My Brief Thoughts on Social, National and Progressive Liberalism

Photo courtesy of Boriz Baatsen, Consul ex Batavia of De Liberalisten (Nederland & Vlaanderen)

Photo courtesy of Boriz Baatsen, Consul ex Batavia of De Liberalisten (Nederland & Vlaanderen)

Some days ago the LIA met in Brussels to carry out a protest against the latest piece of legislation from the EU, the EU Copyright Directive, otherwise known as Articles 11 and 13. After our work was done, we went over to a McDonalds, in true capitalist fashion, to have ourselves a snack. It was there that the group of us spontaneously decided to engage in an ideological discussion about the very basis of our movement, the seven Liberalist principles. Here I would like to expand on my points within the discussion.

In the Liberalist movement we find a wide range of ideologies. This diversity of thought is not only encouraged, but it is extremely valuable to our cause. It allows us a certain range of flexibility, and the opportunity to debate the absolute limits of our principles while also staking out room to express the freedom within them.

But this, to some, might seem as a blurring of  the term.  What is a Liberalist exactly? To be frank, a Liberalist is an activist for the seven liberalist principles. No more, no less. A Liberalist, for the sake of this discussion, is ideologically the same thing as a liberal, given that the nuance of the term stays within the actions the individual takes, and not the ideas he holds.

Now, within the Liberalists, there are several denominations. Some call themselves classical liberals, some, social liberals, and some, like me, call themselves national liberals. Here we arrive at the first question. How can a group whose only doctrinal requisite is a series of principles then have different ideas about them?

The principles are easily seen as a written law. You are a Liberalist if you believe in them, as absolute principles of political life. However, in their interpretation, should we look at precisely what in them is written, or should we consider the intent with which they were written originally by Carl Benjamin, way back in 2018?

If the second way is to be followed, a liberalist will be one that thinks like Benjamin, who describes himself as a social liberal. It is a very restrictive interpretation, one that contradicts to my view the aim of the LIA: the promotion of the seven principles, no more, no less.

If we are to take just what is written on paper, then we will enjoy a wider area within which Liberalists can operate, from the relative extremes of national liberalism and social liberalism, to the more moderate classical liberalism.

The next question that comes to mind now is precisely where the border would be set; at what point is one not a liberal, or at what point is one's ideology halfway outside liberalism? One of our Liberalist colleagues in Brussels argued that ideologies such as social liberalism are just a union within somebody's mind of liberalism, to which he has added external ideas about social programs.

I, however, would argue otherwise. What our companion has described I would call social democracy: a mix of two ideologies into something new. However, what social liberalism is, what makes it still liberal, is that its social component has emanated from a specific interpretation of the seven principles. In a similar way, national liberalism does not come from a liberal who adopts external nationalistic ideas, but from a liberal who interprets the principles in such a way that justifies or necessitates the national component of his ideology.

To set an example, a social democrat would argue his social programs through the socialist perspective. He would talk about solidarity, the collective and maybe even systemic oppression. Whereas a social liberal would argue his position from the seven principles: a free economy necessitates equal access to the market by everyone, the functioning of a constitutional democracy requires a society with enough quality of life to dedicate its time and energy to political life, if it so pleases.

To sum up, I would argue that the term Liberalist encompasses all ideologies that are considered liberal, that is, those that embrace the principles as absolute. These ideologies do not borrow from others that are outside the Principles, but base their whole thought on them. Otherwise, they would be something else, something non-liberal, which compromises the principles.

I hope this has clarified my stance on the matter, and will help others come to comprehend a different frame of reference to liberal thought. As a closing statement, to make clear my strong feelings of national sovereignty, and likewise to paraphrase past orators, I can say only this: For its betrayal of the democratic principles and its power hungry bureaucratism, I steadfastly believe that the European Union must be destroyed, for the benefit of all sovereign nations that belong to it.