Many people on this site identify themselves as Progressive Liberals, where as many people over at DailyPaul (where I'm also posting this) identify themselves as Libertarian. But the truth is both of these modern philosophies stem from the 18th century political philosophy of Classical Liberalism.
It is my intent here to display the original intent of Classical Liberalism in respect to our current governing by Federal, Local, and state Governments. I, for the purpose of this diary take no side. My attempt is simply to show what Classical Liberalism would consider of our current government.
I invite anyone, Progressive Liberal, Libertarian, Democrat, Republican, Totalitarian, or Anarchist to read, form their own opinions, and determine where you lie in regards to Classical Liberalism, and where you differ. I accept all critique, but kindly do so in knowing that I have done my best to attempt to use logical conclusions of Classical Liberalism philosophy and to put this 18th century philosophy into the current world we live in, and to compare and contrast original intent, to modern programs. I invite you to comment and critique, but I ask anyone who does so to take the time and read this in its entirety. An area of discussion should include: How are Progressive Liberalism, or Libertarianism, different from Classical Liberalism, and how are Progressive Liberalism and Libertarianism still similar to the original philosophy?
I will be using the four characteristics of Classical Liberalism as defined by Hunt, drawn from the philosophies of Adam Smith, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Malthus. As such here are the following tenants of Classical Liberalism and the duties of Government instilled by this philosophy:
1. Protection of citizens against foreign invaders, extended to include protection of overseas markets through armed intervention and defense.
2. Protection of citizens from wrongs committed against them by other citizens, which meant protection of private property and enforcement of contracts and the suppression of trade unions and the Chartist movement.
3. The Building and maintaining public institutions, support of roads, canals, harbors, railways deemed necessary by the citizenry.
4. Creation and maintenance of Public Works that included a stable currency, standard weights and measures and postal and other communications services deemed necessary for proper commerce.
Part one states that it is the Government's role to provide protection against foreign invaders and overseas markets through armed intervention. This particular interest of Classical Liberalism defines for us when it is acceptable to use military strength. In the first part of this component, we see demonstrated the acceptable use of military strength in order to defend our home; a common sense approach to military use when we are attacked, as well as a common sense for retaliation abroad if attacked. The second part of this component is the protection of our financial interests in foreign lands. It is a key component of Classical Liberalism to use the heavy hand of our military if our financial interests in foreign countries are threatened. This does not however give the acceptability to use force to increase our foreign financial institutions through invasion or military use. Military use is, however acceptable, when no foreign nation or group invades, but rather when they hinder us as a nation financially abroad. An example of this could be a foreign nation who once signed a contract with us, and through an overthrow of their government, negates contracts, or in a situation in which an overthrow or coup of a foreign country would ensure the continuation of our financial interests in said country.
This premise is indicative of financial protectionism, but it contradicts the more modern view of military protectionism which requests of us to restrain from military us in foreign countries when we are not under direct physical threat. It is important to distinguish this difference as this would determine the appropriateness of recent interventions in Iraq and Libya, et al. Under Classical Liberalism, military intervention of Iraq would have been acceptable if it was demonstrated that our financial interests in Iraqi oil would be maintained under the fall of Saddam Hussein. Under Classical Liberalism, "blood for oil" would be acceptable if spilling no blood meant a disruption in our current (not potential future increase of) financial interests.
Part two states that it is the Government's role to provide protection of citizens from fellow citizens in regards to physical or financial harm. In this role, it is the Government's position that any unjust harm committed by one citizen against another in physical form should be punished via our justice system, which is authorized by this protection instilled to the government. This is the reason that we have a justice and jail system in our country, and why Classical Liberalism accepts the power of the Government to punish citizens who do unjust harm to others. The second part of this component of Classical Liberalism instills in the Government the power to punish citizens who do unjust financial harm to the financial interests of fellow citizens and their private property. This is the reason that Classical Liberalism instills in Government the power to punish those who unjustly harm an individual for destruction of financial property or physical property.
Classical Liberalism also however, opposes the ability for groups of citizens to form unions (as illustrated by and in regards to the advent of the Chartist movement in Great Britain) that will unfairly place upon one citizen a power that is not instilled upon every citizen.
