Liberalism 15 Markers

  • Created by: Elena.S
  • Created on: 01-01-17 14:22

Link between liberalism and individualism

1) Define individualism - belief in primacy/supreme importance of individual over any collective group/body; humans have unique identities and all enjoy equal moral/political status; post-Enlightenment society was understood in terms of individualism
2) Link #1 - individualism as central principle of all liberal strands establishing support for individual freedom; leading to practice of toleration (willingness to accept views/actions with which one is in disagreement)
3a) Link #2 - classical individualism favours egoistical individualism (individuals are self-seeking/-reliant); possessive individualism (individuals don't owe society anything
3b) Link #3 - modern individualism favours developmental individualism (human flourishing > interest satisfaction)
4) Link #4 - liberty (ability to think/act as one wishes/capacity associated with individual/social group/nation); if people are free (negatively), they are capable of making own decisions/pursuing own destiny and aren't defined by social group etc; if free (positively), they can be supported through intervention until the point they are capable of pursuing their own destiny

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Freedom - classical VS modern liberals

1) Define freedom - ability to think/act as one wishes/capacity that be associated with individual/social group/nation; all liberals are committed to freedom and oppose license

2) Classical liberals - negative freedom (absence of external restrictions/constraints); in practice, minimal state

3) Modern liberals - positive freedom (self-mastery/-realisation); freedom is linked to personal growth/empowerment through interventionist state to increase individual opportunity/protect individuals from social evils i.e poverty

4a) Large extent - disagreement over what freedom is (negative VS positive); modern liberals support negative freedom but argue it isn't sufficient by itself, requiring positive freedom until people are capable to doing as they wish

4b) Small extent - agreement over commitment to freedom due to it as key principle

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Link between liberalism and rationalism

1) Define rationalism - belief that world has rational structure disclosed through application of reason/analysis; liberal ideology came from Enlightenment with underlying belief in reason/progress (being able to think rationally means we can become better)
2) Link #1 - strengthens belief in freedom due to implication that rational individuals are best judges of their own best interests (enlightened pursuit of self-interest)
3) Link #2 - implies that conflict/disagreement can be resolved through application of argument/debate rather than force; positive view of human nature - we will disagree at some point due to self-interest but we won't use force
4) Link #3 - faith in reform due to assumption that human history is characterised by gradual expansion of human understanding which can make the world better (progress)

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Fragmentation of government power

WHY? (Theory)
1) Power tends to corrupt since humans are self-seeking and will use power to pursue own interests at expense of others; Lord Acton: "power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely"
2a) Ensures those in power have limited ability to influence others
2b) Creates network of checks and balances; each power is a check on the other

HOW? (Practice)
Separation of powers
1a) External checks - constitutions i.e USA, each branch is check on each other i.e judiciary
1b) Internal checks - bicameralism i.e UK (HoC/HoL), devolution i.e Scotland, federalism i.e Germany

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Modern liberals and justification for social welfa

1) Positive freedom (self-mastery/-realisation; achievement of autonomy/development of human capacities); welfare acts as protections against restrictions caused by social disadvantage which are unfair, state has duty to maximise liberty through positive freedom and therefore should provide social welfare to promote social growth/development to allow individuals to realise potential
2) Equality of opportunity; justice requires equal playing field and if all have an equal start, their outcome is a result of merit (combination of ability and willingness to work); people get what they deserve

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Link and implications of rationalism

1) define rationalism: believe that world has rational structure disclosed through application of reason/analysis
2) link - liberal ideology stemming from Enlightenment in 1700s reflecting underlying belief in reason and progress (rational process means we can become better)
3a) strengths liberal belief in freedom (enlightened pursuit of self-interest) implying rational individuals are best judge of own best interests
3b) conflict/disagreement can be resolved through application of argument/debate rather than force (positive view of human nature)
3c) faith in reform, grounded in assumption that human history is characterised by gradual expansion of human understanding to make world a better place (progress)

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Support for democracy

1) define democracy: rule by the people; popular participation and government in public interest
2) grounds of consent; protects voters from over-powerful government i.e tax payers can change legislature if they want to change tax (protective democracy)
3) educational advantages; by being involved in politics, citizens further understanding and development (developmental democracy)
3) pluralist concept; democracy maintains equilibrium within complex/fluid societies; as democracy gives groups voices, they are bound to political system, maintaining stability

