(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.
In the study of journalism, English literature and law I came across a common thread, the ideal of precision in the use of language. One of my favorite scenes in Ulysses involves Dubliners in a pub arguing Shakespeare’s meanings as if the Bard were their writer—the truth is that the language is as much theirs as it is the language of London, New York or Kansas City. So I have a vested interest (as a labor relations manager I wore a three-piece suit) in the integrity of the language. And I tend to lecture people such as Bob Livingston on use of the term “liberal.”
The following comment made to Fox was “moderated” by disqus, the censor used by numerous sites including Fox. Since the Wall Street Journal is the jewel in Murdoch’s Crown, there is no need to subscribe to Fox for anything but entertainment news and Stossel
I am going to say something here that may upset a lot of people. But I am educated in the classical liberal arts which include rhetoric, grammar, logic, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy and music. I have studied Latin extensively. The root of the term liberal is the same as the root of the term liberty. Until we, as a people–not we as a State–stop using the term liberal interchangeably with the terms progressive and statist, we are allowing them to misuse the word they have appropriated. FDR was not a liberal. Harry Truman had some liberal tendencies as did JFK. On the Supreme Court, Hugo Black had liberal tendencies and actually knew the Reconstruction Amendments were about individual rights. William O Douglas and William J Brennan both believed in the power of government apart from limitations–that the Commerce Clause was that grant and that it superseded all amendments. Both of the authors of the commerce clause (Hamilton and Madison) held the view that it was not a license to expand federal power, but a preventive of arbitrary and intrusive state interference in the peaceful conduct of crossing state lines with goods.
The word liber means free. Anyone advocating that the constitution grants authoritarian or absolute power to the central government has no claim to that title.
The liberals of the late 18th Century were referred to as anti-federalists. We often refer to big government populists as “neo-conservatives.” Does this make post FDR statists “neo-liberals” or neolibs for short?