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Saturday, January 9, 2010

How America Got All Modern And Found Her Groove

When I was home in Indiana for Christmas, I was trying to explain to one of my sisters how in America 'liberal' came to be a synonym for 'socialist.' I don't think she really followed; perhaps I didn't explain well.

In any event, prior to about a century ago, 'liberal' was used to mean something very similar to what "conservative" means in America. It still is used with that meaning that in Europe ... which is why the Communists of the (thank God!) now-extinct USSR were always on tirades about the "evils" of liberalism (*) ... and why (I'm going on memory here, and I can't find a link to better explain the situation), a few years ago in France, when it looked as though Le Pen might win the national election, a prominant French politician said, "The battle is between the social and the liberal."

This recent article on 'National Review Online' goes into how that change-of-meaning came about -- John Dewey and the Philosophical Refounding of America

(*) When I was a youngster, before I'd learned what the term 'liberal' really means, when I mistakenly thought 'liberalism' was synonymous with 'socialism,' it always quite confused me when I'd read accounts of some Soviet rant about liberals or liberalism.

At the same time, Mark Richardson, of the 'Oz Conservative' blog makea a good case that (modern and/or post-modern) socialistic "liberalism" is a natural out-working of the flaws inhernet in the "classical liberalism" of John Stewart Mill, et al.