A2 Government and Politics: Liberalism part two

Revision summary for EDEXCEL A2 Government and Politics- Liberalism part 2.

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Give an example of John Locke's social contract.

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Liberal Representative Democracy in the United States - Liberal Representative Democracy in the United States of America whereby all individuals would sacrifice a bit of their liberty to create a system of law and to protect their liberty, enshrined in the codified constitution.

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Outline the Classical Liberal version of the state

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Minimal State - The minimal state retains responsibility for maintaining order, security and peace in order to guarantee the protection of individual liberties and prevent the forming of monopolies. For example, in a free market companies could grow so large that they would be in a position to exploit others. Any further extension of the state was in danger of eroding individual freedom.

Thomas Paine - 'Government even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one'.

Jose Ortega y Gasset (Spanish Liberal) - This is the greatest danger that today threatens civilisation: state intervention, the absorbtion of all spontaneous social effort by the state, that is to say of spontaneous historical action, which in the long run sustains, nourishes and impels human destinies.

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Explain the Modern Liberal view of the state suppo

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Enabling state - The Modern Liberal view of an Enabling State was based on the idea of positive liberty outlined by TH Green. Green suggested that individuals obtained freedom not purely by being left alone but by experiencing social conditions that allow them to fulfil their own hopes and goals. Many argued that the numerous problems facing Britain at the time were the result of an excessive free market.

LT Hobhouse -  Major Liberal thinkers who argued aggressively that the state needed to take an increasingly active role in creating more social justice. In 'the crisis of Liberalism' in 1909 he said that 'Liberalism is now formally committed to a task which certainly involves a new conception of the state'.

William Beveridge - For Beveridge such deprivations as poverty, unemployment and lack of education were curtailments of freedom as serious as laws and over bearing governments. Beveridge recommended the establishment of the NHS, National Insurance, Family Allowances and stressed the importance of full time employment.

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Give four Liberal arguments in favour of Democracy

L. M. S. C

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1. Limited idea of protective democracy - Voting rights should be extended to those who can defend their natural rights against government. If government can tax us we should be able to protect ourselves by controlling the legislature. E.g. No tax without representation. Theorist: John Locke - Argued that voting rights should be extended to all those with property.

2. Maximising Happiness - Believed in utilitarian thought; 'greatest happiness to the greatest number'. Individuals are all pleasure seekers and the best way to allow people to maximise pleasure is to set up a democratic government. Theorist: JS Mill 'Greatest Happiness'

3. Self-development - By participating in the democratic process individuals would gradually educate themselves against political and social issues and develop as individuals. They would strengthen their sensibilities achieving a higher level of development. Theorist: JS Mill 'the central virtue of democracy is that it promotes the highest and most harmonious development of human capacities'.

4. Consensus Building - Liberal theories of democracy focus on the need for consensus in society, the attraction of democracy is that it is the only system of rule capable of maintaining equilibrium within complex and fluid modern societies. Theorist: US political scientist Robert Dahl: Termed modern democracies as polyarchies.

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Give four Liberal arguments against Democracy.


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1. Tyranny of the majority - The Liberal belief in the sovereignty of the individual clearly clashes with the collectivist implications of democracy. Majoirty has tendency to impose ideas and practices as rules of conduct on everyone, people don't abide suffer social consequences. E.g Fox Hunting 2005. Theorist:  Alexis de Toqueville (French Liberal) 'tyranny of the majority' collection of self reliant individualists.

2. Inequality of political wisdom - Political wisdom is unequally distributed  and is largely related to education. The uneducated are more likely to act irrationally or according to narrow class interests, whereas the educated are more able to use their wisdom and experience for the benefit of others. Theorist: Gasset warned the arrival of mass democracy would overthrow civilised society.

3. Individual self interest - Individuals are governed by self interest. Democracy emerged as a means by which people could be liberated and free to express their self interested individualism, and yet excessive amounts can result in the oppression of individuals. Theorist: Rousseau: an early French influence on Liberalism; showed a preference for consensus politics and rejected democracy. 'Would their a people of Gods their government would be democractic, so perfect a government is not for men'.

4. Protection of Property - Believed that poor if given the vote would seek to overthrow the rich and remove their property. Originally democracy was seen as dangerous and an unworkable idea that encouraged people with no property to imagine they were able to govern. Critics of Liberalism say its more concerned with property than popular power. James Madison - 'incompatible with personal security'.

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Define Liberal Constitutionalism

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Government institutions and political processes are effectively constrained by constitutional rules which limit the power and protect the rights of individuals and groups. This protects Liberty through the establishment of internal and external checks on government power.

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Explain 3 features of Liberal Constitutionalism


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Codified Constitution - Limits the power of government by binding them to an agreed set of laws and principles, establishing internal and external constraints on government power. This is controversial as it can prevent flexibility and rights. Example: The USA has a Codified Constitution which gives people the right to 'bear arms', if the government wants to take this away they will have to amend the constitution.

