How liberals left liberty behind

Liberalism without liberty

Liberalism isn’t often associated with the left.  And yet, liberalism historically shaped many of the left’s political projects. In interpreting freedom not only as non-intervention by the government, but as what made people autonomous individuals, able to make their own life choices, left-leaning parties were inspired by liberalism. Yet over the years, freedom was dropped off the menu of values the left cared about, interpreted to mean merely the freedom of markets. But liberty might be about to make a return, writes Toby Buckle.


Ideologies are by their nature restless. Nothing about them ever stays constant. They perpetually shift their policy positions as wars, economic shocks, and changing social norms force them to adapt. More than that, their core values – the way they invoke justice, or equality, or freedom – exist in a state of continual mutation as they process new ideas, arguments, social norms, events and developments in rival ideologies.

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