By J. R. Irvin
Original 1997, updated 01/07/2009, 09/27/2012
© J.R. Irvin. All rights reserved.
“I believe in only one thing: liberty; but I do not believe in liberty enough to force it upon anyone.”
Everyday in the mainstream, corporate underwritten or so-called ‘liberal media’, we hear how of all of America’s problems can be blamed on the ‘liberals.’ For those of you who may not know, here are the true definitions of ‘liberal,’ ‘leftist,’ and ‘conservative.’ These definitions are certainly not what most of you currently understand when referring to liberals.
First I will present a 150-year history of definitions of the word ‘liberal’ via several dictionaries at my disposal. I will use multiple dictionaries so there will be no confusion as to the so-called ‘OLD,’ and ‘NEW’ definitions of the word liberal. The dictionaries I will use are:
1) Webster’s An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1853 – 1st publication 1828
- 2) Webster’s International (Unabridged) Dictionary of the English Language 1893 – 1st publication 1890
- 3) Hurst’s new Nuttall’s Dictionary of the English Language, 1898
- 4) Webster’s 9th New Collegiate Dictionary 1983-1990
- 5) Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition 1989
- 6) Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, 1996
Following the breakdown of the word ‘liberal’, I will break down the words ‘leftist’ and ‘conservative,’ going over what they mean in the political sense today. Finally, I will discuss how these political terms have been used and what that means to you.
IS ‘LIBERAL’ A DIRTY WORD?
Webster’s An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1853
(containing the whole vocabulary of the 1st edition of 1828)
LIB’ER-AL, a. [Fr., from L. liberalis, from liber, free. see Libel.]
1. Of a FREE heart; FREE to give or bestow; not close or contracted; munificent; bountiful; generous; giving largely; as, a liberal donor; the liberal founders of a college or hospital. It expresses less than Profuse or Extravagant. 2. Generous; ample; large; as, a liberal donation; a liberal allowance. 3. Not selfish, narrow, or contracted; catholic; enlarged; embracing other interests than one’s own; as, liberal sentiments or views; a liberal mind; liberal policy. 4. General; extensive; embracing literature and the sciences generally; as, a liberal education. This phrase is often, but not necessarily, synonymous with COLLEGIATE; as, a collegiate education. 5. FREE; open; candid; as, a liberal communication of thoughts. 6. Large; profuse; as, a liberal discharge of matter by secretions or excretions. 7. FREE; not literal or strict; as, a liberal construction of law. 8. Not mean; not low in birth or mind. 9. Licentious; FREE to excess. Shak. Liberal arts, as distinguished from mechanical arts, are such as depend more on the exertion of the mind than on the labor of the hands, and regard amusement, curiosity, or intellectual improvement, rather than the necessity of subsistence, or manual skill. Such are grammar, rhetoric, painting, sculpture, architecture, music, &c. Liberal has of before the thing bestowed, and to before the person or object on which anything is bestowed; as, to be liberal of praise or censure; liberal to the poor.
LIB’ER-AL, n. One who advocates greater freedom from restraint, especially in political institutions.