Entrenched Bill of Rights - The Bill of Rights is an integral part of the constitution and protects the individuals fundamental freedoms from government tyranny. This guarantees a two tier legal system and entrenchment. Example: It grants the right to a fair trial with an independant jury. This can be linked to the Rule of Law.

Seperation of Powers - The seperation of powers ensures that an individual section of government cannot become too powerful. Balanced between Executive, Legislative and Judiciary. Example: In the USA the Supreme Court can regard Bill's as unconstitutional and reject them limiting executive power, such as the Patriot Act.

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Give the other two features of Liberal Constitutio

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Federalism - Federalism describes a system of government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between government and political units. Example: The United States is federal and devolves power so individuals have a bigger say in their own lives, self determination.

Rule of Law - The Rule of Law establishes everyone is equal under the law and all have to obey it regardless of their position in society. Example: The government cannot break their own laws which regulate their own power.

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Give four features of a Liberal Democracy.

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1. Government by consent - The basis of government must be government by consent, a representative and responsible government indirectly elected which can be held accountable for its actions and removed.

2. Full access to all legal groups - The political system should allow full access to all legal groups, a universal franchise with free and fair elections.

3. Limited by sovereign constitution - Clear distinction between public sphere of the state and private sphere of civil society. (Ideally codified)

4. Individual and group rights must be protected - Existence of Civil Liberties such as freedom of speech (ideally in an entrenched document).

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Give three features of Classical Liberalisms attit


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Economy guided by egotistical self interest - In the market rational individuals enter into voluntary contracts with other individuals in order to maximise their self interest - which is equated with the acquisition and consumption of material wealth. Although the economic market operates through individual self interest, it naturally promotes harmony and prosperity.

Market forces (Supply and Demand) ensures efficiency and prosperity - Adam Smith argued that economic prosperity is achieved not through conscious state regulation but occurs naturally through the impersonal pressure of the market forces of supply and demand. Price in the market is not set by one person but is determined by: supply number of goods offered. Demand: Amount people are willing to buy.

Self Regulating no state intervention (Laissez faire) - Smith believed that the economy was self regulating and governed by the 'invisible hand' of market forces. The invisible hand is the natural result when workers prove their own interests which in turn promotes society. It needs no guidance from government and works best when left alone.

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Give two features of Liberals attitude to the Econ


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Trickle down effect - Smith's ideas are based on the idea that  economic self interest will lead to benefits for all; wealth 'trickle down through society'.

International Free Trade - This led to a belief in the free market idea and a 'laissez faire' approach in which states don't intervene in the economy. Globally this led to the belief in free trade where countries don't tax or restrict the movement of goods. The Free Market has been taken up by Neo-Liberals and international organisations: IMF and WTO.

Adam Smith 'Invisible Hand' (The Wealth of Nations) - The 'invisible hand' that guides the economy is the natural result when workers pursue their own interests, this regulates the economy allowing it to form cohesiveness and a fresh order of its own.

Milton Friedman - The Austrian economist reflected a form of 'Market fundamentalism'- market offered a solution to all economic/social problems.

UK Thatcherism- Classical Liberalism unchallenged until twentieth century.

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Give two key features of Modern Liberals attitude


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Unrestrained free market will spiral into recession - Modern Liberals believe that the unrestrained private interest of the free market when left alone is unable to guarantee general prosperity. Example: The Wall Street Crash of 1929 led to the Great Depression of the 1930's.

Government injection of demand will create multiplier effect - Keynes argued that depression could be avoided by governments 'managing their economies' by influencing the level of demand. Through demand management governments have the ability to manipulate the economy to produce more wealth. Example: By building a school the government is creating work for construction workers, who then spend their wages on goods... multiplier effect.

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Give a key Modern Liberal Economic theorist and an


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John Maynard Keynes - Keynes outlined what he called the 'multiplier effect'. He proposed that the state should inject money into the capitalist economy through job creation. These ideas were adopted in the Post war Prosperity.

Post- war Consensus - Kenynesian economics were gradually adopted and contributed strongly to the post war prosperity of the 1950's, 1960's and early 1970's.

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Give three different types of equality that all Li


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Foundational Equality - The belief that all people are created equally. Everyone has equal moral worth and this should translate into equal respect for all persons.

Legal/formal Equality - Each person has the right to be treated equally by the law. They should have an equal freedom to act however they may choose.

Equality of Opportunity - Everyone has the right to the same opportunity to succeed in life. Social position should be based on position of merit producing a meritocratic society. Example: Jobs and universities should be open to the most able.

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How do Classical and Modern Liberals differ over e


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Classical Liberals prefer the free market whilst Modern Liberals prefer economic management through Keynesianism. Classical Liberals believe solely in negative liberty and view humans as self seeking and reliant.

Why do Liberals criticise Socialist views of equality?

Social Equality - Everyone should receive roughly the same (wages/income/resources) regardless of their ability or effort. Liberals would not agree as people would be constrained and not able to live their lives freely.

Milton Friedman - 'A society that places equality ahead of freedom will end up with neither'.

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Define Social Justice and outline Classical Libera


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Social Justice - Social Justice generally refers to the idea of creating an egalitarian society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights and recognises the dignity of every human being.

