“If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal”” – John F Kennedy. It’s hard to believe that a quote over half a century old would more aptly represent what liberalism stands for, than many who claim the word today. The descent of liberalism can be traced to many places, although the largest and most extreme case was with the ideology of Karl Marx. Within the communist manifesto, Marx advocated for the removal of the bourgeoisie, and control of all businesses being held by the worker. Within his ideology, Marx advocates for a universal collectivist economy where wealth would be produced and distributed according to the doctrine of “from each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs”. The communist ideology is still held in high esteem by many for its support of a supposedly perfect system where all would be equal; no inequality on the grounds of wealth, and a domestic product entirely controlled by the worker. However, communism defied the very liberal ideology it was built upon; many could argue that the basis of all liberalism is upholding the quality of opportunity for all, while communism opposed this by making it an doctrine of equality of result. To oppose belief in the free market is to oppose the classical liberal beliefs of economic freedom for citizens, and that one can choose how to spend their money within the market without overbearing interference from the state. Communism would come to pay for this transgression as collectivization of land for agriculture, which was approximately 91% of agricultural land, produced only a quarter of the wealth produced by private farms in the Soviet Union. To put that into perspective, private land had over 40 times the economic output of collectivized land, relative to percent of total output per percentage of land controlled. On top of reducing work output, collectivization severely reduced the number of livestock: between 1928 and 1950 the number of cows dropped by 22.29%, pigs by 20.58%, sheep by 18.32%, and horses by 64.82%. Stalin attributed poor output to be the result of “kulaks”, enemies of the state who stole grain. While many did steal grain to compensate for poor rationing, Stalin refused to accept the reality of the flaws of his labor system, and believed that kulaks were the sole cause, leading to the sentencing of millions to harsh labor camps. Labor camps burned approximately 12,000 bodies a day to compensate for the high death rate, and in total approximately 1.054 million people were killed in labor camps, with the highest estimates being approximately 1.6 million. When added to the total killed for being political dissenters, opposers to Stalin’s power, and many more, the Soviet Union’s body count comes in to anywhere from 56 to 62 million unnatural deaths. A blatant disregard for the value of human rights of labor, civil and legal rights, and a mixed market, led to genocide and the degradation of liberal values. A stubborn and disconnected mentality, along with a complete disregard for the importance of the individual in favor of total adherence to collectivism is still present today when self proclaimed democrats demand that the rich pay for tuition and healthcare, along with the demonization of the wealthy, seemingly incapable of learning from the past. Within the past election, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont ran upon a platform of “democratic socialism”, a thinly veiled guise for socialism which can only become communism. Sanders’ talking points of demonizing “the top 1%”, free tuition, and that “America is the only industrialized world without universal healthcare”, took fire among millennial voters with approximately 1.29 times more millennials voting for him than President Trump and Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primary. The extreme approval of communist ideologies by young Americans should be worrying to all. Luckily, political science has fortunately proven to us that people become more conservative as they age. If this does not become the case for progressive millennials however, the movement should be criticized by those on both sides of the political spectrum, and should be reminded that true liberalism lies, not in demonizing those deemed more privileged, but in recognizing their rights as an individual and allocating them the proper resources to allow them to better their fellow man.
Liberalism found a renaissance following the presidency of FDR. Winston Churchill, while often not revered as one, deserves praise as a true classical liberal. Churchill was a self-proclaimed liberal, and his record reflects that: Churchill was a firm believer in a larger central government and valued collectivism, however, throughout the majority of his career, he belonged to the Conservative party of the U.K.. Churchill was a firm believer in the value of capitalism and a harsh critic of socialism, delivering the famous line of “we contend that for a nation to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle”. This is still a concept that many, even in the middle left fail to grasp; while it is factually correct to assume that liberals have a greater appreciation for taxes and believe that it is necessary for the functioning of government, many disregard that the money used for taxation comes from the hard work of the citizen. As stated previously, Bernie Sanders ran upon a platform of making “the top 1% pay their fair share of taxes”. It is wrong to place the economic burden of all upon the few, and disregards them as an individual and their right to the money that they earned through their own labor. Now, do not mistake this for the rantings of a 16 year old libertarian anarchist who believes that all taxation is theft. As I have stated, classical liberalism still values taxes and views it as a mandatory cost for the maintenance of society. The importance simply needs to be stressed that those who make more money should pay more taxes simply to maintain proportion and conformity to basic economics, however, they should never be held accountable for the entirety of society. Charity should be encouraged instead of over-taxation that deters it.