A Primer on Liberalism, Leftism, and our American Existential Crisis

Is it true that debating politics is usually just two people who want the same result but just disagree on how to get there?

It depends on who is having the debate. Here’s a quick summary of the political movements and their origins:

(This is very, very simplified, but I think it still works)

  1. The founding philosophy of America was Classical Liberalism

There are three primary premises of Classical Liberalism

  1. The individual is sovereign and paramount. Individual freedom is the most important thing in society. Individuals are greater than the group.
  2. Truth is not relative, but is rooted in nature. It is objective and universal as a phenomena. . (You may disagree wildly on what that truth is, but truth is a universal, nonetheless – it just needs to be discovered).
  3. Free societies require economic freedom. Capitalism is the economic twin of Classical Liberalism

    Even though the term “classical liberalism” was coined after the American revolution, this new-world view was it was born from the prominent Christian/Judaic religious tradition, and was advanced in ways the world had never seen by philosophical revolutionaries like Thomas Jefferson (even though he rejected the mystical tenets of Christianity). Natural rights. Individualism. Free Market Capitalism.

                Think Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Barry Goldwater

  1. Big Government Liberalism (for lack of a better term) emerges roughly in the early to mid 20th century.

BGL is a traditional Democrat. But they are the old-school Democrats. This is my grandpa. They accept the basic tenets of Classical Liberalism (natural rights, free markets, individualism), but are committed to addressing some of the natural challenges and problems that free societies face: Poverty, advocating for workers, economic mobility… etc. and they believe that greater government intervention and spending is the solution.

The Democratic Party has a great tradition and has been a great party.

Think JFK, LBJ, MLK; even Bill Clinton. These are roughly in this group.

In America in the 20th century Classical Liberals became to be known as conservatives, and BGL’s became to be known just as liberals.

So, to answer the question – can two people have the same aim but believe there are different ways to achieve it? Yes. If the two people that are talking are a classical liberal and a big-government liberal. They share a fundamental philosophy.

BUT…..

Enter a third category of political social philosophy. It is born out of the Marxist movements of the 20th century – both economic and cultural Marxism. And Marxism has an odd bedfellow, but a political ally in post-modernism.

3.  Marxism and Post-Modernism – “Leftism” just for convenience. (I know that it appears to be a sloppy connection at this point.)

Leftism rejects the basic tenets of classical liberalism, and big-government liberalism which again are, natural rights, individualism, and free markets. Not only does it reject those pillars, it advocates for the philosophical inverse.

1. The group is paramount and the individual is annihilated.

2. There is no such thing as objective truth – only relative truths rooted in social power structures (herein lies the marriage of Marxism and post-modernism).

3. And free markets are only oppressive economic regimes by the patriarchal, economic classes used to oppress other vulnerable classes of people (women/minorities/marginalized members of society). Economic systems should be ultimately centralized so that wealth is distributed evenly.

Leftism is an aggressive opponent to the founding philosophy of the United States, legal structure, government, and core values of freedom of speech, religion, and due process.

So, what happened? How does this third movement of Leftism infect the American tradition of natural rights and rugged individualism?

Because it carries the same language and, ostensibly, and what appears as the same aims of traditional Big Government Liberalism. BGL morphed in large part, over time into Leftism. But to do so, it had to very carefully and overtime make the case to reject the tenets of individualism, natural rights, and economic freedom.

It was subtle. And attractive to young people in Academia not equipped to reject its romantic, but egregious tenets.

 It was from the 70’s to the current era. Leftists took over the universities and thereby overtime have infected the media classes and governing classes. It also has philosophically consumed the Democratic Party. Once a great party and institution (even though I disagree with the party in the 20th century) – it has become the host and political vehicle for Marxist/Post-Modern Leftism.

What is also interesting as a phenomena, unlike Classical and Big-Government Liberalism, Leftism has taken upon itself a unique religious nature. Classical Liberals and BGL’s find religion as a natural compliment to their political and social vision. Leftists, however, naturally abandon their religious traditions for this new Marxist/Post-Modern religion.

Now, are all Democrats, Leftists? Of course not. And this is why it is so confusing for so many Democrats (and Republicans) to make this distinction in the philosophical movement. There are traditional Democrats out there that still believe in BGL; but are unaware how Leftism has become the dominant philosophy of the Democratic Party. Many, if not most, people in the Democratic party do not make a distinction between Liberalism and Leftism. They conflate the terms and ideas.

They can’t see these distinctions because Leftism is such a close counterfeit to liberalism.

