Liberals have flirted with leftism for so long that people have a hard time distinguishing the two. Despite the similarities, there are profound differences worth highlighting. Leftists may like to be called liberal because it attaches to them the image of a freedom fighter, but true liberals they are not.
Although liberals have accepted left-wing ideas such as redistribution of wealth and the welfare state, there are some core principles that make up the foundation of liberalism, which are actually shared with conservatives. Indeed, many so-called “classical liberals” have found themselves placed in the conservative category due to their support of the free market.
Principle #1: Free Speech
There is no way around free speech. It makes up the heart of a liberal society, and true believers support it fully and without reservation. Leftists, by contrast, want to ban “hate speech.” Classical liberals, by contrast, say that it is precisely controversial, offensive, and even hateful expressions that the First Amendment is supposed to protect.
The quote that epitomizes this view is famously attributed to Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Principle #2: Individualism
A core principle of liberalism is that the individual reigns supreme. You are supposed to be judged by your personal qualities, not your group identities such as race, sex, class, or sexual orientation. Liberalism is “color blind.”
Martin Luther King Jr. epitomizes this principle: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Principle #3: Reason and Science
Facts always trump opinions. Facts are facts, and it doesn’t matter how offensive or politically incorrect they are perceived to be. Truth reigns supreme. The liberal view is that disputes and disagreements are settled through rational arguments, not by violence – like hitting people with bike locks.
Their view is that no-one loses in a rational argument. If you are proven wrong, then you will have learned a new fact and will benefit from having your errors corrected. Francis Bacon captures the quintessential liberal attitude towards facts and reason: “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.”
Principle #4: Freedom of Association
Freedom from bondage to others is at the heart of liberalism. It means you cannot be born into servitude or forced into an arranged marriage against your will. It also means that a Nazi cannot force a Jewish baker to make for him a cake emblazoned with a Swastika.
The Left Rejects Them All
On all these principles liberals and conservatives find common ground. They make up the fabric of civil society. Yet the left rejects them all. They see free speech as hateful and toxic. They want you to shut up and obey. If you don’t, violent Antifa thugs may just show up to enlighten you.
Leftists reject individualism. You are your color, your sex, and your sexual orientation. To them, there is no such thing as individual diversity – only group diversity. They will judge you by the color of your skin, not the content of your character.
They blatantly reject science and reason as “white supremacy.” “Hate facts” must be dismissed because they are offensive. Rational debate is patriarchal oppression and must be stopped.
Finally, you cannot ever refuse to associate with someone who is perceived to be a minority. Are you a religious baker who doesn’t think that gay marriage is moral? Tough luck! You’d better bake that rainbow cake – or else.
It is for this reason that many liberals have chosen to leave “their side” and denounce “the regressive left.” Dave Rubin, an independent liberal journalist, is a prime example of someone who abandoned the left on precisely this ground. His explanation is well worth watching.