Meaning and Definition of Liberalism

They came to believe that New Deal liberalism undermined American sovereignty and paved the way for Armageddon. The Cold War was marked by extensive ideological competition and several proxy wars, but the widely feared World War III between the Soviet Union and the United States never took place. While communist states and liberal democracies competed with each other, an economic crisis in the 1970s inspired a shift away from Keynesian economics, particularly under Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Ronald Reagan in the United States. This trend, known as neoliberalism, represented a paradigm shift from the post-war Keynesian consensus that lasted from 1945 to 1980. [185] [186] Meanwhile, towards the end of the 20th century. In the nineteenth century, the communist states of Eastern Europe collapsed brutally, leaving liberal democracies as the only major forms of government in the West. His definition of freedom, influenced by Joseph Priestley and Josiah Warren, was that individuals should be free to do what they want unless they harm others. [134] Although Mill`s original economic philosophy supported free markets and argued that progressive taxation punished those who worked harder,[135] he later changed his view to a more socialist inclination by adding chapters to his principles of political economy to defend a socialist perspective and defend certain socialist causes, [136] including the radical proposal to favour the entire wage system in favour of a cooperative wage system. Liberalism is more than one thing. On closer inspection, it seems to disintegrate into a series of related, but sometimes competing, visions. In this article, we focus on debates within the liberal tradition. (1) We oppose three interpretations of liberalism`s central confession of freedom.

(2) We oppose “old” and “new” liberalism. (3) We ask whether liberalism is a “global” or “political” doctrine. (4) We conclude with questions about the “scope” of liberalism – does it apply to all humanity? Should all political communities be liberal? Could a Liberal answer that question conclusively by saying no? Could a liberal answer this question conclusively by saying yes? The problem described by Breyer in his book is at the heart of liberalism. One consequence of Rawls` magnificent A Theory of Justice (1999 [first published in 1971]) is that “new liberalism” focused on developing a theory of social justice. Since the 1960s, when Rawls began publishing elements of his emergent theory, liberal political philosophers have analyzed and challenged his famous “principle of difference,” according to which a just basic structure of society organizes social and economic inequalities in such a way that they are to the greatest advantage of the less wealthy representative group (1999b: 266). For Rawls, the norm is an equal distribution of income and wealth (essentially); Only the inequalities that best improve the long-term prospects of the most disadvantaged are fair. For Rawls, the principle of difference represents a public recognition of the principle of reciprocity: the basic structure must be designed in such a way that no social group advances at the expense of another (2001: 122-24). Many Rawls adherents focused less on the ideal of reciprocity and more on commitment to equality (Dworkin, 2000). In fact, what used to be called “welfare state” liberalism is now often called liberal egalitarianism.

However, see Jan Narveson`s essay on Hobbes` apparent defense of the welfare state (in Courtland 2018) for historical reflections on difference). In addition to Smith and Say`s legacy, Thomas Malthus` theories of population and David Ricardo`s iron wage law became central tenets of classical economics. [102] Meanwhile, John the Baptist challenged Say`s labor theory of value, believing that prices were determined by utility, and also emphasized the crucial role of the entrepreneur in the economy. However, none of these observations were accepted by British economists at the time. Malthus wrote An Essay on the Principle of Population [103] in 1798 and became a major influence on classical liberalism. Malthus claimed that population growth would exceed food production because population increased geometrically, while food production increased arithmetically. When people received food, they multiplied until their growth exceeded the food supply. Nature would then slow down growth in the form of vice and misery.

No amount of income gain could prevent this, and any well-being for the poor would be self-destructive. The poor are indeed responsible for their own problems, which could have been avoided by restraint. [104] Although classical liberals agree on the fundamental importance of private property to a free society, the classical liberal tradition itself is a range of views, ranging from almost anarchist to those who attribute to the state an important role in economic and social policy (on this spectrum, see Mack and Gaus, 2004). At the “libertarian” end of the classical liberal spectrum, there are conceptions of justified states as legitimate monopolies that can charge the judiciary for services that protect essential rights: taxation is legitimate, if necessary, and sufficient for effective protection of liberty and property. Further to the left, we encounter classical liberal views that allow taxation, especially for public education and more generally for public goods and social infrastructure. Going even further “to the left”, some classical liberal conceptions allow a modest social minimum. (e.g., Hayek, 1976: 87). Most classical liberal economists of the nineteenth century advocated a variety of government policies that included not only criminal law and contract enforcement, but also professional licensing, health, safety, and fire regulations, banking regulation, business infrastructure (roads, ports, and canals), and often encouraged unionization (Gaus, 1983b). Although classical liberalism today is often associated with libertarianism, the broader classical liberal tradition was centered on improving the lot of the working class, women, blacks, immigrants, etc.

The goal, as Bentham said, was to make the poor richer, not the rich poorer (Bentham, 1952 [1795]: Vol. 1, 226n). Therefore, classical liberals treat the leveling of wealth and income as outside the realm of legitimate state coercion. In the United States, the history of modern liberalism dates back to the popular presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who initiated the New Deal in response to the Great Depression and won four unprecedented elections.