Classical liberalism is a political ideology, a branch of liberalism which advocates civil liberties and political freedom with limited government under the rule of law and emphasizes economic freedom.
Classical liberalism developed in the 19th century in Europe and the United States. Although classical liberalism built on ideas that had already developed by the end of the 18th century, it advocated a specific kind of society, government and public policy as a response to the Industrial Revolution and urbanization. Notable individuals whose ideas have contributed to classical liberalism include John Locke, Jean-Baptiste Say, Thomas Malthus, and David Ricardo. It drew on the economics of Adam Smith and on a belief in natural law, utilitarianism, and progress.
There was a revival of interest in classical liberalism in the 20th century led by Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. Some call the modern development of classical liberalism "neo-classical liberalism", which argued for government to be as small as possible in order to allow the exercise of individual freedom, while some refer to all liberalism before the 20th century as classical liberalism.
The term classical liberalism was applied in retrospect to distinguish earlier 19th-century liberalism from the newer social liberalism.
Libertarianism has been used in modern times as a substitute for the phrase "neo-classical liberalism", leading to some confusion. The identification of libertarianism with neo-classical liberalism primarily occurs in the United States, where some conservatives and right-libertarians use the term classical liberalism to describe their belief in the primacy of economic freedom and minimal government.
Famous quotes containing the words classical and/or liberalism:
“Against classical philosophy: thinking about eternity or the immensity of the universe does not lessen my unhappiness.”
—Mason Cooley (b. 1927)
“There are two kinds of liberalism. A liberalism which is always, subterraneously authoritative and paternalistic, on the side of ones 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 (19151980)