By forming trade unions, those citizens within said union hold an unfair financial advantage to citizens of other trades or same trades not included within a union. Classical Liberalism sees a forming of a trade union as unjust as it does not equally and fairly include all citizens in said union. Were there to a theoretical union that did include every citizen, instilling all rights and advantages to each individual citizen, then it is conceivable that Classical Liberalism would support such a union, but as such a union is impossible and would deny the employer of said power, Classical Liberalism, for the sake of equality and justice, denies citizens the ability to form a union, and instills in Government the power to dissolve all trade unions. This is a form of power that the Government does not currently have federally, though some states have granted themselves, through representative elections, the ability to nullify or negate trade unions within their borders. It is important to note however, that Classical Liberalism also shuns the ability for employers to unfairly treat or discriminate against their employees for any actions that are not deemed to be a result of work ethic, or promotion and unfair benefit to employees for any actions that are not deemed to be a result of work ethic.
In such Classical Liberalism would be supportive of anti-discrimination laws in which employers would promote or negate the hiring of said individual due to differences in race, gender, lifestyle, sexual identity, or any other characteristic which would be deemed not to hinder or excel an individual over another in terms of employment, promotion, or termination. Classical Liberalism would not be, however, in favor of affirmative action, as, while the intended result is to negate racism in the work place, the unintended result places the favorability of minorities over majorities. Classical Liberalism would instill the power in the Government to prosecute any employer who refuses employment to applicant based on race, without the mandatory implications designated in Affirmative Action.
Part 3 states that it is the Government's role to provide the building of all necessary structures and public institutions required by the citizenry, and the maintenance of such structures. Classical Liberalism would then be in favor of highway maintenance, buildings of educational nature, buildings of cultural importance, buildings of medical and health importance, and buildings of military importance; Classical Liberalism also instills in the Government the power to collect taxes to pay for said buildings and structures.
It is the stance of Classical Liberalism that any and all institutions that the citizenry determine to be mandatory to be built and properly maintained via the power instilled to the Government. An example of this would be the construction and maintenance of roads, highways, public hospitals, public institutions, public parks and recreational areas, public statues, art collections, and any other instance of culture deemed necessary by the citizenry.
Classical Liberalism would not be in favor of Government awarding financial assistance to private citizens or foundations for any or all funds needed for completion or maintenance of any institutions which are then privately run; this is an unfair and unequal distribution of taxation to a selection of individuals which is not also equally available to all individuals. Therefore, Classical Liberalism would not be in favor of financial grants to private universities, sport stadiums, private art galleries, or any other private institutions constructions or maintenance, regardless of the benefit to society, because they are not owned equally by the Government itself and the citizenry.
This component of Classical Liberalism allows for a varied array of public buildings and institutions under the following conditions: all buildings must be run as public institutions, all buildings must be consented by majority support of citizenry, and all buildings or institutions must benefit society and not individual citizens or groups financially. Public schools and highways for example, are acceptable under Classical Liberalism if the citizenry determine they are necessary, access to these institutions are available to all citizenry equally, and all taxes required to pay for said buildings and institutions are collected equally.
Part 4 states that Classical Liberalism instills in the Government the power to control and maintain currency, a standard of weights and measures, and a stable communication system by which to conduct commerce and communication with the Government. Classical Liberalism instills in the Government the power to maintain these systems to insure a fair and equal ability of all citizenry to participate in commerce, giving all citizenry an equal currency in which to be used in trade, a standard ability to measure goods uniformly, and a system in which to communicate effectively.
Classical Liberalism accepts the concept of one national currency, as this allows for each citizen to equally trade goods and services under one currency and all equally share the burdens of such currency. Classical Liberalism also, however, instills upon Government the necessity to maintain this currency so that citizens of this country are not unfairly impacted financially during foreign trade. Classical Liberalism seeks to instill the Government to stabilize all currency so that there is zero inflation, and that currency is a constant when traded foreignly. Classical Liberalism would be against the Federal Reserve as in this case, the Federal Government has instilled this duty to a private institution. Were the Federal Government to be in full control of the Federal Reserve, or were the Federal Government to be in full control of the currency itself through the three branches of government, then this would fulfill the power instilled to the government by Classical Liberalism.
Instilled upon Government by Classical Liberalism is the duty to set a standard for all measurements and weights used in fair trade. As such, our Federal Government fulfills this duty through the Bureau of Weights and Measures, fulfilling this requirement of Classical Liberalism.
Classical Liberalism instills upon Government the duty to maintain a viable communication system to be used equally by the citizenry. The Federal Government fulfills this duty by way of the United States Postal Service. Classical Liberalism accepts the use of stamps of currency for trade of service for the United States Postal service, as well as any associated taxes to maintain this service, as well as being required and authorized by the Constitution.
