The Development Of Liberalism Down The Ages

1540 words - 7 pages

In this paper, an attempt has been made to capture the journey from classical liberalism and its transformation down the ages. The idea of liberalism originated in Europe with the thoughts of political philosophers like J.S. Mill, Herbert Spencer, John Locke. They were of the opinion that state activities can regulate an individual in so far as it aids towards his self expression and individual action. They also said that states were supposed to help economic transaction by controlling the basic norms yet leaving room for individual expression. They had contrary opinions to Marx’s idea of a state where individuals are equal and everybody gets the same benefits. Liberalists are more inclined towards capitalists as they propagate the idea of individuality, individual choices affecting one’s disposition in society. In the works of Nietsze, Foucault, we see the tendency to emphasise on self as the centre of existence. They do not entirely deny state but consider state action as an important regulation for self expression. Nietsze also focuses on culture as a means of expressing oneself. However his idea of culture supports the aristocratic perspective where it separates an individual from the masses.
Liberalists have been vocal about the idea of laissez-faire or free market. The idea stems from the conception that one needs equality of status before they become diverse as individuals. Hence to abolish innate shortcomings, the market should be opened to all to set a level playing field. Liberalists are not supportive of the idea of history governing the present. They are more inclined towards self as the yardstick for judgement and a society where people preserve themselves from a latent set of fundamental moral values. It also emphasises on the practice of adversary which is essential for generating dynamic social order. However underlying the adversarial theory there is the notion of an innate goodness and moral sensibility that governs the competition that creates the social dynamic, controlling the society economically . The liberalist also debate upon democracy as the tool of the majority to practice tyranny over the minority . Liberalism theory has also been subject to changes with time. Liberalism emerges from a general idea of protesting against a seat of power and differs from the radicals in the sense that their claims are moderated by an aversion to sudden changes .
Classical liberalism
Liberalism can be traced back to the middle ages when urbanisation started in Europe. It was prominently noted during the renaissance when individualism became the order of the day in Europe and there was the split between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants. Then there was the glorious revolution in England that through heralding democracy marked a shift of power that enabled people to choose. Following that, French Revolution attempted at ushering in democracy, which though a failure in the contemporary times later paved way for...

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