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Support for democracy

1) define democracy: rule by the people; popular participation and government in public interest
2) grounds of consent; protects voters from over-powerful government i.e tax payers can change legislature if they want to change tax (protective democracy)
3) educational advantages; by being involved in politics, citizens further understanding and development (developmental democracy)
3) pluralist concept; democracy maintains equilibrium within complex/fluid societies; as democracy gives groups voices, they are bound to political system, maintaining stability

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Defence of constitutionalism

1) define constitutionalism: principle of limited government brought about by existence of eternal checks i.e written/codified constitution/internal checks i.e devolution/federalism

2) Acton: "power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely"; self-seeking humans would use power at expense of others so restraints required

3) prevents development of absolute power -> absolute corruption so separation of powers/judicial independence/parliamentary government/federalism etc

4) implies governments are only legit if subject to checks/balances; constitutional government preferable to arbitrary government

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Difference between economic and social liberalism

1) economic liberalism - belief in market as self-regulating mechanism tending to naturally deliver general prosperity/opportunities for all; tendency for long-run equilibrium implies limited state intervention only to prevent market competition
2) social liberalism - belief in qualified social intervention i.e welfare provision as "a leg up"; implies expansion of social welfare for positive freedom/equality of opportunity i.e social security/health/education

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DIfference between negative/positive freedom

1) negative freedom: abschence of external restrictions/constraints on individuals, allowing freedom of choice/protecting private sphere from public interference; principal threats to freedom - state and physical constraints
2) positive freedom: self-mastery/self-realisation (achievement of autonomy/development of capacities); principal threats to freedom - social disadvantage/injustice

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1) define justice: moral standard of fairness + impartiality; social justice is notion of fair/justifiable distribution of wealth + rewards in society
2) foundational equality: humans born equal in sense that each indiv. of equal moral worth (natural/human rights)
3) foundational equality: formal equality/equal citizenship in that indiv. should enjoy same formal status in society in terms of distribution of rights + entitlements (difference-blind) i.e legal (equality before law) + political (one person, one vote; one vote, one value) equality
3) equality of opportunity: everyone has same chance to rise/fall in society -> meritocracy (society in which social position solely determined by ability + hard work) - anti social justice bc it treats unlike indiv. alike

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  • define toleration: forbearance; willingness to accept views/actions with which one is in disagreement
  • acceptance of pluralism: belief in diversity/choice or theory that political power should be widely/evenly dispersed
  • Voltaire: "I detest what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it"
  • Locke + Milton: used to defend religious freedom
  • toleration extended on private matters bc it concerns moral issues left to rational indiv. (state to only protect life, liberty + property)
  • Mill: free market of ideas whereby good ideas will replace bad ideas leading to social progress
  • balanced society in which one group is essential to achievement of another's goals
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Role of state

  • balanced + tolerant society comes out of sovereign state capable of restraining groups/indiv. under law
  • free indiv. may break contracts if advantageous (abusing liberty to become license) so state maintains freedom by restraining others
  • Locke + Hobbes: social contract: hypothetical agreement among indiv. in which they form states to escape from state of nature ("nasty, brutish and short")
  • ∴ political authority comes from below (state created by indiv. for indiv. to serve needs/interests; as contract implies if gov. breaks contract + legit. people can rebel against state) + state as neutral arbiter in society (state created by all > elite embodying interests of all so if indiv. break contracts state acts as impartial umpire to enforce terms)
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Liberal democracy

  • define liberal democracy: political regime with liberal commitment to limited democracy + democratic belief in popular rule
  • features:
    1) right to rule gained through success in regular + competitive elections based on universal adult elections
    2) constraints on gov. imposed by constitution + institutional checks and balances + protections for indiv. rights
    3) vigorous civil society including private enterprise economy + independent trade unions + free press
  • fear of majoritarianism from democracy (collectivism + Tocqueville: tyranny of majority + Mill: unevenly distributed political wisdom so Burkean representation) ∴ checks and balances
  • individualism from liberalism with minimal gov.
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Endorsement of democracy

1) consent (classical)

  • citizens must protect themselves from encroachment of gov.
  • Locke: protective democracy - propertied given voting rights to protect against taxing gov. by controlling composition of legisl. i.e American Revolution: "no taxation without representation"
  • Bentham: universal suffrage to ensure maximum utility