The tenants of Classical Liberalism also support the use of other communication systems maintained by the Federal Government such as telephone communication or internet communication if the Federal Government provides equal access to all individuals. Phone communications were once a public works project maintained by the government which has been replaced by private industry made possible by public grants. Classical Liberalism does not condone this as this unfairly gives financial preference to select individuals for profit, while negating the original instillation of power to said Government to provide communication.
Classical Liberalism has no ill intent towards private companies who wish to provide these services to citizens for financial gain. Classical Liberalism however requires the Government to provide this service to its citizens as well, and refused the Government the ability to provide public tax subsidies to these private institutions.
The components of this section of Classical Liberalism would require the Governments to provide for its citizens the ability of internet communication, without public subsidies to private institutions. There are some local governments who do provide free, or tax paid, internet access to its citizens. Classical Liberalism would require and instill upon the Governments to provide this service to its citizens.
As we see in the above explanation of components of Classical Liberalism, the components define the powers instilled to the Governments to the benefit of its citizenry the ability to live free of harm of Government or fellow citizens both physically and financially. Classical Liberalism instills in the Government the ability to tax its citizenry for purposes deemed necessary by the citizenry for the protection of physical and financial interests of the citizenry.
By the components, Classical Liberalism has interest in programs such as the National Highway System, Armed Services, Social Security, Internal Revenue Service, and Healthcare. These programs however, must be agreed upon and deemed necessary by the majority through Representational Government as the Constitution affords. Classical Liberalism however stands against any and all programs or constructions by the Federal Government which financially benefits groups of individuals, or unfairly benefits groups of individuals by construction of unions, whereby all individual citizens are not privy to the benefits.
Public Programs, Buildings, and Maintenance there of:
To show by example of public programs and works that Classical Liberalism would be in favor of, or by contrast opposed too, an examination of a few programs are necessary for a full explanation:
Social Security: Classical Liberalism would be in favor of Social Security because all citizenry have the ability to benefit from this program. All citizens able to work are required to do so in order to provide security for themselves, as well as for citizens who are not capable of working. Should a fully capable citizen find them unable to fulfill the requirement of working through injury or disease, they too would have the ability to benefit from the program. All citizenry upon reaching a particular age are able to benefit from this program. This program was instituted by a representative republic duly elected by the citizenry, and the collection of taxation is uniform based upon a percentage of income of each individual capable citizen.
Classical Liberalism however, would not be in favor of a change in the percentage of contributions due to mismanagement of said program by Government, as it is the power and responsibility instilled to the Government to maintain this program. Classical Liberalism would be in favor of a change in percentage of contribution by all citizenry due to necessary demands such as catastrophic illness on a large scale, or differences in population due to generational variances. i.e. More Baby Boomers are retiring, so working citizens must pay more in order to fulfill the requirement of Government to maintain, therefor contributions must be raised.
Classical Liberalism is in favor of a mandatory contribution, and is not in favor of voluntary contribution, as voluntary contributions unequally favor those who do not wish to contribute while negatively favors those who do contribute. Under Classical Liberalism, the idea of Socialism or Socialistic programs are acceptable if and only if there is equal accessibility to all citizenry and no capable citizens are favored and those that are favored, such as those with disability, are done so coinciding with the intent of said program.
Armed Forces: Classical Liberalism would be in favor of taxation for the necessity of Government to maintain an armed force capable of protecting citizenry and citizenry property at home, as well as abroad. Classical Liberalism however is not in favor of over taxation for military programs used to invade other nations for the sheer financial gain of our country, but rather only military use in foreign countries to protect what financial assets and benefits we currently hold.
Health Care, Medicare, and Medicaid: Classical Liberalism would be in favor of a Universal Health system in which all individuals are taxed at a uniform percentage, or flat tax, similar to social security in which all individuals are taxed at a same percentage based upon total cost, and all have access to the same levels of care.
Classical Liberalism would be in favor of a health system that functioned similar to Social Security in that those who are fully capable of maintaining employment and taxation contribute; those who need care receive it, and those who were once capable of employment who finds themselves incapable of employment then having access to the same uniform care. In essence, Classical Liberalism would accept Socialized Medical Programs as long as all individuals were taxed at a flat percentage, and all individuals regardless of ability to provide taxation, were afforded the same level of care as everyone else.
