Talk:Classical liberalism

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The Mayne reference.[edit]

Does the Mayne reference connect Social Darwinism and Classical Liberalism? If so, should it come after that sentence? Rick Norwood (talk) 18:08, 26 January 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Here is the link. He connects social darwinism with neo-classical liberalism, which does not seem to be a controversial comment. To the IP who keeps removing the reference, social darwinism is the theory that the government should allow strong people to succeed and not subsidize weak people who fail. It has nothing to do with socialism or evolution or atheism and was not advocated by Darwin or socialists. TFD (talk) 18:28, 26 January 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Your definition of social Darwinism does not go far enough. Some believers in Social Darwinism sterilized women they considered likely to produce inferior children. Rick Norwood (talk) 12:42, 27 January 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That's eugenics. Herbert Spencer (who coined the phrase "survival of the fittest") and William Graham Sumner, the two most prominent neo-classical liberals and two most prominent social darwinists never advocated that. Social darwinism is an analogy, not a biological theory. It merely says that laissez-faire eliminates the weakest, not that therefore it also eliminates future generations of the weak. TFD (talk) 16:41, 27 January 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Unsourced additions to lead[edit]

An editor has added to the lead that classical liberls opposed "privileged monopolies" and several other changes. My objection is that none of the additions are sourced. Sources are always required to ensure that material is accurate and significant and it is always incorrect to change material that is already sourced without using that source. TFD (talk) 04:49, 19 February 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Cause and Effect[edit]

Current text:

  "The philosophy emerged as a response to the Industrial Revolution and urbanisation in the 19th century in Europe and the United States. 

This places "industrial Revolution and urbanization" as cause, and classical liberalism as effect.

  "Classical liberalism is built on ideas that had already arisen by the end of the 18th century, including
   ideas of Adam Smith, John Locke, Jean-Baptiste Say, Thomas Malthus, and David Ricardo.

This places classical liberalism prior to the Industrial Revolution and urbanization.

The effect cannot precede the cause. In contrast, Von Mises argues in "Human Action: a Treatise on Economics" that classical liberalism (capitalism) preceded and was a cause, not an effect, of the industrial revolution. This view, since it is plausible, should be placed more prominently than the current text, which is self-contradictory. (talk) 23:41, 22 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The relationship between liberalism and Laizzez-faire economics is complex, but I agree that it came before, not after, the Industrial Revolution, as is clearly seen by the events of 1776 in largely agricultural North America. Rick Norwood (talk) 11:31, 24 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I replied earlier, but Mark camp removed my comments.[1] It is not contradictory to say that classical liberalism was a response to the industrial revolution, which is dated 1760-1820 or 1840, and that it built on ideas that had already arisen. Nor does Mises equate liberalism with capitalism. Liberalism is an ideology that supports capitalism, which is an economic system.
It is questionable whether Alexander Hamilton was a classical liberal and the emergence of classical liberalism in the U.S. more likely dates from the revolution of 1800 or Jacksonian democracy. But Hamilton, Jefferson and Jackson all drew on ideas that were current in Great Britain.
TFD (talk) 13:11, 24 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply] It is unacceptable to remove comments by another user unless they constitute libel or other disruptive behavior. Reading TFD's comment which you removed, I think what he said is more to the point than what I said above. Below are the comments by TFD which you removed:Rick Norwood (talk) 13:25, 24 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I guess it was not clearly stated, but it is not contradictory. We would say for example that reaganomics emerged as a response to keynsianism and built on ideas that had already arisen by the end of the 19th century. Capitalism and liberalism btw are distinct concepts and Mises clearly distinguishes between the two. TFD (talk) 00:18, 23 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dennis Johnson - I'm new to adding comments but would like to point out that Adam Smith was a neo-classical liberal and not a classical liberal because his book The Wealth of Nations was not based upon the Natural Right of Property as established by John Locke in the Second Treatise of Civil Government, Chapter 5. Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations relies on "ownership established by title" that was a remnant of the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings that Locke expressly opposed. Under Locke title is recognized based upon the "natural right of property" while under Smith "Title" exists without any relationship to the "natural right of property" based upon the physical labor of a person. Under Locke commerce, which is not a natural right, is additive so you have the "haves and have mores" but where no one has more than they need for their support and comfort. Under Smith you have the "haves and have not's" with no limitations upon the accumulation of wealth. Under Locke the distribution of wealth must be intentional while under Smith it's purely accidental because Smith's ideology is based upon greed where any benefit to society from commerce is unrelated to the intent of the capitalist (owners of enterprise). Locke and Smith are juxtaposed ideologically when it comes to property. Anyone that has read the Wealth of Nations (Smith) and the Second Treatise of Civil Government (Locke) knows that their ideologies are juxtaposed to each other. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:55, 20 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Adam Smith was a neo-classical liberal" - uh, no.

"Neoclassical liberals combine a classical liberal commitment to economic liberty with a modern or high liberal commitment to social justice."[1] (talk) 05:45, 25 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ Brennan, Jason. "Neoclassical Liberalism: How I'm Not a Libertarian". Bleeding Heart Libertarians. Retrieved 25/11/2016. {{cite web}}: Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

Social Darwinism[edit]

TFD: Not that I'm doubting what you say, but I think a quote from Mayne would clear things up. Not everybody has a copy of Mayne handy. Rick Norwood (talk) 12:05, 25 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Mayne writes, "The more extreme neo-classical liberals advocated social Darwinism, whereby the 'survival of the fittest' should apply to social and economic life as well as wildlife." (p. 124)[2] It is a non-controversial statement in a non-controversial textbook. The term has nothing to do with socialism or eugenics or atheism, as some editors think. TFD (talk) 15:03, 25 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks. Rick Norwood (talk) 15:16, 25 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Critical References not Appropriately Cited.[edit]

In general, a large part of the article cites sources that are critical of classical liberalism. The Hunt, Mills, and Richardson references, for example, are opinion-based, privately published sources. They are not illegitimate or bad sources, but they are not reliable to define classical liberalism at first glance. Their use needs to be published under a part of the article that is labeled as criticism specifically. Otherwise, the article becomes a sort of straw man. A look a where these references are made shows a few clear examples of bias. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Tim7878902 (talkcontribs) 15:13, 17 April 2015

Agree. Indeed, if you're going to accuse classical liberals of opposing basic child labor and safety reforms, you ought to quote them doing so with dates and names for context. Early in the IR, children begged to work in these marvelous new industries because subsistence farming (their only other option) was generally more dangerous, more strenuous and provided less food. Like all such modern reforms, none of them happened until societies were rich and urbanized enough, thanks to productivity gains from industry, to afford them (note farmers still don't get a 40-hour workweek, as cows and chickens and corn don't follow the laws of men or industry, and farmers still use child labor). Classical liberals largely accepted and enthusiastically promoted these ideas by the time of laws like Keating-Owen, which passed with overwhelming support. 2601:246:4980:6A50:21C9:9952:6DAE:FC55 (talk) 22:10, 27 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Read the article. "Although classical liberals aspired to a minimum of state activity, they accepted the principle of government intervention in the economy from the early 19th century with passage of the Factory Acts." These acts gradually eliminated child labor and are in the article which you would know if you had read it. TFD (talk) 06:37, 28 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If you had read what I wrote, you would know I said there should be names, quotes, and dates for context where classical liberals are accused of opposing these ideas. The way that passage is written now elides critical context -- it makes it appear that social liberalism was responsible for these reforms against classical liberal opposition, when it's much more accurate to say both generally agreed during the early IR that such reforms were desirable but as yet unworkable, and that evolving conflicts tended to be over timing (i.e. classical liberals generally believed implementing labor reforms too soon would result in worse conditions overall due to the inefficiencies). 2601:246:4980:6A50:21C9:9952:6DAE:FC55 (talk) 19:06, 28 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No one is accusing classical liberals of anything. It was a paradigm that was modified and eventually abandoned and replaced by neoclassical liberalism and social liberalism. There is no need to say which person did what when, because we are talking about a paradigm that at one time had universal acceptance. This article is not about what U.S. libertarians believe in the 21st century. Note that their precursors, such as Meissner and Jevons explicitly rejected major tenets of classical liberalism, such as the labor theory of value. TFD (talk) 19:42, 28 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm not sure you understand which part of the article I'm referencing. Under "evolution of core beliefs" section it says "It was not until emergence of social liberalism that child labour was forbidden, minimum standards of worker safety were introduced, a minimum wage and old age pensions were established, and financial institutions were regulated with the goal of fighting cyclic depressions, monopolies, and cartels. Classical liberals opposed these new laws, which they viewed as an unjust interference of the state." That is extremely misleading as written, especially as there are no dates or quotes given. While it's nice that in the separate history section this is corrected or at least elucidated a bit, that passage is little more than a jeremiad against classical liberalism. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:246:4980:6A50:21C9:9952:6DAE:FC55 (talk) 19:49, 28 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think I see what you mean. Classical liberals had supported many reforms throughout the 19th century although doing so clashed with their core assumptions and led to a split between social and neoclassical liberalism with the latter objecting to new reforms. I will try to phrase it better. However, since we are talking about different policies carried out at different times by different people in different countries, providing all the names, dates and places would be excessive and rightly belongs in the social liberalism article. TFD (talk) 20:25, 28 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have made a few changes. TFD (talk) 20:49, 28 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Considering the plethora of classical liberalism primary sources, it is inexplicable that so much of the content in this article, e.g., assertions about classical liberals belief, etc. are taken directly from secondary sources like Hunt and Mayne. If the assertions are supported in primary sources, they should be cited that way. If secondary sources must be relied on, they should be broken out, as they rather seem to reflect the POV of that particular author. 2602:306:3641:8A40:2515:EDFA:231E:F1F1 (talk) 21:33, 8 August 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
They only appear critical if you happen to disagree with what the classical liberals believed. Note that no one today believes what was orthodoxy circa 1830-1848. TFD (talk) 15:54, 17 April 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Religious deviance[edit]

"Classical liberalism was often associated with religious dissent and nonconformism." An editor changed the word "dissent" to deviance saying:

  • "History: Religious dissent is a misleading phrase. Religious deviation better presents that they wanted to turn away from current religious beliefs, not discard religion altogether."
  • "I'm not challenging what word is commonly used. I'm saying that dissent has a negative connotation today. Dissent is commonly associated with "discard" which is not what classical liberalism wanted at all."[3]

I cannot agree with those arguments. The term Dissenter does not have a negative connotation, while the term "deviance" does. Nor is it accurate. While Liberals dissented from the authority of the established Anglican and Catholic churches, in some cases, such as Scotland, Holland, Switzerland, Canada and especially the U.S. (and possibly England and France too), they were in the majority, hence not strictly speaking deviant.