2) political participation (modern)

  • Mill: democracy promotes "highest and most harmonious" development of human capacities ∴ politics is educative

3) consensus

  • democracy as only system of rule capable of maintaining balance within complex + fluid modern societies - competing groups have political voice binding them to political system maintaining stability
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Natural rights

  • define natural rights: God-given rights fundamental to humans ∴ inalienable
  • Locke: property is natural right
  • Jefferson: property isn't
  • later liberals: state to protect natural rights
  • role of state for Locke:
    1) maintaining public order + protecting property
    2) providing defence against external attack
    3) ensuring that contracts are enforced
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Economic liberalism

  • Smith: economy as market operating according to wishes + decisions of free self-interested indiv. (Link to utilitarianism - economic man who is egoistical + bent on material acquisition)
  • impersonal market forces control demand + supply ∴ state shouldn't intervene (mercantilism)
  • Smith: "it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker than we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interests
  • laissez-faire economics: doctrine that economic activity should be entirely free from gov. interference
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Social Darwinism

  • based on Darwin's theory of evolution (natural selection of creatures best suited to survive in environment)
  • social circumstances explained by willingness to work + indiv. ability
  • Smiles: "heaven helps those who help themselves"
  • Cobden: "look not to Parliament, look only to yourselves"
  • Spencer: natural selection in that those best suited by nature to survive rise to top; those less suited fall to bottom (inequality is natural + state shouldn't help)
  • Sumner: "the drunkard in the gutter is just where he ought to be)
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  • define neoliberalism: updated version of classical liberal political economy in which economy works best with no intervention from dead hand of state (market: good; state: bad) i.e privatisation, tax cuts, deregulation
  • market fundamentalism: absolute faith in market reflecting belief that market mechanism offers solutions to all economic + social problems
  • key thinkers: Hayek (critique of central planning bc state bureaucrats are inefficient due to complexibility of info) + Friedman (critique of Keynesianism on grounds of encouragement of inflation without affecting natural rate of unemployment)
  • advantages of free markets:
    1) self-regulating + tending towards long-term equilibrium
    2) naturally efficient + productive
    3) democratic in responding to consumer demands
    4) fair + economically just in giving equal opportunities
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  • Mill: believed in individuality (self-fulfilment through realisation of indiv. distinctive/unique identity/qualities; what distinguishes one from another)
  • criticism of hedonistic utilitarianism + used higher/lower order pleasures to argue pleasures that develop capabilities (developmental individualism: human flourishing > interest satisfaction
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Positive freedom

  • rejection by Mill + Green of people as self-seeking utility maximisers; egoism restrained by altruism (concern for interests + welfare of other based on enlightened self-interest + belief in common humanity)
  • indiv. possess social responsibilities ∴ linked to other indiv. by ties of caring + empathy
  • criticism of negative freedom - removes external restraints potentially leading to exploitation i.e businesses hiring children so freedom of choice in marketplace is inadequate conception of indiv. freedom
  • positive freedom acknowledges other threats apart from legal + physical restraints as well as social disadvantage + inequality (implies state to prevent disadvantage to expand freedom)
  • state to provide good lives, not right lives
  • TL;DR: helping indiv. to help themselves
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Social liberalism

  • increase in state intervention post-war
  • welfare state: state taking primary responsibility for social welfare of citizens discharged through range of social security + health + education etc
  • why? Equality of opportunity to create equal life chances i.e right to work + right to education + right to decent housing (welfare rights can only be satisfied by positive actions of state i.e state pensions, public healthcare
  • Beveridge Report attacking want, disease, ignorance, squalor + idleness
  • developed into social-democratic liberalism supporting relative social equality (Rawls: equality as fairness - if unaware of social position, indiv. view egalitarian societies fairness > inegalitarian - desire to avoid property > attraction of riches So difference principle that social + economic equalities to be organised to benefit less well-off as material incentive)
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Economic management

  • rejection of classical liberal laissez-faire economics caused by Great Depression + Wall Street Crash leading to Keynesian economic management
  • AD should be increased by G not decreased by T to reflate economy
  • controlling economy to ensure employment + growth levels
  • taming capitalism not replacing it
  • examples: Roosevelt's New Deal, post-war consensus in UK
  • weakened by surge of neo-liberalism in 1970s-1980s
  • reemerged following failure of classical political economy
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