Posted on 28 June 2011 by admin
Posted on 27 February 2011 by admin
Classical Liberalism was the primary political philosophy in America until the 20th century. It is based on the writings by philosophers of the enlightenment period during the 17th and 18th centuries, such as John Locke (natural rights), Adam Smith (free markets, economics), Montesquieu (separation of powers), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (social contract, source of political power), Voltaire (suspicion of power) and others. It was America’s founding philosophy and its principles can be seen in the Declaration of Independence, Federalist Papers, Anti-Federalist Papers, Articles of Confederation and the US Constitution. In order to understand America’s founding principles, one must understand ‘classical liberalism’.
Note: Classical liberalism is not related to modern liberal, they are diametrically opposed to one another as ‘classical liberalism’ is based upon individualism, whereas ‘modern liberalism’ is based upon collectivism.
This is an excellent article on Classical Liberalism
10 Principles of Classical Liberalism
1.) Liberty as the primary political value
“The end of Law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge Freedom.”
– John Locke, Second Treatise of Government
“What is true of every member of the society, individually, is true of them all collectively; since the rights of the whole can be no more than the sum of the rights of the individuals.”
– Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1789
3.) Skepticism about power
“The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.”
– James Madison, Speech before the Virginia State Constitutional Convention, December 1 1829
4.) Rule of Law
“Thus the ‘Law of Nature’ stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well as others. The rules that they make for other men’s actions, must, as well as their own and other men’s actions, be conformable to the ‘Law of Nature’, i.e. to the will of God, of which that is a declaration, and the fundamental law of nature being the preservation of mankind, no human sanction can be good, or valid against it.”
– John Locke, “Second Treatise in Civil Government”, Chapter-11, Section 134
5.) Civil Society
“[We in America entertain] a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens resulting not from birth but from our actions and their sense of them.”
– Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural, 1801
6.) Spontaneous Order
“As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.”
– Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, Book IV, 1776
7.) Free Markets
“In the first place, I own myself the friend to a very free system of commerce, and hold it as a truth, that commercial shackles are generally unjust, oppressive and impolitic–it is also a truth, that if industry and labour are left to take their own course, they will generally be directed to those objects which are the most productive, and this in a more certain and direct manner than the wisdom of the most enlightened legislature could point out.”
– James Madison, Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856
“The error seems not sufficiently eradicated that the operations of the mind as well as the acts of the body are subject to the coercion of the laws. But our rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
– Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XVII, 1782
“Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.”
– Thomas Jefferson, First Inagural Address, March 4, 1801
10.) Limited Government
“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”
– James Madison, Federalist Papers #45
Posted on 25 February 2011 by admin
This is an excellent summary of political thought over the past 150 years, which explains the decline of ‘classical liberalism’ and ‘individualism’, and the rise of collectivism of socialism, nationalism and otherwise. This is highly recommended, it provides enormous historical perspective to the various ‘labels’, including ‘left/right’, ‘liberal/conservative’.
Also see: What is Classical Liberalism?
The history of modern ‘nationalism’ is fascinating (35:30). Many today are not aware of how ‘nationalistic’ they are. This concept is in direct conflict with ‘classical liberalism’ and ‘individualism’, where Nationalism is simply a form of ‘collectivism’. This has had a huge impact on the way the masses view everything from ‘war’ to ‘taxes’, even still today.
In fact, the US Pledge of Allegiance was born out of ‘nationalism’. It was written by a socialist, Francis Bellamy, in 1892 to help change American political thought toward nationalism. Read the full history of the pledge of allegiance.
Posted on 18 February 2011 by admin
Posted on 18 February 2011 by admin
Posted on 12 January 2011 by admin
Posted on 22 December 2010 by admin