History of liberalism | Wikipedia audio article

History of liberalism | Wikipedia audio article


Liberalism, the belief in freedom and human
rights, is historically associated with thinkers such as John Locke and Montesquieu. It is
a political movement which spans the better part of the last four centuries, though the
use of the word “liberalism” to refer to a specific political doctrine did not occur
until the 19th century. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 in England laid the foundations for
the development of the modern liberal state by constitutionally limiting the power of
the monarch, affirming parliamentary supremacy, passing the Bill of Rights and establishing
the principle of “consent of the governed”. The 1776 Declaration of Independence of the
United States founded the nascent republic on liberal principles without the encumbrance
of hereditary aristocracy—the declaration stated that “all men are created equal and
endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, among these life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness”, echoing John Locke’s phrase “life, liberty, and property”. A few
years later, the French Revolution overthrew the hereditary aristocracy, with the slogan
“liberty, equality, fraternity” and was the first state in history to grant universal
male suffrage. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, first codified
in 1789 in France, is a foundational document of both liberalism and human rights. The intellectual
progress of the Enlightenment, which questioned old traditions about societies and governments,
eventually coalesced into powerful revolutionary movements that toppled what the French called
the Ancien Régime, the belief in absolute monarchy and established religion, especially
in Europe, Latin America and North America. William Henry of Orange in the Glorious Revolution,
Thomas Jefferson in the American Revolution and Lafayette in the French Revolution used
liberal philosophy to justify the armed overthrow of what they saw as tyrannical rule. Liberalism
started to spread rapidly especially after the French Revolution. The 19th century saw
liberal governments established in nations across Europe, South America and North America.
In this period, the dominant ideological opponent of classical liberalism was conservatism,
but liberalism later survived major ideological challenges from new opponents, such as fascism
and communism. Liberal government often adopted the economic beliefs espoused by Adam Smith,
John Stuart Mill and others, which broadly emphasized the importance of free markets
and laissez-faire governance, with a minimum of interference in trade.
During 19th and early 20th century in the Ottoman Empire and Middle East, liberalism
influenced periods of reform such as the Tanzimat and Nahda and the rise of secularism, constitutionalism
and nationalism. These changes, along with other factors, helped to create a sense of
crisis within Islam which continues to this day—this led to Islamic revivalism. During
the 20th century, liberal ideas spread even further as liberal democracies found themselves
on the winning side in both world wars. In Europe and North America, the establishment
of social liberalism (often called simply “liberalism” in the United States) became
a key component in the expansion of the welfare state. Today, liberal parties continue to
wield power and influence throughout the world, but it still has challenges to overcome in
Africa and Asia. Later waves of modern liberal thought and struggle were strongly influenced
by the need to expand civil rights. Liberals have advocated for gender equality and racial
equality and a global social movement for civil rights in the 20th century achieved
several objectives towards both goals.==Early history==Isolated strands of liberal thought had existed
in Western philosophy since the Ancient Greeks and in Eastern philosophy since the Song and
Ming period, but the first major signs of liberal politics emerged in modern times.
Many of the liberal concepts of Locke were foreshadowed in the radical ideas that were
freely aired at the time. The pamphleteer Richard Overton wrote: “To every Individuall
in nature, is given an individuall property by nature, not to be invaded or usurped by
any…; no man hath power over my rights and liberties, and I over no mans”. These ideas
were first unified as a distinct ideology by the English philosopher John Locke, generally
regarded as the father of modern liberalism. Locke developed the radical notion that government
acquires consent from the governed, which has to be constantly present for a government
to remain legitimate. His influential Two Treatises (1690), the foundational text of
liberal ideology, outlined his major ideas. His insistence that lawful government did
not have a supernatural basis was a sharp break from previous theories of governance.
Locke also defined the concept of the separation of church and state. Based on the social contract
principle, Locke argued that there was a natural right to the liberty of conscience, which
he argued must therefore remain protected from any government authority. He also formulated
a general defence for religious toleration in his Letters Concerning Toleration. Locke
was influenced by the liberal ideas of John Milton, who was a staunch advocate of freedom
in all its forms.Milton argued for disestablishment as the only effective way of achieving broad
toleration. In his Areopagitica, Milton provided one of the first arguments for the importance
of freedom of speech – “the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to
conscience, above all liberties”. Algernon Sidney was second only to John Locke in his
influence on liberal political thought in eighteenth-century Britain and Colonial America,
and was widely read and quoted by the Whig opposition during the Glorious Revolution.
Sidney’s argument that “free men always have the right to resist tyrannical government”
was widely quoted by the Patriots at the time of American Revolutionary War and Thomas Jefferson
considered Sidney to have been one of the two primary sources for the Founding Fathers’
view of liberty. Sidney believed that absolute monarchy was a great political evil and his
major work, Discourses Concerning Government, was written during the Exclusion Crisis, as
a response to Robert Filmer’s Patriarcha, a defence of divine right monarchy. Sidney
firmly rejected the Filmer’s reactionary principles and argued that the subjects of the monarch
were entitled by right to share in the government through advice and counsel.==Glorious Revolution==Isolated strands of liberal thought that had
existed in Western philosophy since the Ancient Greeks began to coalesce at the time of the
English Civil War. Disputes between the Parliament and King Charles I over political supremacy
sparked a massive civil war in the 1640s, which culminated in Charles’ execution and
the establishment of a Republic. In particular, the Levellers, a radical political movement
of the period, published their manifesto Agreement of the People which advocated popular sovereignty,
an extended voting suffrage, religious tolerance and equality before the law. The impact of
these ideas steadily increased during the 17th century in England, culminating in the
Glorious Revolution of 1688, which enshrined parliamentary sovereignty and the right of
revolution, and led to the establishment of what many consider the first modern, liberal
state. Significant legislative milestones in this period included the Habeas Corpus
Act of 1679, which strengthened the convention that forbade detention lacking sufficient
cause or evidence. The Bill of Rights formally established the supremacy of the law and of
parliament over the monarch and laid down basic rights for all Englishmen. The Bill
made royal interference with the law and with elections to parliament illegal, made the
agreement of parliament necessary for the implementation of any new taxes and outlawed
the maintenance of a standing army during peacetime without parliament’s consent. The
right to petition the monarch was granted to everyone and “cruel and unusual punishments”
were made illegal under all circumstances. This was followed a year later with the Act
of Toleration, which drew its ideological content from John Locke’s four letters advocating
religious toleration. The Act allowed freedom of worship to Nonconformists who pledged oaths
of Allegiance and Supremacy to the Anglican Church. In 1695, the Commons refused to renew
the Licensing of the Press Act 1662, leading to a continuous period of unprecedented freedom
of the press. The Licensing of the Press Act 1662, which sanctioned government censorship
of the printing press, expired in 1692 at the end of the existing session of parliament.
In 1695, the Commons refused to renew the legislation, leading to a continuous period
of unprecedented freedom of the press (apart from seditious libel).==Age of Enlightenment==The development of liberalism continued throughout
the 18th century with the burgeoning Enlightenment ideals of the era. This was a period of profound
intellectual vitality that questioned old traditions and influenced several European
monarchies throughout the 18th century. In contrast to England, the French experience
in the 18th century was characterised by the perpetuation of feudal payments and rights
and absolutism. Ideas that challenged the status quo were often harshly repressed. Most
of the philosophes of the French Enlightenment were progressive in the liberal sense and
advocated the reform of the French system of government along more constitutional and
liberal lines. The American Enlightenment is a period of intellectual ferment in the
thirteen American colonies in the period 1714–1818, which led to the American Revolution and the
creation of the American Republic. Influenced by the 18th-century European Enlightenment
and its own native American Philosophy, the American Enlightenment applied scientific
reasoning to politics, science and religion, promoted religious tolerance, and restored
literature, the arts, and music as important disciplines and professions worthy of study
in colleges. A prominent example of a monarch who took
the Enlightenment project seriously was Joseph II of Austria, who ruled from 1780 to 1790
and implemented a wide array of radical reforms, such as the complete abolition of serfdom,
the imposition of equal taxation policies between the aristocracy and the peasantry,
the institution of religious toleration, including equal civil rights for Jews and the suppression
of Catholic religious authority throughout his empire, creating a more secular nation.
