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Why use word "Libertarianism" and "Classical Liberalism" to describe "Liberal" policies?

By Jadranko Brkic - Posted on 06 January 2010

Traditionally, the word "Liberal" is associated with 1. maximum individual freedom, where individuals are free to live their lives the way they choose and to freely engage in economic affairs, and 2. minimal government, restricted to protection of individual freedom (maintaining strong military and police force) and mediation of disputes (judicial system).


However, over time the term liberal has become perverted and associated with socialism and big government.


In the United States, progressive Democratic Party was mistakenly labeled liberal, and the name stuck. Democrats in the US are today commonly referred to as liberals, yet their policies couldn't be further from liberal. Democratic party openly supports big government social programs and welfare state as well as market interventionism.


True liberals in the US have therefore largely abandoned their association with term liberal and now call themselves "Classical Liberals" or "Libertarians."


In Europe, the term liberal may still hold its original meaning. However, the prevalence of socialist and communist forces in the early 20th century gave birth to social liberalism, which proposes government interventionism in the economy, big government social programs, and social justice - reaching equality through high taxation, income, and property redistribution. Many liberal parties in Europe are social liberals. Their policies are quite the opposite from Classical Liberalism, yet the fact that they retain the word liberal within their names has perverted the meaning of the term liberal.


The true liberals of Europe largely retain their association with the word liberal, however they are competing for identity distinction with social liberals. One must dig deeper in order understand whether a party with liberal name is truly liberal or in fact socialist.


For all these reasons, we at Campaign for Freedom and Prosperity BiH have been using the word "Libertarianism" and to a lesser degree the word “Classical Liberalism” when describing liberal policies, as the two still remain uncorrupted and true to their original liberal meaning.

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