Essay Classical Liberalism

Essay Classical Liberalism-28
Their emphasis on property, beginning with the individual's ownership of himself, and their hostility to state power show that the amalgamation of the Levellers to the presocialist Diggers was mere enemy propaganda.

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The qualifying "classical" is now usually necessary, in English-speaking countries at least (but not, for instance, in France), because liberalism has come to be associated with wide-ranging interferences with private property and the market on behalf of egalitarian goals.

This version of liberalism — if such it can still be called — is sometimes designated as "social," or (erroneously) "modern" or the "new," liberalism.

The astonishing success of the Dutch experiment exerted a "demonstration effect" on European social thought and, gradually, political practice.

This was even truer of the later example of England.

Later in the century, John Locke framed the doctrine of the natural rights to life, liberty, and estate — which he collectively termed "property" — in the form that would be passed down, through the Real Whigs of the 18th century, to the generation of the American Revolution.

America became the model liberal nation, and, after England, the exemplar of liberalism to the world.With the onset of industrialization, a major area of conflict opened up between liberalism and conservatism.Conservative elites and their spokesmen, particularly in Britain, often exploited the circumstances of early industrialism to tarnish the liberal escutcheon of their middle-class and Nonconformist opponents.Until well into the 20th century, however, the most significant liberal theory continued to be produced in Europe.The 18th century was particularly rich in this regard.In France, for instance, liberals used state-funded schools and institutes to promote secularism under the Directory, and they supported anticlerical legislation during the Third Republic, while in Bismarck's Germany they spearheaded the against the Catholic Church.These efforts, however, can be seen as betrayals of liberal principles and in fact were eschewed by those acknowledged to be the most consistent and doctrinaire in their liberalism.One stands out, however, as the first recognizably liberal party in European history: the Levellers.Led by John Lilburne and Richard Overton, this movement of middle-class radicals demanded freedom of trade and an end to state monopolies, separation of church and state, popular representation, and strict limits even to parliamentary authority.To the extent that liberals associated conservatism with militarism and imperialism, another source of conflict arose.While a strand of Whiggish liberalism was not averse to wars (beyond self-defense) for liberal ends, and while wars of national unification provided a major exception to the rule, by and large liberalism was associated with the cause of peace.


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