This is why the modern Democratic Party rejects the philosophy of Martin Luther King, JFK, and all of their heroes 20th century. (But good-luck getting them to be honest about that one). They have divorced their 20th century heroes for the likes of with the counterfeit movements of social justice, identity politics, and political correctness. They reject the individual as paramount. They reject natural law. They reject free market capitalism. They are fundamentally racist and use legitimate racial problems as a way to advance their Marxist and Post-Modern world view – race is not a primary concern for the Collectivist.

Liberalism has the ability to ultimately defeat racism. Leftism creates and increases racism.

Failing to make a distinction between Leftism and Liberalism, the movement has a deceptive quality. Many good people fall for its tenets.

For this reason, some of the best people I know believe some of the worst things.

Can a Liberal (either classical or big government) and a Leftist agree upon the same goals but have different views of how to get there?

No, they cannot. Because the aim of a Leftistism is not freedom, the advancement of individualism, or the protection of natural rights. Their goal is equality of outcome. This, upon deep consideration, contradicts the very moral fabric of America. It will shred us apart – as we can already see. Equality of outcome as an aim requires the suspension of natural rights, freedom, and the death of individualism. It requires to oppression, totalitarianism, and the suspension of freedom. It’s produces every type of evil and murderous outcome, as we witnessed over and over when these experiments were had in the 20th century. Leftism has claimed the lives of at least 100 million people in the last century. Why does it still persist? Are we so foolish to allow one of our great American Political parties become possessed with its alluring, but ultimately lethal ideology?

The question is, can we root this ideology out before it reaches critical mass? It seems to me that we have Stage 3 Leftism in this country. Is it too late? Will the Democratic Party stop breathing life into this movement that is about to consume us?




Author: Todd McLauchlin

This is an LDS site that is dedicated to the invitation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to awake and arise to the great promises of redemption and transformation. My name is Todd Mclauchlin and I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I have a love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and would like to share openly my feelings, testimony, and personal perspectives of the Doctrine of Christ. I currently reside in Draper, Utah.

5 thoughts on “A Primer on Liberalism, Leftism, and our American Existential Crisis”

  1. Thank you for the simplification of concepts that I’ve had confusion about my whole life. My grandparents were Democrats to the core but my parents were Republicans to the core and yet they were all LDS to the core and believed the same way in politics. I am a Joseph Smith/Enoch/Zionist who despises all things Babylon. We’ve (LDS Corporate) taken out any way to live the law of consecration and replaced it with the law of tithing with an addendum of fast offering. We don’t admit that that little omission cost us all the gifts of the spirit that 1st generation members had when Joseph Smith tried to renew the law of consecration. I have been repeatedly scorned by my local church leaders for desiring to build Zion. By reading “Approaching Zion” by Hugh Nibley and “Working Toward Zion” for which he wrote the foreword and contemplating the business structure necessary to live it in this “FREE” country, I suppose that leaders are so afraid of communism that they run from community. I got a little taste of it while living with my sister and her family when we first moved to Utah. Amazing experience. I will continue to live it in my family and, if I ever get the opportunity, even if I am scorned by church leaders I will live it for I know it’s a true doctrine with access to all of the gifts of the Spirit that follow those who practice it. Including being ministered to by angels and seeing the face of God. (Not to be confused with the law of plural marriage, by the way. They are 2 separate things. Plural marriage is a great way to build a caste system in a jiffy.)
    Do you have any better way to phrase Joseph Smith/Enoch/Zionist? Zionist is currently owned by some extremist group in the Middle East. Pureinheartist?

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  2. Excellent article! It’s true that there is a big distinction between traditional Democrats (BGL) and leftists. You’re absolutely right that this has created confusion because people are conflating the two groups.

    I have stopped using the word “liberal” to describe Democrats because it’s sloppy and imprecise. As you pointed out, liberals believe in Truth, natural law, tolerance, individualism, consent, and the free exchange of ideas. Leftists reject those ideas. “There is no such thing as objective truth” only power. They believe that man is result of time+matter+chance and which is ultimately nihilistic. If there is no Creator, there is no purpose or universal Truth. Without Truth, everyone has become their own God with their own rule set.

    Leftism is a dangerous new ideological threat in America. The sooner people on the center-left and center-right can join forces to denounce it the better! Let’s affirm tolerance, individualism, Truth, consent, and the free exchange of ideas.

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  3. And then we have the added complication that both parties pay lip service to classical liberalism while neither actually believe it. Both parties are owned and run by corporatist gadiantons now. Any historical distinctions of philosophy are meaningless when the outcome is the same no matter who has power.

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