Liberalism: where did it come from and are its days numbered? | The Economist

What have liberals ever done for us? Sure, they gave us liberty,
metropolitan intellectuals, and soy lattes, but
where do they come from and why has the liberal
elite become a term of abuse? Liberalism is a world
view based on liberty and equality of opportunity. Liberals value free
trade, open competition, and freedom of expression. In recent years, populist
movements have attacked the liberal cause. They prefer keeping jobs
for their own people, shunning immigration, and
favoring domestic production over imported goods. Protection will lead to great
prosperity and strength. Populist movements have won referendums and elections in Britain,
America, Poland, and Hungary, while France and Canada are
holdouts for the liberal cause. Our task is immense, my friends . Populists think liberals
have become too elite, removed from the concerns
of ordinary people, and strayed too far from
their founding principles. So what were they? Back in the 17th century, elites
really did rule the world. Kings and queens reigned by divine right. The state dictated your religion and owned your house and land. But then along came two
English philosophers, Thomas Hobbs … The law is the public conscience. And John Locke. The end of law is not
to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. Hobbs introduced the idea that people give up
natural rights to freedom in exchange for security and protection. According to Locke, this
social contract was rooted in the duty of all individuals to respect the rights of others. The liberals that came
after Hobbs and Locke believed in equal opportunity for all. Well, all white men. They said people should be allowed to keep the fruits of their labor and have the freedom to
fulfill their dreams. Instead of going to war to gain wealth, countries should embrace
trade and treaties. This new philosophy will
be put into practice most diligently on the
other side of the Atlantic. America was founded on the principles of equality and individual liberty. It became the world’s
first liberal society. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. Soon after, the French overthrew their monarchy and replaced it with a liberal people’s republic. But it was the Industrial Revolution that galvanized liberalism as the world’s dominant political theory. A seismic shift towards self-made wealth replaced the inherited
power of the aristocracy. Liberalism has underpinned
western democracy ever since, but it evolved during the 20th century. Across the world, liberalism
has made more room for government involvement
providing education, welfare, and regulating the markets. But in America, the
word has been hijacked. Liberalism is now used as an insult to describe left-wing progressives who support political correctness
and bossy governments. Populists argue that
today’s liberal elites are just as powerful and
aloof as the old aristocracy. Rampant commercialization
and globalization have left many people behind. We’ve been here before. In late 19th century America,
so-called robber barons formed vast empires and
accumulated massive wealth. Politics became corrupted giving a sense that society was dividing
into winners and losers. But a succession of reformers, like President Theodore Roosevelt, took on these business aristocracies
and cleaned up government. All this helped to
enhance social mobility. Just as liberalism reformed itself then, it must reform itself again. The rise of populism
is not the death knell for the liberal project,
it’s a call to action. Up your game or else.

100 thoughts on “Liberalism: where did it come from and are its days numbered? | The Economist

  • With the advancement of science & technology, economic & social activities will be enhanced, complicated and accelerated,

    then laws & policies will be sophisticated, scaled-up and decentralized. However, it requires the uplift of human resources.
    I hope new techs like AI and policies to utilize them will also improve ourselves in a humane way 💖. /

  • Libertarians today are what Liberals used to be. The right wants to restrict more social freedom, and left wants to restrict more economic freedom. Both are against the idea of individuals being able to make choices over their lives

  • Liberalism is a good ideology but like all, it should be replaced. Not with right-wing populism but left-wing populism. Liberal societies have been involved in countless wars and have been in league with corporations so many times.

  • Come on Economist! It's not only the Right who have hijacked liberalism and turned it into an insult, but left leaning individuals who want to capture some of the respectability of traditional liberalism to cover a very authoritarian tendency. It is not only the neo-liberal right who have facilitated the rise of the surveillance state, curbs on free speech, and crony capitalism  but the neo-liberal left! However I do agree that contemporary liberalism is in need of renewal and needs to reassert its core values.

  • What a mediocre analysis. You have completely failed to mention the HUGE difference between the classical (mostly British) Liberalism and the sorry French strand.

  • Capitalism has one inescapable weakness – a capitalist government fails to control the psychology profession, and so does a market economy.

