A commitment to the individual and the desire to construct a society where people can satisfy their interests and achieve fulfilment.
* The term ‘Liberal’ is derived from the Latin word ‘Liber’, which refers to a class of free men, in other words, men who were neither serfs nor slaves. * It is associated with ideas of freedom and choice. * Human beings are first and foremost, individuals, endowed with reason. * This implies that each individual should enjoy the maximum possible freedom consistent with a like freedom for all. * Although entitled to equal rights and political rights, they should be rewarded in line with their talents and their willingness to work. * Liberal societies are organised around the twin principles: Constitutionalism and consent. It is designed to protect citizens from government tyranny. * Classical liberalism: characterised by a belief in ‘minimal state’ function is to be limited to the maintenance of domestic order and personal security. * Modern liberalism: accept that states should help people to help themselves.
1. The individual
= Unique and Equal.
* Feudalism was displaced by increasingly market-orientated societies . * Individuals were encouraged individuals to think for themselves and to think of themselves in personal terms. * A serf was now a ‘free man’ and acquired some ability to choose who to work for and maybe the opportunity to leave the land altogether and look for work in the growing towns or cities. * Rational and scientific explanations gradually displaced traditional religious theories. * Society was understood from the view point of the human individuals. * However, emphasizing the importance of individual has two contrasting implications:
1) Individuals are primarily defined by inner qualities and attributes specific to themselves. 2) They nevertheless each share the same status in that they are all first and foremost, individuals. Individuals were thought to posses personal and distinctive qualities: each was of special value.
* Immanuel Kant expressed a belief in the dignity and equal worth of human beings. * Belief in the primacy of the individual is the characteristic theme of liberal ideology. * It lead some liberals to views society as simply a collection of individuals, each seeking to satisfy his or her own needs and interests. A belief in an atomist society. -------------------------------------------------
Atomism: A belief that ‘society’ itself does not exist but is merely a collection of self-sufficient individuals. * Such extreme individualism is based on the assumption that the individual is egoistical, essentially self-seeking and largely self-reliant. * Macpherson (1973) – characterized early liberalism as ‘possessive individualism’ in that it regarded the individual as ‘the proprietor of his own person or capacities, owing nothing to society for them’. * Modern Liberals: more optimistic view of human nature: have been more prepared to believe that egoism is tempered by a sense of social responsibility especially a responsibility for those who are unable to look after themselves. * All liberals are united in their desire to create a society in which each person is capable of developing and flourishing to the fullness of his or her potential.
= Individual liberty the supreme political value and the unifying principle within liberal ideology.
* Classical liberals: liberty was a natural right and an essential requirement for leading a truly human existence. It gave individuals the opportunity to pursue their own interests by exercising: the choice of where to live, who to work for and what to buy etc. Modern Liberals: Liberty as the only condition in which people are able to develop their skills and talents and fulfil their potential. Belief in the supreme...