TFD (talk) 01:48, 20 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The bedrock of Liberal support came from the English Dissenters, later called Nonconformists. Hence "dissent" is the correct word to use.--Britannicus (talk) 09:11, 20 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

McConnell citation[edit]

A recent edit cites McConnell's popular textbook for the claim that small government best guarantees individual liberty. But this is the point of contention between believers in classical liberalism and believers in modern liberalism. The former believe that small governments have greater individual liberty. The latter believes that governments which act to protect individual rights have greater individual liberty. This article should not, in the lead, take sides on this serious and much disputed question.Rick Norwood (talk) 01:35, 24 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The source is too tangentially related to the topic and mentions it too briefly to be useful. Furthermore it does not support the edit. TFD (talk) 01:46, 24 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Rick Norwood: "McConnell's popular textbook"? Did you even look at the citation I added? It's a book review in the HLR....
@The Four Deuces: Epstein (2014), which is strongly related to the subject, quotes that line directly for his definition of the "classical liberal tradition": would you prefer I cite it from that instead?  White Whirlwind  咨  02:17, 24 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The source is too far removed from the topic (it is about legal interpretations of U.S. constitutional law) and the author does not appear to be referring to the same topic. And while he quotes McConnell, he says the Founding followed classical liberal principles. But the principles mentioned are from "Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Madison and Montesquieu." They leave out Smith, Malthus, Say and Ricardo. The general view is that classical liberalism was only complete when these other authors were included, but it is irrelevant to his book, because those authors concentrated on social sciences, rather than law. One exception would be Bentham who wrote about both social science and law, but he is not mentioned. TFD (talk) 02:54, 24 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@The Four Deuces: So, you'd prefer the lead summarization be sourced from a more general source on political science? I can live with that, I suppose I've required the same from editors working on Chinese topics. Epstein (2014) is too valuable to be completely eliminated though, as Epstein is the preeminent expositor of classical liberalism in modern U.S. academia (and abroad, I'm told). How best might it be implemented, do you think? This article is pretty solidly stuck at B-class, in my judgment, and needs a good bit of work, the lead in particular.  White Whirlwind  咨  05:10, 24 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I read up on Epstein. He wrote a book called, Skepticism and Freedom: A Modern Case for Classical Liberalism. He was writing about what other writers might call libertarianism. He takes some aspects of classical liberalism, rejects others, and calls himself a classical liberal. The following for his views on "classical liberalism" is limited to libertarians. TFD (talk) 20:38, 24 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@The Four Deuces: Epstein has been pretty vocal about his interpretation of the distinction between classical liberalism and libertarianism and his attempts to be on the classical liberal side of that line. Richard Posner's review of Epstein (2003) calls him a "Hayekian liberal", not "libertarian", by the way, so I'm not sure that your assessment of that book is correct. I've been looking through political science sources for good definitions of classical liberalism for use in the lead, but haven't found any that satisfy me yet. I'll keep looking in my spare time.  White Whirlwind  咨  16:39, 26 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hayek was a neo-classical liberal - neo-classical liberalism is mentioned in the article. They rejected some core elements of classical liberalism,and many called themselves classical liberals. But that is not the topic of this article. TFD (talk) 16:14, 27 May 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"believers in classical liberalism and believers in modern liberalism. The former believe that small governments have greater individual liberty. The latter believes that governments which act to protect individual rights have greater individual liberty." Sorry, but this is completely incorrect -- the modern classical liberal critique is precisely that very little of what modern governments do is aimed at protecting individual rights, and indeed that protecting individual rights may be the sole legitimate function of government. 2601:246:4980:6A50:21C9:9952:6DAE:FC55 (talk) 21:57, 27 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Modern influence[edit]

I switched the name of the "Relationship to modern liberalism" section to "Modern influence" and tagged it for NPOV. Besides this paragraph focusing on modern liberalism, there is practically no mention of the influence classical liberalism has today. While classical liberalism and modern liberalism share part of a name, classical liberalism is highly influential on modern conservatism. This needs to be discussed (and any other modern political, philosophical, etc. beliefs that classical liberalism has influenced), so that is why I marked it as NPOV. Below are some sources that might be beneficial in helping to improve this section:

"Classic liberalism is one of the dominant ideologies within both conservatism and the Republican Party of th early 21st century."[1]

"...nineteenth century classic liberalism still has a hold on the mindset of many of the country's leaders, especially among the ranks of the Republican Party."[2]

"Today, adherents of classic liberalism have come to be known as conservatives."[3]

I also think the beginning of the section could be improved by paraphrasing the long Alan Wolfe quotation. I will try to get around to some of these improvements when I get a chance, but I would appreciate if others could help out on this section also. Right now, the article reads as if the classical liberalism ideology is archaic with no lasting influence or prevalence, when in fact it remains notably influential. Abierma3 (talk) 11:08, 25 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Classical liberalism can mean many different things, and you need to ensure that you are using the term consistently. That could explain why Farmer used the term "classical liberalism" instead. This article does explain how classical liberalism forked into neo-classical and social strands and indeed already explains the influence of classical liberalism on neo-classical liberalism, which dominates not only U.S. conservatism but government policies throughout the world.
Incidentally, this article presents a global perspective not just U.S. There are other articles specific to the U.S.
TFD (talk) 15:10, 25 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ Brian R. Farmer (20 March 2006). American Political Ideologies: An Introduction to the Major Systems of Thought in the 21st Century. McFarland. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-7864-8052-4.
  2. ^ Conway W. Henderson (25 November 2009). Understanding International Law. John Wiley & Sons. p. 297. ISBN 978-1-4443-1825-8.
  3. ^ Gregg Lee Carter Ph.D. (4 May 2012). Guns in American Society: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law. ABC-CLIO. p. 583. ISBN 978-0-313-38671-8.

A republic, not a democracy[edit]

An IP changed "representative democracy" to "representative republic" saying, "better understanding of United States . U.S. is not a democracy but a republic."[4] That is a popular talking point for some segments of the American Right. However, it has no bearing on whether classical liberals supported democracy and none of the leading writers of classical liberalism, who lived in a constitutional monarchy, advocated republicanism. Furthermore there are no sources that republicanism is an integral part of classical liberalism. I would note that the democracy advocated by classical liberals was more restrictive than what democrats would advocate today. TFD (talk) 19:16, 28 May 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Individual Freedoms in Definition[edit]

The first sentence and 'Meaning of the Term' for any Liberalism article should stress the concept of Individual Freedoms. In the sans-adjective 'Liberalism' article, Locke's "...each man has a natural right..." appears in the middle of the second paragraph. In this Classical Liberalism article, two labeled subgroups use the term, "to describe their belief in the primacy of individual freedom and minimal government." Even there, only some of them, as if any Individual can be Liberal, Classical or by any other adjective, without that belief.

My dad's 1966 American College Dictionary has Individual Freedoms prominently in the definition of Liberal; and the ism definition is based on it. Economics is not mentioned. In my 1995 Webster's College Dictionary, Liberal and Liberalism both have Individual Freedoms as a main criteria in the political definitions. Economics is still absent.

Collins: 1. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) relating to or having social and political views that favour progress and reform 2. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) relating to or having policies or views advocating individual freedom

Dictionary dotcom lifted from The American Heritage Dictionary: 2. a political or social philosophy advocating the freedom of the individual, parliamentary systems of government, nonviolent modification of political, social, or economic institutions to assure unrestricted development in all spheres of human endeavor, and governmental guarantees of individual rights and civil liberties.

Here's the point---------- Webster's now puts Individual Freedoms in economics. But, they do this with politics: c : a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties; specifically : such a philosophy that considers government as a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequities (as those involving race, gender, or class)

And, at we find American Heritage made a similar change, over to Autonomy. TheFreeDictionary lists several definitions by various dictionaries. It's their thing. To their credit, they use a 2010 Kenneman Webster's that still had political Individual Freedoms.

Autonomy is self generated. Classical Liberalism insists that our Freedoms were granted by Nature/Creator. Those become Rights; when The People form our Representative government; and we declare we will not infringe upon Individual Freedoms we were born into.

How does this affect real life? Leftists try to interpret the Second Amendment as a militia/collective right. The UN declares advocacy can be criminal incitement to violence, even upon ourselves, in the Istanbul Process, UN Res. 16/18. Climate Change skeptics are now under threat by advocacy for laws to allow government to jail them for the good of the planet. We're forced to buy insurance for services we never want or need, from people we don't care to enrich.

Let's compare the Second Amendment to the First. The People. That term is key. Unassembled, we The People have a right to peaceably assemble. That cements the idea that our rights are based on Individual Freedoms. Individuals may assemble here, there, or stay home with the right to assemble some other day. That's how I read The People in the Second Amendment, after the comma. Militia is an assembly. We're individuals who may attend, or not, always ready.

Here's an interesting item from a recent, well-written movie on Lincoln. Daniel Day Lewis played the part. I forget the title. In it, Lincoln uses metaphor to describe to his secretaries what he's doing. He asks if they knew Euclid's first postulate. No. "Any two things that are the same as another thing, are the same as each other." The obvious allusion was to two races being equal under the proposed 13th Amendment. But, I took something else from it. Euclid's 1st is so obvious, it shouldn't need to be stated. In life, we find Darwinian anomalous variation. In humans, one of those extremes is the will to power. Ideas are power. Words are ideas from origin to recipients. Those words must be guarded from manipulators who seek to erase good ideas for their profit. So, we must state the obvious, as Euclid knew was necessary.

I never made a change in Wikipedia. I won't start with this. I'll trust you good folks who read Locke, Smith, Hayeck, Voltaire..., to do the right thing. State the obvious. Individual Freedoms should appear prominently in any explanation of Liberalism -- early and often. Thank you. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Sammy4231 (talkcontribs) 17:41, 9 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The first sentence already says that classical liberalism supported civil rights, which is another expression for Individual Freedoms. Saying that people today who describe themselves as classical liberals advocate individual freedom does not imply that other liberals do not. Oddly, that conflicts with your request to add advocacy of individual freedoms to the first paragraph. TFD (talk) 18:52, 12 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Disagreed, 'civil rights' are a certain subset of 'individual rights', having to do with things like freedom of speech and the right to a fair trial etc., but are generally not considered to include other individual rights (as defined by classical liberal) to liberty and property. These latter are main points of disagreement with the other (')liberals(') you refer to. But given that even the dictionaires are now changing definitions to iron out the socialist turn of liberalism, I don't expect Wikipedians to be any more honest. The main point of the poster, that individual rights as a concept should be point and center of this entry of the encyclopedia is a no brainer. Dg21dg21 (talk) 23:31, 28 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dismal Science[edit]

Publius1774 added, "Other scholarship has pointed out that the term "dismal science" was coined by critics of these classical economists who, as the leading school of economic thought at the time, were in strong opposition to slavery."[5] to the section on Say, Malthus and Ricardo. First, the source is unreliable, and the interpretion is questionable. It does not matter what the first usage of the term was, but the meaning of people using the term, unless we devote extensive space to it. The information is more relevant to another article. It implies that classical economists opposed slavery, when in fact they were divided and that their opponents supported it. Some classical economists defended it on the basis of property rights, citing Roman law and Coke while some conservatives and socialists (Pitt, Marx) opposed it. TFD (talk) 11:31, 19 October 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is not unreliable in the least. Carlyle called economics the dismal science because of his pro-slavery views, which classical liberals mostly did not share. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2605:A601:AAD7:DD00:2DBB:653A:EB4:BFB9 (talk) 04:38, 20 February 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Deepak Lal[edit]

Per WP:BRD, I am contacting @The Four Deuces:, as to why the content regarding Deepak Lal, was removed, while the excessively long quotation of Alan Wolfe remains.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 06:13, 29 October 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The content which was removed has been cited by 121 different reliable sources, but apparently insufficient for this article on Wikipedia? Why?
To quote from the source which was removed, "The major votaries of classical today are American conservatives." It further goes on to say, "Having been silenced by the seemingly endless march of "embedded liberalism" since the New Deal, American conservatism has since the late 1960s regrouped,under Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush created a new powerful political movement. Thus, apart from the brief period of Margaret Thatcher's ascendancy in Britain, it is only in the United States that the classical liberalism tradition continues to have political force."