Classical Liberalism is not in favor of the current health system because individuals are unfairly taxed without the ability to reap the benefits of the taxation, and Classical Liberalism is opposed to the current mandate of health coverage as health coverage fees and benefits are not provided equally among the citizenry.
National Highway System: Classical Liberalism is in favor of a highway system and instills in the Government the ability to build and maintain such as system provided that all citizenry have reasonable access to said system. Classical Liberalism instills this power under the assumption that all capable citizens contribute taxation to build and maintain such system, all incapable citizens are afforded equal access to said systems, and all capable citizens who find themselves incapable due to injury of physical or financial manners retain full access to such benefits.
Classical Liberalism is not in favor of public highways or thoroughfares which provide access and benefits to particular groups of individuals, or highways or thoroughfares which are privately owned and are subsidized by public taxation money, as this money unequally benefits the individuals who own the system, and unfairly burdens individuals who seek to use such services as well as being opposed to toll systems or raids, as all roads and highways are a responsibility of Government to build and maintain, and therefore must be provided by taxation, not pay for use.
Internal Revenue Service: Classical Liberalism is in favor of instilling upon the Government the ability to collect taxes for the necessary construction of new, and maintenance of current buildings, infrastructure, and programs voted and approved by a representational republic, provided that all taxation is uniform and all capable citizens participate in contributions of taxation. Classical Liberalism therefor is in favor of a flat taxation by all capable citizenry, provided that all citizenry have the ability to equally benefit from taxation, and provide the same benefits for those who are unable to participate in employment and taxation. Classical Liberalism is also in favor of any citizen who finds themselves unable to contribute, after having contributed or unable to contribute due to no will of their own, to reap the benefits of such taxation.
Classical Liberalism is not in favor of graduated or progressive taxation which determines that individuals of different financial standings provide increased tax participation as they climb the income ladder. In this instance, Classical Liberalism favors a flat percentage tax for all income levels of capable citizenry, regardless of income, and is opposed to higher income earners paying larger percentages of their income while receiving the same benefits of those at lower incomes.
As you can see from the examples of Social Security, Armed Forces, Health Care, National Highway System, and the Internal Revenue Service, Classical Liberalism is in favor of Government programs when said programs function in a fair and equal manner for all capable citizens, provide the same benefits for all incapable citizens, and provides the ability for any capable citizen who finds themselves incapable due to injury whether physically or financially to benefit to the equal degree of all citizenry. Classical Liberalism accepts socialistic programs of these natures when the above requirements are met and instills in the Government the power to create and enforce these programs, buildings, and maintenance thereof.
Political Parties, Unions, Labor Laws, and Minimum Wage:
Classical Liberalism is opposed to any political parties or unions of and by which individual citizens collectively pool assets in order to benefit the sole members of these groups for means of financial or physical wellbeing. As such, Classical Liberalism does not condone a political party, as opposing political parties will provide for their citizens two distinct and opposite benefits. The power instilled in Government by Classical Liberalism calls for distinct duties of a Government to provide for all citizens, and divided Government cannot fairly provide for all citizens without benefit to the interests of groups of factions. Classical Liberalism calls for the absolution of all political parties, and would support or promote any candidate who seeks to uphold the inherent duties instilled to the Government for the sake of upholding these duties, and not for financial gain. As such Classical Liberalism would not support a financial gain to said individuals through inappropriate wage or perks, and would seek for all government positions to be same-waged or voluntary for the benefit of all citizens.
Classical Liberalism is opposed to any and all benefits instilled upon an individual of Governance, be it financial, material, or health, that is not instilled upon all individuals of society, whether these incentives be provided by government, or as contributions in exchange for desired behavior by groups, corporations, unions, or other individuals. Classical Liberalism does not support any contributions made to political figures or government employees that are not provided to all other citizenry.
Classical Liberalism is opposed to any and all unions, as unions serve de facto governance in negotiations with employers which give a pseudo benefit to all members which are not instilled upon citizens unincorporated in such union, creating unequal and unfair burdens upon companies and corporations in regards to competition with other non-unionized companies or corporations. Classical Liberalism is opposed to unions in the same way that Classical Liberalism is opposed to political parties, as contributions, mandatory or otherwise, unfairly influence the well being physically and financially of individual citizens and industry within said parties without doing the same for the entirety of citizenry.
