|Franco Moretti's Hamlet network|
Regarding the question posed in the title of this post: Was Goethe a classical liberal? I found a piece on that subject at the Mises Institute website, a forum on the work of the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises. The piece is by the German-born economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe, who refers to Goethe as a classical liberal. According to Hoppe, after the French revolution early Germans liberals became "democrats" and nationalists, while Goethe opposed the political creed of liberty and equality as well as political centralization. If anyone is surprised to learn this, Hoppe quotes Goethe from Maximen und Reflexionen: "Legislators and revolutionaries who promise equality and liberty at the same time are either psychopaths or mountebanks."
"Classical liberalism is a political ideology that values the freedom of individuals — including the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and markets — as well as limited government. It developed in 18th-century Europe and drew on the economic writings of Adam Smith and the growing notion of social progress. Liberalism was also influenced by the writings of Thomas Hobbes, who argued that governments exist to protect individuals from each other. In 19th- and 20th-century America, the values of classical liberalism became dominant in both major political parties. The term is sometimes used broadly to refer to all forms of liberalism prior to the 20th century. Conservatives and libertarians often invoke classical liberalism to mean a fundamental belief in minimal government."
Image: Sherlockian-Sherlock; The Stanford Literary Lab; The Libertarian Republic