Classical liberalism has different meanings and the article is about an ideology that was prominent c. 1830-1848. Reagan did not bring back the gold standard, reduce government spending to 10% of GNP or deny that entrepreneurship contributed to wealth. He was influenced by neoclassical liberals such as Hayek and Friedman. TFD (talk) 06:27, 29 October 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Perhaps this was appropriate once, but the term "classical liberalism" has made a comeback as something akin to what TFD called neoclassical liberalism. The article needs to be updated accordingly: either re-titled to "Classical liberalism (1830-48)", or else have its content changed.  White Whirlwind  咨  07:54, 29 October 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In Property and Prophets: The Evolution of Economic Institutions and Ideologies, EK Hunt writes, "The resurgence of the classical liberal economic creed was accomplished by a new school of economic thinkers known as neoclassical economists." He names Jevons, Menger and Waltras.[6] It might be helpful to have a section on this. It is not clear whether it was a new ideology or a reformulation, but it definitely introduced a new set of assumptions and literature. That school would develop into neo-liberalism and libertarianism, both of which have their own articles. My main concern is that we do not confuse what modern writers who call themselves classical liberals mean with what early 19th century liberals believed. TFD (talk) 15:12, 29 October 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think that quotation from Deepak Lal is perfectly fine to have. He's right, in my opinion. Reagan was the president closest to a classical liberal since Calvin Coolidge, and his brand of conservatism I would say is very similar to classical liberalism. Simply put, both Reagan conservatism and classical liberalism generally wanted maximum freedom. Don't get me wrong, there may be some differences between the two. But overall, they similar ideologies, especially in terms of economics. TheEfficientMan (talk) 02:14, 30 October 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Let's be clear. You mean maximum economic freedom, which classical liberals believe will automatically correlate with other freedoms. Rick Norwood (talk) 11:16, 30 October 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There appears to be a consensus here, that the reference of Deepak Lal should be integrated into the article, if there is some quibble as to how I wrote the sentence which was removed, lets work on that here.
Additionally, the point written by Deepak Lal, has backing by other reliable sources including this book written by Nikolai G. Wenzel & Nathan Schlueter ( Nathan Schlueter; Nikolai Wenzel (2 November 2016). Selfish Libertarians and Socialist Conservatives?: The Foundations of the Libertarian-Conservative Debate. Stanford University Press. p. 8. ISBN 978-1-5036-0029-4. American conservatism is a form of classical liberalism. ), this book written by John Micklethwait & Adrian Wooldridge ( John Micklethwait; Adrian Wooldridge (2004). The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America. Penguin. p. 343. ISBN 978-1-59420-020-5. Whichever way you look at it, American conservatism has embraced a great chunk of classical liberalism-so much of it that many observers have argued that American conservatism was an oxymoron; that it is basically classical liberalism in disguise. ), and this chapter written by James Kurth ( James R. Kirth (17 May 2016). "A History of Inherent Contradictions: The Origins and Ends of American Conservatism". In Sanford V. Levinson (ed.). American Conservatism: NOMOS LVI. Melissa S. Williams, Joel Parker. NYU Press. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-4798-6518-5. Of course, the original conservatives had not really been conservatives either. They were merely classical liberals. It seems to be the case in American that most-socalled conservatives have really been something else. This has confused not only external observers of American conservatism (be they on the European Right or on the American Left), but is has confused American conservatives as well. ). This view is even embraced by those who don't view classical liberalism in a positive light including SFSU professor Robert C. Smith ( Robert C. Smith (9 September 2010). Conservatism and Racism, and Why in America They Are the Same. SUNY Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-1-4384-3234-2. Locke's classical liberalism is American conservatism, a conservatism whose core ideas went virtually unchallenged until the New Deal. ). Moreover, Northern Texas University professor Milan Zafirovski writes that progressive liberalism is not classical liberalism (Milan Zafirovski (2008). Modern Free Society and Its Nemesis: Liberty Versus Conservatism in the New Millennium. Lexington Books. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-7391-1516-9. ), which differs from the Alan Wolfe quote presently included in the article. I would also like to point out that to say "some modern scholars of liberalism" is a weasel term.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 17:58, 30 October 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It seems strange to jump from early neoclassical liberals, such as Spencer and Sumner, to Reagan. It might be better to divide the historical section. Also, not that Reagan's variety of liberalism is generally referred to as neoliberalism and is extensively discussed in that article. When mentioning that Reagan was inspired by classical liberalism, we should mention what aspects. He never returned the U.S. to a state where government spent less than 10% or GDP, the dollar was backed by gold, and there were no federal regulations or social spending. His ideology was more of a hybrid of neoclassical and welfare liberalism. While he saw welfare and regulation as contributing to dependency and inefficiency, he still maintained that government should place some role, even if reduced. TFD (talk) 03:16, 31 October 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Rick Northwood I think classical liberalism actually advocates maximal economic, political, and personal freedom. Yes, I think that freedoms tend to correlate, but that doesn't mean classical liberals don't want maximums of other freedoms.
@RightCowLeftCoast I think you summarized it pretty well. But let me make this clear; those branches of "conservatism" which advocate for extensive restrictions on freedoms, such as protectionist policies on free trade and nativistic policies in terms of immigration are not classically liberal.
@FTD I agree that Reagan's ideology shared many characteristics of neoliberalism, and I think neoliberalism, as the name suggests, is just a revival of the economic perspectives of classical liberalism. I don't think it's that odd to jump from Spencer and other neoclassical and classical liberal thinkers, because Reagan conservatism and classical liberalism share many similar views, as I emphasized before. Perhaps that connection and/or other similar connections could be made in the article. I can understand that Reagan did not accomplish a complete rollback of the welfare state, but you must understand the United State's political context. Democrats controlled the House for his entire presidency and the Senate from 1986, the latter of which prevented Robert Bork's confirmation to the Supreme Court. Reagan was not a dictator; he could not roll back all of the welfare state simply because though he may have wanted to, he and the conservative movement did not have the political clout to do so. The Supreme Court was not conservative enough, and I already talked about Congress. Even if Reagan desired some, small though it may be, form of welfare state, it's important to note, he is not excluded from being a classical liberal. Classical liberalism doesn't advocate for zero governmental intervention in the economy. TheEfficientMan (talk) 21:41, 31 October 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Obviously government policies of 1830 would not work in 1980. The gold standard would prevent economic growth, a minimal welfare state would be required for urban society, totally unregulated banking would lead to economic breakdown, 10% tax rates would not support even the night watchman state. Reagan also thought the state had to break up monopolies, while classical liberals assumed the market would break them up. So Reagan had similar goals but different policies. OTOH, welfare liberals also had the same goals - individual freedom, economic growth and a belief in capitalism. It is misleading to represent that liberal ideology did not change as society changed and the U.S. transformed from a nation of farmers to a nation of the urban middle and working classes. TFD (talk) 15:20, 2 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@TFD I disagree. I think free markets work no matter what period we are in. One specific thing I will comment on is your statement about Reagan and monopolies. Classical liberals believe in a competitive free market, and if the government needed to step in to promote competition, so be it. Richard Epstein and Milton Friedman both have something to say about this in their books "The Classical Liberal Constitution" and "Capitalism and Freedom". Another thing I will comment on is your arguing that classical and modern liberals have the same goals. Perhaps this is so, but the effects of some modern liberal programs certainly restrict individual freedom and economic growth, and the collectivistic nature of some such policies (such as wage and price controls) belie what I see as a mistrust of capitalism. I would agree that the term "liberal" applied to different ideologies as time went on. But that does not mean that classical liberalism would defend modern liberalism as it exists today. On the contrary, I think it would be astonished at what some "liberals" intend to do. TheEfficientMan (talk) 00:00, 3 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The theory that free markets need government intervention in order to work (as opposed to Keynes' view that they didn't work so intervention was required) was developed in the 1930s and was not part of classical liberalism. Where in classical economics did anyone propose a federal reserve bank or anti-monopoly legislation? The most you can say is that Reagan was inspired by 19th century liberalism. But so were the other kind of liberals. TFD (talk) 00:29, 3 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@TFD What you say about the origins of government anti-monopolistic action may be true. However, I would say a competitive free market is a principle of classical liberalism. I think that the classical liberals would be okay with some governmental promotion of competition. In addition, if you and I can agree that Epstein and Friedman are classical liberals (and according to this very website, they are), and since they both would agree with some sort of governmental promotion of competition, we can resolve our conflict. However, it's important to note that anti-monopolistic government action is not necessarily very often invoked by a classically liberal government, and need not spiral into an excessive governmental regulation of the economy. I would disagree with your sentiment about Reagan and say that as far as one can be in modern American politics, he was a classical liberal. I and RightCowLeftCoast (since I, and, apparently, he, have studied this topic somewhat extensively) can give you some info about the principles and contemporaries of classical liberalism; for starters, you can see the book "In defense of classical liberalism". Again, perhaps the modern liberals were inspired by classical liberals, but the effects of modern liberal policies have not been in line with the classical liberal tradition. TheEfficientMan (talk) 00:55, 3 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I cannot agree and neither can anyone else that Reagan had the same views as 19th century liberals. Where is the gold standard? Why are taxes and government spending 40% of GDP instead of 10%? Whatever happened to the iron law of wages or the labor theory of value? Howcome there were 10 big banks instead of thousands of small ones? Why are there 10,000 page free trade agreements instead of unilateral removal of tariffs? Some supporters defend his views by saying that they are the same as Andrew Jackson, but that is a big stretch. It could be that Jackson if he were to return today would be a conservative, but who knows. It's a different world and policies differ.
I don't know why you say that the effects of modern liberal policies are not in line with classical liberalism. They support constitutionality, individualism, capitalism. It all depends on what one thinks was important. Both liberals and conservatives revere Jefferson and Jackson, but take different things from both.
TFD (talk) 02:17, 3 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@TFD I went over the results of the Reagan Revolution above. Reagan was not able to accomplish all, or even many, of the classical liberal goals he undoubtedly would've liked to. He would've loved to cut spending, institute complete free trade, and possibly even bring back the gold standard, but he was not a dictator. The Democrats controlled half or more of Congress during his entire presidency, and the Supreme Court was never manned by enough conservatives to roll back the decades of progressive legislation and court decisions that had brought on the Reagan Revolution in the first place. As for Jackson, he was more a populist than anything, at least that I know of. So far as I know, no one has ever compared Reagan to Jackson. I certainly do not think modern liberal policies at all support constitutionality (the judicial activism in Supreme Court cases like Obergefell v. Hodges, for example), individualism (minimum wage laws restrict individuals' freedom of contract, for example), or capitalism (government ownership of businesses like Amtrak are certainly not private ownership of the means of production, for example). I certainly don't think modern liberals like Jackson, and I'm not sure about Jefferson, but I know for sure as a libertarian conservative/classical liberal, I do not revere Jackson, and I don't think Friedman nor Epstein would either. TheEfficientMan (talk) 02:53, 3 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It doesn't matter what any of us believe, it matters what can be verified. We have shown, using multiple reliable sources that there is a view that American conservatism is classical liberalism, and the United States is the only nation that classical liberalism remains a political force. The view point that classical liberalism continues with the addition of Keynesian economics is already included in this section, with a rather lengthy quote, only referring to a single source. IMHO that is UNDUE WEIGHT. But I digress. I don't believe that any editor can say that the point has not been thoroughly verified, and thus the content should remain.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 03:09, 3 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@RightCowLeftCoast I agree. I apologize if I have made this page a forum. TheEfficientMan (talk) 03:36, 3 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

