|Source: The Economist- Liberal thinkers|
There's been this ongoing debate about what liberalism actually is and what it means to be a Liberal. If you were ask me as a Liberal what it means to be a Liberal, I would tell you it means someone who believes in the defense of liberty, meaning the protection of individual rights. If you were to ask me what Liberals believe the role of government is I would tell you is to defend and conserve our individual rights. And where they can expand freedom for people who don't currently have it.
I believe this definition works for anyone who considers them self to be a Liberal and perhaps Libertarian or Conservative-Libertarian, but that doesn't work for everyone especially people who are further left and even Far-Left, but don't see themselves as Far-Left and it's just that everyone else is out of the mainstream, but somehow they're the sane, rational, mainstream people. And instead of calling themselves Socialists or Communists, or even Democratic Socialists or Social Democrats, they prefer to be called Liberals, in some cases Progressives, and the more candid members of the Far-Left especially in America might call themselves Modern Liberals.
Even though a lot of what the Far-Left advocates for is actually illiberal ( meaning anti-liberal ) and not liberal at all. Like censorship when it comes to offensive and critical speech, or hate speech. Protesting against Halloween and Thanksgiving, team nicknames, because they believe those holidays are somehow racist. Using big government to make the dietary decisions for everyone and tell everybody what they can eat and drink and what we can say to each other and in some cases even what we can do with our own bodies. Otherwise known as the nanny state which is just another example of the illiberal-left, not liberal-left.
Along with all of their big centralize government views when it comes to the economy where they believe wealth should essentially outlawed and taxes so high so government can decide how much money and freedom everyone should have, because they don't want anyone to be rich or poor. As well as the belief that big centralize national government is always the best government and decentralizing governmental power is somehow dangerous, along with personal freedom and free speech being dangerous according to the illiberal-left, which is just another way of saying Far-Left or New-Left.
Even though one of the core liberal values of liberalism is that big centralize power shouldn't be trusted and always held accountable and than absolute power whether it's public power or private power corrupts absolutely. But it's not liberal values that the Far-Left believes in, but instead collectivist values and in some cases social democratic values that they believe in.
According to Wikipedia
"Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but they generally support civil rights, democracy, secularism, gender and race equality, internationalism and the freedoms of speech, the press, religion and markets."
According to Merriam Webster
Illiberalism is, "opposition to or lack of liberalism."
So someone who is against free speech and instead is in favor of censorship when it comes to language they don't like whether it's in movies or music, t-shirts, critical speech, offensive speech, hate speech even, someone who believes that speech that's offensive should be censored and that political correctness should be the policy when it comes to speech, is proposing an illiberal view.
Someone who doesn't believe in personal autonomy, personal choice, otherwise known as personal freedom even if they're pro-choice when it comes to women's reproductive rights and sexuality and romance freedom and that romantic couples shouldn't be required to get married before they start living together and having kids, even if you're pro-choice on the issues meaning things that you already agree with, but propose personal freedom in general, because you believe it's dangerous and that individuals can't be trusted to make their own decisions, you're not very pro-choice.
Someone who is pro-choice lets say on abortion, but believes gambling, junk food, soft drinks, alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, should be outlawed, is not very pro-choice. The key when it comes to being pro-choice or not is whether you're pro-choice on abortion and sexuality, or things that you already agree with, but on issues that you might have problems with and wouldn't make those choice for yourself.
Do you believe that people should have the right to make their own personal decisions even if they may disagree with some of their decisions, or not. And if you tend to believe that people should be able to make their own personal decisions, then I suggest you're not only pro-choice, but you might be a Liberal as well. If you're not generally pro-choice, then you're not only not liberal, but probably illiberal which again is the opposite of what it means to be a Liberal.
A Liberal is someone who believes in liberal values. Things like free speech, personal autonomy, decentralization of power, checks and balances, separation of powers, limited government, individual rights, equal rights, equal justice for all, free speech, personal autonomy, and yes property rights and markets. Liberals don't want the government trying to do everything for everybody. Which is just one thing that separates us from Socialists and Communists on the Far-Left and Nationalists and Theocrats on the Far-Right. And if you believe in the liberal values that I just suggested and not the illiberal values where personal freedom practically doesn't exist, because big government has so much power, then I suggest that you might be a Liberal.
|Source: Central European University: Roger Scruton- Speaks on Liberalism and Liberal Democracy - Advocating liberalism and liberal democracy|