Development of modern liberalism
Classical liberals reacted differently to the social effects of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. Some embraced the Industrial Revolution as the embodiment of liberal ideals. Others, however, were concerned for the increasing poverty and immiseration of the working class—and concerned that this class was increasingly attracted to socialist ideas. These liberals argued that government has an obligation to alleviate poverty and to improve opportunities for the poor. This debate caused a split in liberalism and out of it emerged modern or welfare liberalism. Neoclassical liberals continued to argue that the government should stay out of individuals' lives except to protect their property and security. Government, if it is to leave as much room for the exercise of individual freedom, must be as small as possible. It emphasizes negative liberty, or a view that understands freedom as freedom from restrictions on speech, worship, and other encroachments on individual rights. According to neoclassical liberals like Robert Nozick, the state should be just like a "nightwatchman" or a security guard whose only job is to protect individuals and their property from force or fraud. Welfare liberals, however, argue that government intervention in the economy and other aspects of life is sometimes necessary to prevent some individuals from denying freedom to others, and also to provide the conditions in which human beings can reach their full potential. These liberals are concerned for the well-being or welfare of the individual. It emphasizes "positive liberty," or a view that understands freedom as freedom to, or the ability to develop our higher faculties and to realize our full human potential. An acorn will grow into a tree only if there are the right conditions for growth; the same is true of humans, they argue. The state should play a role in ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to make it in the world. This involves creating a safety net so that people don't starve or go without medical care and housing when they've fallen on hard times. Modern liberalism reached the apex of its influence with the New Deal in the 1930s and 1940s. It created programs such as Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, Medicare, welfare, progressive taxation, and numerous other government programs. President Lyndon Johnson sought to expand welfare liberalism even further in the 1960s with the Great Society programs and the War on Poverty.
Modern Liberalism as Seen Today
Modern Liberalism seizes several important ideals of the Enlightenment. People are all equal and modern liberals see government not as something to be completely restricted, but as a tool to facilitate equality. The base of economic centrality in the modern liberal ideology is that of government spending to make sure that everyone is equal. Modern liberals do not have a preference in faith or different types of faith. Nor do they suggest religion as an alternative for government and they emphasize the importance of the establishment and exercise clauses of the first amendment. The government is believed to be one of the people and modern liberals want to make sure that everyone is a part of it; not just the middle and upper class, but the lower class as well. Modern Liberalism deals with freedom and democracy as being concerned with people being equals. The role of the government is then to promote the egalitarian state to everyone. This comes with the concept of government spending for schools, hospitals and libraries to insure that everyone is equal. The process of doing so is based on higher levels of government spending, as well as implementing policies that will benefit the poverty stricken. “We believe that every American, whatever their background or station in life, should have the chance to a good education, to work at a good job with good wages, to raise and provide for a family to live in safe...
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