RightCow's edit[edit]

I've corrected some of the typos in RightCow's recent edit. The list of libertarian scholars is too long; I suggest cutting it to only the linked names. There are problems with the quotes in the references that I can't correct, lacking the sources of the quotes. Each quote should be sourced. Rick Norwood (talk) 12:15, 31 October 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for the corrections. The quotes, are from the referenced reliable sources, and are directly from the sources themselves. As quotes, they shouldn't be a need to correct them, as they verify the sentences in the article itself.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 00:07, 2 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The correction needed in the Deepak Lal quote is to distinguish between the parts quoted from Deepak Lal and the parts quoted by Deepak Lal. This should be done using double quotes for the main body of the text, and in the text itself replacing double quotes with single quotes.Rick Norwood (talk) 14:55, 2 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

United States section[edit]

User:The Four Deuces has created a United States section, I have created a United Kingdom section. I have made these sections as part of the History section, as that is where the content was originally. That being said, the United States section needs additional references. The first paragraph is largely barren of reliable sources. Also I am not seeing anything that directly ties classical liberalism to the gold standard, I am seeing that is was common prior its abandonment in the United States, but not that it is a pillar of the political ideology. See Barry Clark Professor Emeritus (21 March 2016). Political Economy: A Comparative Approach, 3rd Edition: A Comparative Approach. ABC-CLIO. p. 140. ISBN 978-1-4408-4326-6. --RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 01:32, 5 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

To continue my critique of the paragraph, this book contradicts what is written in the article, that progressivism had began to challenge classical liberalism in the United States as early as the late 19th century. Ronald Hamowy (15 August 2008). The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. SAGE Publications. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-4129-6580-4.. --RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 02:50, 5 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

See William C. McNeil, "Money an Economic Change" in The Columbia History of the 20th Century, p. 284. "The gold standard represented the economic and monetary aspects of the classical liberalism articulated in the writings of such philosophers as John Locke, Adam Smith, and John Stewart Mill who valued free trade, the preservation of individual freedom, and governments that were chosen by the people and hadd few responsibilities other than protecting the rights of their citizens."[7] Clark is writing about modern classical liberals, also called neoliberals and libertarians, who as I mentioned reject much of classical liberal orthodoxy. Clark mentions that some modern classical liberals wish to return to the gold standard.
This article does not say that progressivism challenged classical liberalism, but mentions Bryan who was not a progressive but challenged the gold standard. However, the U.S. only adopted the gold standard in 1871. It is going to be hard to delineate between classical and non-classical liberals in the U.S. TFD (talk) 03:06, 5 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The article does say

The ideas of classical liberalism remained essentially unchallenged until a series of depressions...

and then goes on to mention a 1896 speech and the great depression. This is why I tagged the sentence which I quoted.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 03:27, 5 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This source on p. 10 says that Bryan was a classical liberal and elements of progressivism (Teddy Roosevelt) challenged the old paradigm. I think writing a history section about the U.S. will be difficult because liberalism never had any serious challenge from the left or right even in the colonial period and there are few leading intellectuals before the 1930s. In "Contending Liberalisms" for example, the author does not bother to incorporate U.S. liberalism into his analysis of classical liberalism, etc., but isolates it in a section, "The American Exception."[8]
TFD (talk) 04:21, 5 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Perhaps then we should structure the United States section as influence of classical liberalism on the United States constitution. Classical liberalism until the late 1800s. Challenges to classical liberalism. Decline of classical liberalism. Revival of classical liberalism via American conservatism.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 06:05, 5 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think that it is too tangential to the article, since however classical liberalism is defined, it has had little influence compared with the UK, which had Locke, Smith, Ricardo, etc. Probably it is better to cover in Liberalism in the United States (not to be confused with Modern Liberalism in the United States). TFD (talk) 06:59, 5 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I strongly, but civilly, disagree.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 16:23, 5 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Who in 19th century American do you think was in the same league as Ricardo or J.S. Mill as a classical theorist, i.e., had influence beyond the borders? I can only think of Sumner. Do Mises, Hayek or Friedman mention any? Was Bryan a classical liberal or an opponent of classical liberalism? Can you provide any articles other than about the Reagan administration that outline classical liberalism in the U.S. that can be used as a guide? TFD (talk) 21:11, 5 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I've literally copy-pasted the text from the cited sources, The_Four_Deuces; why did you reverse them? (talk) 05:31, 25 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You are both right. The ideas of classical liberalism had already been developed in the 1700s, but the term (per Conway) wasn't used until the 1800s. – S. Rich (talk) 05:51, 25 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It was actually the term liberalism that developed in the 19th century. The term "classical liberalism" was developed retrospectively to refer to this period. The source used says, "Classical liberalism came about by building on the ideas already developed in the 18th century...."[9] It says later in this article, at Classical liberalism#History, "Classical liberalism in Britain developed from Whiggery and radicalism, and was also heavily influenced by French physiocracy, and represented a new political ideology." The main ideas were developed by Locke, Smith, Say, Malthus, Ricardo and the utilitarians, but those writers were sources for the ideology rather than proponents. The economic theories for example had not yet been developed when Locke wrote, while he adhered to the natural law theories from antiquity, rather than the positive law theories developed by the utilitarians. TFD (talk) 14:04, 25 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

British/US spelling & tense agreement[edit]

Steelstarz has changed the spelling of "labourer" to "laborer" while retaining the "our" spelling for "labour" and "-ised" endings. They have also changed the past tense "believed" to the present tense "believe," while retaining other verbs in the past tense. In addition they changed "at prices they would pay" to "at prices they would be prepared to pay."[10]

Both variety of English and tense should be consistent. British English is preferable in my opinion, because most of the primary sources cited in the article, such as works by Locke and Smith, were written in British English and most writers lived in the UK. Past tense is preferable because many of the beliefs such as the Malthusian population theory and the iron law of wages are not generally held today.

TFD (talk) 04:44, 26 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I changed them because I feel US English is the most understood and recognized version of the language (outside of the UK). Also I do believe and correct me if I am wrong the places in which I changed believe did not include Malthusian population theory and Iron law of wages. If I am mistaken please let me know. If I did there is Neo-Malthusian theory though. As for Iron Law of wages I'm not well versed on that belief myself but from simple reading it seems to be a very common belief at least in the United States. Again please correct me if I am wrong. Thank you for letting me know you're issues with my edits and I would also be fine with going through the entire article and changing everything to present tense where appropriate if you are worried about consistency. Classical Liberalism at least in the United States has been gaining traction and has become a major political belief again so I do believe it should be in present tense not past tense. Thank you again and I look forward to you're reply. Steelstarz (talk) 02:07, 27 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
See "Consistency within articles": "While Wikipedia does not favor any national variety of English, within a given article the conventions of one particular variety should be followed consistently." "Should I use American English or British English?" says, "The official policy is to use British (AKA "Commonwealth") spelling when writing about British (or Commonwealth) topics, and American for topics relating to the United States." It seems more fitting to use UK spelling. In any case, the spelling and grammar should be consistent. The editors of the War of 1812 chose to use Canadian spelling. It depends on what editors choose and we could see what they think about changing it.
The iron law of wages holds that workers' wages cannot rise above subsistence level, which in America anyway is not true. Lots of workers own homes, cars, pay for their children's education, take holidays and save for retirement. While libertarians today may call themselves classical liberals, they differ from them in a number of beliefs. Among them they believe the value of goods and services is determined by the market rather than labor. While libertarianism is mentioned in the article, it has its own article and should not overwhelm this one.
TFD (talk) 05:24, 27 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you for clarifying, I think I understand now. Thanks again for you're patience. Steelstarz (talk) 23:06, 29 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Political freedom and democracy[edit]

An editor has re-inserted that classical liberalism advocates "political freedom with representative democracy into the lead with the notation "R U reveting what Hudelson says?."[11] He refers to Hudelson's Modern Political Philosophy, p. 37, which does not say this.[12] Hudelson makes no reference to political rights or democracy. Democracy was not a core liberal value, and democracy was rejected by most liberals until at least the middle of the 19th century or later. Most classical liberals rejected universal suffrage and at least to some degree supported slavery. Democracy was seen as a threat, since the majority could deprive the minority of its civil rights. I removed political freedom because it includes both political rights such as voting and civil rights which are already mentioned. TFD (talk) 07:38, 6 April 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What does the second reference (Dickerson) say? – S. Rich (talk) 18:22, 6 April 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

First paragraph is incoherent[edit]

It reads: "Classical liberalism is a political ideology and a branch of liberalism which advocates civil liberties under the rule of law that emphasizes economic freedoms found in economic liberalism which is also called free market capitalism." The problem is that it is unclear which noun a relative clause starting with which or that attaches to -- thrice! Is this saying that classical liberalism "advocates civil liberties..." or that liberalism as a whole does? What is it that "emphasizes economic freedoms...", classical liberalism or the rule of law, or something else? What is "called free market capitalism": classical liberalism, economic liberalism, or something else? Maybe some commas would help (to distinguish restrictive from non-restrictive relative clauses) or some ands, but really this needs a complete rewrite.Linguistatlunch (talk) 17:23, 30 June 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Good call! I'll try to fix it. Rick Norwood (talk) 11:05, 1 July 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Done. Let me know what you think. (I removed Thomas Jefferson's name as unreferenced.) Rick Norwood (talk) 11:11, 1 July 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The Four Duces recent edit[edit]

