The roots of classical liberalism

Jason McNew
If you are a daily reader of AT, you might just be a (Classical) Liberal.

The left loves to play games with semantics. If ever there was an example of a word which has had its definition changed over time, "liberal" would definitely be one of them.

John C. Goodman, CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis , writes an excellent missive explaining Classical Liberalism:


Prior to the 20th century, classical liberalism was the dominant political philosophy in the United States.


Basically, classical liberalism is the belief in liberty. Even today, one of the clearest statements of this philosophy is found in Jefferson's Declaration of Independence. At that time, as is the case today, most people believed that rights came from government. People thought they only had such rights as government elected to give them. But following the British philosopher John Locke, Jefferson argued that it's the other way around. People have rights apart from government, as part of their nature

[B]ecause most individuals are the best judge of their own needs, wants, desires and values, the sum of individual (and cumulatively) social welfare is likely to be maximized when people are free to make their own decisions rather than have those decisions made by someone else. Thus, in order to secure human happiness and well-being, it is necessary to create a sphere of personal autonomy within which each individual's personal judgment concerning what he or she wishes to do is paramount and cannot be legitimately interfered with by either other individuals or by governments, even for that person's own good.

The entire piece is a reasonably quick read, and is well worth the time. It can be found here.


I am a Classical Liberal to the core, and I suspect that many readers here at AT are as well.

If you are a daily reader of AT, you might just be a (Classical) Liberal.

The left loves to play games with semantics. If ever there was an example of a word which has had its definition changed over time, "liberal" would definitely be one of them.

John C. Goodman, CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis , writes an excellent missive explaining Classical Liberalism:


Prior to the 20th century, classical liberalism was the dominant political philosophy in the United States.


Basically, classical liberalism is the belief in liberty. Even today, one of the clearest statements of this philosophy is found in Jefferson's Declaration of Independence. At that time, as is the case today, most people believed that rights came from government. People thought they only had such rights as government elected to give them. But following the British philosopher John Locke, Jefferson argued that it's the other way around. People have rights apart from government, as part of their nature

[B]ecause most individuals are the best judge of their own needs, wants, desires and values, the sum of individual (and cumulatively) social welfare is likely to be maximized when people are free to make their own decisions rather than have those decisions made by someone else. Thus, in order to secure human happiness and well-being, it is necessary to create a sphere of personal autonomy within which each individual's personal judgment concerning what he or she wishes to do is paramount and cannot be legitimately interfered with by either other individuals or by governments, even for that person's own good.

The entire piece is a reasonably quick read, and is well worth the time. It can be found here.


I am a Classical Liberal to the core, and I suspect that many readers here at AT are as well.