Sunday, June 5, 2011

Classical Liberalism and its Offspring

There is an interesting post here on Classical liberalism:
“Yglesias on Classical Liberals,” June 5, 2011.
Another point is that Classical liberalism has many different intellectual offspring:
(1) progressive liberalism, already emerging at the end of the 19th century;

(2) pro-market libertarianism, which emerged from the Classical liberal wing of the Austrian school after 1945 in the work of Mises and Rothbard;

(3) possibly even modern libertarian socialism, as Chomsky claims.
Chomsky’s views on the alleged relation of Classical liberalism to his tradition of libertarian socialism are given in the video below.


  1. Reading your libertarian socialist friend Iain's FAQ, I find that he does not admire classical liberalism too much, which he sees as an elitist philosophy, with a lot of exceptions and double standards favouring the elite - including support for slavery and colonialism in some instances.

    Classical liberalism is surprisingly inconsistent, as I came to find out slowly and recently as well. Many old liberals used to talk great things about self-determination of peoples, and how wasteful and expensive it is to acquire a foreign territory for administrative and military jurisdiction. Yet, it was in those years of popularity of liberal ideas in Germany that Alsace-Lorraine was acquired.

    von Mises also remarked with some shock that an otherwise respected Spanish intellectual - a progressive liberal - who was also his contemporary, believed that Morroco was rightfully Spanish territory and that Spain should fight to acquire all of it. Again, another person with the same ideals of democracy and self-determination, and again a major exception to the rule.

    I wonder why classical liberals (progressive or pro-market or any other) didn't just admit that their abstract principles didn't mean much even to them.

  2. People keep saying "classical liberalism", but I never see a list of who the classical liberals were and who their contemporaries were who were not classical liberals.

    Nor is there really any agreed upon list of characteristics of classical liberalism. There's the list that various libertarians want, but nobody sensible agrees with it.

    Classical liberalism is a classic case of "I know it when I see it," an authority-based claim rather than something chronological like the classical period of Greece.

    I view the modern use of "classical liberalism" as a propaganda triumph of Hayek's.

    If anybody knows different, please let me know, because this is all I've found in some rather haphazard searching.

  3. "never see a list of who the classical liberals were and who their contemporaries were who were not classical liberals."