You recently removed three referenced paragraphs on the grounds that they contained too much information. I'm not an expert on Classical Liberalism, but the paragraphs seemed on topic to me. I also note that there is a single sentence to the effect that sociologists dispute Classical Liberalism that seems very out of place. It should be either removed or moved to a section on "Criticism".Rick Norwood (talk) 11:33, 15 October 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't think it adds any new information. For example, the article already said, Smith "also opposed restrictive trade preferences, state grants of monopolies and employers' organisations and trade unions." The phrasing is misleading because the term class today has a different meaning than it did to Smith. Smith was referring to medieval classes, while in modern terms is refers to economic classes. And limited liability was not an issue for the founding fathers. GE, IBM, GM, etc. hadn't been founded yet, and it had not occurred to anyone that limited liability should be provided to corporations other than banks. And it's all sourced to the Ludwig von Mises Institute.
I'll remove the other sentence (it's about socialists btw.) There should be a section about conservative and socialist opposition to classical liberalism but should say more than that they opposed it.
TFD (talk) 12:57, 15 October 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you for the clear explanation. Rick Norwood (talk) 11:55, 16 October 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Closely related to libertarianism[edit]

I don't think it is necessary in the lead to add libertarianism to the assertion that classical liberalism was closely related to economic liberalism. Libertarianism has very little mention in the article. It would be more correct to say that libertarianism is closely related to classical liberalism, but that belongs in the libertarianism article. It's worth noting too that libertarianisms follow neo-classical liberals who questioned fundamental classical liberal beliefs such as the labor theory of value. TFD (talk) 06:14, 31 December 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've taken it out (I actually didn't see your post before I removed it!) On checking the sources, neither mentions libertarianism in reference to classical liberalism, and the article itself notes that many modern liberals consider their beliefs to be the successor to classical liberalism. Referencing classical liberalism seems popular with some libertarians (as the article says), but it's not a particularly well-attested link in the literature, certainly not well enough to support a sidebar or a mention in the lead. Beyond that, the lead has to summarize the article, which devotes far more text to classical liberalism's links to modern liberalism. --Aquillion (talk) 01:23, 10 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Aquillion, Richardson says on p. 52, ft. 17, "The term classical liberalism was applied in retrospect to distinguish earlier nineteenth century liberalism from the new or modern liberalism, here called social liberalism, of Green and Hobhouse."[13] I think the observation is important and should be in the article. If we are not going to expand on it, it could belong in the lead. It is relevant to explaining the topic of the article. TFD (talk) 02:32, 10 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oh, I must have missed it. Yeah, it could probably be included somewhere, but it probably doesn't need a section to itself. It could be inserted somewhere in the history section. --Aquillion (talk) 04:19, 10 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I put it in the lead. If anyone can find secondary sources providing more information about the use of the term and its origins, they can be put into the body. TFD (talk) 17:42, 10 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I did some technical cleanup on the references:

  • I split a "Bibliography" section off the "Further reading". The biblography now contains those works that are cited as sources whereas "Further reading" contains those that aren't.
  • I sorted both sections alphabetically. I wasn't quite sure about Guido De Ruggiero, but our article gives his default sorting in categories as "De Ruggiero, Guido", so I put him under "D", not "R".
  • I used {{sfn}} so that a footnote such as "Hunt, p. 44" now contains a link to Hunt's book in the "Bibliography" section.

In summary that should make it easier for our readers to figure out what a specific footnote refers to. Huon (talk) 20:10, 30 May 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Excerpt From Late Victorian Holocausts:

Famine mortality crested in March 1897. The next month Elgin himself conceded that 4.5 million poor people had perished. Behramji Malabari, the nationalist editor of the Indian Spectator, countered that the real number, plague victims included, was probably closer to 18 million. At the same time, the Missionary Review of the World, which ordinarily praised British philanthropy, denounced the doublespeak by which the government had downplayed the severity of the crisis and sabotaged missionary efforts to organize prompt international relief. “When the pangs of hunger drive people in silent procession, living skeletons, to find food, dying by the way; the stronger getting a few grains, the feebler perishing, and children, an intolerable burden, are sold at from ten to thirty cents a piece, and when at best a heritage of orphaned children of tens of thousands must remain to the country – this is not ‘impending’ famine – it is grim, gaunt, awful famine itself.” Meanwhile, the agrarian economy of northern India continued to unravel, and the famous jurist and national leader Mahdev Govinda Ranade complained that the “seven plagues which afflicted the land of the Pharaohs in old time were let loose upon us.” In the Punjab, where cattle powered wells and irrigation wheels, the decimation of animals was so great that the standing crops in the fields died because villagers could not lift water from their wells. 58 The most extreme distress, however, was still in the Central Provinces where, as the Indian National Congress charged and Lord Hamilton later conceded, revenue exactions had long threatened the subsistence of the poor. Prophetically, eight years earlier after a severe tax hike, 15,000 protesting peasants had confronted the chief commissioner in front of the Bilaspur railroad station. “Their cry was, ‘bandobast se mar gaya’ – ‘the settlement has killed us!’ ”

The protestors’ words came grimly true in the winter of 1896– 97, when mortality soared in at least one district (Gantur) to an incredible 40 percent (200,000 out of 500,000 residents). In his zeal to maintain fiscal pressure on the peasantry, the Central Provinces’ governor-general took little account of the remarkable siege of natural disaster – three consecutive years of devastating rains, plant rust, caterpillar plagues and black blight – that preceded the drought. Despite the terrible velocity with which famine spread through an already prostrate countryside, Sir Charles Lyall followed Elgin’s lead and downplayed the acuity of the famine. While allowing grain merchants to export the province’s scarce reserves, he refused frenzied pleas to suspend revenue collections or provide village-centered relief as authorized in the famine code. Destitute famine victims were instead herded into hastily improvised poorhouses that set new standards for administrative incompetence and corruption. Reuter’s “special famine commissioner,” F. Merewether, shocked the British reading public with his exposé of suffering and neglect inside the poorhouses of Bilaspur and Jubbulpur. Although an ardent imperialist whose reports usually depicted heroic British district officers battling natural cataclysm and Hindu superstition, Merewether did not mince words about the atrocities that passed for relief in the Central Provinces: [T] he actual inhabitants of Bilaspur were dying of starvation, while under the supposed aegis of the Government and within their very gates. I mentioned previously that my opinion was that the famine in the Central Provinces was grossly mismanaged. I collected tangible proofs of this daily, till I had to hand a mass of reliable and irrefutable evidence, which showed only too clearly that the officials and those responsible had not, and did not, fully recognized the gravity of the situation. With reference to the poor-house, there can be no doubt that in addition to supineness and mismanagement, there was decided fraud going on, and the poor hopeless and helpless inmates were being condemned by a paternal Government to a slow, horrible, and lingering death by starvation. I here came across the first specimens of “Famine Down,” which is produced by long-continued starvation. At certain stages of want a fine down of smooth hair appears all over the bodies of the afflicted. It has a most curious look, and gives the wearer a more simian look than ever.… There were more than a score of souls who had reached this stage, and their bodies were covered from head to foot with the soft-looking black fur.

When Julian Hawthorne, son of the famous New England writer and Cosmopolitan’s special correspondent in India, reached Jubbulpur in April 1897, three months after Merewether, conditions in the Central Provinces had grown even more nightmarish. On the long, hot train ride up the Narmada Valley (“ the great graveyard of India” according to American missionaries), Hawthorne was horrified by the families of corpses seated in the shade of the occasional desert trees. “There they squatted, all dead now, their flimsy garments fluttering around them, except when jackals had pulled the skeletons apart, in the hopeless search for marrow.” In Jubbulpur, he was escorted by the resident American missionary who took him first to the town market, where he was disgusted by the radical existential contrast between “bony remnants of human beings” begging for kernels of grain and the plump, nonchalant prosperity of the local merchant castes.

The poorhouses, meanwhile, were converted cattle-pens terrorized by overseers who, as Merewether had accurately reported, systematically cheated their doomed charges of their pathetic rations. “Emaciation” hardly described the condition of the “human skeletons” Hawthorne encountered: They showed us their bellies – a mere wrinkle of empty skin. Twenty per cent of them were blind; their very eyeballs were gone. The joints of their knees stood out between the thighs and shinbones as in any other skeleton; so did their elbows; their fleshless jaws and skulls were supported on necks like those of plucked chickens. Their bodies – they had none; only the framework was left.

Hawthorne’s most haunting experience, however, was his visit to the children in the provincial orphanage in Jubbulpur. In imperial mythology, as enshrined in Kipling’s famous short story “William the Conquerer” (published on the eve of the famine in 1896), British officials struggled heroically against all odds to save the smallest famine victims. The Ladies Home Journal (January 1896) version of Kipling’s story had featured a famous woodcut by the American artist W. L. Taylor of a tall British officer walking slowly at the head of a flock of grateful, saved children. “Taylor accentuated the god-like bearing of Scott, as seen through the eyes of William [his love interest], standing at the entrance to her tent. The black cupids are there and a few capering goats …” But as W. Aykroyd, a former Indian civil servant who in his youth had talked to the veterans of the 1896– 97 famine, emphasizes, this idyllic scene was utterly fictional. “No particular attention was … given to children in the famine relief operations.” Far more realistic than Scott’s motherly compassion was the repugnance that Kipling’s heroine William feels when, after dreaming “for the twentieth time of the god in the golden dust,” she awakes to face “loathsome black children, scores of them wastrels picked up by the wayside, their bones almost breaking their skin, terrible and covered with sores.” Hawthorne indeed discovered that “rescue” more often than not meant slow death in squalid, corruptly managed children’s camps. After reminding American readers that “Indian children are normally active, intelligent and comely, with brilliant eyes, like jewels,” he opens the door to the orphanage: One of the first objects I noticed on entering was a child of five, standing by itself near the middle of the enclosure. Its arms were not so large round as my thumb; its legs were scarcely larger; the pelvic bones were plainly shown; the ribs, back and front, started through the skin, like a wire cage. The eyes were fixed and unobservant; the expression of the little skull-face solemn, dreary and old. Will, impulse, and almost sensation, were destroyed in this tiny skeleton, which might have been a plump and happy baby. It seemed not to hear when addressed. I lifted it between my thumbs and forefingers; it did not weigh more than seven or eight pounds. Beyond, in the orphanage yard, neglected children agonized in the last stages of starvation and disease. Hawthorne thought it obvious that the overseers, as in the adult poorhouses, were stealing grain for sale with little fear of punishment from their superiors:

We went towards the sheds, where were those who were too enfeebled to stand or walk. A boy was squatting over an earthen saucer, into which he spate continually; he had the mouth disease; he could not articulate, but an exhausted moan came from him ever and anon. There was a great abscess on the back of his head. Another, in the final stage of dysentery, lay nearly dead in his own filth; he breathed, but had not strength to moan. There was one baby which seemed much better than the rest; it was tended by its own mother.… Now, this child was in no better condition than the rest of them when it came, but its mother’s care had revived it. That meant, simply, that it had received its full allowance of the food which is supposed to be given to all alike. Why had the others – the full orphans – not received theirs?

