What is the History of Liberalism #

What is the History of Liberalism?

What have liberals ever done for us? 🙂

Sure, they gave us liberty, metropolitan intellectuals, and soy lattes, but where do they come from and why has the liberal elite become a term of abuse? 🙂

  • Liberalism is a world view based on liberty and equality of opportunity.
  • Liberals value free trade, open competition, and freedom of expression.

In recent years, populist movements have attacked the liberal cause.

  • They prefer keeping jobs for their own people,
  • shunning immigration,
  • and favoring domestic production over imported goods.
  • Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.

Populist movements have won referendums and elections in Britain, America, Poland, and Hungary, while France and Canada are holdouts for the liberal cause.

  • Populists think liberals have become too elite,
  • removed from the concerns of ordinary people,
  • and strayed too far from their founding principles.

So

What is the History of Liberalism?

Back in the 17th century, elites really did rule the world. Kings and queens reigned by divine right. The state dictated your religion and owned your house and land. But then along came two English philosophers, Thomas Hobbs … The law is the public conscience. And John Locke.

The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. Hobbs introduced the idea that people give up natural rights to freedom in exchange for security and protection.

According to Locke, this social contract was rooted in the duty of all individuals to respect the rights of others.

The liberals that came after Hobbs and Locke believed in equal opportunity for all.

Well, all white men.

They said people should be allowed to keep the fruits of their labor and have the freedom to fulfill their dreams.

Instead of going to war to gain wealth, countries should embrace trade and treaties.

This new philosophy will be put into practice most diligently on the other side of the Atlantic.

America was founded on the principles of equality and individual liberty.

It became the world’s first liberal society.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

What is the History of Liberalism?

Soon after, the French overthrew their monarchy and replaced it with a liberal people’s republic.

But it was the Industrial Revolution that galvanized liberalism as the world’s dominant political theory.

A seismic shift towards self-made wealth replaced the inherited power of the aristocracy.

Liberalism has underpinned western democracy ever since, but it evolved during the 20th century.

Across the world, liberalism has made more room for government involvement providing education, welfare, and regulating the markets.

But in America, the word has been hijacked.

Liberalism is now used as an insult to describe left-wing progressives who support political correctness and bossy governments.

Populists argue that today’s liberal elites are just as powerful and aloof as the old aristocracy.

Rampant commercialization and globalization have left many people behind.

We’ve been here before.

In late 19th century America, so-called robber barons formed vast empires and accumulated massive wealth.

Politics became corrupted giving a sense that society was dividing into winners and losers.

But a succession of reformers, like President Theodore Roosevelt, took on these business aristocracies and cleaned up government.
What is the History of Liberalism?

All this helped to enhance social mobility.

Just as liberalism reformed itself then, it must reform itself again.

The rise of populism is not the death knell for the liberal project, it’s a call to action.

 

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