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Liberal_Jihad_Cover.jpg Forward USA

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Liberalism and Socialism

Is liberalism a variety of socialism?

A reader wrote, in response to Why Liberals Can’t Compete in the Values Arena :

Nice try, but liberalism is not socialism, nor is socialism a religion.  I, for instance, am a liberal, an agnostic, an anti-socialist, and an anti-communist.  I have plenty of company in this.  Surely you can find faults in liberalism without having to pretend it is something else, can’t you?  I certainly can.

My reply:

Thanks for your comment.

The fact that you consider yourself a liberal, but are opposed to socialism and communism doesn’t of itself mean that liberalism is not a variety of socialism and that it is not a religion.  There are many shades of understanding of socialism and of adherence to its dogma within the liberal community.  For a more extensive discussion of that, see Who Are the Liberal-socialists?

It’s possible that your definition of liberalism may be more akin to libertarianism than to liberal-socialism.  The latter, in my use of the term, is associated with the belief that human social and political problems arise from the structure of a political state that supports private property rights and individualism.  That variety of liberalism prescribes collectivism and views individualism as tending toward anti-social selfishness.

It is also the case that American liberals tend to believe that only the Federal government can solve social, economic, and political problems.  They certainly do not believe, as the founders did, that the best government is the one that governs the least.  Liberals make much of the Bill of Rights, but do not view it from the perspective that produced it, the Anti-Federalist desire to embed hard-and-fast prohibitions against the arbitrary use of collectivized government power that could override individual rights, chief among them the rights of private property.  That, after all, was the genesis of our War of Independence.

As I’ve noted extensively, the most prominent socialist spokesmen themselves have described it as a religion, an all-embracing view of life that shapes one’s perceptions and regulates his everyday actions, as Jean Jaures, head of the French Socialists, put it at the beginning of the 20th century. 

For details, see Socialism: Our Unconstitutionally Established National Religion 

and What is Liberalism?