Here are some thoughts in our continuing discussion of political nomenclature, in which we have noted the changing nature of what is really conservative, radical, and liberal in the current era, after the end of the Cold War:
There are two parties of left and right today: liberals and statists.
Liberals see authority as vested in the individual and handed over to the state only as appropriate to maintain both order and liberty. Statists see authority as residing entirely in the state. This is the critical difference between the "social contracts" envisioned by Locke and Rousseau.
True, classical liberals are very different from the people who are commonly called liberals today. The latter are statists, and they are conservative in the sense that we now live in a state-dominated realm, indeed a state-dominated civilization. True liberals treasure individual rights within a framework of social order which sustains and gives reign to those rights.
I believe that this work of clarification will work to the distinct advantage of the true, classical liberals. The left, the statists, live on deception, as Orwell noted. Liberals live on truth.
I think that if we understand things in those terms and communicate them to people explicitly and then use the terms liberal, statist, conservative, and radical correctly and routinely, we will all have a much better time of it politically. The problem with the Republicans, for example, is that they governed as statists in the past few years. Few people are advocating true liberalism because we have forgotten what it is. It is time to recall the tradition and bring it back to the forefront of American politics, where it belongs.