Nowadays when one wants to be particularly nasty, he calls the object of his wrath a "socialist". "Bolshevik" and "communist" are other terms frequently used--all in a very vague but uniformly defamatory manner. Yet not so long ago, these words were in perfectly good repute; and though it might stamp one as a crank and impractical idealist, to be a socialist or communist was not held to be a stain on one's character. Just so the little word "liberal" has come to "cover a multitude of sins", this time as a camouflage for less respected designations. Properly speaking, a liberal" is one who is free: free from bias and prejudice: broad and open-minded; free, above all, from extremes of every kind.
The liberal holds distinctly to the middle ground. Not that he has no definite opinions--he usually has; but he has reached his conclusions after a careful survey of all the evidence, and he is always conscious, when expressing an opinion, of the other side. His individual judgments may be either radical or conservative, yet, in the broad sweep of his viewpoint, he is neither. On the contrary, he combines the best of both. His is the "golden mean" of Horace. The true liberal is well-informed, dispassionate, unprejudiced--in short an ideal.
How far then, do some of our present-day "liberals" come from measuring up to that ideal: Too often the self-styled "liberal" is as bigoted and impassioned, in his own way, as the "conservative" whom he so despises. Liberalism is not the opposite of Conservatism. It is rather, a separate and highly-to-be-desired state by itself. Yet today all but the most hidebound reactionaries call themselves "liberal" and exhibit their own particular little idiosyncrasies as proof of the fact. Consequently when the delegates gather here next week to form an intercollegiate Liberal Society, they will be laboring under the handicap of a decidedly ambiguous name. Nevertheless, such an intercollegiate organization is greatly to be desired, provided that it is very careful to held to the proper meaning of the word "liberal" a point which the conference will do well to keep in mind.