Portal:Liberalism

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Portal:Liberalism

Introduction

Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but they generally support civil rights, democracy, secularism, gender and race equality, internationalism and the freedoms of speech, the press, religion and markets.

Liberalism became a distinct movement in the Age of Enlightenment, when it became popular among Western philosophers and economists. Liberalism sought to replace the norms of hereditary privilege, state religion, absolute monarchy, the divine right of kings and traditional conservatism with representative democracy and the rule of law. Liberals also ended mercantilist policies, royal monopolies and other barriers to trade, instead promoting free markets. Philosopher John Locke is often credited with founding liberalism as a distinct tradition, arguing that each man has a natural right to life, liberty and property, adding that governments must not violate these rights based on the social contract. While the British liberal tradition has emphasised expanding democracy, French liberalism has emphasised rejecting authoritarianism and is linked to nation-building.

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Social liberalism is a political ideology that believes individual liberty requires a level of social justice. Like classical liberalism, social liberalism endorses a market economy and the expansion of civil and political rights and liberties, but differs in that it believes the legitimate role of the government includes addressing economic and social issues such as poverty, health care, and education. Under social liberalism, the good of the community is viewed as harmonious with the freedom of the individual. Social liberal policies have been widely adopted in much of the capitalist world, particularly following World War II. Social liberal ideas and parties tend to be considered centrist or centre-left.

In American political usage, the term "social liberalism" describes progressive stances on socio-political issues like abortion, same-sex marriage or gun control, as opposed to "social conservatism". A social liberal in this sense may hold either "liberal" or "conservative" views on fiscal policy. (See Modern liberalism in the United States.)

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Picture of John Locke
John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 8 May 1873) was an English philosopher, political economist and civil servant. One of the most influential thinkers in the history of liberalism, he contributed widely to social theory, political theory and political economy. Dubbed "the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century", Mill's conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state and social control. Mill was a proponent of utilitarianism, an ethical theory developed by his predecessor Jeremy Bentham, and contributed significantly to the theory of the scientific method. A member of the Liberal Party, he was also the first Member of Parliament to call for women's suffrage.

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John Dewey
John Dewey, Liberalism and Social Action, 1935.
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Prince of Orange lands at Torbay
Credit: Hopepark

The Glorious Revolution was the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III, Prince of Orange. King James's policies of religious tolerance after 1685 met with increasing opposition from members of leading political circles, who were troubled by the king's Catholicism and his close ties with France. The crisis facing the king came to a head in 1688, with the birth of the king's son, James Francis Edward Stuart, on 10 June (Julian calendar). This changed the existing line of succession by displacing the heir presumptive with young James Francis Edward as heir apparent. After consolidating political and financial support, William, crossed the North Sea and English Channel with a large invasion fleet in November 1688, landing at Torbay. William's successful invasion of England with a Dutch fleet and army led to his ascension to the throne as William III of England jointly with his wife, Mary II, James's daughter, after the Declaration of Right, leading to the Bill of Rights 1689.

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