最近曾节明发表了数篇抨击新自由主义及批判自由的价值的评论。其中某些论点虽有一定道理，但似乎首先应当明确“新自由主义”包括哪些具体原则，并明确指出其依据和证据。且不宜一概否定之，因为任何理论与主张皆可能存在不足，同时也有其合理内涵。在批判某一论点的同时，应当指出为其辩护的论点有哪些，供读者参考。自由是公认的最高价值观之一，“自由，平等，博爱”是法国大革命的口号，“生命，自由，追求人生幸福的权利“是美国独立宣言归纳的原则，自由有其公认的特定含义，中共暴政下党用文人滥用”新自由主义“给暴政脸上贴金而已。吾以为曾先生似乎混淆了新自由主义及改革自由主义，而且节明对自由主义的主要内容和基本原则有不切实的评论。Hayek and Nozick等人提出的是改革自由主义而非新自由主义，而且当代世界各主要自由宪政民主国家皆奉行改革自由主义。英国前首相萨切尔和美国前总统里根皆非奉行新自由主义，而是主张改革自由主义。
Liberalism first emerged as an ideology in 17century Britain. The historical development of liberalism. As a term liberalismemerge in 19 century a party led by WilliamGladstone, the value has a much longer history. The origins ofliberalism traced to the rise of capitalist political economy, as defense ofprivate property and the individualistic political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes and JohnLocke. The diverse character of liberalism has been used to describedparties of the right (Australia) left (Canada), free market, in US it denotesstate intervention. Labour party in Britain and manysocial democratic parties in Europe, has really been liberal incharacter.The liberalism associated with the socialdemocratic left, is a new or social liberalism;the classical liberalism drowning on the economic theory of Adam Smith and the social theory ofHerbert Spencer emphasizes that state’s roleshould be limited to ensure internal and external security and to ensure thatprivate property rights are enforced. The market is the most effective means ofmeeting human needs, its moral dimension is a limited state maximizes freedom andrewards those who work hardest. At theend of 19 century it be questioned for extent poverty and socialist ideasemerged. A new liberalism emerged, saw morepositive role of state, create greater opportunities for individuals to achievetheir goals. Through a range of socialreform measures, liberal government dominant political landscape for much 20century. 1970s a revised version of classicalliberalism emerged to challenge the new liberalism, right winggovernment, political thinker Hayek and Nozick.
The core meaning of liberalism can be found in the concepts of liberty, tolerance, individualism, and aparticular kind of equality, right, intrinsic good, possibility forself-development it products.
Classical liberalismemphasizes the negative liberty, removeexternal constraints; new liberalismemphasizespositive liberty, removeobstacles of freedom. Liberal focus on individual, by social contract of Hobbesand Locke, the individual is prior to society, protect individual right againstsociety and state. Individualism denies the state’s right to intervene anyaspect of the life of individuals, extremeliberalism is Anarchist thought. It believes that human are rational andable to determine their own best interests, in economic realm, individuals arebest left to their own devices as consumers and producers. The hidden hand ofthe market will ensure economic utility is achieved. The community is merely anaggregate of individuals with competing interests and values. Liberals regardindividuals as of equal value; not equality of outcome, but equality ofopportunity, whereby fairness is ensured, become individuals stating from thesame position, are rewarded for their efforts. Freemarket dose not genuine equality of opportunity, for individual notstart from the same position. Classical liberalism has four main principles:the first idea is limited political powers:absolute extensive and arbitrary is problematical since it prevents individualsfrom fully using their intelligence and creative capabilities to better theirown life and the future of society. Absolutepolitical power tends to be corrupted, self-serving and unpredictable.Locke argued that government needed theconsent ofthe governed. Governed has the right and responsibility to withdrawtheir consent and to repudiate a government that stoppedacting in their best interest. Hobbes suggested that state was the product of asocial contract that individuals agreed to delegate authority to a sovereignfor the purpose of maintaining law and order, to avoid violent conflict. Locke argued that state had role of protecting private property, ‘small’ state,because individuals need to be free of constraints to fully develop theirpotential, individuals not government know best what to do with financialresource, ask for weak economic regulation and low levels taxes. Human nature make human beings are rational and self-interested they look afterthemselves first and have the capabilities to do so better than anyone else. Theyhave the power to choose and therefore responsible for their action.
Liberals stress the rationality,autonomy, creativity and imagination of individuals, advocated thesecularization of society, separation of religion and politics, small, limitedand accountable government, and secular, as a first principle. Second principle is freedom, allows individuals tofully use their intelligence capacities and creativity. If individuals arefree, society’s wealth, prosperity, and good life will follow. ‘absence ofobstacles’ as negative freedom, in politics freedom from state interference;The protection of fundamental liberties (thought, religion, association,speech) habeas corpus which protects against arbitrary, searches and seizures’.The third principle is equality of rights.In battle absolutism church power and privileges, argued for equality beforethe law, the political leaders be legally treated no differently from privatecitizen, that is rule of law, emphasis on equality of rights. The fourth principle is free-market economy.Capitalism in economic sphere make competition generates wealth and prosperitymarket itself, not the state, is the most efficient instrument of economicregulation. Adam Smith argued that individuals, which selfishly pursuing theirown interests, are actually working toward the common good. There is an headedhand that guild participant in a free market to promotecommon good.