Political Theories-Liberalism

Classical Liberalism

Can also be known as economic liberalism

  • Focus on indivual capitalism/success
  • Minimal state intervention
  • Low tax economy
  • Competition leads to lower prices
  • Self regulating
  • Allows choice (key ideas-good human nature)
  • High risk business due to minimal control
  • Class divide
  • Monoploising of bsusiness
  • Expolitation of workers
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Modern Liberalism

  • Typically left wing
  • Believe in social security (i.e welfare state)
  • Nationalisation of services/industry
  • Personal freedom
  • Equal opportunity
  • Reduces suffering
  • Prevents exploitation by businesses
  • High tax society
  • More succesful "bail out" the less
  • Government can set high prices
  • High level of state scrutiny (1984)
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Four Key Themes

  • Human Nature:
  • Positive view
  • John Locke & John Mill-succeed when given freedom (classical liberalism)
  • "Where there is no law, there is no freedom"-Locke

The State (system of security/government/citizens/welfare state):

  • Don't reject state's role (even classical liberals)-not anarchism
  • Conditions regulating state
  • Classical liberals: need basic rules but no personal gain

Society (electorate not government):

  • Positive view of society-champion social justice (modern liberalism)
  • Socially just society should provide equal opportunity (modern liberalism)

The Economy

  • Not state's role to govern economy (classical liberalism)
  • Regulated and governed economy (modern liberalism)
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Thomas Hobbes and John Locke

Hobbes: Classical Thinker 1600s

  • "Where there is no law, there is no freedom"
  • Government should only maintain law-there shouold be self regulation of economy
  • Natural rights
  • Believed in individual freedom
  • Concerned about freedom's effect on society ("solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short")

Locke:  Classical Thinker 1600s-1700s

  • People naturally pursue own interests (invisible hand)
  • "Humans are naturally social and sympathetic"-so should have personal freedoms
  • Tolerance of political and religious views
  • Some regualtion of free markets required but minimal
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John Stuart Mill and John Rawls (and summary line)

Mill: Modern Thinker (Just!) 1800s

  • Harm principle
  • Believed in freedom until the point of harm

Rawls: Modern Thinker 1970s-2000s

  • Believed in the equal distribution of freedom
  • If unrestricted freedom leads to an unequal distribution of freedom, it is unjust
  • State regulation
  • Liquidate class divide
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Key Terms

Tyranny of the Majority: one large group exerts influence over smaller groups
           for example: an all male electorate may not support progress in women's rights

Liberal Depotism: freedom and rights but no democracy

Liberal Democracy: democratic system of governmetn in which individual rights and freedoms are protected-no one is above the law, there is free press, universal suffrage and everyone is entitled to a fair trail

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Thomas Hobbes and John Locke

Hobbes: Classical Thinker 1600s

  • "Where there is no law, there is no freedom"
  • Government should only maintain law-there shouold be self regulation of economy
  • Natural rights
  • Believed in individual freedom
  • Concerned about freedom's effect on society ("solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short")

Locke: Classical Thinker 1600s-1700s

  • People naturally pursue own interests (invisible hand)
  • "Humans are naturally social and sympathetic"-so should have personal freedoms
  • Tolerance of political and religious views
  • Some regualtion of free markets required but minimal
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Liberalism and Feminism

  • Liberal/Radical/Cultural and Socialist feminism
  • Liberal and Socialist feminism most prevalent today
  • Mary Wollstonecraft=classical (freedom for women, equal education)=18th century
  • Betty Friedan=modern (governed rights of women, equal opportunity in all areas)

Rawls-most sympathetic to feminist cause?

  • Only key thinbker modern enough for it to be a prevalent issue
  • Veil of ignorance-no mention of ignorance regarding gender
  • Revised theory to include ignorance of gender
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