Webster’s International (Unabridged) Dictionary of the English Language, 1893
(comprising the issues of 1864, 1879, and 1884)
Lib’er’al (lib’er-al), a. [F. liberal, L. liberalis, from liber FREE; perh. akin to libet, lubet, it pleases, E. lief. Cf. Deliver.] 1. FREE by birth; hence, befitting a FREEman or gentleman; refined ; noble; independent; FREE; not servile or mean; as, a liberal ancestry; a liberal spirit; liberal arts or studies. “Liberal education.” Macaulay. “A liberal tongue.” Shak 2. Bestowing in a large and noble way, as a FREEman; generous; bounteous; open-handed; as, a liberal giver. “Liberal of praise.” Bacon. Infinitely good, and of his good. As liberal and FREE as infinite. Milton 3. Bestowed in large way; hence, more than sufficient; abundant; bountiful; ample; profuse; as, a liberal gift; a liberal discharge of matter or of water. 4. Not strict or rigorous; not confined or restricted to the literal sense; FREE; as, a liberal translation of a classic, or a liberal construction of law or of language. 5. Not narrow or contracted in mind; not selfish; enlarged in spirit; catholic. 6. FREE to excess; regardless of law or moral restraint; licentious. “Most like a liberal villain.” 7. Not bound by orthodox tenets or established forms in political or religious philosophy; independent in opinion; not conservative; friendly to great FREEdom in the constitution or administration of government; having tendency toward democratic or republican, as distinguished from monarchical or aristocratic, forms; as liberal thinkers; liberal Christians; the Liberal party. I confess I see nothing liberal in this “order of thoughts,” as Hobbes elsewhere expresses it. Hazlitt. Liberal has of, sometimes with , before the thing bestowed, in before a word signifying action, and to before a person or object on which anything is bestowed; as, to be liberal of praise or censure; liberal with money; liberal in giving; liberal to the poor. The liberal arts. See under Art. — Liberal education, education that enlarges and disciplines the mind and makes it master of its own powers, irrespective of the particular business or profession one may follow.
Syn. — Generous; bountiful; munificent; beneficent; ample; large; profuse; FREE. –Liberal, Generous. Liberal is FREEborn, and generous is highborn. The former is opposed to the ordinary feelings of a servile state, and implies largeness of spirit in giving, judging, acting, etc. The latter expresses that nobleness of soul which is peculiarly appropriate to those of high rank, — a spirit that goes out of self, and finds its enjoyment in consulting the feelings and happiness of others. Generosity is measured by the extent of the sacrifices it makes; liberality, by the warmth of feeling which it manifests.
Lib’er-al, n. One who favors greater freedom in political or religious matters; an opponent of the established systems; a reformer; in English politics, a member of the Liberal party, so called. Cf. WHIG.
Hurst’s new Nuttall’s Dictionary of the English Language, 1898
Liberal, lib’-er-al; a. giving largely; munificent; generous; ample; large; not selfish or narrow; embracing others interests than one’s own; favorable to liberty and progress; become a gentleman; refined; FREE; open; candid; not too literal: s. one who advocates greater FREEdom in political institutions, and more especially their greater popularization (L. liber, FREE)
Webster’s 9th New Collegiate Dictionary, 1983-1990
Lib.er.al \’lib(-e)-rel\ adj [ME, fr. MF, fr. L liberalis suitable for a FREEman, generous, fr. liber FREE; akin to OE leodan to grow, Gk eleutheros FREE] (14c) 1 a; of, relating to, or based on the liberal arts <~education> b archaic; of or befitting a man of FREE birth 2 a; GENEROUS, OPENHANDED < a ~ giver> b: given or provided in a generous and openhanded way < a ~ meal> C: AMPLE, FULL 3 obs : lacking moral restraint : LICENTIOUS 4 : not literal or strict : LOOSE < a ~ translation> 5: BROAD-MINDED; esp : not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms 6 a: of favoring, or based upon the principles of liberalism b cap : of or constituting a political party advocating or associated with the principles of political liberalism; : of or constituting a political party in the United Kingdom associated with ideals of individual esp. economic FREEdom, greater individual participation in government, and constitutional, political, and administrative reforms designed to secure these objectives — lib.er.al.ly \-re-le\adv–lib.er.al.ness n.
syn LIBERAL, GENEROUS, BOUNTIFUL, MUNIFICENT mean giving FREEly and unstintingly. LIBERAL suggestions openhandedness in the giver and largeness in the thing or amount given; GENEROUS stresses warmhearted readiness to give more than size or importance of the gift; BOUNTIFUL suggest lavish, unremitting giving or providing; MUNIFICENT suggests a scale of giving appropriate to lords of princes.
2 Liberal n (1816); one who is liberal; as a: one who is open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional or established forms or ways b cap: a member or supporter of a liberal political party c: an advocate or adherent of liberalism esp. in individual rights.
The Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition, 1989 (The world’s most authorative dictionary.)
A. adj. 1. Originally, the distinctive epithet of those ‘arts’ or ‘sciences’ (see art 7) that were considered ‘worthy of a FREE man’; opposed to servile or mechanical. In later use, of condition, pursuits, occupations: Pertaining to or suitable to persons of superior social station; ‘becoming a gentleman’ (J.). Now rare, exc. of education, culture, etc., with mixture of senses 3 and 4: Directed to general intellectual enlargement and refinement; not narrowly restricted to the requirements of technical or professional training. Freq. in liberal arts. 2. a. FREE in bestowing; bountiful, generous, open-hearted. Const. of. b. Of a gift, offer, etc.: Made without stint. Of a meal, an entertainment, etc., also of a fortune: Abundant, ample. c. Hence occas. of outline, parts of the body, etc.: Ample, large. 3. †a. FREE from restraint; FREE in speech or action. In 16–17th c. often in a bad sense: Unrestrained by prudence or decorum, licentious. liberal arbitre (= F. libéral arbitre, L. liberum arbitrium): FREE will. Obs. b. Of passage, etc.: FREEly permitted, not interfered with. Obs. exc. arch. c. Of construction or interpretation: Inclining to laxity or indulgence; not rigorous. †Also of a translation: FREE, not literal. †d. With agent-noun: That does something FREEly or copiously. Obs. 4. a. FREE from narrow prejudice; open-minded, candid. b. esp. FREE from bigotry or unreasonable prejudice in favour of traditional opinions or established institutions; open to the reception of new ideas or proposals of reform. Hence often applied as a party designation to those members of a church or religious sect who hold opinions ‘broader’ or more ‘advanced’ than those in accordance with its commonly accepted standard of orthodoxy, e.g. in Liberal Catholic. Liberal Christian: in the U.S. chiefly applied to the Unitarians and Universalists; in England somewhat more vaguely to those who reject or consider unessential any considerable part of the traditional system of belief; so liberal Christianity, liberal theology. Also in application to Judaism. 5. Of political opinions: Favourable to constitutional changes and legal or administrative reforms tending in the direction of FREEdom or democracy. Hence used as the designation of the party holding such opinions, in England or other states; opposed to Conservative. Liberal-Labour, of or pertaining to (persons associated with or sympathetic to) both the Liberal and the Labour parties. So Liberal Labourism. Cf. Lib-Lab a. In Liberal Conservative, the adj. has rather sense 4 than this sense; the combination, however, is often hyphened, which perhaps indicates that it is interpreted as ‘partly Liberal, partly Conservative.’ Liberal Unionist: a member of the party formed by those Liberals who refused to support Mr. Gladstone’s measure of Irish Home Rule in 1886. 6. Comb. as liberal-anarchic, -bourgeois, -cultural, -democratic, -empiricist, -hearted, -humanist, -minded, -scientific, †-talking adjs.; liberal-anarchism, -mindedness. B. n. 1. A member of the Liberal party (see A. 5). a. in continental politics. b. in British politics. Early in the 19th c. the n. occurs chiefly as applied by opponents to the advanced section of the Whig party: sometimes in Sp. or Fr. form, app. with the intention of suggesting that the principles of those politicians were un-English, or akin to those of the revolutionaries of the Continent. As, however, the adj. was already English in a laudatory sense, the advocates of reform were not reluctant to adopt the foreign term as descriptive of themselves; and when the significance of the old party distinctions was obliterated by the coalition of the moderate Whigs with the Tories and of the advanced Whigs with the Radicals, the new names ‘Liberal’ and ‘Conservative’ took the place of ‘Whig’ and ‘Tory’ as the usual appellations of the two great parties in the state. c. In extra-European politics, and in wider application. 2. One who holds ‘liberal’ views in theology. Chiefly U.S.
Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, 1996 (Random House edition)
(lib’er el, lib’rel), adj 1. favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs. 2. (often cap.) noting or pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform. 3. of, pertaining to, based on, or advocating liberalism. 4. Favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual FREEdom possible, esp. as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil LIBERTIES 5. favoring of permitting FREEdom of action, esp. with respect to matters of personal belief or expression: a liberal policy toward dissident artists and writers. 6. of or pertaining to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies. 7. FREE from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant: a liberal attitude toward foreigners. 8. open-minded or tolerant, esp. FREE of or not bound by traditional or conventional ideas, values, etc. 9. characterized by generosity and willingness to give in large amounts: A liberal donor 10. given FREEly or abundantly; generous: a liberal donation. 11. not strict or rigorous; FREE; not literal: a liberal interpretation of a rule. 12. of, pertaining to, or based on the liberal arts. 13. of, or pertaining to, or befitting a FREEman. -n 14. a person of liberal principles or views, esp. in politics or religion. 15. (often cap.) a member of a liberal party in politics, esp. of the Liberal party in Great Britain. [1325-75; ME < L liberalis of FREEdom, befitting the FREE, equiv. to liber FREE + -alis -al] –lib’er-al-ly, adv –lib’er›al›ness, n
–SYN. 1. progressive 7. broad-minded, unprejudiced. 9. beneficent, charitable, openhanded, munificent, unstinting, lavish. see generous. 10. See ample.
–Ant 1. reactionary 8. tolerant. 9. 10. niggardly.
It is obvious by going back 150 years the word liberal has not changed one iota. In fact, the 1996 definition is closer to the 1893 definition than to the 1983-1990 definition. As we can see, LIBERAL ideology founded the very idea behind our nations ideology: FREEdom.
FUN WITH ANTONYMS
If you’re not ‘LIBERAL,’ what are you?
By definition using antonyms, you are: uneducated, unintellectual, closed of heart, selfish, narrow, contracted, mean, small, fascist, racist, bigoted, homophobic, stingy, closed-minded, supportive of monarchies and slavery, against FREEdom of religious expression and speech, low in birth and mind, anti-American.
If you’ve been out bashing ‘liberals’, you’re probably all of these things, as this would perfectly describe someone who would go out ‘liberal bashing’ (FREEdom bashing), which is also known as ‘liberticide’ – the destruction of civil liberties. (Webster’s International Dictionary, 1893)
‘Liber’ (as in liberal), is also the root word of ‘liberty’ (FREEdom from restraint); ‘Libertarian’ (one who holds to FREE will); ‘libertine’ (a FREEd man); ‘liberalism’ (the principles of liberals); ‘liberalist’ (one who is a liberal, or who favors the principles of liberals.); ‘liberalized’ (FREEd from narrow views and prejudices); ‘liberate’ (to make FREE); and several others. Liber is Latin for “FREE.”
In fact, the root word ‘liber’ is also the Latin word for ‘book’. This is because many ancient philosophies believed you could only FREE your mind through education and reading by learning the ‘logos’ (the ancient, classical, 7 LIBERATING arts of the Trivium and Quadrivium). Where you FREEd your mind was in the universities and/or libraries, which held the books.
If we believe the stories told to us by our high school hisstory books, then LIBERAL is what this country’s forefathers were and wanted!
Let’s not forget that the immigrant pilgrims who came to the New World (now called ‘America’) from Europe, were coming here to get away from monarchist and Catholic (Inquisition) control over religion, speech, (white) slavery, and the use of plants for medicine and drugs (witches/pagans), etc. As we are told, they were ‘LIBERALS’ trying to break through the monarchist control of England and the Church to create political and religious reform and tolerance.
(In actuality, many wanted their own religious FREEdom away from the Catholic or Protestant control of religion, but did not want to give FREEdom to those whose lands they stole in the New World, nor their own kind who used herbs etc, to heal themselves and for religious practice, e.g. Salem witch trails, Native American shamanism etc.)
Next time, before you go and blame “those damn liberals,” you’d better take a look in the dictionary!
