in the years after 1815, the Tories underwent a fundamental transformation under the influence of Robert Peel, himself an industrialist rather than a landowner, who in his 1834 'Tamworth Manifesto' outlined a new 'Conservative' philosophy of reforming ills while conserving the good.

"Though Peel's supporters subsequently split from their colleagues over the issue of free trade in 1846, ultimately joining the Whigs and the Radicals to form what would become the Liberal Party, Peel's version of the party's underlying outlook was retained by the remaining Tories, who adopted his label of Conservative as the official name of their party.

"The Conservatives were in government for 18 years between 1979 and 1997, under the country's first ever female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and then under John Major. Their landslide defeat in the 1997 general election saw the Conservative Party lose over half their seats gained in 1992, and saw the party re-align with public perceptions of them...

"In the most recent general election in 2017, the Conservatives, although increased their vote share lost their overall majority in the House of Commons after previously commanding a majority for two years between 2015 and 2017.

"The history of the Labour Party goes back to 1900, when a Labour Representation Committee was established and changed its name to "The Labour Party" in 1906. After the First World War, this led to the demise of the Liberal Party as the main reformist force in British politics. The existence of the Labour Party on the left-wing of British politics led to a slow waning of energy from the Liberal Party, which has consequently assumed third place in national politics...

"... the Labour Party had its first true victory after World War II in the 1945 "khaki election". Throughout the rest of the twentieth century, Labour governments alternated with Conservative governments. The Labour Party suffered the "wilderness years" of 1951-1964 (three straight general election defeats) and 1979-1997 (four straight general election defeats).

"The Labour Party elected left-winger Michael Foot as their leader after their 1979 election defeat, and he responded to dissatisfaction with the Labour Party by pursuing a number of radical policies… In 1981, several centrist and right-wing leaning Labour MPs formed a breakaway group called the Social Democratic Party (SDP), a move which split Labour [which]... made the Labour Party unelectable for a decade. The SDP formed an alliance with the Liberal Party which contested the 1983 and 1987 general elections as a centrist alternative to Labour and the Conservatives... The SDP eventually merged with the Liberal Party to form the Liberal Democrats in 1988. Support for the new party has increased since then, and the Liberal Democrats (often referred to as Lib Dems) gained an increased number of seats in the House of Commons in the 2001 and 2005 general elections.

"... [In 1994] Tony Blair became Leader of the Labour Party … continued to move the Labour Party towards the "centre" by loosening links with the unions and continuing many of Margaret Thatcher's neoliberal policies... helped Labour win a historic landslide in the 1997 General Election, after 18 years of Conservative government…  a process which delivered three general election victories but alienated some of its core base - leading to the formation of the Socialist Labour Party (UK).
"... After winning the largest number of seats and votes in the 2015 general election, the Conservatives first under David Cameron and now under Theresa May remain ahead of the Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn since September 2015.

"... On 23 June 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in a referendum. 

"... In the 2017 election, in a surprising result, the Conservatives made a net loss of 13 seats with 42.3% of the vote (its highest share since 1983), while Labour made a net gain of 30 seats with 40.0% (its highest since 2001)... The Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats, the third- and fourth-largest parties, both lost vote share.

"The Conservatives remained in power as a minority government, having secured a confidence and supply deal with the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland which won 10 seats)... May launched the Conservative campaign with a focus on Brexit, lower domestic taxes and avoiding a Labour–Lib Dem–SNP 'coalition of chaos', but she refused to commit not to raise taxes. On 30 April, May stated that it was her intention to lower taxes if the Conservatives won the general election, but only explicitly ruled out raising VAT..."

Politics of the United Kingdom & The British Election of 2017, Wikipedia, [accessed November 26, 2017]

Huge conservative Victory in France!

French president reels after far right victory

PARIS (AP) — "France's Socialist president, reeling from a record electoral victory by the far right, pledged Monday to press ahead with tax and spending cuts and urged a more streamlined European Union in hopes of calming voter anger.

"The anti-EU, anti-immigration National Front party shook France's political landscape by coming out on top in France's voting for European Parliament elections, beating the mainstream conservatives and the governing Socialists.

"Hollande, in a televised speech to the nation Monday night, said the result was "painful" and an embarrassment for France, the 'founding nation of the European Union, homeland of human rights, country of freedom.' France's next presidential and legislative elections won't take place until 2017.

"But the showing gives new momentum to National Front leader Marine Le Pen — who has projected a kinder, gentler face of her party — just as the Socialist government is flailing and former President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative party is wobbling amid a finance scandal.

'Hollande held an urgent meeting of government ministers Monday morning and then pledged to push ahead with reforms of France's stagnant, indebted economy...

"'The French suffer from austerity, unemployment and social difficulties. But our governments are deaf to the cry of the people," National Front leader Marine Le Pen said, calling the election result an 'incredible disavowal' of "the entire, so-called traditional political class.'"

"Hollande responded to Le Pen's big win by suggesting Monday night that EU should curb some of its powers, saying 'Europe must be simple, clear, to be effective where it is needed and to pull back where it is not needed. He provided no details but said ahead of his attendance at an EU summit in Brussels Tuesday that he still firmly supports deep European cooperation on a host of issues and that France must not risk isolating itself within the bloc. France 'cannot pursue its destiny by turning in on itself, closing itself off, rejecting the other,' he said.

"Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of EU powerhouse Germany called the National Front's success 'a bad signal.' German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the rise of right-wing populists in the weekend's European elections was 'remarkable and regrettable,' and called for policies that could create jobs and improve competitiveness."

By the Associated Press, May 27, 2014. David Rising in Berlin and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report

Europe with France leading the way is waking up at last to the threat of socialism and national suicide! The French seem now to be remembering the rest of the glorious history (rather than only the savagery and legacy of the French Revolution). This election results not only represent a great victory for the National Front party of Le Pen's "ultra" conservatives, but conservatism in general because they were followed by the "mainstream" Consevatives party of Nicolas Sarkozy. Conservatives in the two main parties alone had a total of 46% of the vote; the Socialists came third with only 14%! — MAF

Socialists first, then...

When the various pressure groups composing the coalition that today holds together America's Democratic party are forced to choose between their own interest and democratic politics they invariably choose Democratic politics– i.e. Socialism– first:

1. When Jennifer Flower, Juanita Broderick, Paula Jones needed their help– NOW supported Bill Clinton...

2. But when Clarence Thomas and Herman Cain were under attack via electronic lynching for real or imaginary transgressions, the NAACP and the Black ”leaders,“ unhesitatingly supported their accusers even before all the facts were in…

3. When poet and author Reinaldo Arenas with his book, Before Night Falls, exposed the persecution and harsh treatment of homosexuals in Cuba by the communist government–the U.S. GAY COMMUNITY sided with Fidel and Raul Castro and condemned the Cuban poet as he lay dying...

4. When Russia, China, India systematically pollute the environment– the U.S. Wacko environmentalists, continue to hammer the U.S. as the "greatest consumerist polluter," and continue to support socialist policies in those countries, not a peep about the destruction of the Aral Sea, pollution in the Ganges, inefficient burning of fossil fuels in those countries, etc...

5. And when the Bible seems convenient for their purposes, liberals become hypocritical "Born Again Christians," or rather false prophets, in the tradition of Liberation Theologists!

6. When Justice and the Constitution come calling, Many Trial Lawyers, chose Partisan Politics, wealth redistribution and Socialism- legal plunder!

7. And when the Union Bosses have to choose between the welfare and maintenance of jobs for their workers, they invariably go for forced dues to support Democratic politics and their own corruption! IMO– MAF

The upheaval in Western Europe

A Canadian who has told me he believes in "the social protective net" of the socialist democracies of Europe wrote me that the rejection of the status quo in Europe in recent elections is related to the rejection of conservative policies (MT 5/6-7/12).

"The shift is more profound than just Greece. The UK held local elections last week and the Conservatives took a thumping from Labor/Liberal Democrats as did Nicholas Sarkozy of France today, being defeated by a Socialist. Spain and Italy are coming up and probably will join Ireland and Iceland and the above in dumping the guys who made a mess of everyday lives for the benefit of the few.

"The victims of the economic malaise are being told to pay up with cuts in services and pensions that their taxes were sufficient to provide while the thieves and perpetrators made off with the loot...

"Just about all of Western Europe has swung to the center-left rather than the center-right not only in national, but in state and municipal elections as well. They've moved closer to the Scandinavian countries for a governance ethos."

To which I responded:

The political parties in power in Europe, whether conservative or liberals, are taking a beating because unrestrained socialism in Europe. So austerity– which is urgently needed– "has become a dirty word," in fact, reads an article headline today!

The Socialist philosophy of the "social democracies" in which both "liberals" and "conservatives" partake in Europe with insufficient fiscal restraints are to blame. Socialists have destroyed the economies of Greece, Spain, Portugal, etc. And the traces of conservatism seen in a few governments, such as those of Great Britain, France, and Italy–  the people, now used to their governments' freebies, do not want to give them up and refuse to allow their respective governments to exercise any degree of fiscal restraints!

And far as Spain, you got a wrong, sir, they threw the socialist bums out this past Fall: Perhaps Spain can set a new example in the rest of Europe but don't hold your breath.

In Central and Eastern Europe, the people, who know better after years behind the Iron Curtain (i.e., the late Vaclav Havel in the Czech Republic, the Poles, the Hungarians, even the Russians) are moving away, as far as they can, from socialism and collectivism. Recently, Poland even erected a statue to Ronald Reagan inaugurated by Lech Walesa!

But the Western Europeans are hapless stuck in the mud mired in socialism. And when they try to dump Karl Marx and socialism, they get riots like those which have taken place in France, Greece, even Great Britain.

But Turkey, a member of NATO and friend of the USA, is today booming using economic restraints nowhere else found in Europe! Greece should take notice; Greeks took too long to boot out their socialist leader and now they are leading the whole of Europe down a precipice of economic calamities!

I just hope that we in America are paying attention. It appears that the American middle class show a strong concern for government spending and profligacy in most published polls.

Even Vladimir Putin said that America is living beyond her means. I think the November elections will determine if we go down the way of socialist Europe! Obama is taking notice; he is already making excuses!

Suggested Reading

"'Spain rejects socialism – only three per cent of EU citizens now have Left-wing governments"--- The Telegraph (UK), November 21, 2011.

"Sarkozy joins fallen leaders amid Europe crisis" Daniel Wools,The Associated Press, Sunday, May 6, 2012 5:51 PM