Classical liberalism bases its thought on (I'm adding Chanakya but he is unknown in the West)
John Stuart Mill
Austrians (Schumpeter, Mises, Hayek)
Objectivisits (Ayn Rand)
Armen Alchian/Harold Demsetz
This is a uniquely scientific treatment of society, based on (a) understanding of human nature (b) evolutionary nature of cultures and markets.
It finds it impossible for any central planner to know/understand/direct anything.
This stream of thought naturally leads to tolerance and liberty, and aversion to governmental busybodies.
It is quite difficult to know which particular individual teacher/thinkers thinks about particular definitions, but I gather that Wikipedia's definition of 'classical liberalism' is broadly correct.
Ultimately, there is not "ism" involved. Just a way of thinking about liberty. Hence "Freedom" team of India. That is the key word, not the "ism".
However, this interpretation of liberty is grounded on rational thinking (about the impossibility of state direction). To that extent it is based in the "classical" enlightenment period.
Most of what is taught in economics today is called "neo-classical", because it is broadly consistent with liberty. However, some of it is not.
The policy framework we have on FTI is a standard framework used by all standard public policy courses, but differs in its emphasis on liberty.
So, sorry, I don't have any short answer about "standard" definitions. The classical writers didn't define it, and ultimately the "ism" doesn't matter.
Always talk about liberty with accountability. That's what this is all about.
Thanks for the clarification Sanjeev. Can you point me to some texts/thinkers who categorically agree on the definitions and distinctions? There is clearly a difference between your interpretation and that of Howarth - wonder if many people are unclear on the points of distinction, and hence find the line of difference very blurry? Could really impact our positioning as a classical liberal political organisation in the minds of those we are speaking to for the first time.
This is an incorrect view. All classical liberals INSIST on politics. All realise that if you vacate the political space you hand it over to thugs. All insist on regulatory frameworks to protect rights, and checks and balances.
The social liberals, on the other hand, insist on social justice. On redistribution. Classsical liberals say there can be no "redistribution". They draw a line and say: social insurance for all will eliminate poverty. Beyond that there can be no case for any state funding for anyone. Let private charities do whatever they wish. There is no call on the general taxpayer.
LS, for instance, insists on schemes to award extra bonus points to SC/ST. That is illiberal, and redistributive. Such confused policy is typical of social liberals.
Also, all kinds of "prohibitions", for the so-called social good. Instead of strengthening the rule of law to ensure that those who beat their wives are brought to book, the social liberal stops all forms of alcohol consumption. Even Chanakya did not do that. He regulated its use.
To that extent, Chanakya is closest (among all famous Indian thinkers) to classical liberalism. He does allow for some state production of goods, so he is not a proper classical liberal.
Based on the discussions we were having on collaboration with other groups, I am trying to read some articles on differences between various forms of liberalism. Came across this one (http://socialliberal.net/2009/.....iberalism/) by David Howarth (British Liberal Democrats) on what is social liberalism (the kind you Sanjeev class JP's Loksatta into) - have to say it will take some substantial effort from every citizen of India to read through things in complete detail to understand the differences. Can't say I have understood and grasped the whole of this article yet, and will take me couple more reads probably. One para though struck me, and pasting it here (not sure of the correctness of his interpretation):
"The classical liberal view that all the state should do is guarantee rights and then move out of the way leads to a situation in which politics appears not to be necessary. Social liberals fear that this classical liberal dream is a dangerous delusion, for there never can be a society in which rights are so firmly guaranteed that no political action is necessary to secure them. That is because securing rights can only take place through human institutions, such as the legal system, and human institutions are populated by human beings, who are not necessarily to be trusted. Any attempt to create such a perfectly non-political society (what might be called ‘legal liberalism’) will have the unintended but serious effect of making rights ultimately less secure. Liberalism, to be sure, values the rule of law, but social liberalism also recognises that law should not attempt to replace or abolish politics. Instead, law should be seen as a form of vitrified or frozen politics, a form that is valuable because it deliberately slows down some kinds of decision and because it is more firmly committed than the rest of the political system to ideas of procedural justice; but we also need the means by which other decisions can be taken more quickly, whether in the marketplace or in politics."
Makes me think - for achieving our goal for a better, free India (which is currently highly socialist), it might require us to make some serious effort in reaching out and working with "left-of-FTI social liberal" groups like Loksatta to achieve what we want for India - potentially the transition period.
I found this today: has a number of (possibly pirated) copies of books on liberty.
But of course there are other genuine sources as well:
Online Library of Liberty: http://oll.libertyfund.org/
Mises Literature Library: http://mises.org/Literature/Index
Gandhi's collected works: http://www.gandhiserve.org/cwm...../cwmg.html
Vivekananda's collected works:http://www.ramakrishnavivekana....._works.htm
Books Should Be Free: http://www.booksshouldbefree.com/
Internet Archive: http://archive.org/
Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/
Free E-Books.Net: http://www.free-ebooks.net/
Open Library: http://openlibrary.org/
Free Books: http://www.ebooksfree.in/
Planet EBook: http://www.planetebook.com/
Adelaide University: http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/
Free Classics. Classicly: http://www.classicly.com/
Get Free Books: http://www.getfreeebooks.com/
Many Books.Net: http://manybooks.net/
Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/
Google Books: http://www.getfreeebooks.com/
Free Books For Doctors: http://www.freebooks4doctors.com/
Book Finder: http://en.bookfi.org/
Kindle popular classics: http://www.amazon.com/s/?node=2245146011
Laissez Faire Books: http://lfb.org/
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