So, what did it means to be a liberal?

So, what did it means to be a liberal?


Lima. – Like people, words change their content depending on time and place. Watch for these changes is very instructive, although sometimes such curiosity can cause us a lot of doubts. For example, the word “liberal.”

In the novel “Don Quixote” and other literary works of the era that word appears several times. What does it mean there? Man with an open character, well-mannered, tolerant, sociable. In a word, the man who is sympathetic. In this concept, there are no political and religious undertones. Only ethical and civil – in the broadest sense of both words.

At the end of XVIII century, the word “liberal” changes its value and acquires a new meaning associated with the ideals of freedom, French and British thinkers of the Enlightenment (John Stuart Mill, John Locke, David Hume, Adam Smith, Voltaire). Liberals are fighting against slavery and state intervention in people’s lives, protect private property, free trade, competition, individual freedom, oppose dogma and absolutism.

In the XIX century liberal – it is, above all, a man who preaches freedom. He advocates a secular state, for the separation of church and state, and for the liberation of society from religious obscurantism. His disagreements with conservatives and authoritarian regimes often lead to civil wars and revolutions.

Liberals of those years – those whom we now call the people of progressive views, serving in the civil rights (the very concept of human rights originated during the French Revolution) and democracy.

With the advent of Marxism and the spread of socialist ideas of liberalism goes from forward positions as advocates for political and economic system (capitalism) that socialism and communism are going to be abolished in the name of social justice, identified them with collectivism and nationalization. (The word “liberal” has changed its meaning is not everywhere. In the U.S., it still represents man sweeping views, social democrat or socialist in its purest form.) Conversion flow under socialism communist authoritarianism in democratic socialism pushed centrist views and closer (not connecting in one unit) to liberalism.

Nowadays, a “liberal” and “liberalism”, depending on the culture and country, represent very different concepts, and sometimes contradictory. Nicaraguan dictator Somoza party called liberal, just called a neo-fascist party in Austria. Confusion has reached such a scale that the dictatorships of Pinochet in Chile and Fujimori in Peru is sometimes called “liberal” or “neo-liberal” because they are separate entities privatized and opened up access to markets. Similarly, the liberal doctrine of sin perversion and some liberals, convinced that it relates primarily to the economy, which is based on the market, a kind of magic bullet to solve all social problems. These people who call themselves liberals reach such forms of dogmatism and ready to go for such political concessions and the ultra-neo-fascists that discredited liberal ideas, which now cover many consider the reaction and operation.

It must be recognized that some conservative leaders, such as Ronald Reagan in the U.S. and Margaret Thatcher in Britain, had an absolutely liberal in its aims and objectives of economic and social reforms, giving a significant boost culture of freedom, although in other areas threw it back . The same can be said for some socialist governments, particularly in Spain, Felipe Gonzalez and Jose Mujica in Uruguay. They have made significant progress in the field of human rights, ending the injustice rooted in a number of issues and creating more opportunities for low-income citizens.

One of the hallmarks of liberalism today is that it appears where you least expect it, and completely absent where, according to some simpletons would have to declare itself. About people and parties should be judged not by what they say or prophesy, but by their deeds. In discussions now ongoing in Peru over a number of media concentration in the hands of one owner, individuals hailing buying financial group El Comercio most stocks Epensa, causing it to gain control over nearly 80% of the information market, are journalists who were silent or disapproved of the most heinous crimes perpetrated during the dictatorship of Fujimori and Montesinos, when the owners and editors of newspapers bribed or intimidated. And as we now perceive of these new heralds of freedom?

Ludwig von Mises (Ludwig von Mises), philosopher and liberal economist so-called Austrian school of economics, opposed the liberal political parties, because, in his opinion, liberalism must be the culture that feeds the widest range of motions and movements that, even the most serious differences, have a common denominator in the face of fundamental liberal principles.

Something similar has been happening for a long time in the advanced democratic countries, where despite all the differences (relating primarily not the main and secondary issues) between the Christian Democrats, the Social Democrats and socialists, liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, there is always some kind of agreement, ensure smooth functioning of all state institutions, the continuity of social and economic policy. Threat to this system represent only extremist groups such as the National Front in France, the Lombard League in Italy, the ultra-left and anarchist groups and gruppochki.

In Latin America, this process does not develop as confident. Because of the weak culture of democracy, having established traditions except in Chile, Uruguay and Costa Rica, and other countries located in its infancy, there is a higher risk of going backwards than in other parts of the globe. But the democratic process still gaining strength, and the best proof of this is that the military dictatorship virtually ceased to exist, and of the revolutionary armed forces were only FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). Yes, and those are on their last legs, as they support fewer people.

In addition to the anachronism that is Cuba, there are government populists and demagogues. For example, Venezuela, dreamed of becoming a great catalyst for the socialist revolutionary process in Latin America, is experiencing such a severe economic, political and social crisis, accompanied by a collapse of the national currency, and the high cost of monstrous rampant crime that is unlikely to become a role model for those who wanted to make She Chavez.

Liberals have there own set of basic ideas. That freedom – the highest value – is one and indivisible, that it would provide a real progress in all areas. Political, economic, social and cultural freedom are inseparable from each other and form a single unit, which ensures justice, welfare, human rights, equal opportunities and peaceful society. If at least one of these areas infringed freedom, then all the rest of it in danger of. Liberals think that a small country is more efficient than what is growing too rapidly. And when that happens, not only the economy suffers, but all public freedoms together. They also believe that the main task of the state is not to create wealth, because it is better to consult civil society in the free market, does not recognize the privileges and respect private property. Security, public order and the rule of law, education and health, of course, are the responsibility of the state, but not in the form of a monopoly, and in the format of close cooperation with civil society.

These and other liberal beliefs very different take on practical implementation, depending on the level of development of society, its culture and customs. To implement them, there are no rigid formulas and common recipes. Hasty and ill-liberal reforms, not based on the consent of all parties, can lead to frustration, to cause unrest and political crises that endanger the democratic system. It is equally important principle of liberal thinking, as well as economic freedom, respect for human rights. So liberals should first appreciate the tolerance, which is given with such difficulty, especially to us, the Spaniards and Latin Americans are accustomed to consider only correct their own opinion. Show tolerance means to prevent the likelihood that their own views may be wrong, but someone else’s – right.

Thus, it is quite normal that among liberals may have different points of view on issues such as abortion, gay marriage, termination of prosecution for drugs and others. For all the above problems, the Liberals do not have a single canonical approach for the simple reason that they do not exist canonical approaches. As Karl Popper said, the truth is always temporary. It exists only for as long as there is not another that it will confirm or refute. Congresses and meetings often resemble liberals meeting Trotskyists (when Trotskyism still existed) minds struggle defending opposing ideas. Some see this as a sign of inefficiency and detachment from reality. I believe that thanks to this controversy, which Isaiah Berlin called “contradictory truths” liberalism continues to remain the scientists who contributed most to the coexistence of different social classes and strengthening of human freedom.