In the USA the term liberalism has long been stolen by the enemies of liberty. Fortunately, in Australia, this term remains largely (but not entirely) intact, and represents broadly its classical meaning; although I notice significant contamination with social liberalism.
In England, this term has been hijacked by "social" liberals. It is hard to say who represents the Whigs now. Perhaps none. The Conservative party (Tory) does seem to express a few key ideas of liberalism now and then (e.g. as they did through Thatcher), but they are not really the Whigs. Liberty is not their natural political stance.
A project to reclaim the term liberalism was initiated over half a century ago, and is still underway.
In 1962, after having established the Mont Pelerin society in 1947 (the year of India's independence, coincidentally), Von Mises, the elder Austrian economist (Hayek is the younger one – far more widely known than Mises) published an English translation of his book, Liberalismus which he had first published in the German language in 1927. The book is called, simply: Liberalism.
Writing in German is not the best way to influence the lay public. So, fortunately, this edition helped start a chain of events that has revived liberalism once again. The books' third edition (in 1985) is now freely available here at the Mises institute.
I've not yet read the book but suspect that I could use some of its sections for a primer on liberty that I'm trying to prepare for India.
Since it is inconvenient to make notes in a PDF file, I've converted the PDF version into Word for my own personal purposes, and have uploaded it here. I'll provide key highlights from this book in the coming days/weeks, not necessarily in the order in which these appear in the book.
Let me begin with this brief extract:
Liberalism is not a completed doctrine or a fixed dogma. On the contrary: it is the application of the teachings of science to the social life of man. And just as economics, sociology, and philosophy have not stood still since the days of David Hume, Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Jeremy Bentham, and Wilhelm Humboldt, so the doctrine of liberalism is different today from what it was in their day, even though its fundamental principles have remained unchanged.
The philosophers, sociologists, and economists of the eighteenth and the early part of the nineteenth century formulated a political program that served as a guide to social policy first in England and the United States, then on the European continent, and finally in the other parts of the inhabited world as well. Nowhere was this program ever completely carried out. Even in England, which has been called the homeland of liberalism and the model liberal country, the proponents of liberal policies never succeeded in winning all their demands. In the rest of the world only parts of the liberal program were adopted, while others, no less important, were either rejected from the very first or discarded after a short time. Only with some exaggeration can one say that the world once lived through a liberal era. Liberalism was never permitted to come to full fruition.
Nevertheless, brief and all too limited as the supremacy of liberal ideas was, it sufficed to change the face of the earth. A magnificent economic development took place. The release of man’s productive powers multiplied the means of subsistence many times over. On the eve of the World War (which was itself the result of a long and bitter struggle against the liberal spirit and which ushered in a period of still more bitter attacks on liberal principles), the world was incomparably more densely populated than it had ever been, and each inhabitant could live incomparably better than had been possible in earlier centuries. The prosperity that liberalism had created reduced considerably infant mortality, which had been the pitiless scourge of earlier ages, and, as a result of the improvement in living conditions, lengthened the average span of life.
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