In an article I published today with the Chuck Colson Center, I suggest that one of the key differences between the classical liberalism of the 19th century vs. the progressive liberalism of today is in the area of free speech and intellectual freedom.
Classical liberalism, for all its limitations, was at least committed to defending individual freedom against the encroachments of state power. That is, after all, why it was called liberalism, which comes from the word liberty. However, as I explained in my articles “Thought Control” and “Is that Liberalism?”, a key aspect of today’s liberalism (what is sometimes called “progressivism”) is the expansion of the State at the expense of personal freedom.
This was also the theme of Jonah Goldberg’s eye-opening book Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change. Goldberg shows that contemporary liberals often have no qualms when it comes to limiting the free exchange of ideas – something that would have been anathema to earlier liberals like John Locke, John Stuart Mill and Adam Smith.
I was reminded of Goldberg’s book last month when the Obama administration joined forces with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to support a UN resolution that, critics fear, may result in criminalizing the criticism of Islam.