Cosmopolitan pointedly published photographs of famine victims from the Central Provinces next to an illustration of a great monument erected to Queen Victoria. Hawthorne, “on his way home from India,” it editorialized, “heard it conservatively estimated in London that a total of more than one hundred millions of dollars would be expended, directly and indirectly, upon the Queen’s Jubilee ceremonies.” But dying children in remote taluks were no more allowed to interrupt the gaiety of the Empress of India’s Diamond Jubilee in June 1897 than they had her Great Durbar of twenty years before. Critics of Elgin were uncertain which was more scandalous: how much he had expended on the Diamond Jubilee extravaganza, or how little he had spent to combat the famine that affected 100 million Indians. When the government’s actual relief expenditures were published a year later, they fell far below the per capita recommendations of the 1880 Famine Commission. As a new Famine Commission reported in 1898: “Our general conclusion is that, as compared with the past, a considerable degree of success as regards economy had been attained in the relief famine.”

The relief works were quickly shut down with the return of the rains in 1898. Hundreds of thousands of destitute, landless people, without any means to take advantage of the monsoon, were pushed out of the camps and poorhouses. As a consequence, the momentum of famine and disease continued to generate a staggering 6.5 million excess deaths in 1898, making total mortality closer to 11 million than the 4.5 million earlier admitted by Elgin. Twelve to 16 million was the death toll commonly reported in the world press, which promptly nominated this the “famine of the century.” This dismal title, however, was almost immediately usurped by the even greater drought and deadlier famine of 1899– 1902.

Davis, Mike (2002-06-17). Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World (p. 151-158). Verso Books. Kindle Edition.

Now, I'd like to politely ask you to stop being a genocide apologist and change it back this instant. It's based on fact that Malthusian economics killed 14 million in the second of four genocides in India. Add another 30 million from China and the 1.5 million in Ireland and you get 65.1 million dead. Stop responding with your emotional outbursts over ideology. Malthusian economics was vigorously practiced by the British in all five policies that led to this massive death toll and for China too, which was more a combination of Classical Liberalism and imperial greed. But the Indian and Irish example was textbook Classical Liberal economic policy applied to real life. That was the consequence. In the Indian case, it happened 4 times. Denying hard evidence like this is irrational.

In all that, there's not a single hint that "Clasical liberalism" is responsable. Kleuske (talk) 11:44, 17 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Malthusian economics is explicitly referenced in the text; that was also British policy during this same time period as the Irish genocide. So... same time period, same Malthusian economics, and same Classical Liberal ideology. Stop acting on emotion and get over yourself. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:45, 17 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Mathusian economics != Classical liberalism. The potato famine was not a genocide and neither were famines elsewhere. Famine was a fact of life prior to modern agriculture. WP:OR, WP:SYNTH and a fair amount of POV. Kleuske (talk) 11:52, 17 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Have to agree this looks like OR and Synth, provide a quote where the source blames these on Liberalism.Slatersteven (talk) 11:59, 17 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
OK lets be nice, provide a quote where he mentions malthusian economics? I cannot find it in the quoted text.Slatersteven (talk) 12:03, 17 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • suggestion This seems like a bit of an issue WRT WP:DUE and WP:NPOV - Mike Davis's book is certainly a WP:RS and including reference to his argument that things like the Madrass Famine of 1877 were genocides perpetrated through a liberal ideological lens is appropriate; but a detailed synopsis of the book told in Wikipedia's voice is inappropriate. Suggest inserting into the "Political Economy" section:
Max Davis argued that liberalism required the formation of the third world in order to support the growth of capital in Europe and North America, presenting the Madras Famine of 1877 and the drought and famine conditions which preceded the Boxer Rebellion as examples of liberal genocides. [1] This perspective mirrors criticism of Churchill's handling of the Bengal famine of 1943 [2] and the American genocide of aboriginal people [3] as examples of liberal capitalist genocides. Simonm223 (talk) 12:53, 17 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This still gives ample space for the "liberalism causes genocides" critique, bringing up the famines of Davis' books, the accusations of genocide against Churchill and the genocide of north american aboriginal people, without leaning on just one source or giving it undue space. Simonm223 (talk) 12:53, 17 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think the problem is he does not seem to use the term Liberal uses liberalism only twice (pages 191 and 421). Is it possible to have some quotes where Davis makes this argument?Slatersteven (talk) 13:00, 17 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There is definitely some conflation of Colonialism and liberalism going on here, on the basis that Victorian England was largely a state structured around a basis of classical liberalism and was going around doing Colonial things. There are plenty of Marxist critiques of Colonialism that discuss it as an explicit component of early Capitalism, but I'm uncertain whether those works make the leap to tying colonialism into a specifically liberal idological frame; It's kind of a transitive property in this case and you're right that it requires an explicit statement for inclusion on Wikipedia. I'm sympathetic to the OP's desire here, but I'm also not really interested in dredging through Google Scholar all morning myself and suggest that finding such references might be a good way for them to find some amelioration for their complaint in a constructive manner. Simonm223 (talk) 13:07, 17 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What I find odd is the use of this source, when there must be ones out there that make the link far more explicit. I am sure I have read that Economic liberalism leads to poverty and thus hardship, and thus death. I am also pretty sure I have read of a link between colonialism and economic exploration (and thus death through poverty). I thus find it hard to believe there cannot be sources tying the two together.Slatersteven (talk) 13:14, 17 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree. Simonm223 (talk) 13:16, 17 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I read some general ideology, but not a source claiming "Classical liberalism is responsible for this specific famine (let alone genocide)". Kleuske (talk) 16:58, 17 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

1. Classical Liberalism is an ideology and an economic ideology at that. Max Davis shows in his book that the Classical Liberal economic policy (Malthusian Economics) directly impacted the mass genocides of those centuries. They had the food to feed all those people in each case, but exported the food to outside the indigenous countries and let the masses starve to death. That's a deliberate act.

2. The Irish case and the Indian case follow the same exact policies. Compare findings from Max Davis to John Kelly and Tom Pat Coogen and you'll see that the British exported the main food source and let masses starve to death. When the British utilized internment camps to make them work at ridiculous hours for the bare minimum of food, diseases spread and wiped out more people as a direct result, then the malnourishment and diseases killed them as they weren't given any money or food to live on - let alone their families to live on - and eventually died. This is all verified facts from each of these books. European greed most certainly did more in the case of the 30 million Chinese, but I don't see why that should be different since Europe was still following Classical Liberalism.

3. 61.5 million is a conservative estimate, Max Davis looks into the mass death toll in the Middle East - approximately 1-3 million in total - as yet another policy. So, if anything, this estimate is conservative.

I'm not changing it to cause annoyance, I'm changing it because the research clearly shows that Malthusian economics (which is the model of Political Economy that the wiki page cites) is the direct cause of these death tolls. If that's what Classical Liberalism uses as a model, then that's what needs to be critiqued. I'd say the same for Marxism which contributed to just as staggering a mass genocide in Russia and the Great Leap Forward's 46 million dead under Maoist China. (talk) 19:19, 17 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ok, but like Wikipedia is not here to right great wrongs. I appreciate that you want to make sure the article demonstrates the perspective that liberalism is a harmful ideology which has led to a mass of death. But if you want to put that within Wikipedia you have to play within the rules. Now Slatersteven (talk · contribs) and I have both given you some advice about how you could proceed to include the information you hope to include in a constructive way. If you need more guidance I'd suggest going to WP:TEAHOUSE and learning more about how Wikipedia actually operates. This article will be here tomorrow. So don't rush to insert edits, get into a pointless edit war and get yourself IP blocked. Instead, how about you read some of the good-faith advice you've been given and use the correct processes to build consensus around including some material. Simonm223 (talk) 19:25, 17 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The Irish famine was already mentioned in the article: "A rigid belief in laissez-faire guided the government response in 1846–1849 to the Great Famine in Ireland, during which an estimated 1.5 million people died. The minister responsible for economic and financial affairs, Charles Wood, expected that private enterprise and free trade, rather than government intervention, would alleviate the famine." That's sourced to a section on classical liberalism in an academic book about liberalism. (Note that there is no claim of a Malthusian element - the market would save the people.) There is no such clear connection with India. The British government had in any case long abandoned strict adherence to the original tenets of classical liberalism. Ironically, your source quotes Herbert Spencer of all people approvingly as attributing government actions to jingoism. TFD (talk) 23:34, 17 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
New I had read the link somewhere (no not here, about the Potato famine elsewhere). IP, Malthusian Economics is no more classic liberalism then a river is the sea.Slatersteven (talk) 09:21, 18 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think is. See for example, Neo-Liberal Ideology, pp. 22-23: "[Classical liberalism] centered on a reaction against the mercantilism of the early modern period, disseminated by the classical economists Adam Smitn, Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo."[14] As classical liberalism developed into neo-classical liberalism, many of the original tenets, such as Malthusian economics, the iron law of wages and the theory of surplus value were modified or abandoned. I found the reference in Late Victorian Holocausts on p. 32[15] and the laissez-faire approach to the famine is mentioned on the previous page. My objection to inclusion of the source is weight: the Indian famines unlike the Irish famine are not mentioned in books on classical liberalism. TFD (talk) 16:13, 18 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The evidence which proves it is linked is a case against it? What are you even saying anymore? That's not coherent. (talk) 05:00, 25 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Also, I'm not seeing any meaningful objections to this evidence besides... "oh our theorist books don't have it" -- you all fail at critical thinking. Place it back and stop being genocide apologists and failing at academic research just because you don't like the facts. (talk) 00:43, 26 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Your comment that other editors are "genocide apologists" is offensive and should be removed. If you continue you could be barred from editing this article. For your information, "our theorists books don't have it" is absolutely a reason to exclude information, per Balancing aspects. (Click on it and read it.) If you think the people that write textbooks fail at critical thinking then take it up with them or get the policy changed or edit an alternative wiki. TFD (talk) 00:53, 26 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If you can find leftist scholars who support the position you are wanting to take we absolutely aren't going to stay in your way. Furthermore, as a casual glance at my userpage would make clear I'm not a big fan of liberalism, and I can say as a matter of personal opinion I do believe capitalism is responsible for an exceptional amount of bloodshed. I'd suggest though that you'll have more success if you review literature related to colonialism as a facet of capitalism. But the thing is that Wikipedia serves a specific purpose, and being a platform for any ideology is not it; to the extent we can, we have to exclude our own ideological biases, both pro-and-anti capitalist from the pages we produce and instead cleave to what is supported by reliable sources. This isn't apologism for anything; it is, in fact, an attempt to avoid Wikipedia being apologist for anything. Simonm223 (talk) 01:00, 26 August 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ Davis, Mike (2002-06-17). Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World (p. 151-158). Verso Books. Kindle Edition.
  2. ^ en, Amartya (1981b). "Ingredients of Famine Analysis: Availability and Entitlements". The Quarterly Journal of Economics. 96 (3): 433–64. doi:10.2307/1882681. JSTOR 1882681. PMID 11615084.
  3. ^

inequality of bargaining power?[edit]

