Lost Language, Lost Liberalism

A review of the changes 1880-1940 to the central semantics of liberal civilization.


Classical liberal meaning
New meanings; confusions
Commutative justice (CJ) is primary; you do CJ when you refrain from messing with others’ stuff; CJ is the flipside of the liberty principle; injustice implies an action that violates a principle of commutative justice; CJ is grammar-like.The undoing of the atomistic configuration of ownership destroys the sense of grammar in government rules regarding private doings; “social justice,” which one can think of as distributive justice now on a collectivist/overlordist configuration of ownership.

4L is authored by Daniel B. Klein, Professor of Economics, JIN Chair at the Mercatus Center, George Mason University, Associate Fellow of the Ratio Institute; email: dklein@gmu.edu

Quotations compiled by Ryan Daza & Daniel B. Klein