  • I don't think the creators of this video have a clear idea if what liberalism really is. "Liberalism has made more room for government involvement"? Trudeau a liberal? All the concepts are twisted. You need to read more Rothbard, Misses, Hayek and Friedman. Politics is what takes our freedoms away.

  • Liberals had a great name before they became,left-wing…..which was like before the Great Depression(?)

  • Aye. Elitist mouth pieces: Hobbes and Locke. How about John Stuart Mills?

    If we're talking "classic" Liberalism.

  • If you think Trudeau or Macron are liberal you completely misunderstanding of the liberalism

  • France is protectionist! This is so poorly argued. The EU is the biggest protectionist racket! Don’t get me started on liberals championing equality of outcome and free expression. These are classical liberal values. These values are being eroded by left leaning post modernist so called liberals who are antithetical to these very values.

  • Liberals then and the neo liberal leftists 'progressives' now are two different things. only support free speech when it matches their destructive point of view.

  • Australia. Current government. The Coalition.
    The Coalition consists of the Liberal party and the National conservatives.
    Thats right you brainless cunts. Thats right.
    You dumb fucks dont know what liberalism is.
    You DONT realise that you can be liberal LEFT AND RIGHT.
    The Australian Liberal party is one of Australias primary political movements. Has been for decades.
    The Australian Liberal party has won its 3rd election in a row in coalition with the national conservatives.
    Something you dumb fucks do all the time.
    LIBERAL CONSERVATISM is the préservation of long standing institutions without strict adherence to tradition.
    That is the OLD must be there to assist the NEW.
    US liberalism and conservatism is a NASTY BACKSTABBING EXERCISE.
    An excusé to take sides on the strret without ONE OUNCE of thought behind it.
    It is a disgusting low backstabbing exercise and you all look real bad for it.
    Smarten the fuck up !

  • The Australian Liberal party. A political institution in Australia. Currently in government with its long standing coalition partner the Australian National party. A right wing conservative party.
    WHAT ? NOOOOO! Thats not how it works is it ?
    Yes idiot. You can be Liberal left and right. Liberal conservativism is the preservation of the old so that it may assist and gain the respect of the new. To allow the new to build upon it in THEIR fashion according to their time.
    That is Liberalism. Temperance you backstabbing shallow sychophants.
    TEMPERANCE not tolerance.
    There is very little tolerance for garbage here. A VERY LOW BS THRESHOLD !
    How dare you treat your fellow countrymen this way.
    LOW !

  • There you go dickheads. You wouldnt know a Liberal even if one called you a cunt!
    You wouldnt know a conservative even if he told you to fuck off !
    Heres a tip !
    Get off your KFC arses and vote for once.
    You might get a decent government.

  • 0:28 Nigel Farage is a liberal. Liberal does not mean pathological altruism or endorsing mass migration.
    1:00 Yeah get those tiki torches in there to subtly associate patriotism with the alt-right.
    Stop trying to rewrite ideologies for your own pathetic agenda. It only highlights how off-base you are.

  • Sorry for your loss. This in nowise is going to make anyone understand the optional paths, being far too PC.
    If you are lazy versus self-motivating SHOULD be the primary thought. Do you you seek cushy comfort?? Do you end up carrying other people at work?? Are you entitled?? Are you driven?? These traits will preselect you, not the other way around. Yes, there are terrible scoundrels in both Parties, but they are different KINDS of bastards.

  • Oy Vay!! Listen to these talkers! Such scintillating conversation!! I'm getting a big orgasm in my ear!!
    sIMPLIFY. There's Parlor Liberals and there's factory floor Socialists. That's it. They have a long , complicated history of working together and hating each other. One is considered effete, the other sociopathic. When the effluent hits the fan, neither can be trusted. For different reasons. CLASS (pun) is dismissed!!

  • Really very nice and knowledgeable content.

    I am sorry if I offend anyone but Justin Trudeau is HOT….

  • "Self-made wealth" doesn't exist. Any production process depends upon the labor provided by the working-class.

  • I didn't consider French as a bastion of liberalism as was portrayed here, especially when you consider the original ideas of equality of opportunity as supposed to the progressive liberal who now see's equality as 'good' in and of it's self regardless of the means used to attain equality.

