Jeremy Bentham, the father of utilitarianism.
Is there a difference between liberal philosophy today and liberal philosophy historically?
Actually, no. There is not.
Drawing historical parallels, I frequently discuss the fact that conservatives have never been right about anything.
Conservatives opposed American Independence, they supported slavery, they opposed women’s suffrage, child labor laws, workplace safety regulations, Social Security, and opposed going to war against Hitler.
Liberals were the American Revolutionaries, they were the Abolitionists who supported Abraham Lincoln, they marched for women’s right to vote, for labor unions, for civil rights.
Conservatives unhappy with the facts have come up with the novel theory that liberalism today is different from historical liberalism.
Sorry, but liberalism is exactly the same as it was in 1860, or in 1760.
Liberalism seeks to expand human freedoms and human rights, it opposes the status quo, opposes concentrations of power and oligarchy.
Conservatism is also the same as it was centuries ago. It is the defense of those in power. Now, as then, conservatives are and were the pawns of the oligarchy, the apologists for the rich and the influential.
The champions of injustice and the opponents of progress.
Conservatives are basically liberals who are just a century or two behind the times. Most modern conservatives are comfortable with the idea of American Independence, and do not advocate for slavery. They grudgingly support women’s right to vote and Social Security. Most even oppose segregation and Jim Crow.
Basically, today’s conservatives revere history’s liberals. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, etc.
But modern liberals frighten modern conservatives. They would have been terrified of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Lincoln had they lived in those days. But as history has proven those men to have been great, conservatives now embrace them.
Conservatives are basically cowards.
They need history to dictate the proper positions to take. When confronted with choices in the here and now, their knee-jerk reaction is to retreat into their comfort zone of fighting change, of saying “no,” of aligning themselves with the powers that be.
Conservatives are a drogue anchor on progress. A brake on the expansion of human freedoms, an impediment to human and animal liberation.
There is much truth in the observation that conservatives worship at the graves of radicals who have been dead for centuries, while wishing current radicals into their graves.
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