Celebrating July 4 with independent thinking

I learned something interesting when I read “The Road to Serfdom” (1944) by FA Hayek. He revealed that “the most efficient technique to [change public opinion] is to use the old words but change their meaning” (page 174).

What is a liberal? Even in the 1940s, the true meaning of “liberalism” had been hijacked. Hayak wrote, modern liberalism “has come to mean the advocacy of almost every kind of government control” (page 45).

But true liberalism is “the denial of all privilege, if privilege is understood in its proper and original meaning of the state granting and protecting rights to some which are not available on equal terms to others.”

And he claims that it is distinctly different from conservatism, which is “a defender of established privilege” (page 46) that uses the power of government to protect existing privileges.

If you are a liberal, you may believe that government should make decisions for us. But a true liberal once believed that people can and should make their own decisions.

As we celebrate America’s independence, let’s remember to celebrate independent thinking too. Let’s look beyond labels like “liberal” and “conservative” or “Democrat” and “Republican” to the true meaning behind the words that politicians use.

Here’s a toast to freedom and freedom of thought. Happy 4th of July!

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