"Despite Smith’s resolute recognition of the importance and value of labor and of laborers, they selectively criticized labour's group rights being pursued at the expense of individual rights[13] while accepting corporations' rights, which led to inequality of bargaining power.[14][15]"

This is not a merely factual observation, it is a contention and criticism of classical liberalism. If contemporairy, it requires at least a reaction form classical liberals. If a reflection of the historic situation, I wonder if it should be in the text here. But if it remains (here) it too requires a rejoinder. From the top of my hat, this seems like a classic 'labour theory of value' sentiment, and although Smith did held to that theory, many other classical liberals changed from the 1850's on out, with the so called 'marginal revolution'. I am not a good wikipedia-maker, but I just wanted to leave this comment for your perusal. -- Dg21dg21 (talk) 14:48, 11 September 2018 (CEST)

I agree this goes beyond what the section requires and note the second half of the sentence is taken from a different source. It is also ahistorical. Classical liberals opposed both trade union and corporation rights while trade unions were not an issue when Smith wrote, and the normal business entity in the early 19th century was an unincorporated proprietorship. An earlier version of the text was, "Protection of individuals against wrongs normally meant protection of private property and enforcement of contracts and the suppression of trade unions and the Chartist movement.[Hunt, 51-53]" I suggest replacing the text with, "Both trade unions and the Chartist movement were suppressed on the basis of protecting individual rights." (The Combination Act 1799 for example outlawed unions and collective bargaining.) TFD (talk) 14:00, 11 September 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Evolution of core beliefs[edit]

The sentence at the end of the first paragraph "Classical liberals believe that individuals are 'egoistic, coldly calculating, essentially inert and atomistic.'" should be changed or removed for several reasons. First, the article is about an ideology, it is not a character description of people who ascribe to the ideology. The sentence needs to be rewritten to reflect that the article is about an ideology and not about people (e.g., "classical liberalism is rooted in the belief that individuals are..."). Second, the objectivity of the source that this quote was taken from is somewhat questionable. Third, it feels like this quote was added as a means of inserting an opinion into the article. I am not sure that perceiving individuals as 'coldly calculating' is a tenet of classical liberalism. Finally, the word 'atomistic' is confusing, and makes the sentence hard to follow. What exactly is meant by atomistic. There has to be some way to rewrite this to add clarity and objectivity to the article.

Nolleducation (talk) 19:43, 25 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It is not a character description of people who subscribed to classical liberalism, but their description of mankind in general. The atomistic vs organic view of society is fairly standard. It is not at all controversial that liberalism promotes capitalism based on the theory that people will pursue self interest. In any case, the text is based on reliable sources. If you have another reliable source which contradicts that view, then please present it. TFD (talk) 02:16, 26 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is not in any way an accurate description of the evolution of or the actual core beliefs in classical liberalism. One can easily present hundreds of academic and reputable sources that describe the ideas of classical liberalism in a different. In fact the History section reflects it when explaining the evolution of their ideas from natural rights, political revolutions etc. It should not be necessary to find a source the contradicts somewhat obscure academic author E.K. Hunt. This is not a self descriptive, rather this section should describe how they view their ideas not someone who is writing modern economic thought books from a critical perspective.
Amanej (talk) 17:38, 23 November 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Actually, it is one person’s (Hunt’s) perception of what classical liberalism means, and as has been noted earlier, his is a questionably reliable source. Furthermore, in using terms involving value judgments, he very well does comes across as offering a critique. If Hunt is attempting to describe the core belief as “empiricist”, it’s a very poor way to do so. Nor is it clear that there was one set of “core beliefs” universally shared by classical liberals, as is addressed throughout the remainder of this article; to mention only one, Hayek divided the field into two typologies.
It would make much more sense if the description of core beliefs came from classical liberal theorists themselves as they would best know what they believe or at least from one or more notable scholars on the subject. Askari Mark (Talk) 23:11, 7 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hunt's book is not a personal opinion, but a textbook that summarizes accepted views We don't say for example when we use a physics textbook as a source that it represents the personal views of the writers. If you think Hunt is wrong then find another reliable source that provides an alternative narration. I would point out too that classical liberalism rejected natural rights as pointed out in the article. The fact that liberalism was revolutionary is neither here nor there.
Also, there is no reason to use classical liberal scholars to explain classical liberalism any more than we need Communist or Fascist scholars to describe communism and fascism. In fact it would be hard to find any notable scholars that embraced the whole of the paradigm.
TFD (talk) 13:24, 8 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No, Hunt's book is personal opinion. His views are not accepted generally by most economists, and sociopolitical theory is not physics. And plenty of other, more reliable sources have been provided and then rejected by you, because you don't like classical liberals. Also, not all classical liberals rejected natural rights. You list Locke previously in a group of influences, so that is prima facie false.

And yes, you do need at least some classical liberal scholars to explain classical liberalism. There are also many notable scholars who would qualify as classical liberal. TFD is simply wrong on all points. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2605:A601:AAD7:DD00:2DBB:653A:EB4:BFB9 (talk) 04:44, 20 February 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

British History Section[edit]

Neo-classical liberalism has continued into the contemporary era, with writers such as John Rawls.

Why is this sentence in the British a History section? Rawls is an American who was briefly at Oxford on a Fulbright Fellowship.

Jonknight73 (talk) 09:09, 6 March 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Since classical liberalism developed in the British Isles, it probably makes sense to remove the "British history" subsection header. What do you think? TFD (talk) 15:20, 6 March 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Besides the fact that Rawls was not British, it is outlandish and a slur to class him as a "classical" as opposed to "social" liberal (the kind of slur which has recently become common on the part of quasi-Marxists, who seem to dislike the moderate Left far more than they dislike the Right). The whole thrust of Rawls's thought is egalitarian, and any differences of income are supposed to be justified by their role in producing such wealth that the least well off are better off than they would be if these inequalities were forbidden. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2A02:C7D:EB4:300:5CE4:64A2:5A58:9FED (talk) 14:49, 9 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I completely agree calling Rawls a 'classical' liberal is a slur, but a slur on classical liberalism. In the great debate between him and Nozick, he was decidely the more 'social(ist)' 'liberal', whilst Nozick was the more (neo)classical liberal, or libertarian as those americans had to invent a new label once the 'progressives' took over the label of liberalism. But this ideological debate is besides the point, Rawls was an American and should therefore not be in the section. End of discussion. This is just wrong information that should not be in an encylopedia. Dg21dg21 (talk) 23:15, 28 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Progressives never "took over" the term "liberal" ffs. Progressivism was a core value of the original Liberals such as Adam Smith. Lets not pretend that what people are calling "Classical Liberalism" here has much at all to do with what the *actual* early liberals espoused, enamoured as they where with civil liberties, fair wealth distribution and a form of capitalism that encouraged free enterprise whilst reigning in the excesses of capitalism. If we want to talk about appropriating terms, perhaps we ought talk about "classical libertarianism", that great socialist anti-government tradition. Duckmonster (talk) 06:11, 30 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't think it's worth arguing about whether or not it's a slur. The important thing is that it's horribly inaccurate - Rawls is definitely not a neo-classical liberal. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Pragmaticmaxim (talkcontribs) 10:56, 8 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The "aristocratic" South[edit]

An editor removed reference to U.S. liberal origins with the comment, "Removed characterization of liberalism's spread in the US as largely unchallenged due to the absence of landed gentry, aristocracy, etc. given the clear counter-examples provided by the American Civil War and post-war Reconstruction."[16]

The south did not have aristocratic land ownership or serfdom. Land, chattels and slaves were owned in order to generate profits and could be bought and sold. Crops were sold into an export market. Slave owners supported free trade and constitutional government. Slavery was justified under Lockean principles. Certainly liberalism today rejects slavery and racism, but that does not mean it did in the past.

Historians clearly view Jefferson, Madison and other slave-owning Founding Fathers as exponents of liberalism rather than aristocracy.

Unless reliable sources are found to rebut the claim of U.S. liberal origins, it should remain in the article.

TFD (talk) 18:07, 23 June 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Possible over-tagging[edit]

@Shoreranger: both of the paras you tagged cite Hunt, E. K. (2003). Property and Prophets: The Evolution of Economic Institutions and Ideologies. New York: M. E. Sharpe, Inc. ISBN 0-7656-0608-9. - Have you reviewed this book to determine if the citations are verified? If not, this may be unnecessary tagging. Simonm223 (talk) 14:16, 26 July 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The tagging does not make sense. In the first case, a statement that classical liberals included new ideas that departed from conservatism is tagged as OR. Classical liberals and they (used as a pronoun to refer to classical liberals) is tagged several times with WHO. A citation is requested for a sentence although the citation is provided for the paragraph. A statement that an act was passed in 1834 was tagged with HOW? There is no need to explain that it received three readings in both houses of parliament before receiving royal assent. TFD (talk) 16:54, 26 July 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Shoreranger has not answered on the talk page but added his objections to the article. I will list them here.
  • "article is almost entirely about economic theory and does not cover how "civil liberties" claimed in the lede to be a defining element, nor "rule of law", is relevant much less how they are important to the topic" - Since classical liberalism was mostly concerned with economics, it has priority, but note the article discusses civil liberties, for example it says classical liberals saw the role of government was to "protect individual rights."
    "Source for specific claims that conservatism is based on society as a family and classical liberalism does not accept the concept of society as social networks?" - Already provided in footnote (Hunt, p.44-46).
    "How does this theory explain those results? What is the logic employed? HOW was the Poor Law supposed to influence society? Why?" - The wording seems pretty clear to me. They believed that social assistance removed the incentive of poor people to work, so they repealed the Poor Laws.
    "Either cite where Smith claims this or where "liberals" claim he did" - Added back footnote that had been lost.
    "In favor of whom?" - It is clear that supporting the rights of capital over the rights of labor provided inequality of bargaining power in favor of capital.
Please discuss on talk page.
TFD (talk) 22:29, 26 July 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Simply replying that everything is clear to the author does not justify removing tags. Make your explanations in the article. Obviously it is not clear, or there would not be a tag. The impression is that the author just doesn't accept any changes to their contributions. The article appears to have been hijacked by one contributor. I think we need some admin help/arbitration here. Shoreranger (talk) 19:04, 29 July 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You realize your tags were reverted by two different editors. Also I don't believe there are any arbitration sanctions active on this article. However could you please address why you put OR tags on paragraphs supported with a reliable source? Did that information fail verification in the places cited? Simonm223 (talk) 19:10, 29 July 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
See: Wikipedia:Template messages/Cleanup. When you tag an article you are supposed to set up a talk page discussion. Furthermore, tags should be removed immediately if there is no discussion or consensus that there is no problem. Their purpose is to generate discussion not as a badge of shame. If you want to talk about any issues you have, go ahead. Before asking for help, you could at least explain your position. TFD (talk) 19:43, 29 July 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No "shame" intended. Nevertheless, here we are - let's discuss. I've further elaborated where the concerns are, and they were kindly transcribed here now. Once issue has already been addressed by an author adding a citation that was "lost". Other issues identified indicate that content is not as self-evident as claimed and needs elaboration. Further issues include a lengthy, and perhaps even over-long, article that emphasizes one aspect (economics) of three self-identified in the article as forming the foundation of the ideology. IF there is a valid reason for that, explain it to the readers in the body of the entry. I contend that there is not a valid reason for that, and to borrow a tactic here, I find *that* to be self-evident. Shoreranger (talk) 13:43, 30 July 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Nothing you've just said warranted a WP:OR tag added to replace a citation. Simonm223 (talk) 13:46, 30 July 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't know why you put lost in scare quotes. The citation was in an earlier version of this article and removed by an editor.[17] Can you please list your remaining objections and what specific edits you suggest to address them. TFD (talk) 14:30, 30 July 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I put "lost" in quotes because I was quoting its use by someone other than myself.
Can we get past the OR tag and address the issues raised? Shoreranger (talk) 17:26, 30 July 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
All of them are addressed above. TFD (talk) 18:47, 30 July 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Missing origin of the term classical liberalism[edit]

