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December 15, 2019 / Congau

Liberals of Today

The liberals have won in the West, totally and completely. I’m not just talking about the liberals of America, the Democrats, although they are included, but also those others, the Republicans, who are liberals, and most of the occupants of the European political landscape. They are all liberals: proponents of a so-called free society.

For us who have been brought up listening to the constant praise of liberalism and democracy, it’s almost hard to believe that anyone cannot be a liberal. Yet, it wasn’t always like that.

In Europe in the year 1848 the liberals were radicals who tried and failed to introduce those ideas that seem so obvious today. The demands for free elections and free speech were crushed and it took decades of gradual change to get them accepted.

We may wonder how the people of the time could fail to recognize what now appears so self-evident. If only we could speak to our ancestors, we would tell them how mistaken they were, for we are their future and have access to the solution of history. Or so it appears…

A different time is a different place and we are all products of our environment. If we had grown from another soil, our outlook would have been another. If you, a liberal of the 21st century, had been reared in the 19th, would you have been liberal? Would you have believed in democracy? What makes you so sure that you are right now and would have been wrong then?

Are you a liberal by nature or by nurture? No one can tell, but it makes an interesting thought experiment: “What would I have been if I were born somewhere else?” Don’t be so sure you’d be the same; you probably wouldn’t.

Who is right? You, the liberal of 2019 or you, the conservative of 1848? Are you sure about the answer?

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