Essay Classical Liberalism

The astonishing success of the Dutch experiment exerted a "demonstration effect" on European social thought and, gradually, political practice.This was even truer of the later example of England.The ideal type of antiwar and anti-imperialist liberalism was provided by the Manchester School and its leaders Richard Cobden and John Bright.

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One stands out, however, as the first recognizably liberal party in European history: the Levellers.

Led by John Lilburne and Richard Overton, this movement of middle-class radicals demanded freedom of trade and an end to state monopolies, separation of church and state, popular representation, and strict limits even to parliamentary authority.

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.

In France, for instance, liberals used state-funded schools and institutes to promote secularism under the Directory, and they supported anticlerical legislation during the Third Republic, while in Bismarck's Germany they spearheaded the against the Catholic Church.

Essay Classical Liberalism University Student Presidential Essays

These efforts, however, can be seen as betrayals of liberal principles and in fact were eschewed by those acknowledged to be the most consistent and doctrinaire in their liberalism.

The qualifying "classical" is now usually necessary, in English-speaking countries at least (but not, for instance, in France), because liberalism has come to be associated with wide-ranging interferences with private property and the market on behalf of egalitarian goals.

This version of liberalism — if such it can still be called — is sometimes designated as "social," or (erroneously) "modern" or the "new," liberalism.

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.


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