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the REPUBLIC (not democracy) for which it stands, one nation under God (illegal under separation of church and state), indivisible with LIBERTY and justice for all. [update: Sept. 2012 – see the interviews on this website with Larken Rose regarding the false ideology of statism.]
SEPARATION of CHURCH and STATE means God does not bless America or any land over any other land. We have this protection for the carnage that the churches caused throughout history, hence the 1st Amendment.
The statue of “LIBER-TY” or the statue of “FREEDOM”
And because ‘liberal’ is nearly always associated with the left or leftists, here is the definition of a leftist:
left›ist (lef’tist), n. 1. a member of the political Left or a person sympathetic to its views. –adj. 2. of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or advocated by the political Left. Also, Left’ist. [1920-25; left¹ + -ist] –left’ism, n .
That’s it – the entire definition.
Now your probably wondering what the definition of ‘conservative’ is, right? So now let’s see if our forefathers wanted to conserve England’s monarchist control.
con›serv›a›tive (ken sur’ve tiv), adj. 1. disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change. 2. cautiously moderate or purposefully low: a conservative estimate. 3. traditional in style or manner; avoiding novelty or showiness: conservative suit. 4. (often cap.) of or pertaining to the Conservative party. 5. (cap.) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Conservative Jews or Conservative Judaism. 6. having the power or tendency to conserve; preservative. 7. Math. (of a vector or vector function) having curl equal to ZERO; irrotational; lamellar. –n. 8. a person who is conservative in principles, actions, habits, etc. 9. a supporter of conservative political policies. 10. (cap.) a member of a conservative political party, esp. the Conservative party in Great Britain. 11. a preservative. [1350-1400; < LL conservativus, equiv. to L conservat(us) (see CONSERVATION) + -ivus -IVE; r. ME conservatif < MF < L, as above] –con›serv’a›tive-ly, adj. –con›serv’a›tive›ness, n.
So here I ask, where does the definition of conservative mention FREEdom? As it says in entry #5 of Oxford English Dictionary’s 1989 definition of liberal (above) : “Favourable to constitutional changes and legal or administrative reforms tending in the direction of FREEdom or democracy. Hence used as the designation of the party holding such opinions, in England or other states; opposed to Conservative.“ That’s right. True conservatives, by their very definition, are opposed to FREEdom! But they don’t want you to think so, so they’ve lied by changing the very meaning of the word; thereby manipulating others into thinking they want to join up with this conservative suppression of FREEdom and democracy – liberticide, as if they have something in common with the wealthy elite of the world. Who but the aristocracies would design such a scam?
If the stories are correct, were our forefathers trying to conserve England’s monarchy? Were they trying to limit change, avoid novelty, progress and freedom? Or were they promoting ultimate personal FREEdom of religion, speech, choice –LIBER-TY?
If you say you promote conservative points of view for America, then you cannot forget to ask whose conservative points of view you’re promoting? Are you promoting just Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish or Native American views? What about homophobic or bigoted views? Pro-life /-choice views? Or are you promoting the view: “to each his or her own”?
In America ALL of these views must work together to have LIBERTY.
Isn’t that what America and LIBERTY are supposed to be about – to think and believe your own, to seek happiness, to seek the ultimate FREEdom; and yes, to alter your state of consciousness if that is your belief?
To control the destiny of your own mind and body without fear is true ‘liberty’.
“Life, LIBERTY, and FREEdom in the pursuit of happiness.”
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE WORD LIBERAL?
If it’s not the liberals, then who is it? The word liberal’s meaning has been twisted by those in power to mean that if you are liberal you are against FREEdom. With this tactic when you want to support and be pro-FREEdom, you will think that those who are taking your FREEdom away are actually protecting it – the corporations. And likewise, those who are pro FREEdom, the liberals, you will think are against FREEdom. It’s the old switch-a-roo. And let me be clear that I don’t define Democrats or Republicans as liberal. Both are pro-corporation or pro-fascist. In fact, Clinton and Bush both bashed the “liberal media.” Liberal is better defined by the Libertarian (one who holds to free will) or anarchy [Update: SEpt. 2012 – which has been heavily propagandized – see Larken Rose interviews on this website].
