What is liberalism? Liberalism is a political philosophy founded on ideas of liberty and equality.
1. Classical Liberalism
A political ideology that values the freedom of individuals — including the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and markets — as well as limited government. It developed in 18th-century Europe and drew on the economic writings of Adam Smith and the growing notion of social progress.
Response to: Intellectual response to the Industrial Revolution with heavy problems in urbanization. Many modern scholars of liberalism argue that no particularly meaningful distinction between classical and modern liberalism exists. According to William J. Novak, liberalism in the United States shifted between 1877 and 1937 from a laissez faire style of government into a new deal sort of social-welfares.
Beliefs: Free trade and world peace. Many classical liberalism propose that liberty and prosperity can be increased through empowering commercial classes and abolishing royal charters and monopolies. They believe more in mercantilism and entrepreneurship. Human Nature, Government, World Peace.
Accomplishments: From the time of the American Revolution to the present day, America has extended liberty to ever broader classes of people. The states abolished many restrictions on voting for white males in the early 19th century. The Constitution was amended in 1865 to abolish slavery, in 1870 to extend the vote to Black men.
2. Progressive Liberalism
A broad philosophy based on the Idea of Progress, which asserts that advancement in science, technology, economic development, and social organization are vital to improve the human condition. Progressivism became highly significant during the Age of Enlightenment in Europe, out of the belief that Europe was demonstrating that societies could progress in civility from barbaric conditions to civilization through strengthening the basis of empirical knowledge as the foundation of society.
Response to: In the late 19th century, a political view rose in popularity in the Western world that progress was being stifled by vast economic inequality between the rich and the poor, minimally regulated laissez-faire capitalism with out-of-control monopolistic corporations, intense and often violent conflict between workers and capitalists, and a need for measures to address these problems
Beliefs: In America, progressivism began as a social movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and grew into a political movement, in what was known as the Progressive Era. While the term “American progressives” represent a range of diverse political pressure groups (not always united), some American progressives rejected Social Darwinism, believing that the problems society faced (poverty, violence, greed, racism, class warfare) could best be addressed by providing good education, a safe environment, and an efficient workplace. Progressives lived mainly in the cities, were college educated, and believed that government could be a tool for change.
Accomplishments: Modernization, Economic Reforms & Development, equality with women and blacks. To some extent environmentalism.
3. Leftism/Radicalism Liberalism
Response to: Mostly, the Industrialization Movements and radical right construction. The idealism behind the right political parties influenced people to turn into complete leftists with democratic foundations.
Beliefs: Everything Democratic x2; “Power to the People”; Reform is needed to continue society; out with the old, in with the new. Science reforms, education reforms, anti-religious zealots. Radicalism is the belief that the king’s power – or in America’s case, government — is illegitimate and that those affected by decisions ought to have some say in how they are made. It’s a belief that there shouldn’t be a king at all.
Accomplishments: The push for science in education and the idealism behind leftist politics.
4. New Deal Liberalism
Response to: the traditional or “classical” understanding of liberalism came to represent a kind of conservatism, as powerful institutions (including, primarily, corporations and trusts) found ways to constrict the freedom of individuals through the onerous working conditions of early industrial factories while at the same time paying tribute to the liberal virtues of self-reliance and freedom to choose one’s own path to prosperity. To address these developments the great liberal philosopher John Dewey called upon liberals to rethink some of their most fundamental assumptions. Dewey defended the same Enlightenment-based liberalism of old but redefined it so as to allow its believers to adapt to contemporary conditions.
- The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation.
- The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.
- The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living.
- The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad.
- The right of every family to a decent home.
- The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.
- The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.
- The right to a good education.
Accomplishments: The Neal Deal and most of their beliefs were in fact accomplished. Very successful political foundation; a successor of classical liberalism.