As politics has continued its evolution across time, my position has slowly drifted from what used to be a liberal one to one that seems to have more in common with the #altright. This was somewhat curious to me, as my values and perspectives have not really changed on what I consider the major issues. This is why I decided to write up a post on what being an enlightenment liberal actually entails. I’ve written on the enlightenment before as a part of the social justice chronicles, to give a quick introduction, it was a period where philosophers defined and argued in favor of the values that are the foundation for our modern western nation states. From Hobbes, John Stuart Mill and Thomas Paine on Government, Adam Smith on Economics, Kant on Ethics, Hume, Voltaire and Rousseau on a range of topics.
This created a foundation on which the most successful states of the next 300 – 400 years (depending on what you regard as the start of the enlightenment) were built, and that have made them the most free, and well-functioning states in the world. However, over time the ideals of classical liberalism have become undermined by the group referred to as the “regressive left” and by the conservatives who by now should be seeking to conserve those values. While the literature from the classical liberals and those who followed them, is great and diverse the agreement on Universality and freedom of expression is strong.
Foremost, what serves as the foundation for the philosophy of the enlightenment are the values that came forth in the scientific revolution, namely empiricism and reason.
“To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.” Thomas Paine