To What Extent Have Modern Liberals Departed From The Ideas Of Classical Liberalism? (45)

935 words - 4 pages

To What Extent Have Modern Liberals Departed from the Ideas of Classical Liberalism? (45)
Liberalism has been active throughout Europe since the early 19th century, although the UKs first experience of Liberalism put into practice was in 1868 under Gladstone’s Liberal government. Early Liberalist ideas concentrated largely around core values of freedom, individualism and a minimal state. However, revisionists have deployed a modern liberalism, which in many ways have departed from core themes of Classic Liberals.
Classic Liberalism has a heavy focus surrounding the core value of freedom, which also overlap the core theme of a minimalistic state. However, the evolution of liberalism, has ...view middle of the document...

However modern liberals would agree that this is an extreme view of practicing freedom and liberty. Many modern liberals reject the ideas of the pursuit of happiness and negative freedom. Both T H Green and Thomas Hill believed in positive freedom whereby individuals were not forced to act in a particular way or make particular decisions but instead provided an environment where they would be encouraged to make a more responsible choice.
Another core theme of classic liberalism is individualism. This is the idea where society is described as ‘atomised’ in the sense that one would not, or should not sacrifice the interests of individuals for the interests of everyone else. The individual is ultimately more important than the collective. Lock was one of those who agreed with this concept describing humans as naturally, selfish, self-seeking and egotistical. Likewise with Mill who believed in the ‘the greatest happiness principle’ specifying that an individual was too pursue their happiness and eliminate pain on all grounds. Mill also strongly believed in personal development and the idea that the individual was sovereign over the state in deciding what was best for them.
However, individualism is stressed much less through modern liberalism. Modern liberal thinkers such as T H Green and John Rawls have swayed closer towards collectivism. Modern liberals tend to have a more optimistic view on human nature in the sense that individuals value the importance of social obligation especially with those who are less able to provide or look after themselves. Green came up with ‘The Organic Society’ which stressed that every individual or group in society has value in building and contributing to the society. He rejected Mills conception of human nature as being self-seeking but instead believed human nature to have altruist characteristics. John Rawls also believed in an egalitarian society where...

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