Ralph Raico on liberalism

In “Liberalism: True and False,” Raico advances his definition of the ideal liberalism. He shows how far the supporters of the welfare state who usually call themselves liberals are away from being entitled to use the term to describe themselves:

The ideal type of liberalism should express a coherent concept, based on what is most characteristic and distinctive in the liberal doctrine — what Weber refers to as the “essential tendencies.” … Historically, where monarchical absolutism had insisted that the state was the engine of society and the necessary overseer of the religious, cultural, and, not least, economic life of its subjects, liberalism posited a starkly contrasting view: that the most desirable regime was one in which civil society — that is, the whole of the social order based on private property and voluntary exchange — by and large runs itself. (p.65, emphasis in original)

Raico has constructed a good definition of liberalism, one that clears up the confusion caused by the welfare socialists claiming the name “liberal”. But one wonders where this ideology arose from. It was a long process and this process began in a particular place: western Europe. Why did liberalism first arise there?



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