Liberalism [chapter]

Kevin Harrison, Tony Boyd
2018 Understanding political ideas and movements  
➤ To what extent is the liberal focus on the individual based on a misunderstanding of human nature? ➤ At what point does liberalism end and socialism begin? ➤ Why were nineteenth-century liberals so uncomfortable with democracy and why don't modern liberals appear to share the doubts? ➤ In the twenty-first century is the state still the main threat to the individual? ➤ How far is it true to say that the triumph of liberal ideology has been at the price of the eclipse of liberal political
more » ... s? Liberalism has become the dominant ideology at the start of the third millennium. Like conservatism it cannot be easily identified with one particular political party. We trace the origins of liberalism back to the late seventeenth century and the political turmoil in England that followed the civil wars of the middle of the century. After this, liberalism's 'golden age' during the nineteenth century is studied and the main themes of 'classical' and 'New' liberalism are outlined and discussed. The limitations of British liberalism began to become evident just before the First World War and it was almost eclipsed during the inter-war period. We discuss the apparent renaissance of liberalism that followed the collapse of Soviet communism during the late 1980s and the apparent triumph of liberal capitalist democracy on a global scale. Some of the inadequacies of contemporary liberalism are discussed and an estimate is made of the future that lies in store for liberalism. A rich man told me recently that a liberal is a man who tells other people what to do with their money. (Le Roi Jones, Home, 1966) If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. (John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859) Liberalism . . . it is well to record this today -is the supreme form of generosity; it is the right by which the majority concedes to minorities and hence it is the noblest cry that has ever resounded on this planet. (José Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses, 1930)
doi:10.7765/9781526137951.00014 fatcat:xehouisvrjcetoiefv4wjyliee