Anti-Liberalism

The main objection of National Socialism was against the Liberal idea of democratic or parliamentary (constitutional) rule of law, but they were also against all things Liberal. 

How is Liberalism different from Socialism?

"Socialists dissented from two aspects of the liberals' outlook. First, rather than individualism, they tended to emphasize community, cooperation, and association ... Second, ... the great issue was whether it was more beneficial that capital should be owned individually or held in common. Those who believed the latter were the Communists and the Socialists."

Michael Newman, Socialism: A Very Short Introduction, 6-7.

What is Liberalism?

Liberalism is "a rallying cry for individuals desiring space to be free from unjustifiable limitations, and as a set of fundamental institutional arrangements meant to legitimate and civilize the practices of politics. Above all it has become indicative of ideas and policies intended to reform, to emancipate, and to open up possibilities for individuals wishing to live their lives according to their own understandings. ...

"Yet the problem is this: There is no single, unambiguous thing called liberalism. All the liberalisms that have existed, and that exist, select—deliberately or unconsciously—certain items from an accumulated and crowded liberal repertoire and leave others out, both because some elements are incompatible with others and because intellectual fashions and practices change."

Michael Freeden, Liberalism: A Very Short Introduction, 1.

What are some of the different kinds of Liberalism?

"Consider for example phrases such as classical liberalism, social liberalism, or neoliberalism: three versions that are still current today. Classical liberalism revolved around individual liberty (the close etymological relation of liberalism), human independence, and the rule of law, and it importantly restricted what states and governments were entitled to do to individuals. Social liberalism—and the new liberalism that emerged in Britain just over a century ago, in tandem with some of its Scandinavian social-democratic counterparts—explored the conditions for individual development and growth, sustained by networks of mutual assistance and interdependence. From that branch of liberalism arose the modern welfare state. However, in a particularly confusing way, ‘neo’ and ‘new’ pull in very different directions. Neoliberalism —a product mainly of the second half of the 20th century—emphasizes the beneficial consequences of competitive markets and personal advancement far more than the general nourishing of human well-being. Its liberal credentials are highly contentious, as will be argued in Chapter 7. Those who think that liberalism is largely about unrestrained privateactivity and those who believe liberalism is about the reasonable development of individuals in a mutually supporting and project-sharing society do not have too much in common" (2). ...

"It may therefore be more accurate to talk about liberalisms in the plural, all part of a broad family exhibiting both similarities and differences. Many members of the liberal family overlap in their characteristics, but some are hardly on speaking terms" (3). ...

"Similarly, with liberalism as with all ideologies, there is no distinct approach that will tell us all we want to know about it, no easy single definition that will cover all its manifestations" (5).

How is Neoliberalism a form of Liberalism?

It's not really a form of Liberalism. "... neoliberalism is rarely seen by its critics as part of the liberal family..." (114). 

"There are few vestiges of an ethical mission towards a fair society among neoliberals—instead, levels of social inequality have been rising under neoliberal policies. And there is little commitment to engaging the engines of progress in the quest for human self-improvement. The welfare-state role of layer four is whittled away or handed over to private organizations. The constitutional arrangements of layer one, with their safeguarding of individual space and liberation from tyranny, are retained but effectively redirected towards free competition among powerful and vastly unequal economic players. In sum, neoliberals do not possess the minimum kit to be located squarely at the heart of 21st century liberalism. Put more forcefully, the complex morphology of liberalism is shattered and becomes barely recognizable" (110-11).

What are the core values to Liberalism?

"... ideologies are composed of core concepts that have considerable durability" (58).

1. "Unsurprisingly, liberty is a valued core feature of liberalism that runs through its multiple versions. Unsurprisingly, if we were to remove the idea of liberty from any such version, liberalism would forfeit an absolutely crucial distinguishing element. It is simply unimaginable to entertain, and empirically impossible to find, a variant of liberalism that dispenses with the concept of liberty. But nor is it the case that any ideology that refers to liberty is ipso facto liberal" (58).

2. "Rationality is a persistent core liberal concept. Liberalism presupposes the capacity of people to make reasonable choices; to reflect on their ends and ways of life; and to behave towards others in a considered, intelligible, and respectful manner" (60).

3. "Individuality is a third core concept. ... Individuality sees people as endowed with a qualitative uniqueness. They are regarded as capable of self-expression and flourishing, and they require those attributes in order to realize their full potential. Individuality possesses spiritual and moral elements of character and will that may be nourished by individuals themselves, but it also depends on fostering the educational, economic, cultural, and health environments that provide the necessary opportunities for that nourishment. Liberal social arrangements are thus evaluated in relation to attaining those ends" (61).

4. "Progress is closely associated with individuality, but is a core concept in its own right. ... Human development is a continuous process that harnesses and reflects the free will of individuals embedded in and secured through the other liberal core concepts. Being neither automatic nor imposed, it is not entirely predictable" (61).

5. "A fifth core concept that runs through liberal discourse is sociability, ... the concern of any one person for the life, property, and health of another. ... the notion of beneficial mutual interdependence, whether economic, ethical, emotional, or physical" (62).

 

6. "Sometimes related to sociability, but conceptually distinct, is the concept of the general interest. ... the desire to appeal to universal human interests as such, to what unites people rather than what divides them, even to some fundamental consensus. That may refer to a sense of decency, to reasonableness, to mutual respect and equality of regard, and to a wish to promote the collective good of individuals" (62-3).

7. "A seventh core concept is power, but in a specific sense—as limited and accountable. ... after all, the historic emergence of liberalism was chiefly in response to abuse and oppression by the powerful. ... Notwithstanding, decisions in a liberal polity are hedged in and circumscribed by checks and balances, by countervailing power, by constitutional rules of justifiable and hence enforceable usages of power, and, not least, by a dispersal of power that renders it less perilous and that draws in a variety of groups into its wielding. That targeted conception of power inches its way towards greater inclusivity and is put at the service of a community, aiming at clearing the paths towards the optimal—if not perfect— realization of the comprehensive package of core liberal values" (63-4).