Stu­dents are bringing back the Clas­sical Liberal Orga­ni­zation to serve as an open forum for ideas, as well as to host lec­tures and dis­cussion events. Pexels

Stu­dents are restarting the Clas­sical Liberal Orga­ni­zation, a club ded­i­cated to an open forum of ideas and hosting thought-pro­voking dis­cus­sions.

On Jan. 31st, the Clas­sical Liberal Orga­ni­zation held their inau­gural meeting. Under the lead­ership of juniors Tim Run­stadler, Calvin Zabrocki, and Christian Betz, several stu­dents met to discuss a series of guest lec­tures, given by faculty members and stu­dents, con­cerning the political phi­losophy of Clas­sical Lib­er­alism.  

“Our goal is to push forward ideas of Clas­sical Lib­er­alism on campus and engage in the battle of ideas, specif­i­cally by bringing people together not in a eco­nomic context but every­thing from foreign policy, healthcare policy, to the Federal reserve,” Betz said.

The lec­tures will be the club’s focus for now, said Betz.

Run­stadler, the club’s pres­ident, said the club will seek to impart eco­nomic ideas to the campus and to “define issues in eco­nomic terms.”

The Clas­sical Liberal Orga­ni­zation will hold meetings irreg­u­larly at varying times and loca­tions. To stay informed about time meeting stu­dents can contact Zabrocki at Run­stadler, Zabrocki, and Betz will serve as the exec­utive board of the club and will make deci­sions con­cerning future dis­cus­sions and topics for each meeting.

This week, Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Eco­nomics Charles Steele will speak on the topic of what defines a Clas­sical Liberal, said Run­stadler.

Although a date has not been set for this semester, junior Josiah Leinbach, a history major, will speak to the club about Edmund Burke’s response to liberal phi­losophy and discuss Burke’s impact on liberal phi­losophy in general.

Leinbach plans on dis­cussing why Burke’s ques­tions are still rel­evant for Clas­sical Lib­erals to con­sider, even if they dis­agree with his Tra­di­tion­alist ideas.

“I will be talking about Clas­sical Lib­er­alism from the outside, Burke, and his dis­agree­ments espe­cially with Thomas Paine, and how those inform the current clas­sical lib­er­alism model,” Leinbach said.

Leinbach said as a tra­di­tion­alist con­ser­v­ative, he does not agree with the tenets of Clas­sical Lib­er­alism; however, he said he is keen on taking part in the dis­cussion.

Junior Joseph Toates said that a speaker from outside the pol­itics department might bring a dif­ferent per­spective.

“I think the most inter­esting would be somebody from outside of the pol­itics department, somebody like Dr. Kalthoff who’s done a lot of history of the con­ser­v­ative movement,” Toates said.

Toates said he looks forward to the dis­cus­sions and being sur­rounded by stu­dents from other depart­ments.

“There’s always ben­efits to being sur­rounded by good, quality people dis­cussing good ideas about important things,” he said.


  • Edward Dodson

    The philosopher Mor­timer J. Adler put before us the central question. He defined liberty as freedom con­strained by justice. Yet, even Adler then failed to fully address the most important issue where just law is con­cerned: whether we as indi­viduals have a superior claim over others to any part of the planet. Thomas Paine, taking his lead from the writings of the French Phys­io­cratic school of political econ­o­mists, argued that any person who is given exclusive control over land owes to the com­munity a ground rent payment for the priv­ilege. Henry George argued the case for a labor and capital goods basis for private property, leaving nature as our commons from which wealth is pro­duced. George then argued that all tax­ation should be elim­i­nated, replaced by the societal col­lection of rent — to pay for demo­c­ra­t­i­cally-agreed upon public goods and ser­vices (and, poten­tially, to provide to all persons an income sup­plement). Thus, I would argue that George raised the torch of clas­sical lib­er­alism that fell and nearly died out after the death of Thomas Paine. Many later writers, claiming to embrace the prin­ciples of clas­sical lib­er­alism, have been suf­fi­ciently selective to ignore the liberal prin­ciple that the earth is the birthright of all persons, equally.