The question as to what happened to the word ‘LIBERAL’ and the way that it is incorrectly being used in politics, news, and in the corporate media, can be explained like this: It is basically a word used by those who are taking our FREEdom (liberticide) to take attention away from themselves. The corporate media talking about ‘liberals’ taking your FREEdom away is in and of itself an illogical statement. Liberals are pro-FREEdom by their very definition. In fact, in contrast, corporate media can not be ‘liberal’. By definition, corporate media is fascist, and fascist is what the Nazis were – pro-corporation – not FREE.
“Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (Italian fascist dictator and prime minister (1922-1943) who conducted an expansionist foreign policy, formalized an alliance with Germany (1939), and brought Italy into World War II (1940). Dismissed by Victor Emmanuel III (1943), he led a puppet Nazi government in northern Italy until 1945, when he was assassinated.) What the common person generally means to do/say when they bash the “liberal media” or people, is to bash the fascist (i.e. Zionist/Nazi), controlled, manipulated, uninquisitive, ie ‘conservative”, self-interested and mostly made of lies ‘corporate” media. Rush Limbaugh, a pro-corporate = pro-fascist talk-show host will blame the “liberal”-dominated media all day long. Rush Limbaugh is nationally syndicated on corporate radio and TV. Rush is broadcast on the very media he calls ‘liberal,” where he supposedly can’t get a word in edge-wise. Rather illogical, don’t you think? With up to 6 hours a day of broadcast time in certain areas, I hardly believe that Rush is having trouble sharing his conservative, liberal (FREEdom) bashing, fascist, pro-corporate opinions in the corporate media – whose views he supports. Rush is in control of the very ‘liberal’ (actually corporate/fascist) media he complains about. Rush is his own ‘liberal’ or FREEdom problem. He is the one he seeks to blame: those taking his FREEdom: the fascists, corporations and Corporate media – himself! (Note once again that both Clinton and Bush bash the ‘liberal’ media.)
If the media were truly ‘FREE’ or ‘liberal’ you would hear much more from people like yourself, much more about the Classical 7 Liberating Arts, and more from the laborers and the people themselves such as on independent podcast media. You would hear much less from the fascist corporations and those in controlling power. This would be FREE, LIBERAL, or peoples radio and TV. Public radio such as this podcast is funded by its listeners, and we do not accept any money from businesses or corporations. (Note: Every hour of Pacifica, NPR and PBS is sponsored and underwritten by large corporations such as Chevron, or the Ford Foundation, or the Foundation for Public Broadcasting. These outlets are not liberal or FREE.)
A mapped layout of the ownership of most of the U.S. media
Most of the so-called ‘liberal’ media is owned by five corporations (see the U.S. Media Map), most of which have many of the same stock-holders. Several of these five corporations are controlled by arms manufacturers, or stock-holders of arms manufacturers, like the Carlyle Group, General Electric and Westinghouse. Corporate media is interested in one thing and one thing only – PROFIT – to pay the stock-holders. Corporate media is not necessarily interested in the truth or the hottest story, but what will sell air time and profit the corporation most. If we are in a time of war, then it is in General Electric’s best corporate interests to promote the war, as they own NBC. It behooves them to be pro-war, to sell weapons, to make a profit; not to tell you the full story or the truth.
Anyone who has ever listened to podcasts and their affiliates, which are 100% corporate-FREE, knows exactly what I’m talking about. Podcasting is the only truly corporate-FREE, or ‘liberal,’ news in the entire country. If you’ve never listened to podcasts, such as this one, the School Sucks Podcast, Peace Revolution, or The Corbett Report, then you’ve never even heard ‘liberal media’. If you’ve never heard the ‘liberal media’, then how can you blame the ‘liberal media’?
Let’s once and for all end this pathetic, uneducated use of the word liberal and this attack on FREEdom by those who claim to support it.
Copyright 1997, 2003, 2009 – Jan Irvin. All rights reserved.
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