Social Darwininism - Spencer used the theory of natural selection to develop the social principle of survival of the fittest. People who are best suited by nature to survive rise to the top, while the less fit fall to the bottom. Inequalities of wealth, social position and political power are therefore natural and inevitable, and the government should not interfere. Spencer's disciple said 'The drunkard in the gutter is just where he ought to be'.

Herbert Spencer (The Man Vs the State 1884) - A book where the ideas of individual self reliance reached their boldest self expression. Spencer developed a rigorous defence of laissez faire drawing on the ideas that the UK scientist Charles Darwin had developed in 'The Origins of the Species' 1859.

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Outline a modern Liberal view of Social Justice, k


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Social Liberalism - Modern Liberalism was further developed in the second half of the twentieth century with the emergence of so called social Liberalism, or social democratic Liberalism, essentially in the writings of John Rawls. Social Liberalism is distinguished by its support for relative social equality, usually seen as the defining value of socialism.

John Rawls (A theory of Justice) - Rawls attempted to justify when an enabling state should intervene while still holding on to the principle of individual sovereignty. Rawls argued that the 'principles of justice' are needed to decide the rules under which individuals will co-operate and how the rewards of this social co-operation should be distributed in society. Rawls argues in 'two principles of justice' that everyone should be granted rights, liberties, powers, opportunities, income, wealth, self respect.

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How do Modern Liberals like Rawls justify social w

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Rawls argues first that we will only agree to an equal distribution unless a certain amount of inequality will work to everyones advantage. Example: Providing incentives which will generate more wealth for everyone.

Second, once a certain level of material well being is secured, we will value our basic liberties more than other goods. So, equal liberty will be preferred to an unequal liberty but greater wealth.

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List the 5 different areas between Classical and M






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State- Minimal State vs. Enabling State.

Individual - Egotistical vs. Developmental.

Freedom - Negative vs Positive.

Social Justice - Social Darwinism vs Social Welfarism.

Economy - Free Market vs Economic Management.

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Outline difference in regards to individual + supp



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(Classical) Egotistical Individualism - Human beings are hedonistic and self seeking creatures. Individuals are motivated purely by self interest, the desire for pleasure, happiness or avoiding pain.

Jeremy Bentham - Provided the conception of human beings as rationally self interested utility maximisers.

(Modern) Developmental Individualism - Individual human nature is not narrowly self interested but as socially responsible, capable of altruistic concern for fellow human beings. Each individual should realise their full potential.

TH Green and LT Hobhouse - Used developmental individualism to argue in favour of social welfare and state intervention.

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Outline the different interpretation of freedom +



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(Classical) Negative Freedom - the absence of external restrictions on an individuals behaviour. You are free unless someone is actively preventing you from doing something.

Isaiah Berlin (Two Concepts of Liberty) - 'Simply the area in which a man can act unobstructed by others'.

(Modern)  Positive Freedom - Positive Freedom is the capacity to achieve ones goals and the ability to be ones own master. You are free when you live under the right conditions to pursue your own rational self interest.

TH Green - Rejected the early Liberal conception of Human Beings and suggested that they are capable of altruism.

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Outline the different views of the state + support


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(Classical) Minimal State - This retains responsibility for maintaining order, security and peace in order to guarantee the protection of individual liberties. Any further extension of the state was in danger of eroding individual freedom.

Thomas Paine - 'Government even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one'.

(Modern) Enabling State - The State plays a role in intervening in lives of individuals providing them with minimal conditions to enable them to act as a free rational individual.

TH Green - Based on the idea of positive liberty, Green suggested that individuals obtained freedom by achieving their hopes and dreams.

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Outline the different interpretations of the econo


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(Classical) Free Market Liberalism - The Free Market/ Free Trade Clause has been taken up by neo-classical Liberals in their belief that unrestrained economic self interest will ultimately lead to greater benefits for all as wealth will 'trickle' down through society.

Adam Smith (The Wealth of Nation) - Argued that the Free Market and 'Invisible Hand' would form a thriving economy.

(Modern) Economic Management or Keynesian Economics - Argues that depression could be avoided by governments managing their economics  by influencing the level of demand. Government spending could act as an infection of demand into the economy.

John Maynard Keynes - 'The Multiplier Effect' where the state injects money to prevent economic downturns.

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Outline the different interpretations of Social Ju



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Social Darwinism - The theory of natural selection to develop the social principle of 'survival of the fittest'. Inequalities of wealth, social position and political power are natural and inevitable, and no attempt should be made by the government to interfere.

Herbert Spencer (The Man Versus the State 1884) - Adopted a vigorous defence of laissez faire 'the drunkard in the gutter is just where he ought to be'

Social Welfarism - Defended on the basis of equality of opportunity, such as the right to work, the right to education and decent housing. Welfare rights are positive rights because they can only be achieved by positive actions of government.

William Beveridge (The Beveridge Report) - The Beveridge report was designed to counter 5 evils: illness, ignorance, disease, squalor and want.

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