The similarities between classical liberalism and modern liberalism are greater than the differences

Topics: Liberalism, Conservatism, Classical liberalism Pages: 2 (1231 words) Published: March 9, 2015
The similarities between classical liberalism and modern liberalism are greater than the differences. Discuss. Liberalism is a political ideology that can be divided into two distinct strands; classical liberalism, which arose during the transition from feudalism to capitalism in the 19th century, and modern liberalism which developed alongside increased industrialisation and the economic and social inequality that it brought about. Whilst modern and classical liberals disagree on specific issues such as what it means to be truly free, the role of the state, the necessary extent of government economic management, and ensuring social equality, I feel that modern liberalism still shares a wide range of similarities with classical liberalism, only making additions necessary to uphold core Liberal values such as freedom and equality in the 20th century. Liberals believe in the supreme importance of the individual over any social group or collective body, and that individuals should be viewed in terms of their individual merits and qualities instead of as belonging to a certain community or social class. Classical liberals believe in egotistical individualism, viewing humans as self-interested and self-reliant beings, leading to an atomistic attitude towards society; a collection of individuals, or atoms, each seeking to satisfy their own needs and interests. Modern liberals believe in a more developmental form of individualism which focuses on human flourishing and the realisation of individual potential. Ultimately the meaning of individualism for both classical and modern liberals is that individuals should not be viewed in terms of which communities or groups they belong to, the differences in their ideas do not directly disagree, but modern liberals take a wider approach that people should be enabled by external forces to realise their potential and not simply be left to their own devices. Freedom for classical liberals is a natural right and essential to...
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