Liberalism pt 2

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  • Liberalism
    • Economy
      • - Very pro market and support capitalism believing that incentives make people to strive hard to advance. classical liberalism favour a laissez-faire approach to the economy whilst modern liberals feel that an unregulated free-market can cause social problems and are happy to smooth the excess of the market economy to promote social justice and equality of opportunity
      • - Property being a natural right means that liberals support capitalism. Since Adam Smith's 'The Wealth of Nations' liberalism has been strongly associated with private enterprise and private ownership of the economy. Capitalism is routinely described as economic liberalism
        • Economic liberalism = Another term for capitalism and emerged in Europe in the late 17th century. Involved private property 'natural right', individualistic involving individual traders cooperating and competing
      • - Liberalism's endorsement of capitalism is strongly linked to its positive view of human nature. Adam Smith argued that if obstacles to free trade were swept away, the 'invisible hand' of market forces would guide traders towards success resulting in wealth that would 'trickle down' to everyone and 'the wealth of nations' will be promoted globally
    • State
      • - Distrusted the state especially as it was often the rule of a single person or small cohort. Classical liberals understood the need for a state but felt it had to be kept to a minimum of a 'nightwatchman'. Modern liberals see the state as an enabler- to provide opportunity for others to advance and progress
      • - State should function according to prearranged rules and procedures with power fragmented and authority subject to the consent of the governed
      • Origins
        • - Within the state of nature there would be clashes of interests between individuals pursuing their own egocentric agendas. Locke argued that the state is needed to arbitrate between competing claims of rational individuals and the people would accept their authority despite the restrictions
      • Objectives
        • - Rejection of the 'traditional' state which was monarchical, absolutist and arbitrary. Renounces the type of state where power is concentrated in the hands of one individual and where power is exercised randomly. Contempt for any government that claimed a 'divine right' to govern
        • - Government by consent, state is only legitimate if those under its jurisdiction have volunteered to be under its jurisdiction. Locke said "government should always be the servant, not master, of the people. 'Government by contract' or the social contract which is when the individual give up freedoms and accept the state's authority
        • - Promotion of natural rights/ individualism because 'natural rights' enable self-realisation, self-determination and therefore individualism so it would be irrational for individuals to submit unconditionally to any state
        • - Promotion of tolerance because tolerance is closely linked to individualism. Voltaire "I detest what you say but will defend unto death your right to say it". JS Mill and the harm principle, free to do anything unless it 'harmed' the rights and freedoms of other individuals within the state. Drawn to societies that accommodate their individualism
        • - Meritocracy which is that political power should be exercised only be those who show themselves worthy of it. Government should be conducted by individuals who have won the trust to be governed
        • - Equality of opportunity because of foundational equality. All individuals should have equal opportunity to develop their potential and achieve control of their own lives. If they fail to fulfill their potential then this is not attributed to the state
          • Equality of opportunity = Liberals believe that all individual should be allowed similar opportunities to develop their potential
        • - Justice is linked to equality of opportunity, state should treat individuals fairly without regard to their 'identity'
      • Methods and structures
        • - Constitutional/limited government. The 'contract' between government and governed should be cemented by a formal constitution. Limited government with a liberal constitution should ensure that the government must govern according to prearranged rules and proceduares. Constitution is designed to prevent governments from eroding the natural rights of their citizens- Bill of Rights
        • - Fragmented government, dispersal of state power. Reaction against pre-Enlightened states where power was concentrated in the monarchy. Lord Acton "power tends to corrupt.... and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely". Reflects liberalism's belief in rationality
        • - Formal equality due to foundational equality. Emphasis on  'the rule of law'. Formal equality is also linked to equal political rights for example the equal right to petition a parliament, the equal right to invoke a Bill of Rights before the courts or the freedom of speech to criticise the government
      • - State is a necessary evil
      • - Liberal democracy balances the will of the people but limits the government and respect for civil liberties


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