Key doctrines of liberalism <ul><li>Liberals view human nature as rational but self-interested – this view helps us to understand other liberal doctrines. </li></ul><ul><li>Liberalism is a mechanistic theory – it asserts the primacy of the individual over any group, society or state. </li></ul><ul><li>These core doctrines have led liberals to focus on the central importance of individual freedom . </li></ul><ul><li>Classical liberals believed in negative freedom – non-interference; this implies a free-market economy. </li></ul>
The state <ul><li>It was seen as inherently oppressive and as a ‘ realm of coercion ’. </li></ul><ul><li>Private or civil society was a ‘ realm of freedom ’. </li></ul><ul><li>The state was a necessary evil to safeguard law, order and security, but its role should be minimal – ‘a night watchman’ (John Locke). </li></ul><ul><li>The state should protect the three basic, natural rights to life, liberty and property . </li></ul>
Laissez-faire economics <ul><li>Classical liberalism believed in laissez-faire economics (‘leave alone’): free market, private enterprise capitalism. </li></ul><ul><li>Classical liberalism encouraged a free-market economy, controlled by the forces of supply and demand – the invisible hand’ as Adam Smith (1723-90) put it. </li></ul><ul><li>Economic inequality should be an incentive to enterprise. </li></ul>
The drunk in the gutter is just where he ought to be William Sumner (1884)
Classical Liberal beliefs The primacy of the individual Economic laissez faire & minimal state intervention Individual freedom & opportunity The rationality of human nature
Classical liberal ideas have been revived since the 1970s in the form of neo-liberalism. This has been adopted by right-wing conservatives within the New Right
Modern Liberalism <ul><li>Classical liberalism promoted a survival of the fittest system, which may undermine equality of opportunity, economic efficiency and social harmony. </li></ul><ul><li>Modern liberalism came to see that negative freedom may penalise individuals. </li></ul><ul><li>The core doctrine of modern liberalism is, therefore, positive individual freedom – the freedom to achieve one’s own potential and personal development with state help and intervention where necessary. </li></ul>
Positive freedom <ul><li>A positive and empowering role for the state. This could either be in a mixed market economy providing health, welfare and education to help individuals make the most of themselves, or in the state guaranteeing by law freedom from discrimination, freedom of information, freedom of speech and so on. </li></ul><ul><li>It was the Liberal Party’s Beveridge Report (1942) that laid the foundations for the post-war welfare state. </li></ul>
20 doctrines of modern liberalism <ul><li>1. Mechanistic theory 11. Representative government </li></ul><ul><li>2. Individualism 12. Equality of opportunity </li></ul><ul><li>3. Rationalism 13. Meritocracy </li></ul><ul><li>4. Positive individual freedom 14. Political equality </li></ul><ul><li>5. Constitutionalism 15. Civil rights and liberties </li></ul><ul><li>6. Limited government 16. Tolerance </li></ul><ul><li>7. Rule of law 17. Open society </li></ul><ul><li>Pluralism 18. Private property </li></ul><ul><li>Separation of powers 19. Decentralisation </li></ul><ul><li>Checks and balances 20. Internationalism </li></ul>
Positive freedom Positive freedom means freedom to achieve one’s own potential and personal development, and attain fulfilment.
Negative freedom Positive freedom Favoured by classical liberals Favoured by modern liberals The role of the state should be minimal, limited to providing security and order The state should help and intervene where necessary to allow people to flourish
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