To What Extent Does Modern Liberalism Depart from the Ideas of Classical Liberalism?

In: Social Issues

Submitted By lamajdi
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The continuous development of industrialization bought about a massive expansion of wealth as well as the spread of slums, poverty, ignorance and disease. The increasing social inequalities in society led liberals to question and revise the ideas of classic liberalism. This was clearly seen in their differing views on freedom, the individuals and most important the economy. Classical liberals have argued that the revised version of liberals has effectively broken the principles of doctrines that defined liberalism. While Modern liberals argue that it did not fully depart from the ideas of capitalism liberalism but merely built on classical liberalism.
Classical liberals pessimistic view on individualism leads to their belief in negative freedom. The individual is free as long as he or she is left alone, not interfered with or coerced by others. Freedom in this sense is the absence of external constraints on the individual. Modern liberals don’t believe in the notion of liberty because it merely removes external constraints on the individual, giving them the freedom of choice. They believe in the idea of positive freedom where individuals have the chance to develop and attain individuality. The argument for freedom by liberals does not fully differ for modern liberals still take the classical liberals preference for self-reliant individuals who take responsibility for their own lives. The essential is difference between both is that modern liberals recognise that individuals can only act morally if social conditions are conducive to it.
Classical liberalism emphasis on negative freedom is seen in their belief in a minimal state which only acts as ‘night watchman’ in the words of Locke. Locke argued that the legitimate role of the state is limited to the protection of ‘life, liberty and property’. Therefore the functions of government should not extend beyond the…...

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