    I also think it's laughable that the video references white men when discussing the right to vote. In 1918 i'm unsure of how much of the population was non-white, and why does that matter? Because it's virtuous to raise race as an issue at every opportunity. You mention race, and gender but leave out class, why? Because it's not popular. You conveniently left out the fact that 5 million men also got the right to vote in 1918 along with women. The fact that only 60% of men could vote at all until 1918 is conveniently committed by this lazy video creator(s). If the issue was to highlight inequality on a timeline of the history of liberalism, why do race and gender get such mentions but class does not? Because like everything these days, you can't have an opinion on anything unless you pay homage to the progressive, femi-nazi, race baiting gods.

    Shame, the rest was quite good.

  • Part of the point of the IQ exam is to decide whether a student is gifted, average, or remedial. Remember Forest Gump?

  • Liberalism has nothing to do with the American definition of the term, which is more about progressive capitalists.
    The American definition mostly comes from hillbillies seeing Americans from the cities advocating for gay marriage and other such policies, and calling them "liberal" as opposed to "conservative". It has to do with values not the actual political philosophy of liberalism.
    In fact, the "conservatives" are the most liberal. Conservatism is also another American corrupted term, the American conservatives actually strive to conserve very little. Real conservatism is quite authoritarian in character. Imperial Germany was conservative. Monarchies are conservative.

  • Neoliberalism/ global capitalism/ wealth concentration/ wealth inequality help gave rise in power to right wing phony populist regimes around Europe, the US with Trump, and in Brazil

  • Social democracy is totally antithetical to neoliberalism, neoconservatism, far right libertarianism, and right wing authoritarian populism

  • All these terms and phrases did not exist and where as true as moon walk , indeed liberalism was an empty communication as same as fleshless skeleton like liberty statue has no soul, and not only liberalism what is false but it's predecessor "Demoncracy"

  • What have they done for us. They wanted our admireration. The evil sourse. The holy say, say no thanks I did do it for you gladly. This means liberals say magic is special or need strong power. The holy person say no, it is no power at all that you need only to be of good will and nothing else. Liberals cling to want to be admired. That becomes an adiction of opsession that feeds the ego. But I think many are very well aware of that without no doubt since the music industry is the proof. Equal rights are the power of the strongest at the same time and you are useless as a loser. In wisdom all we need is people sinsere. Magic is explained in a superstitious way extremely to impress people. Fear is used to need people and admire them and vote for them if you need them. In our society people in need have no door to knock on and they find no professionals that can even help them. In the government that takes care of the land is all they need to make sure there are professionals behind doors people can knock on for questions. If you follow the notice boards and knock on their door they say 'what are you doing here, I understand not one word you say'. As if you followed the wrong noticed boards. And you are called crazy. If you choose a political party it needs one that knows that people are not crazy ofcourse and a political party capable to understand people. Right now people are of higher intelligence then those working after those doors they claim you can knock on in case you need help. But this is in no case the case. We see police angry saying people must hunt the criminal. They wonder why people do that not with no equipment. Why are we not doctors and pilots and all other professsions they wonder, why do we need pull out our own teeth when they hurt etc.. We depend what they sell in shops for food. We have nobody take care with an eye it is good food. And the food is crap. It is manipulated in a forced food chain with religion and cult symbols on them for what reason are they nessaray accept a code for those cults in politics and mind their business while they should not ofcourse. Why and from whom are we not allowed to make misspellings in writing? Who are those arrogant people claim to be god and tell us how to live while they are liberals? They sell words the same way as a product you do not need. They support those products we do not need only for the symbols on the product as a code they support their bank account to load it with money that is not allowed to go any other direction to proof, yes to proof they are holy(and therefor deserve it and not the poor who have karma while they have assumed dharma and morality). :O But yeah that is this world.

  • George Orwell noted that the point of torture, is torture. I will further George Orwell by noting that the point of conservativism is conservatism.

  • To a liberal, there is nothing wrong with making what is considered by even a majority of the people "normal" behavior and making it illegal.

  • conservatism, I think, is paranoia about your wife cheating on you, and making that the defining fear of society.

