Liberalsim notes

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  • Created by: Liv Scott
  • Created on: 10-05-15 14:55
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Key concepts
Human nature, individualism, natural rights, tolerance
Democracy, social contract, freedom, justices, equality
Libertinism, utilitarianism, pluralism
Capitalism, welfare
The meaning of liberalism, particularly liberal ideas & values concerning the individual,
capitalism & welfare
Liberal views on human nature and the state
Differing views and tensions within liberal ideology with particular regard to classical
liberalism and modern (New/Progressive) liberalism
Neo-liberalism and its relationship to the New right
The impact of liberal thinking of the actions and policies of political parties and
Liberalism is the oldest of the modern ideologies. It emerged during the
Enlightenment in the 17th centuries. The philosophical roots of Liberalism go back
the 17th
century & were a response to absolute monarchy. Throughout the middle ages
English monarchs had claimed absolute power & exercised the `divine right of kings'.
The English Civil War & the Glorious Revolution saw a shift in the balance of power in
Britain, asserting the sovereignty of Parliament over the. Its founding father, John
Locke (1632-1704), contributed to this change. Absolutism was replaced by
constitutionalism, limiting the power of government &ensuring government by consent.
Locke & others asserted the pre-eminence of rational individuals capable of making
their own choices. Therefore if individuals are capable of reason, then they should
reasonably choose how they are governed. Governments should exist by the consent
of the people, but only in-so-far as they protect the individual rights of citizens.
Key Concepts
Human nature
Optimistic view of human nature, the history of humankind is one of unlimited
progress, characterised by the growth of knowledge conservatives & fascists have a
pessimistic view of human nature. If people are capable of independent rational
thought they should be free to choose their own destiny: free from government
interference, able to trade in a free market, & freely able to consent to a
government. Government should be limited, laissez faire economics should prevail, &
free & fair elections should be held regularly. Reason & debate are important
principles, & disputes should be settled through negotiation rather than war.
Self-improvement & education are also important.

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Humans are rational, self-interested individuals capable of independent thought.
Everyone is unique with their own abilities & distinctive qualities & everyone is of
equal value. Therefore, human beings are born of equal worth and achieve status
through competition and merit: liberals believe in meritocracy. The liberal view of
society is atomistic: society is made up of individuals. Some liberals suggest that
society does not really exist at all, "There is no such thing as society. There are
individual men and women and there are families.…read more

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This supports equality of
opportunity & requires larger role for the state than classical liberals would allow, as
the state has a moral duty to protect the most vulnerable in society.
Human beings are born equal & each have equal moral worth, liberals therefore
disapprove of social privileges or advantages so they believe in the rule of law. They
also believe in meritocracy. Liberals believe in fairness & justice. E.g.…read more

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Father of modern liberalism
Social contract
Human nature characterised by reason and tolerance
Equal and free
Right to life, liberty and property "inalienable" rights which govn't should
Government exists by consent, sovereignty of the people
Revolution is right & obligation in some circumstances (govn't doesn't defend
rights, remove consent)
Minimal state + representative government ­ rational people should control
their own lives
Tolerance- freedom of religion
Property franchise
Montesquieu (1689-1755)
French philosopher
Separation of powers
Helped form constitutions (e.g.…read more

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Samuel smiles (1812-1904)
Self help
o Individual is self-responsible
o Encourage independence, thrift & hard work (diligence)
Rousseau (1712-78)
Promoted individual freedom & equality (liberty/equality)
Had a positive view of human nature (disagreed with Hobbes)
Humans "noble savages", free in the wild, join civilised society to progress but
become corrupted and equality would allow us to achieve our true nature again
The social contract, a sort of con, allows some to take power
General will, the will of the people as a whole- popular sovereignty…read more

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Spend your way out of recession
o Govn't spending
Roosevelt adopted his ideas in the USA
Aim- full employment
Beveridge (1879-1963)
Beveridge report 1942
o Faced `similar, ignorance, want, idleness, disease'.…read more

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Core values- sense of social obligation, positive freedom, some welfare
provision from the state
Keynes- economist, aim was full employment, spend your way out of recession
(govn't spending)
Beveridge- adopted by Atlee, 5 giants, squalor, disease, want, ignorance and
idleness "to protect people from the cradle to the grave"
Attlee- 1945 NHS
More focused on economic policy, Thatcher
Free market
Anti-trade unions
Support small independent business
Limited state, disciplinarian state
Moral and traditional values, "there is no such thing as society only the…read more

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Social Democratic Party (SDP) formed & formed a formal electoral
alliance with the Liberals in 1983
1999, Charles Kennedy elected leader, the Kennedy years saw opposition to a
number of New Labour policies, e.g. the introduction of university tuition fees
& proposals for introducing a national ID card scheme & a DNA database & for
increasing detention without trial for terror suspects. They were also the only
mainstream party in Westminster to oppose the Iraq War.…read more

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Abandoned the old Clause IV & accepted both the free market and the idea,
derived from Rawls, that inequality could be justified if it improved the
general wealth of society. Blair believed in an `enterprise culture' and Third
Way economics, which embraced schemes promoting private finance in the
public sector (the Private Finance Initiative or PFI) and used private expertise
to support the public sector (Public/Private Partnerships or PPP).…read more


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