Besides the Enlightenment, a rising tide of industrialization and urbanization in Western
Europe during the 18th century also contributed to the growth of liberal society by spurring
commercial and entrepreneurial activity. In the early 18th century, the Commonwealth
men and the Country Party in England, promoted republicanism and condemned the perceived
widespread corruption and lack of morality during the Walpole era, theorizing that only
civic virtue could protect a country from despotism and ruin. A series of essays, known
as Cato’s Letters, published in the London Journal during the 1720s and written by John
Trenchard and Thomas Gordon, condemned tyranny and advanced principles of freedom of conscience
and freedom of speech. They were an important influence on the development of Republicanism
in the United States.In the 1760s, the “Middlesex radicals”, led by the politician John Wilkes
who was expelled from the House of Commons for seditious libel, founded the Society for
the Defence of the Bill of Rights and developed the belief that every man had the right to
vote and “natural reason” enabled him to properly judge political issues. Liberty consisted
in frequent elections. This was to begin a long tradition of British radicalism.===French Enlightenment===In contrast to England, the French experience
in the 18th century was characterized by the perpetuation of feudalism and absolutism.
Ideas that challenged the status quo were often harshly repressed. Most of the philosophes
of the French Enlightenment were progressive in the liberal sense and advocated the reform
of the French system of government along more constitutional and liberal lines.
Montesquieu wrote a series of highly influential works in the early 18th century, including
Persian letters (1717) and The Spirit of the Laws (1748). The latter exerted tremendous
influence, both inside and outside France. Montesquieu pleaded in favor of a constitutional
system of government, the preservation of civil liberties and the law and the idea that
political institutions ought to reflect the social and geographical aspects of each community.
In particular, he argued that political liberty required the separation of the powers of government.
Building on John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, he advocated that the executive,
legislative and judicial functions of government should be assigned to different bodies, so
that attempts by one branch of government to infringe on political liberty might be
restrained by the other branches. In a lengthy discussion of the English political system,
which he greatly admired, he tried to show how this might be achieved and liberty secured,
even in a monarchy. He also notes that liberty cannot be secure where there is no separation
of powers, even in a republic. He also emphasized the importance of a robust due process in
law, including the right to a fair trial, the presumption of innocence and proportionality
in the severity of punishment. Another important figure of the French Enlightenment
was Voltaire. Initially believing in the constructive role an enlightened monarch could play in
improving the welfare of the people, he eventually came to a new conclusion: “It is up to us
to cultivate our garden”. His most polemical and ferocious attacks on intolerance and religious
persecutions indeed began to appear a few years later. Despite much persecution, Voltaire
remained a courageous polemicist who indefatigably fought for civil rights—the right to a fair
trial and freedom of religion—and who denounced the hypocrisies and injustices of the Ancien
Régime.==Era of revolution=====
American revolution===Political tension between England and its
American colonies grew after 1765 and the Seven Years’ War over the issue of taxation
without representation, culminating in the Declaration of Independence of a new republic,
and the resulting American Revolutionary War to defend it.
The intellectual underpinnings for independence were provided by the English pamphleteer Thomas
Paine. His Common Sense pro-independence pamphlet was anonymously published on January 10, 1776
and became an immediate success. It was read aloud everywhere, including the Army. He pioneered
a style of political writing that rendered complex ideas easily intelligible.The Declaration
of Independence, written in committee largely by Thomas Jefferson, echoed Locke. After the
war, the leaders debated about how to move forward. The Articles of Confederation, written
in 1776, now appeared inadequate to provide security, or even a functional government.
The Confederation Congress called a Constitutional Convention in 1787, which resulted in the
writing of a new Constitution of the United States establishing a federal government.
In the context of the times, the Constitution was a republican and liberal document. It
remains the oldest liberal governing document in effect worldwide.
The American theorists and politicians strongly believe in the sovereignty of the people rather
than in the sovereignty of the King. As one historian writes: “The American adoption of
a democratic theory that all governments derive their just powers from the consent of the
governed, as it had been put as early as the Declaration of Independence, was epoch-marking”.The
American Revolution had its impact on the French Revolution and later movements in Europe.
Leopold von Ranke, a leading German historian, in 1848 argued that American republicanism
played a crucial role in the development of European liberalism: By abandoning English constitutionalism and
creating a new republic based on the rights of the individual, the North Americans introduced
a new force in the world. Ideas spread most rapidly when they have found adequate concrete
expression. Thus republicanism entered our Romanic/Germanic world…. Up to this point,
the conviction had prevailed in Europe that monarchy best served the interests of the
nation. Now the idea spread that the nation should govern itself. But only after a state
had actually been formed on the basis of the theory of representation did the full significance
of this idea become clear. All later revolutionary movements have this same goal…. This was
the complete reversal of a principle. Until then, a king who ruled by the grace of God
had been the center around which everything turned. Now the idea emerged that power should
come from below…. These two principles are like two opposite poles, and it is the conflict
between them that determines the course of the modern world. In Europe the conflict between
them had not yet taken on concrete form; with the French Revolution it did.===French Revolution===Historians widely regard the French Revolution
as one of the most important events in history. The Revolution is often seen as marking the
“dawn of the modern era”, and its convulsions are widely associated with “the triumph of
liberalism”.Three years into the French Revolution, German writer Johann von Goethe reportedly
told the defeated Prussian soldiers after the Battle of Valmy that “from this place
and from this time forth commences a new era in world history, and you can all say that
you were present at its birth”. Describing the participatory politics of the French Revolution,
one historian commented that “thousands of men and even many women gained firsthand experience
in the political arena: they talked, read, and listened in new ways; they voted; they
joined new organizations; and they marched for their political goals. Revolution became
a tradition, and republicanism an enduring option”. For liberals, the Revolution was
their defining moment, and later liberals approved of the French Revolution almost entirely—”not
only its results but the act itself,” as two historians noted.The French Revolution began
in 1789 with the convocation of the Estates-General in May. The first year of the Revolution witnessed
members of the Third Estate proclaiming the Tennis Court Oath in June, the Storming of
the Bastille in July. The two key events that marked the triumph of liberalism were the
Abolition of feudalism in France on the night of 4 August 1789, which marked the collapse
of feudal and old traditional rights and privileges and restrictions, and the passage of the Declaration
of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in August. Jefferson, the American ambassador
to France, was consulted in its drafting and there are striking similarities with the American
Declaration of Independence.The next few years were dominated by tensions between various
liberal assemblies and a conservative monarchy intent on thwarting major reforms. A republic
was proclaimed in September 1792 and King Louis XVI was executed the following year.
