The definition of classical liberalism

For utilitarianism and Hegelianism, and their combination in various forms of liberal thought, the… This article discusses the political foundations and history of liberalism from the 17th century to the present. For coverage of classical and contemporary philosophical liberalism, see political philosophy. General characteristics Liberalism is derived from two related features of Western culture. Throughout much of history, the individual has been submerged in and subordinate to his clantribeethnic groupor kingdom.

The definition of classical liberalism

For utilitarianism and Hegelianism, and their combination in various forms of liberal thought, the… General characteristics Liberalism is derived from two related features of Western culture.

General characteristics

Throughout much of history, the individual has been submerged in and subordinate to his clantribeethnic groupor kingdom. Liberalism is the culmination of developments in Western society that produced a sense of the importance of human individuality, a liberation of the individual from complete subservience to the group, and a relaxation of the tight hold of custom, lawand authority.

In this respect, liberalism stands for the emancipation of the individual. Liberalism also derives from the practice of adversariality in European political and economic life, a process in which institutionalized competition—such as the competition between different political parties in electoral contestsbetween prosecution and defense in adversary procedureor between different producers in a market economy see monopoly and competition —generates a dynamic social order.

Liberalism | Definition of Liberalism by Merriam-Webster

Adversarial systems have always been precarious, however, and it took a long time for the belief in adversariality to emerge from the more traditional view, traceable at least to Platothat the state should be an organic structure, like a beehive, in which the different social classes cooperate by performing distinct yet complementary roles.

The belief that competition is an essential part of a political system and that good government requires a vigorous opposition was still considered strange in most European The definition of classical liberalism in the early 19th century.

Underlying the liberal belief in adversariality is the conviction that human beings are essentially rational creatures capable of settling their political disputes through dialogue and compromise. This aspect of liberalism became particularly prominent in 20th-century projects aimed at eliminating war and resolving disagreements between states through organizations such as the League of Nationsthe United Nationsand the International Court of Justice World Court.

Liberalism has a close but sometimes uneasy relationship with democracy. At the centre of democratic doctrine is the belief that governments derive their authority from popular election; liberalism, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with the scope of governmental activity.

Liberals often have been wary of democracythen, because of fears that it might generate a tyranny by the majority. One might briskly say, therefore, that democracy looks after majorities and liberalism after unpopular minorities. Like other political doctrines, liberalism is highly sensitive to time and circumstance.

Oct 18,  · Liberalism is a political and economic doctrine that emphasizes individual autonomy, equality of opportunity, and the protection of individual rights (primarily to life, liberty, and property), originally against the state and later against both the state . Classical liberalism is a political ideology and a branch of liberalism which advocates civil liberties under the rule of law with an emphasis on economic freedom. Classical liberalism is a political philosophy and ideology belonging to liberalism in which primary emphasis is placed on securing the freedom of the individual by limiting the power of the government.

The expansion of governmental power and responsibility sought by liberals in the 20th century was clearly opposed to the contraction of government advocated by liberals a century earlier. In the 19th century liberals generally formed the party of business and the entrepreneurial middle class; for much of the 20th century they were more likely to work to restrict and regulate business in order to provide greater opportunities for labourers and consumers.

This willingness is tempered by an aversion to sudden, cataclysmic change, which is what sets off the liberal from the radical. It is this very eagerness to welcome and encourage useful change, however, that distinguishes the liberal from the conservativewho believes that change is at least as likely to result in loss as in gain.

In the Middle Ages the rights and responsibilities of the individual were determined by his place in a hierarchical social system that placed great stress upon acquiescence and conformity. Under the impact of the slow commercialization and urbanization of Europe in the later Middle Ages, the intellectual ferment of the Renaissanceand the spread of Protestantism in the 16th century, the old feudal stratification of society gradually began to dissolve, leading to a fear of instability so powerful that monarchical absolutism was viewed as the only remedy to civil dissension.

However, as such intervention increasingly served established interests and inhibited enterprise, it was challenged by members of the newly emerging middle class. This challenge was a significant factor in the great revolutions that rocked England and France in the 17th and 18th centuries—most notably the English Civil Wars —51the Glorious Revolutionthe American Revolution —83and the French Revolution Classical liberalism as an articulated creed is a result of those great collisions.

In the English Civil Wars, the absolutist king Charles I was defeated by the forces of Parliament and eventually executed. The Glorious Revolution resulted in the abdication and exile of James II and the establishment of a complex form of balanced government in which power was divided between the king, his ministers, and Parliament.

In time this system would become a model for liberal political movements in other countries.

The definition of classical liberalism

The political ideas that helped to inspire these revolts were given formal expression in the work of the English philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. In LeviathanHobbes argued that the absolute power of the sovereign was ultimately justified by the consent of the governed, who agreed, in a hypothetical social contractto obey the sovereign in all matters in exchange for a guarantee of peace and security.

Locke also held a social-contract theory of government, but he maintained that the parties to the contract could not reasonably place themselves under the absolute power of a ruler.

Absolute rule, he argued, is at odds with the point and justification of political authority, which is that it is necessary to protect the person and property of individuals and to guarantee their natural rights to freedom of thought, speech, and worship.

Significantly, Locke thought that revolution is justified when the sovereign fails to fulfill these obligations.

Indeed, it appears that he began writing his major work of political theory, Two Treatises of Governmentprecisely in order to justify the revolution of two years before. Locke was a notable Whig, and it is conventional to view liberalism as derived from the attitudes of Whig aristocrats, who were often linked with commercial interests and who had an entrenched suspicion of the power of the monarchy.

Liberalism and democracy The early liberals, then, worked to free individuals from two forms of social constraint—religious conformity and aristocratic privilege—that had been maintained and enforced through the powers of government.

The aim of the early liberals was thus to limit the power of government over the individual while holding it accountable to the governed. As Locke and others argued, this required a system of government based on majority rule—that is, one in which government executes the expressed will of a majority of the electorate.

The chief institutional device for attaining this goal was the periodic election of legislators by popular vote and of a chief executive by popular vote or the vote of a legislative assembly.

But in answering the crucial question of who is to be the electorate, classical liberalism fell victim to ambivalencetorn between the great emancipating tendencies generated by the revolutions with which it was associated and middle-class fears that a wide or universal franchise would undermine private property.

As to those who have no landed property in a county, the allowing them to vote for legislators is an impropriety. They are transient inhabitants, and not so connected with the welfare of the state, which they may quit when they please, as to qualify them properly for such privilege.Classical Liberalism as an Ideology Classical liberalism was the political philosophy of the Founding Fathers.

It permeates the Constitution, the Federalist Papers and many other documents produced by the people who created the .

Classical liberalism

Classical liberalism is a political ideology and a branch of liberalism which advocates civil liberties under the rule of law with an emphasis on economic freedom. Classical liberalism is a political philosophy and ideology belonging to liberalism in which primary emphasis is placed on securing the freedom of the individual by limiting the power of the government.

The definition of classical liberalism

"Classical liberalism" is the term used to designate the ideology advocating private property, an unhampered market economy, the rule of law, constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and of the press, and international peace based on free trade.

Classical Liberalism 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.

"Classical liberalism" is the term used to designate the ideology advocating private property, an unhampered market economy, the rule of law, constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and of the press, and international peace based on free trade.

Up until around , this ideology was generally known simply as liberalism.

Classical liberalism - Wikipedia