We know liberalism by its slogans of today but similar catchphrases do come up from ancient times. In those days some scholars regarded democratic states as a realization of the idea of freedom from any kind of regulation, including family and morality, while others saw chaos, confusion and inanity. Slaves made the portion of population deprived of any sort of morals and covered by only most primitive legal norms. If the role of slavery was minor, there emerged regimes that could now be called totalitarian. If Plato generated his theory of an ideal state proceeding in greater part from the experience of Sparta, for many of his contemporaries and later thinkers the experience was unacceptable since it was suppressing individual freedom. Until now Plato is seen as a totalitarian philosopher for his ideas that integrated the Tradition and experience of his epoch.
In antic times Aristotle analytically singled out oligarchic states founded on the rule of the few who govern in their private interests and place their riches above aristocracy, military courage, wisdom and civilian bravery. In oligarchies, the power of the money overwhelmed the power of Tradition, which illustrated not the struggle between democratic and undemocratic parties but a more profound ideological confrontation between the cult of money and the cult of heroes, ascetics, men of wisdom and hard workers. According to Plato and Aristotle, an ideal state should exclude both oligarchy and democracy. Plato rated democrats as libertines, misers, smart alecks and profligates, slaves of their whims who live to satisfy their vile desires. But he also regarded oligarchy as the worst form of rule, giving preference to aristocracy and monarchy. Aristotle wrote that democracies in most cases degenerated into oligarchies and then into tyrannies, which he clearly saw in his native Athens. He believed that appropriate forms of state were the monarchy and aristocracy, as well as mixed patterns combining different government systems. The most viable regimes combined elements of the monarchy, aristocracy and democracy (politia). It was a major theoretical discovery of ancient philosophers that the modern leaders have discarded preferring the rule of money or tyranny.
The Middle Ages were restoring the rule of the Tradition after the shattering collapse of the Antiquity that came after the citizens had nothing to defend and nothing to struggle for, when the material interest consolidated the parasitical classes and destroyed the spiritual unity and the statehood foundations of Rome and later Byzantium. Afterward Russia took over the mission of the spiritual center of Christianity and opposed the cult of money. But the material interest kept corrupting people, placing material values above spiritual.
Ancient traditionalist thinkers put public welfare above individual Freedom. Modern times have brought about the notion of freedom that allegedly makes the sole craving of the society and the entire societal development process leads to expansion of freedoms. The Renaissance brought together the notions of freedom and individual, in which freedom could be supposedly fully realized. Any sociality emerging before the individual makes his choice was considered false. As a result, the history became a burden and deserved disgrace. Humanists dreamt of times when the last king could be strangled by the intestines of the last priest. The idea of Progress was opposed to the Tradition. The state was regarded just as a giant Leviathan whose power was inevitable just because people innately dream to take life from each other.
The French Revolution has shown that the idée fixe, turned into ideology by propaganda, in practice boils down to a sheer inferno filled with terror and violence. Immense human victims of liberal (bourgeois) revolutions many times surpassed all casualties of monarchic and aristocratic states based on the Tradition. The Hymn to Reason voiced by the enlighteners sank in the roar of wars and screams of executed victims. The Social Compact that they viewed as the foundation of a happy society, as well as the natural law never materialized. Liberalism only gave a new impetus to greediness, having liberated it from condemnation of traditional morality. Intellect and reason triumphed only in areas where private interest reigned to create discrimination, live at others’ expense, cheat and enslave people.
Normally, liberals display great respect to Marxist methodology and borrow many of its elements. Political economy of socialism and liberalism share some sources, i.e. the idea of an international market. Socialists need it to seize power by proletarian parties, and liberals – by parties of transnational corporations. The praise of Marx and Engels to the bourgeoisie’s progressive mission has become a part of the liberal theoretical dogma – the oligarchs’ propaganda tool in the second half of the 20th century. The conclusion concerning worthlessness and even disutility of the state has also traveled from Marxism to modern liberal teachings.