However, conflict between rival political factions, the Girondins and the Jacobins,
culminated in the Reign of Terror, that was marked by mass executions of “enemies of the
revolution”, with the death toll reaching into the tens of thousands. Finally Napoleon
came to power in 1799, ended any form of democracy with his dictatorship, ended internal civil
wars, made peace with the Catholic Church, and conquered much of Europe until he went
too far and was finally defeated in 1815. The rise of Napoleon as dictator in 1799,
heralded a reverse of many of the republican and democratic gains. However Napoleon did
not restore the ancien regime. He kept much of the liberalism and imposed a liberal code
of law, the Code Napoleon. During the Napoleonic Wars, the French brought
to Western Europe the liquidation of the feudal system, the liberalization of property laws,
the end of seigneurial dues, the abolition of guilds, the legalization of divorce, the
disintegration of Jewish ghettos, the collapse of the Inquisition, the final end of the Holy
Roman Empire, the elimination of church courts and religious authority, the establishment
of the metric system, and equality under the law for all men. Napoleon wrote that “the
peoples of Germany, as of France, Italy and Spain, want equality and liberal ideas,” with
some historians suggesting that he may have been the first person ever to use the word
“liberal” in a political sense. He also governed through a method that one historian described
as “civilian dictatorship”, which “drew its legitimacy from direct consultation with the
people, in the form of a plebiscite”. Napoleon, however, did not always live up to the liberal
ideals he espoused. Outside France the Revolution had a major
impact and its ideas became widespread. Furthermore, the French armies in the 1790s and 1800s directly
overthrew feudal remains in much of western Europe. They liberalised property laws, ended
seigneurial dues, abolished the guild of merchants and craftsmen to facilitate entrepreneurship,
legalised divorce, and closed the Jewish ghettos. The Inquisition ended as did the Holy Roman
Empire. The power of church courts and religious authority was sharply reduced, and equality
under the law was proclaimed for all men.Artz emphasises the benefits the Italians gained
from the French Revolution: For nearly two decades the Italians had the
excellent codes of law, a fair system of taxation, a better economic situation, and more religious
and intellectual toleration than they had known for centuries … Everywhere old physical,
economic, and intellectual barriers had been thrown down and the Italians had begun to
be aware of a common nationality.Likewise in Switzerland the long-term impact of the
French Revolution has been assessed by Martin: It proclaimed the equality of citizens before
the law, equality of languages, freedom of thought and faith; it created a Swiss citizenship,
basis of our modern nationality, and the separation of powers, of which the old regime had no
conception; it suppressed internal tariffs and other economic restraints; it unified
weights and measures, reformed civil and penal law, authorised mixed marriages (between Catholics
and Protestants), suppressed torture and improved justice; it developed education and public
works.His most lasting achievement, the Civil Code, served as “an object of emulation all
over the globe,” but it also perpetuated further discrimination against women under the banner
of the “natural order”. This unprecedented period of chaos and revolution had irreversibly
introduced the world to a new movement and ideology that would soon criss-cross the globe.
For France, however, the defeat of Napoleon brought about the restoration of the monarchy
and an ultra-conservative order was reimposed on the country.==Classical liberalism==The development into maturity of classical
liberalism took place before and after the French Revolution in Britain, and was based
on the following core concepts: classical economics, free trade, laissez-faire government
with minimal intervention and taxation and a balanced budget. Classical liberals were
committed to individualism, liberty and equal rights. Writers such as John Bright and Richard
Cobden opposed both aristocratic privilege and property, which they saw as an impediment
to the development of a class of yeoman farmers.===Radicalism===The radical liberal movement began in the
1790s in England and concentrated on parliamentary and electoral reform, emphasizing natural
rights and popular sovereignty. Radicals like Richard Price and Joseph Priestley saw parliamentary
reform as a first step toward dealing with their many grievances, including the treatment
of Protestant Dissenters, the slave trade, high prices and high taxes.Thomas Paine’s
The Rights of Man (1791) provoked a response from Burke, with his conservative essay Reflections
on the Revolution in France. The ensuing Revolution Controversy featured, among others, Mary Wollstonecraft,
who followed with an early feminist tract A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Radicals
encouraged mass support for democratic reform along with rejection of the monarchy, aristocracy,
and all forms of privilege. Different strands of the movement developed, with middle class
“reformers” aiming to widen the franchise to represent commercial and industrial interests
and towns without parliamentary representation, while “Popular radicals” drawn from the middle
class and from artisans agitated to assert wider rights including relieving distress.
The theoretical basis for electoral reform was provided by “Philosophical radicals” who
followed the utilitarian philosophy of Jeremy Bentham and strongly supported parliamentary
reform, but were generally hostile to the arguments and tactics of the “popular radicals”.
Improved economic conditions after 1821, improvements in economic and criminal law and the abandoning
of policies of repression led to decreasing polarisation and a more consensual form of
reform politics that was to dominate in Britain for the next two centuries. In 1823 Jeremy
Bentham co-founded the Westminster Review with James Mill as a journal for “philosophical
radicals”, setting out the utilitarian philosophy. The Reform Act 1832 was put through with the
support of public outcry, mass meetings of “political unions” and riots in some cities.
This now enfranchised the middle classes, but failed to meet radical demands. Following
the Reform Act the mainly aristocratic Whigs in the House of Commons were joined by a small
number of parliamentary Radicals, as well as an increased number of middle class Whigs.
By 1839 they were informally being called “the Liberal party. The Liberals produced
one of the greatest British prime ministers—William Gladstone, who was also known as the Grand
Old Man and was the towering political figure of liberalism in the 19th century. Under Gladstone,
the Liberals reformed education, disestablished the Church of Ireland, and introduced the
secret ballot for local and parliamentary elections.====Laissez-faire====Commitment to laissez-faire was not uniform.
Some economists advocated state support of public works and education. Classical liberals
were also divided on free trade. David Ricardo expressed doubt that the removal of grain
tariffs would have any general benefits. Most classical liberals also supported legislation
to regulate the number of hours that children were allowed to work and usually did not oppose
factory reform legislation. Despite the pragmatism of classical economists, their views were
expressed in dogmatic terms by such popular writers as Jane Marcet and Harriet Martineau.
The strongest defender of laissez-faire was The Economist founded by James Wilson in 1843.
The Economist criticised Ricardo for his lack of support for free trade and expressed hostility
to welfare, believing that the lower orders were responsible for their economic circumstances.
The Economist took the position that regulation of factory hours was harmful to workers and
also strongly opposed state support for education, health, the provision of water, and granting
of patents and copyrights.===Liberal economic theory===The primary intellectual influences on 19th
century liberal trends were those of Adam Smith and the classical economists, and Jeremy
Bentham and John Stuart Mill. Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776,
was to provide most of the ideas of economics, at least until the publication of J. S. Mill’s
Principles in 1848. Smith addressed the motivation for economic activity, the causes of prices
and the distribution of wealth, and the policies the state should follow in order to maximise
wealth. Smith’s economics was carried into practice in the 19th century with the lowering
of tariffs in the 1820s, the repeal of the Poor Relief Act, that had restricted the mobility
of labour, in 1834, and the end of the rule of the East India Company over India in 1858.In
addition to Adam Smith’s legacy, Say’s law, Malthus theories of population and Ricardo’s
iron law of wages became central doctrines of classical economics. Jean Baptiste Say
challenged Smith’s labour theory of value, believing that prices were determined by utility
and also emphasised the critical role of the entrepreneur in the economy. However neither
of those observations became accepted by British economists at the time. Thomas Malthus wrote
An essay on the principle of population in 1798, becoming a major influence on classical
liberalism.Utilitarianism provided the political justification for the implementation of economic
liberalism by British governments, which was to dominate economic policy from the 1830s.
Although utilitarianism prompted legislative and administrative reform and John Stuart
Mill’s later writings on the subject foreshadowed the welfare state, it was mainly used as a
justification for laissez-faire. The central concept of utilitarianism, which was developed
by Jeremy Bentham, was that public policy should seek to provide “the greatest happiness
of the greatest number”. While this could be interpreted as a justification for state
action to reduce poverty, it was used by classical liberals to justify inaction with the argument
that the net benefit to all individuals would be higher. His philosophy proved to be extremely
influential on government policy and led to increased Benthamite attempts at government
social control, including Robert Peel’s Metropolitan Police, prison reforms, the workhouses and
asylums for the mentally ill. By the end of the nineteenth century, the
principles of classical liberalism were being increasingly challenged by downturns in economic
growth, a growing perception of the evils of poverty, unemployment and relative deprivation
present within modern industrial cities, and the agitation of organized labour. The ideal
of the self-made individual, who through hard work and talent could make his or her place
in the world, seemed increasingly implausible. A major political reaction against the changes
introduced by industrialisation and laissez-faire capitalism came from conservatives concerned
about social balance, although socialism later became a more important force for change and
reform. Some Victorian writers—including Charles Dickens, Thomas Carlyle, and Matthew
Arnold—became early influential critics of social injustice. The New Liberalism or
social liberalism movement emerged about 1900 in Britain.===John Stuart Mill and liberal political
theory===John Stuart Mill contributed enormously to
liberal thought by combining elements of classical liberalism with what eventually became known
as the new liberalism. Mill’s 1859 On Liberty addressed the nature and limits of the power
that can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual. He gives an impassioned
defence of free speech, arguing that free discourse is a necessary condition for intellectual
and social progress. Mill defined “social liberty” as protection from “the tyranny of
political rulers.” He introduced a number of different concepts of the form tyranny
can take, referred to as social tyranny, and tyranny of the majority respectively. Social
liberty meant limits on the ruler’s power through obtaining recognition of political
liberties or rights and by the establishment of a system of “constitutional checks”. Green’s definition of liberty, influenced
by Joseph Priestley and Josiah Warren, was that the individual ought to be free to do
as he wishes unless he harms others. Mill was also an early proponent of feminism. In
his article, “The Subjection of Women” (1861, published 1869), Mill attempted to prove that
the legal subjugation of women is wrong and that it should give way to perfect equality.However,
although Mill’ initial economic philosophy supported free markets and argued that progressive
taxation penalised those who worked harder, he later altered his views toward a more socialist
bent, adding chapters to his Principles of Political Economy in defence of a socialist
outlook, and defending some socialist causes, including the radical proposal that the whole
wage system be abolished in favour of a co-operative wage system.