Classical Liberalism is opposed to both labor laws and minimum wage as a global reasoning, but is in favor of said laws as a national reasoning. Under Classical Liberalism labor laws, such as safety laws maximum work hours and minimum wage are favored by Classical Liberalism as they equally affect all citizenry within a nation. Classical Liberalism is opposed, at the same time, to these laws as they unfairly degrade companies and corporations internationally, putting them at a disadvantage globally against competing nations and companies that do not have the financial burden of said laws, increasing costs, decreasing profitability, and as a whole decreasing national financial potential. It is because of the latter that Classical Liberalism and its followers differ on the importance of the individual citizen, and the collective financial wellbeing of the nation as a whole, and this issue is one that Classical Liberalism philosophy has not been able to answer.
Drug use, Abortion, Gay Marriage, Separation of Church and State (The four loudest social issues):
Classical Liberalism would be in favor of individual decision of drug use without the intervention of Government, and would not instill in Government the ability to regulate use of drugs by individual choice. Classical Liberalism however, due to the requirement of proper weights and measures, would be in favor of instilling Government power to regulate and provide proper designation of potency and weight of said products during production and sale for proper commerce. Government, under Classical Liberalism, would therefore be instilled the power to regulate each potential drug for recreational use, in order to ensure proper labeling and potency for the protection of the consumer, not the legality of said substances. Classical Liberalism would also be in favor of regulating the production and potency of all prescription medicines; however, new and experimental drugs for medical potential would be delegated to individual companies, doctors, and their patients, provided they properly produce all medication to uniform weight and measures. Under the premise of Classical Liberalism, all drugs would be available for recreational use under the assumption that an individual has the ability and duty to regulate self-use, while all drugs would also be available under prescription, should individuals seek the advice of medical professionals. Under Classical Liberalism, all drugs purchased without prescription would be under the responsibility of use and purchase by the individual, while all drugs prescribed by a medical professional would be covered under any enacted equal health care system (see above).
Abortion, under Classical Liberalism would be accepted as under Classical Liberalism, as no one individual has a right to use of another individuals body without their permission. In the case of unwanted pregnancies, the fetus, whether a direct result of planned pregnancy, or unplanned irresponsibility, or through forced coercion, while having right to life, does not have the right to life if this life requires the use of another citizens body, causing unwanted physical distress or potential financial distress as is a component of Classical Liberalism. However, any fetus that is capable of life outside the womb is required to be cared for physically by a physician; whereas any fetus that is incapable of life outside the womb is accepted to be terminated under Classical Liberalism. Should a fetus capable of life outside the womb be unrightfully terminated, Classical Liberalism would instill upon Government the right to prosecute all individuals involved for the termination due to the component of the instilled right of Government to protect individual citizens against physical harm. As a component of Classical Liberalism however, unwanted children born and rendered to full health are of course permitted to be put up for adoption, as no citizen has a right to create a financial burden for any other citizen. As a result of this, a typical "late term abortion" would be against Classical Liberalism tenants, while "early term abortions" would be acceptable. However, "early inductions" would be permissible, and would be incumbent upon the medical facility to necessitate the pre-term infant to health when possible. Should the child then be put up for adoption, society shall bare the financial burden equally.
Same Sex Marriage:
Classical Liberalism, under the context of current marriage arrangements with the Federal and State governments would support the ability for same sex partners to legally marry, respecting the ability of religious organizations to deny them marriage in their particular holy buildings or faiths.
Classical Liberalism however, is opposed to the current Federal or State recognition of Marriage for financial and tax purposes as this recognition unjustly benefits grouped individuals, which gives unfair tax advantages to married persons over single persons. Under Classical Liberalism, when no religious definition is giving to marriage, rules marriage to be purely symbolic and holds no governmental meaning with the exception of de facto rights that are capable of being established via legal means (visitation, inheritance) with no taxation or financial benefit.
Separation of Church and State: Classical Liberalism supports a full and complete separation of church and state, in that no single citizen or group has the right to fully influence another individual based on personal morality. Religion and freedom of such is a constitutional right, and as such cannot be infringed upon by a third party.
In conclusion, Classical Liberalism, is the birth of and provider of the schism between Liberalism and Libertarianism. It was my attempt here, to show the differences between modern society, and the original tenants of Classical Liberalism. I invite you to compare these tenants with your current views, and determine where you, whether you are Democrat, Republican, Totalitarian, Anarchist, Progressive Liberal, or Libertarian, to see where your stances and views differ from original Classical Liberalism and its intent.