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  Conservative Group: Fred Speaking

Speaker Since Ann has started talking about 20th-century welfare state liberalism, I think I should say something about classical liberalism.

Classical liberalism is very important to 20th-century American conservatives. In my opinion, if you take classical liberalism and add a tablespoon of Edmund Burke, you get American conservatism at its best. Diego may not agree with that, but we'll get to that later.

So just to clarify what classical liberalism is, let me try to summarize it by saying that classic liberals believe the following:




  • Overall harmony of economic interests

  • Government by publicly known law enacted by fixed and knowable rules.

  • Strong individual rights: speech, religion, movement, association, property, and contract

  • Free markets, free trade, free enterprise, and freedom of contract

  • Very limited republican or parliamentary government

  • Equality before the law




The main ideas constituting classical liberalism developed in the United Kingdom and in parts of western Europe. In the 20th century, these ideas are modified and developed into at least one very prominent form of American conservatism. To make that transition, we have to add ideas such as the following. We also have to add certain attitudes and tendencies that I would call Burkean. We'll get to that later.




  • A federal system of government reserving many powers to state governments

  • Strict or narrow construction of the US constitution



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