The Liberal Party led in Parliament by W. E. Gladstone drew from across the intellectual
and social spectrum. On one hand, there were progressive elites who sought to fuse the
methods of science with liberal political economy. The anthropologist and MP Sir John
Lubbock, for example, followed the strategy of using cognitive science to challenge and
shape public policy. He famously applied this approach to parliamentary debates relating
to universal education, the preservation of monuments and the introduction of Bank Holidays.
One the other hand, the liberal party also had a strong base in evangelical and nonconformist
religious elements Thomas Hill Green (1836-1882) at Balliol College, Oxford, for instance,
argued that the state should foster and protect the social, political and economic environments
in which individuals will have the best chance of acting according to their consciences.
The state should intervene only where there is a clear, proven and strong tendency of
a liberty to enslave the individual. Green regarded the national state as legitimate
only to the extent that it upholds a system of rights and obligations that is most likely
to foster individual self-realisation. The Gladstonian liberals in 1891 adopted “the
Newcastle Programme that included home rule for Ireland, disestablishment of the Church
of England in Wales and Scotland, tighter controls on the sale of liquor, major extension
of factory regulation, and various democratic political reforms. The Programme had a strong
appeal to the Nonconformist middle-class Liberal element, which felt liberated by the departure
of the aristocratic leaders of the Liberal Party.==Worldwide spread==Abolitionist and suffrage movements spread,
along with representative and democratic ideals. France established an enduring republic in
the 1870s. Meanwhile, nationalism also spread rapidly after 1815. A mixture of liberal and
nationalist sentiment in Italy and Germany brought about the unification of the two countries
in the late 19th century. A liberal regime came to power in Italy, and ended the secular
power of the popes. The Vatican, however, launched a counter crusade against liberalism.
Pope Pius IX issued the Syllabus of Errors in 1864, condemning liberalism in all its
forms. In many countries, liberal forces responded by expelling the Jesuit order.
Liberalism gained momentum in the beginning of the 20th century. The bastion of autocracy,
the Russian Tsar, was overthrown in the first phase of the Russian Revolution. The Allied
victory in World War I and the collapse of four empires seemed to mark the triumph of
liberalism across the European continent, not just among the victorious allies, but
also in Germany and the newly created states of Eastern Europe. Militarism, as typified
by Germany, was defeated and discredited. As Blinkhorn argues, the liberal themes were
ascendant in terms of “cultural pluralism, religious and ethnic toleration, national
self-determination, free-market economics, representative and responsible government,
free trade, unionism, and the peaceful settlement of international disputes through a new body,
the League of Nations”. The worldwide Great Depression, starting in
1929, hastened the discrediting of liberal economics and strengthened calls for state
control over economic affairs. Economic woes prompted widespread unrest in the European
political world, leading to the strengthening of fascism and communism. Their rise in 1939
culminated in World War II. The Allies, which included most of the important liberal nations
as well as communist Russia, won World War II, defeating Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy,
and militarist Japan. After the war, there was a falling out between Russia and the West,
and the Cold War opened in 1947 between the Communist Eastern Bloc and the liberal Western
Alliance. Meanwhile, the definitive liberal response
to the Great Depression was given by the British economist John Maynard Keynes, who had begun
a theoretical work examining the relationship between unemployment, money and prices back
in the 1920s. Keynes was deeply critical of the British government’s austerity measures
during the Great Depression. He believed that budget deficits were a good thing, a product
of recessions. He wrote, “For Government borrowing of one kind or another is nature’s remedy,
so to speak, for preventing business losses from being, in so severe a slump as to present
one, so great as to bring production altogether to a standstill.”At the height of the Great
Depression in 1933, Keynes published The Means to Prosperity, which contained specific policy
recommendations for tackling unemployment in a global recession, chiefly counter cyclical
public spending. The Means to Prosperity contains one of the first mentions of the multiplier
effect. Keynes’s magnum opus, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money was
published in 1936, and served as a theoretical justification for the interventionist policies
Keynes favoured for tackling a recession. The Cold War featured extensive ideological
competition and several proxy wars, but the widely feared Third World War between the
Soviet Union and the United States never occurred. While communist states and liberal democracies
competed against one another, an economic crisis in the 1970s inspired a move away from
Keynesian economics, especially under Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Ronald Reagan in the
US. This classical liberal renewal, called pejoratively “neoliberalism” by its opponents,
lasted through the 1980s and the 1990s. Meanwhile, nearing the end of the 20th century, communist
states in Eastern Europe collapsed precipitously, leaving liberal democracies as the only major
forms of government in the West. This classical liberal renewal, sometimes
called libertarianism, lasted through the 1980s and the 1990s, although recent economic
troubles have prompted a resurgence in Keynesian economic thought. Meanwhile, nearing the end
of the 20th century, communist states in Eastern Europe collapsed precipitously, leaving liberal
democracies as the only major forms of government in the West.
At the beginning of World War II, the number of democracies around the world was about
the same as it had been forty years before. After 1945, liberal democracies spread very
quickly, but then retreated. In The Spirit of Democracy, Larry Diamond argues that by
1974, “dictatorship, not democracy, was the way of the world”, and that “Barely a quarter
of independent states chose their governments through competitive, free, and fair elections.”
Diamond goes on to say that democracy bounced back and by 1995 the world was “predominantly
democratic”.The gains of liberalism have been significant. In 1975, roughly 40 countries
around the world were characterised as liberal democracies, but that number had increased
to more than 80 as of 2008. Most of the world’s richest and most powerful nations are liberal
democracies with extensive social welfare programmes. However, liberalism still faces
challenges, especially with the phenomenal growth of China as a model combination of
authoritarian government and economic liberalism. The Great Recession, which began around 2007,
prompted a resurgence in Keynesian economic thought.
