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The Anatomy of 'Classic Liberalism" (Vol. 138)

The Following will lead to Prosperity

The term itself, Liberal, is derived from the concept of Liberty, the notion of individual freedom from government control. Classical Liberalism in economics stems from the 17th Century and its most prominent philosopher was John Locke (1632-1704), and his classic book, Two Treatises of Government. This was first published in 1689. His work was influenced by others before him, but his work is considered the foundation of ‘classical liberalism’ (for more detail on this subject, see this article from Cato).

In the first treatise, he attacks the idea of divinely sanctioned rulers - no government can be justified by an appeal to the divine rights of kings. This authoritarian condition can lead only to slavery which will eventually lead to the downfall of all such governments.  

In his second treatise, he outlines his theory of a civil society, one based on ‘natural law’ that governs the ‘state of nature’. The law of nature forbids subjecting one’s fellows to a state of slavery. All men are created equal in the state of nature by God, and they each have a right to their own lives and to the property they create or obtain by their own labor in order to live. In his view, the only legitimate governments are those that have the consent of the people. Such governments exist to protect the right of each individual to life, liberty and property through the establishment of the rule of law. Without that consent from the governed, governments, in theory, can be overthrown.  

Does the following sound familiar?

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.’ 

This eloquent excerpt from the Declaration of Independence principally authored by Thomas Jefferson, is the essence of classical liberalism. And the Constitution which evolved from these principles was clear. It called for a limited government with specific duties for the Federal government, the goal of which is primarily the promotion and protection of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, all other duties belonging to the ‘states or to the people’.

The goal of the Founding Fathers is to avoid overreaching government and provide liberty for the members of any society - and to provide ‘equality under the law’.One of the most important accomplishments of the liberal movement was to subject those with political power to rules. Starting with the Magna Carta and up through the democratic revolutions and constitutions of the eighteenth century, liberalism worked to create a society ruled by law not by men. A civil society was created for the protection of property by which Locke means ‘life, liberty and estate’. A political society is necessary to protect these individual rights.


Classical liberalism is important because it sets the stage for a sound government for and by the people. Limited government is one which does not intrude on individual rights and that stays within its boundaries. Our Founding Fathers understood this and designed a unique system that worked well for over 200 years.  

But we have strayed off the course set by them by allowing a massive government and unaccountable bureaucracy to grow, which now intrudes on our liberty every day. And the spending associated with this enormous government has effectively brought our country to the brink of bankruptcy. We must not let that happen - for your sake and for the sake of all future generations. Do not saddle the future with our debts which will someday destroy this country.

Express your concerns to your representatives and tell them to ‘fix this mess’. Do it any way you can, and one easy way is to go to our website and Contact Congress.


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