Discussion on Liberalism




Date: Tue, 14 Jan 1997 7:14:43 -0800 (PST)

From: GREG RANSOM <GRANSOM@ucrac1.ucr.edu>

Subject: Human Action

My copy of Mises book is the 3rd revised edition of 1966.

In the forward to that 3rd edition Mises explains that he uses

the word "liberal" in the send of this word as used in

Europe, esp. continental Europe. Mises argues "This usage

is imperative because there is simply no other term available

to signify the great political and intellectual movement that

substited free enterprise and the market economy for the

precapitalist method of production, constitutional representative

governmetn for the absolutism of kings or oligarchies; and

freedom of all individuals from slavery, serfdom, and other forms

of bondage."



I quite agree with Mises, and have made this language part of

my own standard use, even in everyday conversation with friends,

family, and other academics. I use this language as well on

my Internet web pages, etc.



With the rising popularity and circulation of _The Economist_ in

America among educated people, and the internationalization of

culture, the familiar use of the word 'liberal' in its conventional

sense as used by Mises seems to be entering even the standard

language of the better educated in the U.S. The word 'neo-liberal'

is even commonly found in use among those in the left seats of

the political conversation in America.

I'm wondering if Mises argument has influenced the language practices

of others on the list, and how folks feel about Mises argument about

the indespensibility of the word "liberal" for the uses Mises finds a

unavoidable need for.



Greg Ransom

gransom@ucrac1.ucr.edu

http://members.aol.com/gregransom/hayekpage.htm



Date: Tue, 14 Jan 1997 19:04:38 +0200 (EET)

From: Kimmo Kuusela <kimku@utu.fi>

Subject: Re: Human Action

On Tue, 14 Jan 1997, GREG RANSOM wrote:

> I'm wondering if Mises argument has influenced the language practices

> of others on the list, and how folks feel about Mises argument about

> the indespensibility of the word "liberal" for the uses Mises finds a

> unavoidable need for.

How about "libertarian" instead of "liberal"?:

""Libertarianism" designates a group of positions concerning political

institutions stressing the primacy of individual liberty. With more

and more confusion about what is liberalism - so that the term is used

alternatively to refer to diametrically opposed sociopolitical systems

- the term "libertarianism" has come to mean the sort of polity in

which the right of every individual to life, liberty, and property is

fully and consistently protected. Libertarianism is the

political-economic theory whereby a _political_ community is just if

and only if each member has his or her basic negative rights (that is,

not to be murdered, coerced, assaulted, kidnapped, robbed, defrauded,

raped by other persons) respected and protected."

(_Liberty for the Twenty-First Century. Contemporary Libertarian

Thought_, ed. Tibor R. Machan and Douglas B. Rasmussen, p. 3. Rowman

& Littlefield, 1995.)

-- Kimmo Kuusela

Date: Thu, 16 Jan 1997 17:04:00 +0000 (CET)

From: Doepp James <getjdoep@gold.uni-miskolc.hu>

Subject: Re: Human Action

On Thu, 16 Jan 1997, sean hackbarth wrote:

> The first Mises' work I read was _Liberalism in the Classical Tradition_.

> Growing up in the liberal/conservative language of modern American

> politics, it took some getting used to. I had my mother (a Clinton

> Democrat) read a portion of it on monopoly and she was really confused.

> She just had to replace "liberal" with "conservative" to get Mises'

> meaning.

>

> I try using the term "liberal" in my conversation, but people get

> confused. Even when I tack on "classical" to liberal, it doesn't get my

> meaning across. I won't use the term libertarian becuase I associate them

> too much with anarchists.

>

> I've ended up labeling myself a "radical conservative," meaning I take

> many extreme positons relative to mainstream political thought, yet I'm

> best put on the right side of the spectrum. (Yes, I know that the

> left/right dicotomy is lacking but that is how average Americans view

> political thought.)

>

> Sean

>

> -------------------------------

> Sean Hackbarth

> University of Minn-Duluth

> shackbar@d.umn.edu

> http://www.d.umn.edu/~shackbar

> -------------------------------

>



"Radical conservative" sounds too much like a "conservative extremist" (as

if you wear big boots, have a little moustache and have a peculiar

salute.) I call myself a "liberal conservative" just to make people more

confused - or rather, just confused enough to ask what it means. Actually

here in Europe liberal conservative doesn't sound so odd. It normally

means liberal on economic issues, conservative on social issues. This way

of putting it is of course overly simplistic, and does not answer the

question of when the two issues collide (eg. an abortion clinic's

(economic) activity, or even that of a death squad (right of contract?))