A major liberal accomplishment includes the rise of liberal internationalism, which has
been credited with the establishment of global organisations such as the League of Nations
and, after World War II, the United Nations. The idea of exporting liberalism worldwide
and constructing a harmonious and liberal internationalist order has dominated the thinking
of liberals since the 18th century. “Wherever liberalism has flourished domestically, it
has been accompanied by visions of liberal internationalism,” one historian wrote. But
resistance to liberal internationalism was deep and bitter, with critics arguing that
growing global interdependency would result in the loss of national sovereignty and that
democracies represented a corrupt order incapable of either domestic or global governance.Liberalism
is frequently cited as the dominant ideology of modern times. Politically, liberals have
organised extensively throughout the world. Liberal parties, think tanks, and other institutions
are common in many nations, although they advocate for different causes based on their
ideological orientation. Liberal parties can be centre-left, centrist, or centre-right
depending on their location. They can further be divided based on their
adherence to social liberalism or classical liberalism, although all liberal parties and
individuals share basic similarities, including the support for civil rights and democratic
institutions. On a global level, liberals are united in the Liberal International, which
contains over 100 influential liberal parties and organisations from across the ideological
spectrum. Some parties in the LI are among the most
famous in the world, such as the Liberal Party of Canada, while others are among the smallest,
such as the Gibraltar Liberal Party. Regionally, liberals are organised through various institutions
depending on the prevailing geopolitical context. The European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party,
for example, represents the interests of liberals in Europe while the Alliance of Liberals and
Democrats for Europe is the predominant liberal group in the European Parliament.===Freemasons===
In long-term historical perspective, Norman Davies has argued that Freemasonry was a powerful
force on behalf of Liberalism in Europe and its colonies, from about 1700 to the twentieth
century. It expanded rapidly during the Age of Enlightenment, reaching practically every
country in Europe, as well as the British and Spanish overseas colonies. It was especially
attractive to royalty, powerful aristocrats and politicians as well as intellectuals,
artists and political activists. Its great enemy was the Roman Catholic Church, so that
in countries with a large Catholic element, such as France, Italy, Austria, Spain, and
Mexico, much of the ferocity of the political battles involve the confrontation between
the conservatives centered around the Church and liberals who were often Freemasons.By
the 1820s, every regiment of the British Army had at least one Masonic chapter, and they
set about to form chapters among civilians everywhere they were stationed in the British
Empire. In the French, Spanish, and Portuguese empires, Army chapters were also active in
spreading Freemasonry. In 19th and early 20th century Mexico, practically all the important
leaders of liberalism were active Freemasons; they used their lodges as devices for political
organization. Twentieth century totalitarian movements, especially the Fascists and Communists
when they came to power, set out to systematically crush the Freemason organizations in their
countries.===Africa and Asia===In the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire
the effect of liberalism was significant. During the 19th century, Arab, Ottoman, and
Persian intellectuals visited Europe to study and learn about Western literature, science
and liberal ideas. This led them to ask themselves about their countries’ underdevelopment and
concluded that they needed to promote constitutionalism, development, and liberal values to modernize
their societies. At the same time, the increasing European presence in the Middle East and the
stagnation of the region encouraged some Middle Eastern leaders, including Mahmud II and his
son Abdülmecid I, Muhammad Ali Pasha, and Amir Kabir, to make socio-political changes
and start modernization projects. In 1826, intellectual and academic Rifa’a al-Tahtawi
was sent to Paris in one of the Muhammad Ali’s scholar missions. Tahtawi studied ethics,
social and political philosophy, and mathematics. He read works by Condillac, Voltaire, Rousseau,
Montesquieu and Bézout, among others, during his séjour in France.In 1831, Tahtawi returned
home to be part of the statewide effort to modernize the Egyptian infrastructure and
education in what became an Egyptian renaissance (Nahda) that flourished in the late 19th and
early 20th centuries, later moving to Ottoman-ruled Arabic-speaking regions including Lebanon,
Syria and others. He founded the School of Languages (also known as School of Translators)
in 1835, which become part of Ain Shams University in 1973. Upon his return, Al-Tahtawi became
an advocate of parliamentarian, the rights of citizens to political participation, and
the rights of women to education. The School of Languages graduated the earliest modern
Egyptian intellectuals, who formed the basis of the emerging grassroots mobilization against
British colonialism in Egypt. Three of his published volumes were works of political
and moral philosophy. They introduced his Egyptian audience to the liberal ideas of
the Enlightenment such as secular authority and political rights and liberty, his ideas
regarding how a modern civilized society ought to be and what constituted by extension a
civilized or “good Egyptian”, and his ideas on public interest and public good.In the
Ottoman Empire, to secure its territorial integrity against internal nationalist movements
and external aggressive powers, the Empire launched a series of reforms. This period
is called Tanzimat (reorganization). Although liberal ministers and intellectuals tried
to influence the reforms, the motives for the implementation of Tanzimât were bureaucratic.
These changes were made to improve civil liberties. However, the reformist ideas and trends of
the Nahda and Tanzimat didn’t reach the common population successfully, as the books, periodicals,
and newspapers were accessible primarily to intellectuals and segments of an emerging
middle class, while many Muslims saw them as foreign influences on the world of Islam.
That perception complicated reformist efforts made by Middle Eastern states. A policy called
Ottomanism was meant to unite all the different peoples living in Ottoman territories, “Muslim
and non-Muslim, Turkish and Greek, Armenian and Jewish, Kurd and Arab”. The policy officially
began with the Edict of Gülhane of 1839, declaring equality before the law for both
Muslim and non-Muslim Ottomans. In 1865, a group of Ottoman Turkish intellectuals,
who were dissatisfied with the Tanzimat reforms in the Ottoman Empire, established a secret
society called the Young Ottomans. They believed the reforms did not go far enough and wanted
to end the autocracy in the empire. They sought to transform Ottoman society by preserving
the empire and modernizing it along European lines, adopting a constitutional government.
Though the Young Ottomans were frequently in disagreement ideologically, they all agreed
that the new constitutional government should continue to be somewhat rooted in Islam to
emphasize “the continuing and essential validity of Islam as the basis of Ottoman political
culture.” However, they syncretize Islamic idealism with modern liberalism and parliamentary
democracy; to them the European parliamentary liberalism was a model to follow, in accordance
with the tenets of Islam. They “attempted to reconcile Islamic concepts of government
with the ideas of Montesquieu, Danton, Rousseau, and contemporary European Scholars and statesmen.”Namik
Kemal, who was influential in the formation of the Young Ottomans, admired the constitution
of the French Third Republic; he summed up the Young Ottomans’ political ideals as “the
sovereignty of the nation, the separation of powers, the responsibility of officials,
personal freedom, equality, freedom of thought, freedom of press, freedom of association,
enjoyment of property, sanctity of the home”. The Young Ottomans believed that one of the
principal reasons for the decline of the empire was abandoning Islamic principles in favor
of imitating European modernity with unadvised compromises to both, and they sought to unite
the two in a way that they believed would best serve the interests of the state and
its people. They sought to revitalize the empire by incorporating certain Europeans
models of government, while still retaining the Islamic foundations the empire was founded
on. Among the prominent members of this society were writers and publicists such as İbrahim
Şinasi, Namık Kemal, Ali Suavi, Ziya Pasha, and Agah Efendi. The emerging internal financial and diplomatic
crises of 1875–1876 allowed the Young Ottomans their defining moment, when Sultan Abdülhamid
II appointed liberal-minded Midhat Pasha as Grand Vizier and reluctantly promulgated the
Ottoman constitution of 1876, the first attempt at a constitution in the Ottoman Empire, ushering
in the First Constitutional Era and ending the Tanzimat. Thanks to liberal intellectuals
who tried to modernize their society by promoting development, progress, and liberal values,
constitutionalism was introduced in the Ottoman Empire, Midhat Pasha is often considered to
be one of the founders of the Ottoman Parliament. Although this period was short lived, with
Abdülhamid ultimately suspending the constitution and parliament in 1878 in favor of a return
to absolute monarchy with himself in power, the legacy and influence of the Young Ottomans
continued to endure until the collapse of the empire. Several decades later, another
group of reform-minded Ottomans, the Young Turks, repeated the Young Ottomans’ efforts,
leading to the Young Turk Revolution in 1908 and the beginning of the Second Constitutional
Era. The Nahda period sought to modernize Islam
and society. Thinkers and religious reformers rejected traditional views and encourage modernization
through the abandonment of taqlid (imitation, conformity to legal precedent) and emphasis
on ijtihad (intellectual effort, reasoning and hermeneutics), which they saw as a return
to Islamic origins. The Islamic Modernist movement, also sometimes referred to as Modernist
Salafism, has been described as “the first Muslim ideological response to the Western
cultural challenge” Islamic modernism was the first of several movements – including
secularism, Islamism and Salafism – that emerged in the middle of the 19th century
in reaction to the rapid changes of the time, especially the perceived onslaught of Western
Civilization and colonialism on the Muslim world. The founders of Islamic modernism include
Muhammad Abduh, a Sheikh of Al-Azhar University for a brief period before his death in 1905,
Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani, and Muhammad Rashid Rida (d. 1935). The movement started with
Rifa’a al-Tahtawi but gained popularity when al-Afghani organized a group of Muslim scholars
to discuss the socio-political and theological challenges that Islam was facing. The movement
attempted to reconcile Islamic faith with modern Western values such as nationalism,
democracy, civil rights, rationality, equality, and progress. It featured a “critical reexamination
of the classical conceptions and methods of jurisprudence” and a new approach to Islamic
theology and Quranic exegesis (Tafsir). Islamic modernism and liberal nationalism were interconnected,
both were factors in the retreat of Islamic orthodoxy and the decline of the absolutist
state. Although Middle Eastern liberal nationalism took Western liberalism as inspiration, favoring
national integration via cultural and educational reforms, the promotion of indigenous national
languages, and the separation of religion and politics, concepts of nationalism, and
the principles of democratic institutions. It was a response to colonialism and interventionism
and collided with Western interests in the region. In Egypt, Islamic modernism let liberal
nationals reach a wider audience. This ended in the 1920s and 1930s when liberal nationalism
took a strong secularist orientation, weakening Islamic modernism. All these changes in the
Muslim world created a sense of crisis within Islam that favored Islamic revivalism.In 1909,
in Qajari ruled Persia (today Iran) the Democrat Party (also translated as Democratic Party)
during the constitutional period, was one of two major parliamentary parties at the
time, alongside its rival the Moderate Socialists Party. Initially an offshoot of the Transcaucasia-based
Social Democratic Party, it was largely composed of liberal middle-class intellectuals and
stood for a representative political system and the separation of church and state, to
limit the authority of the monarchy and the clergy. It influenced the Constitution of
1906 which created the Majlis (parliament) and the senate. However, due internal and
external factors, the party couldn’t grow significantly and was suppressed and when
the Pahlavi Dynasty was established in 1925, fragmenting itself into different smaller
associations.In Japan, which was generally liberal in the 1920s, saw liberalism wither
away in the 1930s under pressure from the military. In Egypt, the Wafd Party (“Delegation Party”)
was a nationalist liberal political party in Egypt. It was said to be Egypt’s most popular
and influential political party for a period in the 1920s and 30s. Although the efforts
of liberal nationalists culminated in the formation of a constitutional monarchy with
the Egyptian Constitution of 1923, liberal nationalism declined in the late 1930s due
the growth and opposition of two movements, the Muslim Brotherhood and Pan-Arab nationalism.
