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“Liberals” Aren’t Liberal; “Liberals” Aren’t for Liberty

Here’s a letter to the New York Times:

Michael Vines believes that opponents of the “liberal” agenda in Washington are “reactionary” (Letters, Oct. 28).

Such “liberal” self-congratulations reminds me of H.L. Mencken’s description of “the Liberals, who pretend – and often quite honestly believe – that they are hot for liberty.  They never really are….  If a law were passed tomorrow taking away the property of a large group of presumably well-to-do persons – say, the bond-holders of the railroads – without compensation and even without colorable reason, they would not oppose it; they would be in favor of it.  The liberty to have and to hold property is not one that they recognize.  They believe only in the liberty to envy, hate and loot the man who has it.”*

Who can seriously doubt that Mencken’s description of the “liberals” of 1925 holds – likely with greater robustness – for the “liberals” of 2010?

Donald J. Boudreaux

* H.L. Mencken, “Liberty and Democracy,” first published on April 13, 1925, in the Baltimore Evening Sun; reprinted in H.L. Mencken, A Second Mencken Chrestomathy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995), pp. 35-36.


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