  • The old-fashioned liberalism is an outdated model and nowadays self-proclaimed liberals are rather neo-liberals with a sour touch of awkward. But there is a new movement looming across the planet that has acknowledged the failure of traditional liberalism and socialism and is more or less driving an economical, ecological and technological change orientated on the environmental impact and responsibilities towards society. Just look at Silicon Valley and its transhumanism movement expressed by organizations like Singularity University are a very driving force behind organizations like Google, Deepmind, NASA or Microsoft. There is a reason why plenty of folks in the startup space have turned away from politics as they simply can't see that they are being represented by either Republicans or Democrats or in Europe by the traditional political players. But rather being used as an asset that can be moved around for political or party purposes while lacking sufficient support and backup. So it's not really surprising that folks like Bernie Sanders and others in Europe or Asia resonate so well with the "Digital Natives" and Millenials. They are closing the gap between traditional socialism infused thinking, modern-day capitalism, the refusal of neo-liberalism, their demand for their democratic and civil rights, and the need to protect the environment to ensure future living standards. All of that communicated by using new technologies. You'll find similar developments in various cultures and economies across the globe. Example: The Green Party in Germany experienced a huge increase in votes while rather conservative parties like the CDU managed to sell themselves as being more progressive growth drivers to the Digital Natives and Millenials than the self-proclaimed promoters of tech and liberalism like the FDP. In the UK you'll find the new Liberal Democrats, who have since their change of leadership taken a similar program on board as the German Green Party ranging from being Anto-Brexit / Pro-EU to Climate Change, etc. so all the topics that are important to the Digital Natives and Millenials, while the traditional placeholders the Tories and Labour are entangled in their Brexit trench war resulting in very likely devastating election results and the further deterioration of the political landscape in the UK.

  • The origin of the word LIBERAL came from human conciousness ourselves 'let me put this way' considering human being is the highest form of animal now look how animal migrate to other land because of their needs.

  • The reason that freedom of religion is more important than the rule of law is that your children are more important than the law.

  • It’s very interesting that today Liberals on Capital Hill are saying that the richest and wealthy elites should pay more taxes, I think it’s a power ploy for votes. Today’s liberal politics is hide, conceal and deceive. The only thing they deliver on for their power is handouts and civil rights. I think they will pick and choose who keeps their wealth. You watch and see if they ever get back in power, Like the Media Elite and the Entertainment Elite whoever’s backing them. I truly believe that if you get away from the two coast lines and a few major cities in the middle you find more of the people that work hard and play hard and are law abiding free thinkers. Today Liberal Leftist are a joke and are evil intentions, no type-o

  • The only protectionism that will work to foster domestic industry without damaging the standard of living are tariffs on neodymium, oil, and gold.

  • Anarcho-capitalism is the only meaningful definition of a free society, it is by definition tariff free. The next best alternative is described as the nigh watchman state.

  • There is an old communist saying, "it's not supposed to be known what really happened outside the Soviet archives anymore anyway."

  • The most pernicious form of sexism in school is when they have a hard time acknowledging a physically more attractive female student as superior to another, less attractive female student.

  • The system of liquidation, if a company's management fails, was supposed to be crystal clear, this failed during Republican tenure.

  • The right to commit sedition against the better business community is the only way to preserve history and literature.

  • A classic liberal's opinion on free trade, British economist John Maynard Keynes wrote that "a Free Trade Union should be established … to impose no protectionist tariffs whatever against the produce of other members of the Union."  Referring to the European Union, which used to be called the Common Market.

  • "Wanton disregard for the life of a minor" is a charge you can try if your children are harassed by reports of a "psychological profile."

  • "False legal counsel" is a charge that you can use when they (the Republicans) bring in fat fucking ugly women to advise what to do when there is a legal dispute. The demand is supposed to be simple – demand that personality profiles be eliminated.

  • Capitalism is the existence and protection of private property. Ordinarily it is defined as the right to make a profit.

  • Liberals hide behind a label that defines everything they are not and will never be.
    Liberals like to preach Freedom, rights, and equality as long as its their narrow view of what freedom should be with the right to equally force it upon everyone else.
    There’s absolutely nothing liberating, or tolerant about labeled liberals.
    Nothing, but a bunch socialism whores hiding behind a label that they stole from the real liberals.

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