Essay Classical Liberalism

With the onset of industrialization, a major area of conflict opened up between liberalism and conservatism.

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To the extent that liberals associated conservatism with militarism and imperialism, another source of conflict arose.

While a strand of Whiggish liberalism was not averse to wars (beyond self-defense) for liberal ends, and while wars of national unification provided a major exception to the rule, by and large liberalism was associated with the cause of peace.

Here we shall use liberalism to signify the classical variety.

Although its fundamental claims are universalist, liberalism must be understood first of all as a doctrine and movement that grew out of a distinctive culture and particular historical circumstances.

A landmark was the work of the thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment, particularly David Hume, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, and Dugald Stewart.

They developed an analysis that explained "the origin of complex social structures without the need to posit the existence of a directing intelligence" (in Ronald Hamowy's summary).Later in the century, John Locke framed the doctrine of the natural rights to life, liberty, and estate — which he collectively termed "property" — in the form that would be passed down, through the Real Whigs of the 18th century, to the generation of the American Revolution.America became the model liberal nation, and, after England, the exemplar of liberalism to the world.The theory of spontaneous order was elaborated by later liberal thinkers, notably Herbert Spencer and Carl Menger in the 19th century and F. One argument between liberals and Burkean and other conservatives who in important respects stand close to liberalism is related to this central liberal conception.While liberals typically expect the market in the widest sense — the network of voluntary exchanges — to generate a system of institutions and mores conducive to its continuance, conservatives insist that the indispensable underpinning must be provided by the state beyond the simple protection of life, liberty, and property, including especially state support of religion.The panacea proposed by the Manchesterites was international free trade.Developing these ideas, Frédéric Bastiat proposed an especially pure form of the liberal doctrine that enjoyed a certain appeal on the Continent and, later, in the United States. This was the case when they turned to the state to promote their own values.Their emphasis on property, beginning with the individual's ownership of himself, and their hostility to state power show that the amalgamation of the Levellers to the presocialist Diggers was mere enemy propaganda.Although failures in their time, the Levellers furnished the prototype of a middle-class radical liberalism that has been a feature of the politics of English-speaking peoples ever since., 2006] "Classical liberalism" is the term used to designate the ideology advocating private property, an unhampered market economy, the rule of law, constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and of the press, and international peace based on free trade.Up until around 1900, this ideology was generally known simply as liberalism.


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