Liberalism

Liberalism (from the Latin liberalis) is a political philosophy or worldview founded on the ideas of liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas such as free and fair elections, civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free trade, and a right to life, liberty, and property.

Liberalism first became a distinct political movement during the Age of Enlightenment, when it became popular among philosophers and economists in the Western world. Liberalism rejected the notions, common at the time, of hereditary privilege, state religion, absolute monarchy, and the Divine Right of Kings. The early liberal thinker John Locke is often credited with founding liberalism as a distinct philosophical tradition. Locke argued that each man has a natural right to life, liberty and property and according to the social contract governments must not violate these rights. Liberals opposed traditional conservatism and sought to replace absolutism in government with democracy and the rule of law.

The revolutionaries in the American Revolution, the French Revolution and other liberal revolutions from that time used liberal philosophy to justify the armed overthrow of what they saw as tyrannical rule. The nineteenth century saw liberal governments established in nations across Europe, Spanish America, and North America.

During the beginning of the twentieth century some countries adopted totalitarian, non-liberal regimes, such as Fascism, Nazism and Communism. In other countries classical liberalism became less popular and gave way to social democracy and social liberalism. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "In the United States liberalism is associated with the welfare-state policies of the New Deal program of the Democratic administration of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt, whereas in Europe it is more commonly associated with a commitment to limited government and laissez-faire economic policies."

After the defeat of Fascism and Nazism in World War II, the world was largely divided into two blocks, the western world, which held onto liberal ideas, and the Communist Block. Non-aligned countries were sometimes called "Third World" countries. Today, liberal political parties remain a political force with varying degrees of power and influence on all major continents.

Read more about Liberalism:  Etymology and Definition, History, Philosophy, Worldwide, Impact and Influence

Other articles related to "liberalism":

Liberalism In The United States - Varieties of Liberalism - Classical Liberalism
... Classical liberalism in the United States (also called laissez-faire liberalism) is the belief that a free market economy is the most productive ... is best which governs least." Classical liberalism is a philosophy of individualism and self-responsibility ...
Liberalism (book)
... Liberalism (original German title Liberalismus) is an influential book by Austrian School economist and Right-libertarian thinker Ludwig von Mises, containing economic analysis and ... freedoms follow from property rights and argues that liberalism free of government intervention is required to promote peace, social harmony and the general welfare ... Free and Prosperous Commonwealth rather than Liberalism, as Mises thought that the literal translation would create confusion because the term liberalism after the New Deal and ...
Liberalism - Impact and Influence
... The early waves of liberalism popularized economic individualism while expanding constitutional government and parliamentary authority ... The idea of exporting liberalism worldwide and constructing a harmonious and liberal internationalist order has dominated the thinking of liberals since the 18th century ... "Wherever liberalism has flourished domestically, it has been accompanied by visions of liberal internationalism," one historian wrote ...
Straw Dogs: Thoughts On Humans And Other Animals - Political and Philosophical Thought - Agonistic Liberalism
... The term agonistic liberalism appears in John Gray's book Isaiah Berlin from 1995 ... his support for both value pluralism and liberalism ... More generally, agonistic liberalism could be used to describe any kind of liberalism which claims that its own value commitments do not form a complete vision of politics and society, and that one instead needs to ...
Liberalism In The United States
... Liberalism in the United States is a broad political philosophy centered on the unalienable rights of the individual ... The main focus of modern liberalism in the United States includes issues such as voting rights for all adult citizens, equal rights, protection of the environment, and the provision by the government of social ... Without a qualifier, the term "liberalism" since the 1930s in the United States usually refers to "modern liberalism", a political philosophy exemplified by Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal and ...

Famous quotes containing the word liberalism:

    The basic idea which runs right through modern history and modern liberalism is that the public has got to be marginalized. The general public are viewed as no more than ignorant and meddlesome outsiders, a bewildered herd.
    Noam Chomsky (b. 1928)

    There are two kinds of liberalism. A liberalism which is always, subterraneously authoritative and paternalistic, on the side of one’s good conscience. And then there is a liberalism which is more ethical than political; one would have to find another name for this. Something like a profound suspension of judgment.
    Roland Barthes (1915–1980)