I was surprised to see that the article seems to have no mention of where, when and by whom the actual term classical liberalism originated. I doubt any of the notable liberal individuals in the lede ever called themselves classic liberals, merely liberals. At some point someone decided that liberalism had strayed from its roots and coined the term classical liberalism, and possibly decided which liberal thinkers and ideas belonged to this, and which didn't. Without this, it's difficult to decide if classical liberalism really is a true snapshot of liberalism of a previous period or modern revisionism. AndroidCat (talk) 22:12, 28 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No such thing[edit]

There's no such thing as "classical liberalism." It's a 20th century Libertarian invention to present Libertarianiasm as "real" ("classical") liberalism as opposed to liberal public policy in the mid-20th century. I suggest deleting the article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2600:1700:CE00:75C0:C9F4:8165:7726:DF2E (talk) 17:36, 4 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yeah, you're wrong. Classical liberalism is a thing. 2601:940:C000:46A0:E467:B868:7DA1:732C (talk) 19:16, 18 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Classical liberalism was formed in response to British Imperialism and Mercantilist economics. The US was supposedly founded on classical liberalism. 2601:940:C000:46A0:E467:B868:7DA1:732C (talk) 19:18, 18 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No, those who stay true to ideas of the liberals had to add this distinction, because the socialists started to take over the label, first by calling themselves 'social liberals'. And then certain (neo)classical liberals decided, for better or for worse, to use the term 'libertarianism'Dg21dg21 (talk) 23:18, 28 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Except that the term as currently used in this article seems to have been coined by Friedrich Hayek in his 1944 book The Road to Serfdom. He later added a clarification explaining what he meant by classical liberalism, which shouldn't have been required if the term as he used it was in common use at that time.The_Road_to_Serfdom#Clarifications AndroidCat (talk) 05:57, 27 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thomas Hobbes[edit]

Pasixxxx, can you please explain your footnote that "Aristocrats and church were the government and Hobbes is writing in that context."[18] The article says, "Classical liberals agreed with Thomas Hobbes that government had been created by individuals to protect themselves from each other and that the purpose of government should be to minimize conflict between individuals that would otherwise arise in a state of nature." I don't see what relevance the footnote has. TFD (talk) 22:00, 2 August 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Evolution of core beliefs[edit]

Is this a criticism of the evolution of classical liberal beliefs or an explanation? Because it seems to be written in a manner critical of those beliefs. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:48, 10 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If it comes across as a criticism to you, it's because most of the core beliefs aren't accepted today. The labor theory of value was debunked by libertarians and today is only held by orthodox Marxists. The iron law of wages has been proven false by Western nations providing a middle class lifestyle for workers. TFD (talk) 17:21, 10 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"The labor theory of value was debunked by libertarians". Thats the PolSci equivelent of claiming that gravity was debunked by flat earthers. Is there a non-fringe/whackadoodle group that "debunked" it, or are we just making things up here? Duckmonster (talk) 06:05, 30 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I phrased it that way because I assumed the writer was a libertarian. In fact, it was debunked by Carl Menger and other neoclassical liberals and has no support among mainstream economists today. Is there anything in the text of the article about the labor theory of value you would like to change? TFD (talk) 00:12, 31 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

recent major edit[edit]

An unsigned editor has boldly purged the article of statements critical of Classical Liberalism, referenced to E. K. Hunt, J. S. Mill, and others, on the grounds that these authors are wrong. I don't know enough about the history of economics to judge who is right or wrong, but I hope someone who is more knowledgeable will take a look at this major edit.Rick Norwood (talk) 11:46, 16 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Nothing about J.S. Mill was removed. Are you talking about John Mills's A Critical History of Economics? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2600:1702:3f0:4390:a5c9:4717:2597:b3eb (talkcontribs) 18:20, 16 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You need to stop removing material against consensus, and discuss your changes here. If you think that the sources used in the article are wrong, you need to provide alternative sources that meet the reliable sources guideline. TFD (talk) 18:38, 16 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I already explained the edits in the explanations. Malthus was not a classical liberal, and classical liberals did not believe that his view on population outstripping food supply was correct. That is patently false. Also, the UK was not laissez-faire at the time of the famine in Ireland, and in fact repealed the Corn Laws to try to help ameliorate it. There is a massive amount of misinformation in this wiki, and the Mills book, which is NOT a work of economic history, is the cause of most of it. It is not a reliable source. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2600:1702:3F0:4390:E473:2269:B0BF:E864 (talk) 12:32, 27 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The article does not say Malthus was a classical liberal, it says he was a major influence. The source says that: if you disagree find a source for influences that does not include him. The article does not say that the UK was laissez-faire, but that the government was guided by it. It was perfectly consistent with laissez-faire to repeal the corn laws. Mills' book, A Critical History of Economics may not be a work of economic history, but it is a history of economics. If you don't like it, you need to present an alternative. Bear in mind that classical liberals in the early 19th century did not view the world in exactly the same way as 21st century libertarians in the U.S. TFD (talk) 15:13, 27 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I must have misread Mill for Mills. I apologize for my mistake. Rick Norwood (talk) 20:50, 16 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I do not need to present an alternative to Mills to remove false information from Mills. Check Wikipedia's guidelines, TFD. You seem not to know them. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2605:A601:AAD7:DD00:2DBB:653A:EB4:BFB9 (talk) 04:46, 20 February 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A Commons file used on this page or its Wikidata item has been nominated for deletion[edit]

The following Wikimedia Commons file used on this page or its Wikidata item has been nominated for deletion:

Participate in the deletion discussion at the nomination page. —Community Tech bot (talk) 05:25, 6 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Critical Perspective on the Approach[edit]

Much of the substance of this article paints a picture of Classical Liberalism as a now-dead-once-monolith, and not a philosophical and political perspective that is still held by many, one that is thus still changing dynamically with those who hold (and expand on) it. This static approach to the subject matter gives the entirety of the article a historical/critical lens, a lens which one might contend is largely inappropriate for what is more accurately described a set of philosophical and political views.

It also uses a very class and economics heavy base as the launching pad for conveying much of this information. This is a retrofitting, and the date of the secondary sources which serve as the fuel for this metaphorical info rocket display this fact. Hunt, Dickerson, Evans, etc. cannot be said to be unopinionated (read they are NOT WP:NPoV), and Adam Smith‘s Wealth of Nations was written nearly 80 years after John Locke had died. The portrayal of classical liberals as holding a uniform set of essentially economics-based ideas (which is exactly how this article currently reads) is tenuous at best. And, even granting that were the case, secondary sources with strong political opinions obtain little to nothing about the nature of the primary material in question. Of the people who are widely recognized as the founders of classical liberalism (Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Hume etc.) , only ONE is sourced or referenced in any way - and even that, relatively barely - Kant; in their stead are a slew of modern political economists and their opinions, and classical political economists who drew off of the philosophical and political ideas of classical liberalism.

This is an article on classical liberalism, which is a set of philosophical and political ideas generally held by classical liberals. It reads like a critique of some universally agreed on version of classical economics. I think it needs work in a major way, starting from the approach itself.

Thoughts? (talk) 03:45, 19 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

While the term classical liberalism can mean different things, this article is about the consensus in liberalism that developed in the early 19th century, which has been referred to as the classical period of liberalism and drew on earlier writers such as Locke and Smith. While neoliberals, libertarians and some other schools of liberalism may sometimes refer to themselves as classical liberals, they have made substantial revisions to the original theory.
Economics is given a lot of attention because economics is the main area dividing different forms of liberalism. Hence there is a consensus among U.S. liberals today about acceptance of the U.S. constitution which established the nation along liberal political principles.
When I have searched for sources that describe classical liberalism, rather than just using the term in passing, it generally refers to the topic of this article.
TFD (talk) 20:40, 15 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Fundamental Statement requires explication/enlargement[edit]

Jsusky (talk) 21:14, 15 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Classical liberals believed that individuals are "egoistic, coldly calculating, essentially inert and atomistic"[9]"

REF 9 =

Hunt, E. K. (2003). Property and Prophets: The Evolution of Economic Institutions and Ideologies.

This fundamental statement begs explication - namely, in what way are (did Hunt say/mean) "individuals are essentially inert and atomistic"?

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Jsusky (talkcontribs) 21:14, 15 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It seems clear to me. When used in the figurative sense, inert means lazy. Atomistic is defined as "existing or operating separately from other similar things or people."[19] The next phrase clarifies that: "society is no more than the sum of its individual members." What else could Hunt have meant? TFD (talk) 21:39, 15 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I do not think "inert" means "lazy", especially in conjunction with atomistic. An inert gas is one that does not combine with others. Rick Norwood (talk) 13:17, 9 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In other words, what he meant was that a society composed of inert, atomistic components is one that is no more than the sum of its parts. --Aquillion (talk) 05:05, 20 February 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Remember please that inserting your own logic into cited statements is WP:SYNTH and to be avoided. I get the gist of your logic but that requires a source that explicitly makes that statement. Simonm223 (talk) 17:14, 6 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

In reply to Shoreranger's edit: prior to the American Revolution, the U.S. did not exist. What distinguishes the U.S. from other revolutions, such as in England, France, Russia and China, is that it did not make economic changes or dispossess a previous ruling class. Hence, unlike the others, there did not develop a counter-revolutionary party. The dispute was independence from the UK. While the UK retained some remnants of feudalism, they were not transported to the American colonies. The complaint of the U.S. revolutionaries was that the UK sought to impose direct rule, which infringed on the colonies' right to free trade. TFD (talk) 23:24, 6 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I have never one heard Michael Bloomberg referred to as a classical liberal. Is there really a good reason why he should be mentioned right at the start of the article? (talk) 19:23, 10 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

minus Removed. A very out-of-place sentence, sourced to an opinion piece by a very non-classical liberal, who doesn't even directly call Bloomberg a classical liberal. CWenger (^@) 22:26, 10 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]