Unfortunately, the meaning of liberalism in America, as is commonly understood, doesn't really indicate that governments should be limited. It would be nice if that were the case.
>" Joseph Schumpeter says: "As a supreme, if unintended, compliment, the enemies of private enterprise have thought it wise to appropriate its label" (i.e.,"liberalism"). In the early 20th century, for instance, the education reformer John Dewey marveled at the achievements of Soviet Bolshevism and urged Americans “to give up much of [their] economic freedom,” to abandon their “individualistic tradition,” and to recognize “the supremacy of public need over private possessions.” And yet Dewey called himself not a Marxist but a liberal -- a "new" liberal; similarly, he referred to his ideas not as collectivism but rather as individualism -- a "new" individualism.
Over the succeeding years and decades, leftists, progressives, and socialists have routinely championed crusades and ideals bearing ever-less resemblance to classical liberalism, yet they invariably have identified both themselves and their evolving causes as “liberal.” Programs that were in fact leftist and socialist were enacted by legislators and social reformers in the name of “liberalism,” whose reputation as a guardian of human freedom served not only to shield those programs from public criticism, but in fact to win wide public approval of them.
In terms of both semantic usage and governmental policy, "liberalism" today is most widely associated with a single concept: the mixed economy, i.e., a state that is neither completely capitalist (laissez faire) nor entirely socialist (totalitarian). It is a union of conflicting -- liberal vs. anti-liberal -- elements. As Friedrich Hayek, the great twentieth-century scholar of liberalism, observed, such inconsistencies raise a host of vital questions:
If we have the redistribution of wealth, then what of private property?
If we enact biased laws to effect economic (or "social") equality, then what of political equality?
If we regard the collective as the essential entity, then what of the primacy of the individual?
Precisely what is the mix of the mixed economy?
When is it capitalist and when is it socialist?
When does it protect property and when does it confiscate it?
When does it leave people alone and when does it coerce them?
When does it adhere to the ethics of individualism and when does it obey the code of collectivism?
Mixed practices (such as the mixed economy) imply mixed principles, which in turn imply mixed, and therefore irrational, premises. And it is precisely that jumble which constitutes the modern "liberal" welfare state. Its exemplar is the "liberal" who supports laissez faire for social issues but statism for economic issues.
Contemporary "liberalism," then, is a parody of its predecessor. It is leftism in disguise. Specifically, it is a stalwart champion of:
group rights and collective identity, rather than of individual rights and responsibilities (e.g., the racial preference policies known as affirmative action, and the left's devotion to identity politics generally);
the circumvention of law rather than the rule of law (as exemplified by the flouting of immigration laws and nondiscrimination laws, and by a preference for judicial activism whereby judges co-opt the powers that rightfully belong to legislators);
the expansion of government rather than its diminution (favoring ever-escalating taxes to fund a bloated welfare state and a government that oversees virtually every aspect of human life); and
the redistribution of wealth (through punitive taxes and, again, a mushrooming welfare state) rather than its creation through free markets based on private property.
In addition, today's "liberalism," unlike classical liberalism, is intolerant of opposing viewpoints, favors the promotion of group-think, and interprets as treason any deviation from its own intellectual orthodoxy. We see this phenomenon manifested with particular clarity by self-identified black "liberals" who excoriate black conservatives as “race traitors,” “house slaves,” “Oreos,” and “Uncle Toms.” <
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