It may seem that liberalism and conservativism make strange bedfellows,

but I think they are complementary. Liberalism ensures freedom,

conservativism places limits on freedom which in fact serve to preserve

that freedom. Hayek, for example, who adamantly rejected the title

"conservative", still saw the importance of certain institutions (eg. the

family) championed by conservatives, for the preservation of the liberal

order.

One last thing. It is interesting that Hayek, in his "Principles of a

Liberal Social Order," mentions Edmund Burke as an outstanding

representative of liberalism. Any comments?

jim.







James D. Doepp

Department of Economic Theory

University of Miskolc

+36 46 365-111 ext. 18-48

e-mail: getjdoep@gold.uni-miskolc.hu



"I do not think that it was by arms that our ancestors made the republic

great... But it was other things that made them great, and we have none of

them: industry at home, just government without, a mind free in

deliberation, addicted neither to crime nor to lust."

- Cato (Sallust, in Cat. c.52)

Date: Tue, 14 Jan 1997 13:16:20 -0800 (PST)

From: GREG RANSOM <GRANSOM@ucrac1.ucr.edu>

Subject: Human Action

Mises argument is for the plain use of the word 'liberal',

no hyper-definitions, no modifiers, just 'liberal'.

That is also the term I use in my daily conversation and

in my work. It doesn't come so unnaturally to someone

who teaches political theory and the philosophy of law, etc.

Perhaps in part the word 'liberal' is indespensible, as Mises

suggests in the Preface to the 3rd Edition of _Human Action_, because

only the term 'liberal' is so rooted -- historically, in the

literature. In the Wittgensteinian language, the 'grammar' of the

word 'liberal' is rich and well established, with lots of

connections, and firmly established moves of usage. By contrast,

terms like 'libertarian' and 'classical liberal' are less rich, not

as well rooted in intellectual and social history & practice, and

more products of constructivistic manipulation, than aspects of the

well established natural language of the West.





Greg Ransom

gransom@ucrac1.ucr.edu

http://members.aol.com/gregransom/hayekpage.htm



Date: Thu, 16 Jan 1997 00:34:54 -0600 (CST)

From: sean hackbarth <shackbar@d.umn.edu>

To: AustrianECON@AGORIC.COM

In-Reply-To: <970114071443.21001a89@ucrac1.ucr.edu>

The first Mises' work I read was _Liberalism in the Classical Tradition_.

Growing up in the liberal/conservative language of modern American

politics, it took some getting used to. I had my mother (a Clinton

Democrat) read a portion of it on monopoly and she was really confused.

She just had to replace "liberal" with "conservative" to get Mises'

meaning.

I try using the term "liberal" in my conversation, but people get

confused. Even when I tack on "classical" to liberal, it doesn't get my

meaning across. I won't use the term libertarian becuase I associate them

too much with anarchists.

I've ended up labeling myself a "radical conservative," meaning I take

many extreme positons relative to mainstream political thought, yet I'm

best put on the right side of the spectrum. (Yes, I know that the

left/right dicotomy is lacking but that is how average Americans view

political thought.)

Sean

-------------------------------

Sean Hackbarth

University of Minn-Duluth

shackbar@d.umn.edu

http://www.d.umn.edu/~shackbar

-------------------------------



On Tue, 14 Jan 1997, GREG RANSOM wrote:

> My copy of Mises book is the 3rd revised edition of 1966.

> In the forward to that 3rd edition Mises explains that he uses

> the word "liberal" in the send of this word as used in

> Europe, esp. continental Europe. Mises argues "This usage

> is imperative because there is simply no other term available

> to signify the great political and intellectual movement that

> substited free enterprise and the market economy for the

> precapitalist method of production, constitutional representative

> governmetn for the absolutism of kings or oligarchies; and

> freedom of all individuals from slavery, serfdom, and other forms

> of bondage."

>

>

> I quite agree with Mises, and have made this language part of

> my own standard use, even in everyday conversation with friends,

> family, and other academics. I use this language as well on

> my Internet web pages, etc.

>

>

> With the rising popularity and circulation of _The Economist_ in

> America among educated people, and the internationalization of

> culture, the familiar use of the word 'liberal' in its conventional

> sense as used by Mises seems to be entering even the standard

> language of the better educated in the U.S. The word 'neo-liberal'

> is even commonly found in use among those in the left seats of

> the political conversation in America.

>

> I'm wondering if Mises argument has influenced the language practices

> of others on the list, and how folks feel about Mises argument about

> the indespensibility of the word "liberal" for the uses Mises finds a

> unavoidable need for.

>

>

> Greg Ransom

> gransom@ucrac1.ucr.edu

> http://members.aol.com/gregransom/hayekpage.htm