However, there were various examples of intellectuals who advocated liberal values and ideas. Prominent
liberals during the period were Taha Hussein, Ahmed Lutfi el-Sayed, Tawfiq al-Hakim, Abd
El-Razzak El-Sanhuri, Abd El-Razzak El-Sanhuri and Muhammad Mandur.Taha Hussein and Ahmed
Lutfi el-Sayed were among the most influential 20th-century Egyptian intellectuals. Hussein
was opposed to Islamism and one of his major contributions to the liberal movement was
an examination of how Egyptian liberalism and Islam could be reconciled. He believed
in freedom and equality and that Egypt should be developed as a modern, enlightened society
in line with the ideas of the French Revolution and the Industrial Age.El-Sayed was one of
the architects of modern Egyptian nationalism, secularism, and liberalism. Fondly known as
the “Professor of the Generation”, he was an influential person in the Egyptian nationalist
movement and an anti-colonial activist. el-Sayed believed in equality and rights for all people.
He was the first director of Cairo University, in which he served from 1925 to 1941. He was
considered one of the first Egyptian officials to introduce Mill’s works to the general Arab
public, so they could educate themselves on concepts of liberalism. He believed that people
should have a say in what goes on in their government and country, and that all people
had certain civil rights that could not be taken away. In 1949, the National Front of Iran was founded
by Mohammad Mosaddegh, Hossein Fatemi, Ahmad Zirakzadeh, Ali Shayegan and Karim Sanjabi
among others. It is the oldest pro-democracy group operating inside Iran. The front was
conceived to be a broad alliance of like-minded associations, included various, nationalist,
liberal, and social democratic parties, with the aim of strengthening democracy, press
freedom, and constitutional government. The most important groups in the Front were the
Iran Party, the Toilers Party, the National Party, and the Tehran Association of Bazaar
Trade and Craft Guilds. The Iran Party, which was founded in 1946 as a platform for Iranian
liberals, included figures such as Karim Sanjâbi, Gholam Hossein Sadighi, Ahmad Zirakzadeh and
Allah-Yar Saleh.In April 1951, The National Front became the governing coalition when
democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddegh took office as the Prime Minister of Iran.
Mosaddegh was liberal nationalist and prominent parliamentarian who advocated for the rule
of law and freedom of foreign intervention, his administration introduced a range of progressive
social and political reforms such as social security and land reforms, including taxation
of the rent on land. His government’s most notable policy, however, was the nationalization
of the Iranian oil industry, which had been under British control since 1913 through the
Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC/AIOC) (later British Petroleum and BP), becoming the first
country in the Middle East in nationalize its oil industry.Mossadegh’s liberal and independent
way of governing gained him the popular support but also alienated various groups. It entered
in direct conflict with the Western interests in the region, challenged the shah’s authority
and Mossadegh’s tolerance with lefties groups offended the traditionalist and the ulama.
In favour of strengthening the monarchical rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Winston Churchill
and the Eisenhower administration decided to overthrow Iran’s government, though the
predecessor Truman administration had opposed a coup. Mosaddegh was removed from power in
a coup on 19 August 1953, organised and carried out by the CIA at the request of MI6, which
chose Iranian General Fazlollah Zahedi to succeed Mosaddegh.The 1953 coup ended the
dominance of liberalism in the country’s government. Before 1953 and throughout the 1960s, the
National Front was torn by strife between secular and religious elements and over the
time has splintered into various squabbling factions, gradually emerging as the leading
organization of secular liberals with nationalist members adhering to liberal democracy and
social democracy.In the middle of the 20th century, the Liberal Party and the Progressive
Party were formed to oppose the apartheid policies of the government. The Liberals formed
a multiracial party that originally drew considerable support from urban Blacks and college-educated
Whites. It also gained supporters from the “westernised sectors of the peasantry”, and
its public meetings were heavily attended by Blacks. The party had 7,000 members at
its height, although its appeal to the White population as a whole was too small to make
any meaningful political changes. The Liberals were disbanded in 1968 after the government
passed a law that prohibited parties from having multiracial membership.
In India, the INC was founded in the late 19th century by liberal nationalists demanding
the creation of a more liberal and autonomous India. Liberalism continued to be the main
ideological current of the group through the early years of the 20th century, but socialism
gradually overshadowed the thinking of the party in the next few decades.
A famous struggle led by the INC eventually earned India’s independence from Britain.
In recent times, the party has adopted more of a liberal streak, championing open markets
while simultaneously seeking social justice. In its 2009 Manifesto, the INC praised a “secular
and liberal” Indian nationalism against the nativist, communal, and conservative ideological
tendencies it claims are espoused by the right. In general, the major theme of Asian liberalism
in the past few decades has been the rise of democratization as a method facilitate
the rapid economic modernization of the continent. In nations such as Myanmar, however, liberal
democracy has been replaced by military dictatorship.Among African nations, South Africa stands out for
having a notable liberal tradition that other countries on the continent lack. Today, liberalism
in South Africa is represented by the Democratic Alliance, the official opposition party to
the ruling African National Congress. The Democratic Alliance is the second largest
party in the National Assembly and currently leads the provincial government of Western
Cape. Recently, liberal parties and institutions
have made a major push for political power. On a continental level, liberals are organised
in the Africa Liberal Network, which contains influential parties such as the Popular Movement
in Morocco, the Democratic Party in Senegal, and the Rally of the Republicans in Côte
d’Ivoire. In Asia, several Asian nations have explicitly rejected important liberal principles.
Continentally, liberals are organized through the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats,
which includes powerful parties such the Liberal Party in the Philippines, the Democratic Progressive
Party in Taiwan, and the Democrat Party in Thailand. A notable example of liberal influence
can be found in India. In India, the most populous democracy in the world, the Indian
National Congress has long dominated political affairs.===Americas===In Latin America, liberal unrest dates back
to the 18th century, when liberal agitation in Latin America led to independence from
the imperial power of Spain and Portugal. The new regimes were generally liberal in
their political outlook, and employed the philosophy of positivism, which emphasized
the truth of modern science, to buttress their positions. The liberal and conservative struggles in
Spain also replicated themselves in Latin America. Like its former master, the region
was a hotbed of wars, conflicts, and revolutionary activity throughout the 19th century. In Mexico,
the liberales instituted the program of La Reforma in the 1850s, reducing the power of
the military and the Catholic Church. The conservadores were outraged at these steps
and launched a revolt, which sparked a deadly conflict. From 1857 to 1861, Mexico was gripped
in the bloody War of Reform, a massive internal and ideological confrontation between the
liberals and the conservatives. The liberals eventually triumphed and Benito Juárez, a
dedicated liberal and now a Mexican national hero, became the president of the republic.
