The Public Interest

Liberals by any other name

Fred Baumann

Spring 2005

LIBERALISM began as an attack on traditional communities. Abstracting from all the lived differences that mattered to those communities, like religion, breeding, caste, and trade, and replacing them with the universal right to liberty to protect one’s life and pursue one’s own version of happiness, its natural tendency has always been "libertarian." Of course, it had to accept some elements of communal continuity; it taught the social contract, not anarchy. Thus liberalism has always contained its own more communitarian wing while inciting nonliberal communitarian dissenters.

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