What is Liberalism in politics?
EDEXCEL A2 GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS: UNIT THREE/ROUTE B: POLITICAL IDEOLOGIES: LIBERALISM
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The Liberal State
ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT
- Liberalism emerged as a political creed in the early part of the 19th Century, though it was based on a series of ideas from as much as 300 years earlier
- Liberal ideas arose out of the enlightenment in the wake of the collapse of feudalism and the transition to an industrialised market economy
- Liberal ideas were popular amongst the newly emerging middle class. They were aspirational, and sought radical and even revolutionary change, challenging the absolute powers of the monarchs and the ‘divine right of kings’
- They also championed freedom of conscience and challenged the authority of the church
- The 19th century saw the triumph of liberal ideas as industrialisation spread and market economies flourished
- In economic terms liberals emphasised the importance of the market, free from government interference, and the promotion of free trade between nations.
- As capitalism was exported around the globe some nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America resisted the individualism of liberalism and instead favoured socialism or nationalism
- Western political systems have been so profoundly influenced by liberalism that they are often referred to as liberal democracies
- There is an emphasis on constitutionalism, civil liberties, checks and balances, toleration and the protection of fundamental civil liberties. In addition freedom of expression, the right to property and freedom of conscience are all deeply ingrained in western political systems