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Classical Liberalism vs Modern Liberalism

Updated on April 13, 2018
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Essays in politics & spirituality are part of my writing tool-kit. The challenge of supporting a claim strengthens the mind & imagination.

U.S. Constitution



"The Modern Liberal will invariably side with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." Evan Sayet

In Western culture, the principles of classical liberalism emerge following the historical period in which the majority was governed by the minority, i.e., hereditary royalty. This situation especially refers to the emergence of classical liberalism in the United States of America. The Founding Fathers, who composed the governing document for the country, the U.S. Constitution, are our original classical liberals. They opposed the monarchy of George III of their mother country, England, and they struggled, fought the Revolutionary War, and created the Constitution in order to free themselves from the tyranny of monarchical rule.

Basic Principle of Classic Liberalism

The basic principle of classic liberalism remains individual freedom, secured by the rights enumerated in the Constitution, whose main purpose is to limit what the government can force individuals to do against their will. Modern liberal, Barack Obama, once bemoaned the fact the Constitution emphasized what he called "negative liberties":

the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties, says what the states can't do to you, says what the federal government can't do to you, but it doesn't say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf.

Obama's complaint reveals the exact problem with modern liberalism, which calls for more government interference in the lives of citizens. The only function of any government is to protect the natural rights of the individual; thus the only function the government should perform "on your behalf" is to provide the agencies that keep law and order, and keep the social environment open for free expression by its citizens.

Obama and other modern liberals act on the mistaken notion that the government should provide its citizens with services, such as medical care, education, housing, and even nutrition, while it simultaneously tries to control the welfare of society by attempting to legislate morality.

Obama's specifically lamented the fact the Constitution did not address the issue of income redistribution, his solution of "spreading the wealth around." Government is not an effective tool for "spreading the wealth around"; government policies can influence how effectively wealth can be acquired, but it cannot effectively take from the rich and give to the poor, which is the claimed wish of modern liberals.

Taking from one group and giving to another requires a middleman, who will always have to take his cut. And just how big that cut is depends on the power of the middleman. As the government is the middleman, the more powerful the government the more it can take. Thus the politicians who advocate bigger government are the ones who stand to gain from having that big government, along with the power the politicians wield as office holders.

Supporting the so-called vulnerable groups and dividing the citizenry through political correctness and identity politics become just a ruse to gain votes from these so-called endangered groups. It becomes clear that the modern liberal is following in the socialistic, communistic paths of the 19th and early 20th centuries—the Marxist philosophy of replacing capitalism with socialism then communism appeals to those who advocate more government.

The Purpose of Taxation

When the government takes money in the form of taxation from its citizens, it should use that money only for the rightful services it is in position to perform: those services that guarantee law and order, that provide services not functionally possible by individuals or small groups, such as building roads and other infrastructure, maintaining an equitable immigration policy, securing the borders to assist in that policy, and mediating relationships with foreign governments.

Government is not well suited to guarantee social justice, to engineer societal norms, or to protect the rights of one group over another. For example, modern liberals who claim to support the Gay community are guilty of penalizing those who do not support Gay marriage; thus they infringe on the religious freedom of people who do not accept that life-style. Not accepting Gay marriage and the Gay life-style does make individuals the "haters" that the modern liberal often makes the religious out to be. Forcing the religious baker, florist, or photographer to participate in Gay weddings, thus infringing on their religious freedom, does not make a more tolerant society. For a tolerant society to exist, there must be tolerance on both sides.

Political correctness and identity politics are two of the most heinous features of modern liberalism. The principles of classical liberalism already guarantee the rights of those groups—Blacks, Gays, Hispanics, transgenders, and women, the groups most often included the vulnerable group category. These groups and all others based on any identity already possess all of the rights guaranteed in the Constitution. That document does not nor did the Founding Fathers ever need to envision carving out safe spaces for weak individuals who seek to rely on their identities to gain political or economic favor.

Return to Tyranny

Modern American liberals are on course to return the United States to a tyranny through overweening laws and regulations, making the government a behemoth that stifles individual initiative while pandering to the so-called vulnerable groups for votes. Instead of freedom, they tout government wealth-spreading and laws that limit certain groups' rights over others.

Instead of a return to rule by kings and queens, however, the modern liberal tyranny is vested in the "state," that is, the government. The most accurate term for this kind of tyranny is "statist." Today, classical liberals continue to struggle against the tyranny of that statist modern liberal position.


© 2018 Linda Sue Grimes


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  • Maya Shedd Temple profile image

    Linda Sue Grimes 3 weeks ago from U.S.A.

    Yes, the whole leftwing composed of all those groups you name is basically communist inspired, and you're correct about the lie and wholesale destruction caused by that ideology. Lenin's "useful idiots" are still doing their thing. God help us!

    Thanks for your feedback and useful additional information, Jack!

  • jgshorebird profile image

    Jack Shorebird 3 weeks ago from Southeastern U.S.

    I look at the 'Modern Liberals' as the same animal, different stripes. Progressives, Democrats, Green Party, Socialist Party and the Communist Party. Really, their goal is communism and we know how many died for that lie -- are still dying. Communism has never died, it just changes names to confuse the "useful idiots."