Has modern Liberalism betrayed its' classical principles?

Topics: Liberalism, Classical liberalism, Conservatism Pages: 2 (825 words) Published: November 24, 2014


Has modern Liberalism betrayed its' classical principles?
By Sophia Harris

Classical liberals have argued that modern liberals have departed from the original ideas of liberalism as their new beliefs embrace collectivism instead of individualism. However, others argue that although both modern and classical liberals diverge on many areas, such as freedom, it is still said that modern liberals have a fundamental foundation of caring for the individual. Firstly, classical liberals are seen as extremely egotistical and 'utility maximisers' as they believe in self-interest; believing all humans have the natural ability to decide the rightness of a situation to make the outcome more pleasurable, i.e. to maximise pleasure and minimise pain. As liberalism promotes self interest, it stongly opposes the idea of paternalistic conservatism, meaning no one can judge another's degree or quality of happiness. Secondly, classical liberals also promote negative freedom, believing that there should be no intervention from any state or instituion which can restrict the individual externally. They believe all citizens under a state should be totally equal, influencing enforcement of the Rule of Law. John Locke, a famous enlightenment thinker and profoundly titled 'The Father of Classical Liberalism' stated that the state should be seen as a 'nightwatchman', i.e. to be as minimal as possible and only take jurisdiction in areas such as property, liberty and life. Usually the state is seen as an opressor: taking from the poor and giving to the rich, so classical liberals believe that humans are naturally cooperative and order can be maintained through collective effort. Thirdly, classical liberals believe a minimalist state can be seen in the values of economic liberalism, as this is based on the works of Adam Smith, who disputed that the economy works best when left alone by the hands of the state. Smith believed that the market operates under he wishes and decisions of free...
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