Paleoliberalism

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"Paleoliberalism"

Here’s a couple quotes from Yale historian Steve Pincus’ 1688: The First Modern Revolution that I like:

Not only did the Whigs believe there had been a transformation of religious affairs, they also believed that the events of 1688-89 had ushered in a radical transformation of social policy. Robert Molesworth, who had been a strong supporter of the Whig ministry in the first decade of the century, clearly enunciated this position. Because defenders of the revolution believed, along with John Locke, that labor rather than land was the basis of all wealth, Molesworth argued that a government according to the revolutions principles would have a wide-ranging social agenda. “The supporting of public credit, promoting of all public buildings and highways, the making of all rivers navigable that are capable of it, employing the poor, suppressing idlers, restraining monopolies upon trade, maintaining the liberty of the press, the just paying and encouraging of all in the public service,” all this and more Molesworth argued with the consequence of the revolution.

[...]

In the 1730s especially Opposition Whigs emphasized that the revolutionaries had adopted Lockean economic principles. They developed their economic policies on the assumption “that the lands of Great Britain are made valuable by the number of people employed in foreign and domestic trade, and in the woolen and other manufactures of this kingdom.” The implication, based on “the authority of Mr. Locke,” was a policy of progressive taxation. After the revolution, the regime, on Lockean principles, recommended “a Land Tax in preferences to any duties on commodities, whether imported or our own production.” Others emphasized the postrevolutionary regime’s assault on “exclusive trading companies.” Still others pointed to the rage for social legislation, “salutory laws for the welfare of the public” that became possible only after the revolution.

The point is that there’s nothing “classical” about contemporary libertarianism’s hostility to progressive taxation, infrastructure spending, or social welfare expenditure. Nor is there anything “neo” about liberal support for free trade or suspicion that many real world examples of business regulation are aimed at restricting competition rather than serving the public interest.

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