Portal:Liberalism

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Portal:Liberalism

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Liberalism (from the Latin liberalis, "of freedom") is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but most liberals support such fundamental ideas as constitutions, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights, democratic capitalism, free trade, secular society, and the market economy. These ideas are often accepted even among political groups that do not openly profess a liberal ideological orientation. Liberalism first became a distinct political movement during the Age of Enlightenment, when it became popular among philosophers and economists in the Western world. Liberalism rejected the prevailing social and political norms of hereditary privilege, state religion, absolute monarchy and the Divine Right of Kings. Leaders in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the American Revolution of 1776 and the French Revolution of 1789 used liberal philosophy to justify the armed overthrow of royal tyranny. Liberalism encompasses several intellectual trends and traditions, but the dominant variants are classical liberalism, which became popular in the 18th century, and social liberalism, which became popular in the 20th century. In the United States, "liberal" generally refers specifically to social liberalism. Neoliberalism refers primarily to the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism.
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Classical liberalism is a political ideology, a branch of liberalism which advocates civil liberties under the rule of law with an emphasis on economic freedom. It is closely related to libertarianism and to free market capitalism.

Classical liberalism developed in the early 19th century, building on ideas from the previous century. It was a response to urbanization, and to the Industrial Revolution in Europe and the United States. Notable individuals whose ideas 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.

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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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The storming of the Bastille, 14 July 1789
Credit: Dodo

The Storming of the Bastille occurred in Paris, France, on the afternoon of 14 July 1789. The medieval fortress, armory, and political prison in Paris known as the Bastille represented royal authority in the center of Paris. The prison contained just seven inmates at the time of its storming but was a symbol of abuses by the monarchy; its fall was the flashpoint of the French Revolution.

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