Left or Liberal?
Tell the average American you’re a liberal and they’ll assume you’re on the political left. Yet, leftists and liberals hold very different positions on key issues. In this video, Dennis Prager explains how the tenets of liberalism like a belief in capitalism and free speech have more in common with conservatism than with the identity politics and racial resentment preached by the left.
Liberals once celebrated Western civilization. Leftists now condemn it as a euphemism for “white supremacy.”
- Liberals have traditionally celebrated the West’s unique moral, philosophical, artistic, musical and literary achievements, and have taught them at virtually every university.View Source
- The most revered liberal in American political history, President Franklin Roosevelt, often cited the need to protect Western civilization and even “Christian civilization.”View Source
- But when President Donald Trump spoke of the need to protect Western civilization in a 2017 speech in Warsaw, the left-wing media widely denounced him.View Source
- The left has increasingly associated Western civilization with “white supremacy."View Source
- WATCH: “Dennis Prager Sketches the Future of Western Civilization”View Source
While liberals have historically embraced capitalism as the best way to lift people out of poverty, leftists want to dismantle it entirely.
- Before the 1960s, liberals in America believed in the individual over the state, but leftism, which has since become increasingly prominent, promotes state control.View Source
- While liberal FDR promoted government intervention in the free market, he still understood the necessity of capitalism to create wealth and improve living conditions.View Source
- Liberal JFK promoted pro-growth tax cuts in the early 1960s.View Source
- “Liberalism believed in creating wealth; the left is interested in redistributing it,” writes Dennis Prager.View Source
Leftists divide the world by class rather than national identity—that’s why they reject national sovereignty and borders.
- The Democrats’ increasing embrace of radical ideas, particularly “open border” policies, has brought more far-leftists into the party who reject the tenets of liberalism.View Source
- The left’s rejection of national identity has famously played out in the Superman comics. When the writers of Superman were liberals, he was proud to be American, fighting for “truth, justice, and the American way.” But under the lead of left-wing writers, Superman has since renounced his American citizenship and become “a citizen of the world.”View Source
- WATCH: “The Left's Threat to Western Civilization” – Dennis PragerView Source
The left is leading the first widespread suppression of free speech in modern American history, starting with schools and tech companies.
- The most common anti-free speech tactic promoted by leftists on campus and online is to label anything that counters their arguments as “hate speech.”View Source
- The tech companies that govern the internet use subjective terms like “clickbait” and “fake news” to curtail free speech.View Source
- Google famously fired James Damore for writing a memo leftists deemed an “anti-diversity screed.”View Source
- Related reading: “How the Left Became So Intolerant” – The Heritage FoundationView Source
Leftists reject the liberal view of race—that we should be colorblind, focusing on an individual’s character rather than race.
- The modern left has rejected Martin Luther King Jr.’s concept of colorblindness.View Source
- Western leftist have increasingly pushed the racially divisive idea of “white privilege.”View Source
- The University of California has so fully rejected the liberal view of race that it has deemed the statement, “There is only one race, the human race” as “racist.”View Source
- Public universities are beginning to allow forms of racial segregation, some even promoting all-black dormitories.View Source
- Some universities have started holding separate black graduations.View Source
- Related reading: “Why I Am Not a Liberal”– Dennis PragerView Source
Liberals once promoted American exceptionalism, creating wealth and national defense—now, leftists fully condemn such pro-America ideas.
- American liberals used to endorse the idea of a strong national defense.View Source
- Liberals have long promoted creating wealth rather than redistributing it.View Source
- Liberals also once widely endorsed the idea of American exceptionalism.View Source
- Historically, liberals have been quite aware of America’s imperfections, but they’ve agreed with Abraham Lincoln that America is “the last best hope of earth.”View Source
- American leftists, however, largely view America as racist, xenophobic, violent, and imperialistic.View Source
What’s the difference between a liberal and a leftist?
This question stumps most people because they think liberal and left are essentially the same.
But they’re not. In fact, liberalism and leftism have almost nothing in common. But the left has appropriated the word “liberal” so effectively almost everyone—liberals, leftists and conservatives—thinks they are synonymous. But they’re not.
Let me offer you six examples:
This is probably the most obvious difference between liberal and left. The liberal position on race has always been a) the color of a person’s skin is insignificant and b) those who believe race is significant are racists. Meanwhile, the left believes the very opposite. To the left, it’s the liberal attitude toward race—it’s unimportant—that is racist. That’s why the University of California officially lists the statement, “There is only one race, the human race” as racist.
And liberals have always been passionately committed to racial integration, while the left is increasingly committed to racial segregation—such as all-black dormitories and separate black graduations at universities.
Liberals have always been pro-capitalism, because liberals are committed to free enterprise and because they know capitalism is the only way to lift great numbers of people out of poverty. It is true that liberals want government to play a bigger role in the economy than conservatives do, but liberals never opposed capitalism, and they were never for socialism. Opposition to capitalism and advocacy of socialism are left-wing values.
Liberals believe in the nation-state, whether that nation is the United States, Brazil, or France. But because the left divides the world by class rather than by national identity, the left has always opposed nationalism. So, while liberals have always wanted to protect American sovereignty and borders, the left is for open borders.
When the writers of Superman were liberals, Superman was a proud American whose very motto was “Truth, justice, and the American way.” But that all changed a few years ago, when left-wing writers took over the comic strip and had Superman renounce his American citizenship to be a citizen of the world.
The left has contempt for nationalism, seeing it as the road to fascism. Better that we should all be “citizens of the world” in a world without borders.
4. View of America:
Liberals have always venerated America. Watch American films from the 1930s through the 1950s and you will be watching overtly patriotic, America-celebrating films—virtually all produced, directed and acted by liberals. Liberals were quite aware of America’s imperfections, but they agreed with Abraham Lincoln that America is “the last, best hope of earth.” The left, however, believes the left is the last, best hope of earth and regards America as racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, violent, and imperialistic.
5. Free speech:
No one has been more committed than American liberals to the famous statement, “I wholly disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
But the left is leading the first widespread suppression of free speech in modern American history—from the universities to the tech companies that govern the internet to almost every other institution and place of work. Of course, the left claims to only oppose “hate speech.” But putting aside the fact that the left deems “hate speech” anything it differs with, protecting what you or I might consider hate speech is the entire point of free speech.
6. Western civilization:
Liberals have always championed and sought to protect Western civilization. Liberals celebrate the West’s unique moral, philosophical, artistic, musical and literary achievements, and have taught them at virtually every university. The most revered liberal in American political history, President Franklin Roosevelt, often cited the need to protect Western civilization and even “Christian civilization.” Yet, when President Donald Trump spoke of the need to protect Western civilization in a speech in Warsaw, the left-wing media, also known as the mainstream media, denounced him. They argued that Western civilization is no better than any other and that “Western civilization” is just a euphemism for “white supremacy.”
So, then, if liberalism and leftism are so different, why don’t liberals oppose the left? In a nutshell, because they have been taught all their lives to fear the right. But as one of the best-known liberals in America, Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz, said, “As a liberal, as an American, and as a Jew, I far more fear the left than the right.”
Dear liberals: Conservatives are not your enemy. The left is.
I’m Dennis Prager.