After Juárez, Mexico suffered from prolonged periods of dictatorial repression, which lasted
until the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century.
Another regional example of liberal influence can be found in Ecuador. As with other nations
throughout the region at the time, Ecuador was steeped in conflict and uncertainty after
gaining independence from Spain. By the middle of the 19th century, the country had descended
into chaos and madness, with the people divided between rival liberal and conservative camps.
From these conflicts, García Moreno established a conservative government that ruled the country
for several years. The liberals, however, were incensed at the conservative regime and
overthrew it completely in the Liberal Revolution of 1895. The Radical Liberals who toppled
the conservatives were led by Eloy Alfaro, a firebrand who implemented a variety of sociopolitical
reforms, including the separation of church and state, the legalization of divorce, and
the establishment of public schools.Liberal revolutions in countries such as Mexico and
Ecuador ushered in the modern world for much of Latin America. Latin American liberals
generally emphasised free trade, private property, and anti-clericalism.In the United States,
a vicious war ensured the integrity of the nation and the abolition of slavery in the
south. Historian Don Doyle has argued that the Union victory in the American Civil War
(1861–65) gave a major boost to the course of liberalism. The Union victory energized
popular democratic forces. A Confederate victory, on the other hand, would have meant a new
birth of slavery, not freedom. Historian Fergus Bordewich, following Doyle, argues that: The North’s victory decisively proved the
durability of democratic government. Confederate independence, on the other hand, would have
established An American model for reactionary politics and race-based repression that would
likely have cast an international shadow into the twentieth century and perhaps beyond.”In
Canada, the long-dominant Liberal Party, founded in 1867 and colloquially known as the Grits,
ruled the country for nearly 70 years during the 20th century. The party produced some
of the most influential prime ministers in Canadian history, including Pierre Trudeau,
Lester B. Pearson and Jean Chrétien, and has been primarily responsible for the development
of the Canadian welfare state. The enormous success of the Liberals – virtually unmatched
in any other liberal democracy – has prompted many political commentators over time to identify
them as the nation’s natural governing party. In the United States, modern liberalism traces
its history to the popular presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who initiated the New Deal
in response to the Great Depression and won an unprecedented four elections. The New Deal
coalition established by Franklin Roosevelt left a decisive legacy and influenced many
future American presidents, including John F. Kennedy, a self-described liberal who defined
a liberal as “someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas
without rigid reactions … someone who cares about the welfare of the people”. The social
liberal program launched by President Roosevelt in the United States, the New Deal, proved
very popular with the American public. In 1933, when FDR came into office, the unemployment
rate stood at roughly 25 percent. The size of the economy, measured by the gross national
product, had fallen to half the value it had in early 1929. The electoral victories of
FDR and the Democrats precipitated a deluge of deficit spending and public works programs.
In 1940, the level of unemployment had fallen by 10 points to around 15 percent. Additional
state spending and the gigantic public works program sparked by the Second World War eventually
pulled the United States out of the Great Depression. The social liberal programme reduced
the unemployment rate from roughly 25 percent to about 15 percent by 1940. Additional state
spending and the very large public works programme sparked by the Second World War eventually
pulled the United States out of the Great Depression. From 1940 to 1941, government
spending increased by 59 percent, the gross domestic product increased 17 percent, and
unemployment fell below 10 percent for the first time since 1929.Among the various regional
and national movements, the civil rights movement in the United States during the 1960s strongly
highlighted the liberal efforts for equal rights. The Great Society project launched
by President Lyndon B. Johnson oversaw the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, the establishment
of Head Start and the Job Corps as part of the War on Poverty, and the passage of the
landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 – an altogether rapid series of events that some historians
have dubbed the Liberal Hour.In the 1960s and 1970s, the cause of Second Wave feminism
in the United States was advanced in large part by liberal feminist organisations such
as the National Organization for Women. In the late 20th century, a conservative backlash
against the kind of liberalism championed by Roosevelt and Kennedy developed in the
Republican Party. This brand of conservatism primarily reacted against the cultural and
political upheavals of the 1960s. It helped launch into power such presidents as Ronald
Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump. Economic woes in the early
21st century led to a resurgence of social liberalism with the election of Barack Obama
in the 2008 presidential election, along with countervailing and partly reactive conservative
populism and nativism embodied in the Tea Party movement and the election of Donald
Trump. Today, market liberals in Latin America are
organised in the Red Liberal de América Latina (RELIAL), a centre-right network that brings
together dozens of liberal parties and organisations. RELIAL features parties as geographically
diverse as the Mexican Nueva Alianza and the Cuban Liberal Union, which aims to secure
power in Cuba. Some major liberal parties in the region continue, however, to align
themselves with social liberal ideas and policies – a notable case being the Colombian Liberal
Party, which is a member of the Socialist International. Another famous example is the
Paraguayan Authentic Radical Liberal Party, one of the most powerful parties in the country,
which has also been classified as centre-left.===Europe===In Spain, the Liberales, the first group to
use the liberal label in a political context, fought for the implementation of the 1812
Constitution for decades—overthrowing the monarchy in 1820 as part of the Trienio Liberal
and defeating the conservative Carlists in the 1830s.
In France, the fall of Napoleon in 1814–15 brought back to power in France the reactionary
Bourbon kings. However even they were unable to reverse the liberalization of the French
Revolution and they were overthrown in 1830. Likewise The fall of Napoleon brought conservatives
to power across much of Europe. The July Revolution of 1830, orchestrated by liberal politicians
and journalists, removed the Bourbon monarchy and inspired similar uprisings elsewhere in
Europe. Frustration with the pace of political progress in the early 19th century sparked
even more gigantic revolutions in 1848. Revolutions spread throughout the Austrian Empire, the
German states, and the Italian states. Governments fell rapidly. Liberal nationalists demanded
written constitutions, representative assemblies, greater suffrage rights, and freedom of the
press. A second republic was proclaimed in France. Serfdom was abolished in Prussia,
Galicia, Bohemia, and Hungary. The indomitable Metternich, the Austrian builder of the reigning
conservative order, shocked Europe when he resigned and fled to Britain in panic and
disguise.Eventually, however, the success of the revolutionaries petered out. Without
French help, the Italians were easily defeated by the Austrians. With some luck and skill,
Austria also managed to contain the bubbling nationalist sentiments in Germany and Hungary,
helped along by the failure of the Frankfurt Assembly to unify the German states into a
single nation. Two decades later, however, the Italians and the Germans realised their
dreams for unification and independence. The Sardinian Prime Minister, Camillo di Cavour,
was a shrewd liberal who understood that the only effective way for the Italians to gain
independence was if the French were on their side. Napoleon III agreed to Cavour’s request
for assistance and France defeated Austria in the Franco-Austrian War of 1859, setting
the stage for Italian independence. German unification transpired under the leadership
of Otto von Bismarck, who decimated the enemies of Prussia in war after war, finally triumphing
against France in 1871 and proclaiming the German Empire in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles,
ending another saga in the drive for nationalisation. The French proclaimed a third republic after
their loss in the war. In Germany, unification brought to power the
leading conservative of the nineteenth century, Otto von Bismarck, a member of the landholding
Junker aristocracy. In order to secure the loyalty of the working classes to the ruling
aristocracy, Bismarck introduced both universal male suffrage and the first welfare state.
Bismarck first formed a coalition with the liberals, with a focus on ending trade restrictions
and reducing the power of the Catholic Church. By the late 1870s he then reversed positions,
and began collaborating with Catholics. He’s best known for a foreign-policy that balanced
multiple competing interests to produce a peaceful era. In the United Kingdom, the repeal of the Corn
Laws in 1846 was a watershed moment and encapsulated the triumph of free trade and liberal economics.
