Liberalism : Modern Liberalism

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  • Liberalism : Modern Liberalism
    • Individuality
      • Self fulfilment achieved through the realisation of an individual's distinctive or unique identity or qualities; that which distinguishes one person from all others.
      • ‘Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign’. Mill
      • Mill believed passionately in individualism and individuality as it enables individuals to develop, gain talents and knowledge and to refine their sensibilities.
      • Modern liberal - Egoism is constrained by a degree of altruism - people do things for others
      • Classical liberal - self seeking - utility maximisers - people do things for themselves
    • Positive Freedom
      • More optimistic view of human nature than classical liberals. Believe that we have a sympathetic view of each other, we are altruistic. This is from an enabling stare, opposed to classical minimal state. The state tries to prevent huge social inequality.
      • Negative freedom does not form a fully developed person - it gives employers the chance to exploit their workforce e.g employing children.
      • Green ‘Freedom to starve’.
      • State needs to intervene to reduce the social inequality that negative freedom does not tackle.
      • Green believed we care for each other - as opposed to classical liberals believing we are - self seeking individuals in an atomic society.
      • Positive liberty is the possession of the capacity to act upon one's free will, as opposed to negative liberty, which is freedom from external restraint on one's actions. A concept of positive liberty may also include freedom from internal constraints.
    • Economic Management
      • Keynes argued that the level of economic activity, and therefore employment, is determined by the total amount of demand (supply and demand) in the economy.
      • At times of high unemployment Keynes recommended governments should ‘reflate’ their economies by increasing public spending or cutting taxes. Unemployment could therefore be solved, not by the invisible hand of capitalism , but by government intervention.
      • Running by a budget deficit, meaning the government literally ‘overspends’.
      • Keynesian demand management promised to give governments the ability to manipulate employment and growth levels, and hence to secure general prosperity.
      • Keynes suggested government could ‘manage’ their economies by influencing the levels of supply and demand. Government spending is, in this sense, an ‘injection’ of demand into the economy. Taxation however, is a ‘withdrawal’ from the economy, it reduces aggregate demand and dampens down economic activity.
      • Western governments sought to deliver prosperity by ‘managing’ their economies. This involved rejecting classical liberal thinking, in particular its belief in a self regulating market.
        • The abandonment of Laissez-faire came about because of increasing complexity of industrial capitalist economies and the inability to guarantee prosperity and stability (economic crashes).
    • Social Liberalism
      • During the twentieth century modern states became welfare states. Governments came under electoral pressure for social reform from newly enfranchised industrial workers.
      • The case for social liberalism has been made by modern liberals:
        • Modern liberals defend welfarism on the basis of equality of opportunity.
        • The state posses a social responsibility to reduce or remove these disadvantages to create equal, or at least more equal, life chances.
        • Welfare or social rights such as; right to work, the right to education and the right to decent housing.
        • Welfare rights are positive rights because they can only be satisfied by positive actions of government, through the provision of state pension, benefits and, perhaps, publicly funded health and education services.
      • Welfare state - A state that takes primary responsibility for the social welfare of its citizens, discharged through a range of social security, health, education and other services.
        • Positive state intervention through welfare - to help the least well off in society to give the opportunity to prosper
        • Helps > Meritocracy > Through equality of opportunity
        • Hard work + Talent = Prosperity
      • It is modern liberalism as it is focused on the individual not social solidarity and keeps the incentive as it tries to provide equality of opportunity not opportunity of outcome.


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