Leonard Hobhouse The Heart Of Liberalism Summary

Great Essays
Leonard Hobhouse wrote an influential book ‘Liberalism’ (1911) which presented the major ideas of the New Liberalism at that time. The name of the sixth chapter of the writing “The Heart of Liberalism” is connected with workings of Mill which are claimed to form the actual ‘heart’ of liberalism. In this chapter, Hobhouse highlights major beliefs of liberalism such as liberty, equality of opportunity, individualism, organicism, and harmony. His argument follows from more narrow concepts to more broad concepts which incorporate all of the aspects mentioned in the beginning of the chapter. More broad concepts like harmony and organicism are the most important ideas in which Hobhouse along with other ‘New Liberal’ theorists believed in. It is important …show more content…
All of their actions are a ‘matter of common concern’ and affect the society as a whole (Hobhouse, 1911:120). In this sense, the author argues with Mill’s “Harm Principle”, as Mill claimed that ‘the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others’ (Mill,1859:14). In contrast to that, Hobhouse suggested that there is no aspect of the life of an individual which is indifferent to the society and can be ignored. According to his beliefs, “humanity lies deeper than all distinctions of rank, and class, and colour … and of sex” (Hobhouse,1911:121). This means that there have to be certain conditions in the society of human growth, as “the foundation of liberty is the idea of growth”(Hobhouse,1911:122). It can also be linked to the concept of ‘equality of opportunity’ which is discussed later on in the chapter and claims that every individual has the same equal treatment which is based on the ‘common good’ rather than someone’s interest (Hobhouse,1911:130). The author makes a strong argument here as he claims that inequality is possible in the society as the distribution of wealth or power is spread in a way to “do better for the good of all” (Hobhouse,1911:131). Therefore, individuals have to acknowledge the fact that someone might be better off and this would lead to progress of the …show more content…
One of the forms in which collective activity may be taking place is via the State. Hobhouse holds a positive view of the state as it is one of the types of “human associations” that lead society towards advancement. Fulfillment of social progress can be achieved by the contribution of the citizens, which is partly the consequence of nationalism. As follows, author justifies nationalism only when “it is found on a true interpretation of history” (Hobhouse,1911:135). Therefore, he builds a view of society in a state of harmony and growth with individuals who move towards national and personal growth which is, according to Hobhouse, entrenched in human nature. In addition, Hobhouse summarises the chapter by claiming that ‘Heart of Liberalism’ is the acknowledgement that the “progress is not a matter of mechanical contrivance, but of the liberation of living spiritual energy”. By stating that Leonard Hobhouse again highlights the priority of human development and pushes this emphasis further than classical liberals (Freeden,

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