The Anti-Corn Law League brought together a coalition of liberal and radical groups
in support of free trade under the leadership of Richard Cobden and John Bright, who opposed
militarism and public expenditure. Their policies of low public expenditure and low taxation
were later adopted by the liberal chancellor of the exchequer and later prime minister,
William Ewart Gladstone. Although classical liberals aspired to a minimum of state activity,
they eventually accepted the principle of government intervention in the economy from
the early 19th century with the passage of the Factory Acts. From around 1840 to 1860,
laissez-faire advocates of the Manchester School and writers in The Economist were confident
that their early victories would lead to a period of expanding economic and personal
liberty and world peace but would face reversals as government intervention and activity continued
to expand from the 1850s. Jeremy Bentham and James Mill, although advocates of laissez-faire,
non-intervention in foreign affairs, and individual liberty, believed that social institutions
could be rationally redesigned through the principles of Utilitarianism. By the 1870s,
Herbert Spencer and other classical liberals concluded that historical development was
turning against them. By the First World War, the Liberal Party had largely abandoned classical
liberal principles.The Liberals, under Henry Campbell-Bannerman and later H.H. Asquith,
returned with full strength in the general election of 1906, aided by working class voters
worried about food prices. After that historic victory, the Liberal Party introduced various
reforms, including health insurance, unemployment insurance, and pensions for elderly workers,
thereby laying the groundwork for the future British welfare state. The People’s Budget of 1909, championed by
David Lloyd George and fellow liberal Winston Churchill, introduced unprecedented taxes
on the wealthy in Britain and radical social welfare programmes to the country’s policies.
It was the first budget with the expressed intent of redistributing wealth among the
public. It imposed increased taxes on luxuries, liquor, tobacco, incomes, and land, – taxation
that disproportionately affected the rich – so that money could be made available
for new welfare programmes as well as new battleships. In 1911 Lloyd George succeeded
in putting through Parliament his National Insurance Act, making provision for sickness
and invalidism, and this was followed by his Unemployment Insurance Act.Historian Peter
Weiler argues the following: Although still partially informed by older
Liberal concerns for character, self-reliance, and the capitalist market, this legislation
nevertheless, marked a significant shift in Liberal approaches to the state and social
reform, approaches that later governments would slowly expand and that would grow into
the welfare state after the Second World War. What was new in these reforms was the underlying
assumption that the state could be a positive force, that the measure of individual freedom
[…] was not how much the state left people alone, but whether he gave them the capacity
to fill themselves as individuals.At the turn of the 20th century, the incompetence of the
ruling class in Russia discredited the monarchy and aristocracy. Russia was already reeling
from earlier losses to Japan and political struggles with the Kadets, a powerful liberal
bloc in the Duma. Facing huge shortages in basic necessities along with widespread riots
in early 1917, Czar Nicholas II abdicated in March, bringing to an end three centuries
of Romanov rule and paving the way for liberals to declare a republic. Russia’s liberals,
repeatedly used the slogans, symbols and ideas of the French Revolution—plastering liberté,
égalité, fraternité over major public spaces—to establish an emotional attachment to the past,
an attachment that liberals hoped would galvanize the public to fight for modern values.But
democracy was no simple task, and the Provisional Government that took over the country’s administration
needed the cooperation of the Petrograd Soviet, an organization that united leftist industrial
laborers, to function and survive. Under the uncertain leadership of Alexander Kerensky,
however, the Provisional Government mismanaged Russia’s continuing involvement in the war,
prompting angry reactions from the Petrograd workers, who drifted further and further to
the left. The Bolsheviks, a communist group led by Vladimir Lenin, seized the political
opportunity from this confusion and launched a second revolution in Russia during the same
year. The communists violently overthrew the fragile liberal-socialist order in October,
after which Russia witnessed several years of civil war between communists and conservatives
wishing to restore the monarchy. The worldwide Great Depression, starting in
1929, hastened the discrediting of liberal economics and strengthened calls for state
control over economic affairs. Economic woes prompted widespread unrest in the European
political world, leading to the rise of fascism as an ideology and a movement arrayed against
both liberalism and communism, especially in Nazi Germany and Italy. The rise of fascism
in the 1930s eventually culminated in the Second World War, the deadliest conflict in
human history. The Allies prevailed in the war by 1945, and their victory set the stage
for the Cold War between the communist Eastern Bloc and the liberal Western Alliance.
In the United Kingdom, the Liberal Party lost its influence in the early 20th century due
to the growth of the Labour Party. In Russia, liberalism was defeated when the Communists
came to power under Vladimir Lenin in October 1917, in Italy when Mussolini set up his dictatorship
in 1922, in Poland in 1926 under Józef Piłsudski, and in Spain in 1939 after the Spanish Civil
War. Before World War I, liberal parties dominated the European political scene, but they were
gradually displaced by socialists and social democrats in the early 20th century. The fortunes
of liberal parties since World War II have been mixed, with some gaining strength while
others suffered from continuous declines. The fall of the Soviet Union and the breakup
of Yugoslavia at the end of the 20th century, however, allowed the formation of many liberal
parties throughout Eastern Europe. These parties developed varying ideological characters.
Some, such as the Slovenian Liberal Democrats or the Lithuanian Social Liberals, have been
characterised as centre-left. Others, such as the Romanian National Liberal Party, have
been classified as centre-right.In the United Kingdom, the comprehensive welfare state was
built after the Second World War. Although it was largely accomplished by the Labour
Party, it was also significantly designed by John Maynard Keynes, who laid the economic
foundations, and by William Beveridge, who designed the welfare system.In 1988, the British
Liberal Party joined with the Labour splinter Social Democratic Party to form the Liberal
Democrats. Following the general election of 2010, the Liberal Democrats formed a coalition
government with the Conservatives, resulting in party leader Nick Clegg becoming the Deputy
Prime minister and many other members becoming ministers. However, the Liberal Democrats
lost 49 of their 56 seats in the 2015 general election, with their review of the result
concluding that a number of policy reversals were responsible for their poor electoral
performance.In Western Europe, liberal parties have often cooperated with socialist and social
democratic parties, as evidenced by the Purple Coalition in the Netherlands during the late
1990s and into the 21st century. The Purple Coalition, one of the most consequential in
Dutch history, brought together the progressive left-liberal D66, the economic liberal and
centre-right VVD, and the social democratic Labour Party – an unusual combination that
ultimately legalised same-sex marriage, euthanasia, and prostitution while also instituting a
non-enforcement policy on marijuana.===Oceania===
In Australia, liberalism is primarily championed by the centre-right Liberal Party. The Liberals
are a fusion of classical liberal and conservative forces and are affiliated with the centre-right
International Democrat Union.==Historiography=====Michel Foucault===
French intellectual Michel Foucault locates the emergence of liberalism, both as a political
philosophy and a mode of governance, in the sixteenth century. He especially focuses on
Adam Smith, David Hume and Adam Ferguson. According to Foucault, it was through a double
movement, of state centralisation on the one hand and of dispersion and religious dissidence
on the other, that this problem of government presented itself clearly for the first time.The
central question, or problem of government, in relation to the birth of liberalism, was
how to apply the form of governance of the family, the ‘economy’, to the state as
a whole. How to introduce the meticulous attention of the father within the family home and the
family unit, to the management of the state? The birth of liberalism can be located in
the response to this question or problem of government. The response witnessed the shift
from the dominance of sovereign power to the apparatus of the state, and can be characterised
in three important developments:Liberalism, as a ‘rationality’ of governing was, in
Foucault’s mind, unique from other previous technologies of governing, as it had as its
foundation the assumption that human behaviour should be governed, in the pursuit of fostering
the idea that society be understood as a realm separate from the state, not just something
that was drawn off of and violated in order to strengthen the state. In a Foucauldian
sense, liberalism did not emerge as a doctrine of how to simply govern people, but rather
as a technology of governing that arose from the timeless critique of excessive government—”a
search for a technology of government that could address the recurrent complaint that
authorities were governing too much”.==Notes====
References and further reading==

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