Are There Contradictions Within Liberalism?

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To what extent are there contradictions within liberalism? (45)

Liberalism is an ideology which places its main focus on individualism: the belief in the utmost importance of the individual over any social group or collective body. A key tenet within liberalism is that of universalism, the belief that a person is worth one and no more than one. This, coupled with the belief that humans are innately rational beings, encourages a tolerant, diverse society which focuses on maintaining social justice. Liberalism is split into two branches: classical liberalism and modern liberalism. Classical Liberal views were mostly developed throughout the nineteenth century, dominating the political thinking of that time, with modern liberal views only emerging
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Classical Liberals subscribe to the idea of egotistical individualism, which places emphasis on self interestedness and self reliance. John Rawls demonstrates this view through his social experiment The Veil of Ignorance. Each person is told to imagine themselves in ‘The original position’, standing behind ‘the Veil of Ignorance’. A person behind the Veil of Ignorance would be unaware of the aspects of themselves that affect their position within society “no one knows his place within society, his class position, or social status; nor does he know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence and strength and the like” but as self-interested rational beings, who are not ignorant of the possible situations in which humans can find themselves. The people behind the veil are given the task of selecting the principles for distribution of rights, positions and resources in the society in which they will live. Rawls believe the the society designed by the people behind the veil will be inherently fair. A self-interested rational person would not want to belong to a race or gender or sexual orientation that is discriminated against and so principles would be adopted to oppose discrimination thus solidifying the classical liberal belief in the idea of egotistical individualism. This has caused classical liberals to take the view that society is merely a collection of individual, each seeking self satisfaction for their own needs. This view can be equated with atomism from Thatcher’s new right, which shares the idea that society is made up of self sufficient, atomistic individuals, as opposed to to social groupings. This has been further extended, based on the assumption that humans by nature are egotistical, self-seeking and largely self-reliant, to the belief that ‘society’ does not exist but instead just individuals. In comparison, modern liberals hold a more optimistic

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