What is in a word?

This post will deal with the linguistic meaning of the two terms which have been hijacked to serve the political ends of the Left. I am sharing the story because younger readers of da-boss may not even remember what the two words in question meant before socialism took over the World.

The first term I am referring to is “liberal”. Derived from Latin liber meaning “free”, liberalism originally pertained to the freedom of the individual and the  governmental guarantees of individual rights and liberties. So, in the World of absolutist rulers and oppressive governments, a liberal was the one who believed that individual freedoms trump the authority of the political system. As long as one does not encroach on the freedoms of others, one should be free to express one’s opinions and convictions. The government’s job is not to tell the citizens which ideology to follow but only to enforce the rules which give everyone the right to choose their preferred viewpoint. Liberal originally meant being “free” which is why there was place for liberal monarchists, capitalists and conservatives.

The picture changed with the arrival of the “social” liberals who later developed into socialists and communists. I believe the under 30s reading this post are used to the new meaning of liberalism. To be “liberal” these days means challenging the rules of the society, rebelling against the concept of a family and traditional gender roles. A liberal will despise and flout the expectations placed upon him/her by their parents and society. Liberals do not comply – they contest!

It is clear that the new, sanitised meaning of “liberalism” excludes those who, based on their own convictions, are happy to follow the traditional rules of the society. How can one be a “liberal” Catholic if Vatican stubbornly rejects abortion, condoms, de-facto relationships and gay marriage? Or a “liberal” monarchist if monarchism is all about tradition, not about change? People stuck in the past must be shaken out of their stiff ideas – all in the name of modern liberalism! But, hang on, does it not negate the original concept of liberalism, meaning that people should be free to adopt any ideology they like?

Another ugly aspect of “social” liberalism is that, to ensure “social justice”, it will tax the haves to support the have-nots. It is demonstrably clear that this has nothing to do with the original meaning of liberalism which included contempt for the government intervention in the affairs of the citizens. How can one be “free” if 50% or 70% of one’s earnings are taken away by the State and spent on social projects one considers misguided? We cannot have the liberal cake and eat it too – either one is free to spend one’s own earnings or else the state knows better how they should be spent but this is not “liberalism”. This is “statism”.

The other term I am going to discuss in this post is “progressive”. It used to refer to a change, whatever its direction. One could progress along one’s chosen route and as long as there was change, there was progress. So, in this sense, the UK under Margaret Thatcher “progressed” towards free market economy. But in the modern understanding “progressive” can only mean moving to the Left, towards socialism, so Thatcher was not “progressive” – she was a conservative. This is the sleight of hand we have been subjected to – to “progress” no longer means to “move”. It means to move in the direction of modern understanding of “liberalism” which entails challenging the rules of the society and enforcing socialism through redistribution of income. This also implies that conservative values are regressive – one can only “progress” to the Left.

So, next time you hear in the media about someone who is liberal or progressive be aware that you are subjected to a misuse of the original meaning of the terms.

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2 Responses to “What is in a word?”

  1. Nick Says:

    In Soviet Union “progressive” always meant “related to communist ideas”, so I still think these are synonyms =)

  2. da-boss Says:

    Exactly my point, Nick…

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