Liberalism first emerged as an ideology in 17century Britain. The historical development of liberalism. As a term liberalismemerge in 19 century a party led by WilliamGladstone, the value has a much longer history. The origins ofliberalism traced to the rise of capitalist political economy, as defense ofprivate property and the individualistic political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes and JohnLocke. The diverse character of liberalism has been used to describedparties of the right (Australia) left (Canada), free market, in US it denotesstate intervention. Labour party in Britain and many social democratic partiesin Europe, has really been liberal in character.The liberalism associated withthe social democratic left, is a new orsocial liberalism; the classical liberalism drowning on the economic theory of Adam Smith and the social theory of Herbert Spencer emphasizes that state’s roleshould be limited to ensure internal and external security and to ensure thatprivate property rights are enforced. The market is the most effective means ofmeeting human needs, its moral dimension is a limited state maximizes freedomand rewards those who work hardest.
Atthe end of 19 century it be questioned for extent poverty and socialist ideasemerged. A new liberalism emerged, saw more positive role of state, creategreater opportunities for individuals to achieve their goals.
Through a range of social reform measures,liberal government dominant political landscape for much 20 century. 1970s arevised version of classical liberalism emerged to challenge the newliberalism, right wing government, political thinker Hayekand Nozick.
The core meaning of liberalism can be found in the concepts of liberty, tolerance, individualism, and aparticular kind of equality, right, intrinsic good, possibility forself-development it products. Classicalliberalism emphasizes the negative liberty,remove external constraints; new liberalismemphasizes positive liberty, removeobstacles of freedom. Liberal focus on individual, by social contract of Hobbesand Locke, the individual is prior to society, protect individual right againstsociety and state. Individualism denies the state’s right to intervene anyaspect of the life of individuals, extremeliberalism is Anarchist thought. It believes that human are rational andable to determine their own best interests, in economic realm, individuals arebest left to their own devices as consumers and producers. The hidden hand ofthe market will ensure economic utility is achieved. The community is merely anaggregate of individuals with competing interests and values. Liberals regardindividuals as of equal value; not equality of outcome, but equality ofopportunity, whereby fairness is ensured, become individuals stating from thesame position, are rewarded for their efforts. Freemarket dose not genuine equality of opportunity, for individual notstart from the same position. Classical liberalism has four main principles:the first idea is limited political powers:absolute extensive and arbitrary is problematical since it prevents individualsfrom fully using their intelligence and creative capabilities to better theirown life and the future of society. Absolutepolitical power tends to be corrupted, self-serving and unpredictable.Locke argued that government needed the consent ofthe governed. Governed has the right and responsibility to withdrawtheir consent and to repudiate a government that
stoppedacting in their best interest. Hobbes suggested that state was the product of asocial contract that individuals agreed to delegate authority to a sovereignfor the purpose of maintaining law and order, to avoid violent conflict.
Locke argued that state had role of protecting private property, ‘small’ state,because individuals need to be free of constraints to fully develop theirpotential, individuals not government know best what to do with financial resource,ask for weak economic regulation and low levels taxes. Humannature make human beings are rational andself-interested they look after themselves first and have thecapabilities to do so better than anyone else. They have the power to choose andtherefore responsible for their action.
Liberals stress the rationality,autonomy, creativity and imagination of individuals, advocated thesecularization of society, separation of religion and politics, small, limitedand accountable government, and secular, as a first principle. Second principle is freedom, allows individuals tofully use their intelligence capacities and creativity. If individuals arefree, society’s wealth, prosperity, and good life will follow. ‘absence ofobstacles’ as negative freedom, in politics freedom from state interference;The protection of fundamental liberties (thought, religion, association,speech) habeas corpus which protects against arbitrary, searches and seizures’.The third principle is equality of rights.In battle absolutism church power and privileges, argued for equality beforethe law, the political leaders be legally treated no differently from privatecitizen, that is rule of law, emphasis on equality of rights. The fourth principle is free-market economy.Capitalism in economic sphere make competition generates wealth and prosperitymarket itself, not the state, is the most efficient instrument of economicregulation. Adam Smith argued that individuals, which selfishly pursuing theirown interests, are actually working toward the common good. There is an headedhand that guild participant in a free market to promotecommon good.
Developmentfeatures of liberalism
Reform liberalismin four ways to refashion the liberalism idea: first,add the idea of positive freedom, is freedomto, it entails the capacity and power to do something. Second,boosted conception of equality. Add the equality of opportunity. Third, more favourstate intervention. Market alone would not provide individuals withpositive freedom and the equality of opportunity, using mechanisms ofredistribution such as progressive taxation and welfare/ unemployment policies,advocated welfare state conceptualised by John Maynard Keynes. Fourth, advocated universalsuffrage.
Early liberals were not democrats, liberal politicalsystem are not necessarily democratic. Liberalism in contemporary politics hassome characters.
Liberalism is the dominant ideology in Western society. Canada usesseveral mechanisms to control and limited political powers: responsible government, whereby the execrativeneeds to explain, justify and defend its action to a legislative assembly; federalism, which in formally dividing powerbetween federal and provincial governments. Fragments power and provide a checkon the power of both; the charter of rights andfreedom, which offer a judicial check on political power, assures therule of law
and guarantees liberalrights and freedoms. Five major federal parties allagree with the main principles of liberalism.
The central ideological in Canada is betweenclassical and reform liberalism. Classical speak of lowering taxes,eliminating deficit, reducing the debt, controlling public spending,privatizing Crown Corporation, creating a good business environment. Reformliberals put more emphasis on social spending and rely on the state to redistributewealth and correct the deficiencies of the market, speak of social justice andequality. American political parties, Republican and Democratic, are verysimilar, close to classical liberalism. Liberalism is not as dominant inWestern Europe as it is in North America. Neoliberalism is classical liberalismwith the added element of international free trade.