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Were classical liberals libertarians?

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Eugene posted on Fri, Jan 6 2012 1:22 PM

It seems not. First of all it seems classical liberals had no significant problem with slavery or imperialism in other countries. 

Accrding to:


Classical liberals saw utility as the foundation for public policies. This broke both with conservative "tradition" and Lockean "natural rights", which were seen as irrational


Despite the pragmatism of classical economists, their views were expressed in dogmatic terms by such popular writers as Jane Marcet and Harriet Martineau.[57] The strongest defender of laissez-faire was The Economist founded by James Wilson in 1843. The Economist criticized Ricardo for his lack of support for free trade and expressed hostility to welfare, believing that the lower orders were responsible for their economic circumstances. The Economist took the position that regulation of factory hours was harmful to workers

It seems classical liberals were utilitarians rather than principled libertarians. What do you think?

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Eugene replied on Sat, Jan 7 2012 12:20 AM

But were they against seggregation? Were they for law equality between men and women? Were they attributing natural rights to foreigners as well? Were they against prohibition or other morality laws that were do widespread in the 19th century?

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Right, so where were we?

vive la insurrection:
From now on Autolykos,

Just assume my "arbitrary words" always agree exactly with your aesthetics and politcs - I just state them in a way you don't understand.

Make me.

vive la insurrection:
Hopefully that way I can get you to not do your "unique" line of inquiry directed at me anymore, somehow I doubt it - but let's try that out.

Nope, I don't think so.

vive la insurrection:
Oh, and I'm not trying to intimidate you - quite the opposite, I'm running away.

Could've fooled me.

vive la insurrection:
Now maybe you could answer the OP's question and quit focusing on people whos "arbitrary words" you happen not to like..or not your call.

Again, make me.

vive la insurrection:
Either way main point - I was adressing the OP, and I was not expecting some type of.....Spanish Inquisition

Too bad. But you weren't addressing the OP in your reply to Phaedros - you were addressing him.

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.

Voluntaryism Forum

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Libertarianism as a political philosophy is essentially a subset of classical liberalism, classical liberalism being defined as the idea that all people are endowed with certain natural rights, especially self-expression and the ownership and free exchange of property, while libertarianism is the idea (going a step further) that all people are endowed with a natural right to engage in any activity which does initiate force or harm against another.  Some classical liberals are libertarians, while all libertarians (besides ones which reject the notion of natural rights) are classical liberals, just as all anarcho-capitalists are libertarians but not all libertarians are anarcho-capitalists.

Classical liberalism failed because of the extension of the franchise which they themselves championed; rather than the right to vote making everyone a virtuous citizen and philosopher, it (rather predictably, in hindsight) merely led to people either voting for free stuff and/or for feel-good nationalist/tribalist policies.  Ergo, classical liberalism failed.

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I’d say that classical liberalism was a semi-conscious effort by continental Europe to mimic whatever had evolved in England that made that country so special and free.  Along the way, the movement started to add to its defense of English traditional institutions (as they were misinterpreted in Europe, that is) also some general principles and rationalizations.

I think that as time went by that English-mimicking part started to fade and those principles begun to become more and more important, until modern libertarianism, which is almost wholly (wholly, for strict believers in the NAP) based on principles emerged from it. I’m under the impression that Hayek was the true last classical liberal, while Mises was more of the first libertarian.

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
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