When did the word "Liberal" become its antithesis?
Have you ever looked up the word liberal (as it pertains to politics)? It's spit-take worthy. From Webster's (emphasis mine):
6 b capitalized : of or constituting a political party advocating or associated with the principles of political liberalism; especially : of or constituting a political party in the United Kingdom associated with ideals of individual especially economic freedom, greater individual participation in government, and constitutional, political, and administrative reforms designed to secure these objectives
This definition clearly does not fit the modern, American meaning of the word. I know the difference between "Liberal" and "Classical Liberal." What I want to know is when did the meaning change? Was it during the "Progressive" movement of the New Deal era? Post WWII? Was the term hijacked at some point?
Answer by Diane Ellis
Apologies in advance that this isn't as pithy as an answer as you may have wanted. However, I highly recommend this Uncommon Knowledge interview with guest Charles Kesler on the Grand Liberal Project that runs through the history of modern American liberalism, which is a perversion of classical liberalism.
Here's Dr. Kesler's opening statement:
American liberalism in the sense that we know it today has a beginning. It began about a hundred years ago in the American progressive period and it has advanced across the 20th century in a series of waves. The first one being progressivism, the second the New Deal, the third the '60s. Broadly speaking that is the counterculture and the Great Society, and Barack Obama is the fourth wave, or at least he aspires to be the fourth great breakthrough for modern American liberalism.