The Pros And Cons Of Modern Liberalism

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Liberalism is defined as a political and social philosophy, which encourages freedom of the individual, and involves little or no state intervention. The earliest liberal ideology was classical, which emerged at the dawn of the Enlightenment era. Classical liberalism, sometimes called ‘nineteenth century liberalism’ ( Heywood,2004), dominated the era with its doctrines based around the idea of self interest enticing human behaviour, stemming from utilitarianism theory. Modern liberalism, on the other hand was born towards the end of the nineteenth century and centred around a more sensitive outlook towards state intervention, compared to classical liberalism, where emphasis lay on a ‘watchman’ state (Heywood,2004). This essay will examine …show more content…
This ideology leans towards a ‘positive’ view of freedom, believing that government intervention should only exists to assist vulnerable and weak individuals to thrive and achieve their goals. Social intervention exists to protect people from the atrocities of society that will interfere with their wellbeing, whereas, economic intervention seeks to correct the wrong doings of laissez-faire capitalistic period of the Enlightenment, which caused social and economic inequalities, such as unemployment ( Heywood,2004).Modern liberalism had reached its climax during the post war period , with the regeneration of industries and the introduction of welfare programs such as pension, family allowances, health care and advanced education fees. These programmes where economically successful, having saved the U.S. out of the Great Depression. Therefore, the goal of the government is to “help people to help themselves” …show more content…
The oldest liberal ideology, classical liberalism, which first emerged during the enlightenment era, expresses humans as naturally egoistic beings who are more than capable of governing themselves. Classical liberals, such as Thomas Paine, refer to the state as a “necessary evil” that establishes law for the good of society, but also impairs the natural right of freedom of the individual, illustrating a ‘negative’ view of freedom. Classical liberals believe in a laissez-faire and free capitalist economy, a theory that is strongly criticised by modern liberals who argue the economic and social implications of a free trade system. On the other hand, modern liberalism shows a ‘positive’ view towards freedom, maintaining that state intervention should exists solely to enrich the lives vulnerable individuals in order for them to prosper and grow. In addition, the modern sense of liberalism believes that social and economic intervention of the state will rectify mistake brought on by the classical liberal era, e.g. unemployment. However, modern liberalism is criticised for supporting collective growth, rather than individual growth, which completely abandons the theory of liberalism. It also raises uncertainty as to the real function of the

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