We, real liberals, want to reclaim the real meaning of the philosophy of John Locke, Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill – a philosophy that stands for liberty, equality under the law, and openness. We are neither left-wing nor right-wing. We don't like big government, but we don't want an anarcho-libertarian utopia either. We are liberals (and proud of it).
American audiences may be confused by what we mean by liberalism in this site. That is because, in the United States, the term liberalism has been tarnished by its association with big-government, statist policies which do not represent what liberalism stands for. The American notion of "liberalism" present in the media and punditry is best described as social democracy, as it is known in the rest of the Western world.
While many may ask themselves why not just adopt the term libertarianism and avoid confusion, the truth is that libertarians differ from liberals — whether classical or modern liberals — in fundamental ways. In philosophical terms, liberals believe governments have a fundamental role in guaranteeing the protection of individual rights and freedoms through the establishment of a system based on the rule of law, where all individuals are treated equally under the law. In other words, government — as long as its power is limited and checked — has an essential role to play in the protection of individual rights. On the other hand, libertarians tend to view government not as a necessary evil (as most liberals view it), but as the only threat to individual rights, thus libertarians' ideal society is one in which even the provision of justice and security is arranged through private contracts. In summary, while liberals of all stripes believe political power is of public nature, libertarians believe that political power should be private.
Moreover, liberals view authoritarianism as the main enemy of liberty, whether it comes from the state or society — the latter eloquently espoused by John Stuart Mill on his masterpiece On Liberty: "Protection against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling, against the tendency of society to impose its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them." On the other hand, libertarians see the state as the only enemy of liberty, without much consideration for authoritarianism or oppression that comes from society (thus it is not surprising that libertarians have historically not paid mush attention to discrimination against minorities like LGBT individuals or racial minorities).
There is also a fundamental difference between these two philosophies in intellectual terms. While liberals have historically tended to pay attention to science and been opened to new ideas, libertarians usually espouse an almost dogmatic view of their philosophy, leaving no room for pragmatic policy-making to address social problems (perhaps one of the best examples is climate change and environmental degradation). While, in some way, this love of openness and diversity have caused liberals to divide in many camps — from classical liberals to modern or "social" liberals, right- to left-liberals, progressive liberals to neoliberals — they all share the basic beliefs in individual rights, freedom of choice, equality under the rule of law, openness to scientific evidence, and pragmatic policy-making. In many ways, this diversity of opinion is what made liberalism the philosophy on which modern developed societies and capitalism have flourished, lifting millions of people out of poverty and advancing human rights as never before in the history of humanity.
realLibs.com is a space for liberals across the world -- those who believe in open minds, free markets, individual freedom, open societies, globalization, equality under the law, civil liberties, human rights, social mobility and tolerance -- to find out what's going on around the world in matters of public policy and politics. We provide links to the latest news and developments affecting areas of deep concern for liberals: from free speech to free trade to social tolerance. We also provide links to the most prominent liberal organizations around the world as well as media outlets (not necessarily liberal) and political parties who share at least some of our ideals. We endorse individual candidates and political parties around the globe before elections are held.
- The protection of individual rights and liberties
- The equality of all human beings under the law
- The balance and separation of powers as the best tool against tyranny
- The belief in liberal representative democracy as the best system of government, where there is a balance between majority rule and the rights of minorities
- The limitation and decentralization of government power
- The separation of church and state
- International cooperation through defense alliances and economic integration
Must-read book: Two Treatises on Government, By John Locke
"The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom: for in all the states of created beings capable of laws, where there is no law, there is no freedom; for liberty is to be free from restraint and violence from others, which cannot be where there is not law. But freedom is not, as we are told, 'a liberty for every man to do what he lists' (for who could be free, when every other man's humour might domineer over him?) but a liberty to dispose and order as he lists his person, actions, possessions, and his whole property, within the allowance of those laws under which he is, and therein not to be subject to the arbitrary will of another, but freely follow his own."
— John Locke, "Second Treatise of Civil Government"
- The belief in the market economy as the guarantor of prosperity and freedom
- The protection of private property as an essential human right
- The belief in free and open trade as an engine of economic growth and international peace
- The promotion of free enterprise and economic freedom
- The belief in fiscal responsibility and low taxation
- Support for globalization and open migration
Must-read book: The Wealth of Nations, By Adam Smith
"Every town and country in proportion as they have opened their ports to all nations, instead of being ruined by this free trade, as the principles of the commercial system would lead us to expect, have been enriched by it."
—Adam Smith, "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations"
- The protection and expansion of civil liberties and human rights
- The protection of free speech, freedom of the press, religious freedom and the freedom of association
- A free, strong, and active civil society
- Personal freedom, social inclusion and tolerance of diverse lifestyles that do not infringe upon the rights of others
- Equal rights under the law, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin
- The protection of the natural environment and the promotion of a sustainable economy
- The belief in cultural diversity and openness
Must-read book: On Liberty, By John Stuart Mill
"Protection against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling, against the tendency of society to impose its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them."
— John Stuart Mill, "On Liberty"