Portal:Liberalism

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Portal:Liberalism

The Liberalism Portal

Liberalism (from the Latin liberalis, "of freedom") is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but most liberals support such fundamental ideas as constitutions, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights, democratic capitalism, free trade, secular society, and the market economy. These ideas are often accepted even among political groups that do not openly profess a liberal ideological orientation. Liberalism first became a distinct political movement during the Age of Enlightenment, when it became popular among philosophers and economists in the Western world. Liberalism rejected the prevailing social and political norms of hereditary privilege, state religion, absolute monarchy and the Divine Right of Kings. Leaders in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the American Revolution of 1776 and the French Revolution of 1789 used liberal philosophy to justify the armed overthrow of royal tyranny. Liberalism encompasses several intellectual trends and traditions, but the dominant variants are classical liberalism, which became popular in the 18th century, and social liberalism, which became popular in the 20th century. In the United States, "liberal" generally refers specifically to social liberalism. Neoliberalism refers primarily to the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism.
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Social liberalism is a political ideology that believes individual liberty requires a level of social justice. Like classical liberalism, social liberalism endorses a market economy and the expansion of civil and political rights and liberties, but differs in that it believes the legitimate role of the government includes addressing economic and social issues such as poverty, health care, and education. Under social liberalism, the good of the community is viewed as harmonious with the freedom of the individual. Social liberal policies have been widely adopted in much of the capitalist world, particularly following World War II. Social liberal ideas and parties tend to be considered centrist or centre-left.

In American political usage, the term "social liberalism" describes progressive stances on socio-political issues like abortion, same-sex marriage or gun control, as opposed to "social conservatism". A social liberal in this sense may hold either "liberal" or "conservative" views on fiscal policy. (See Modern liberalism in the United States.)

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Portrait of John Locke
John Locke (29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704), widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered the first of the British empiricists, he is equally important to social contract theory. His work had a great impact upon the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Rousseau, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the American Declaration of Independence.

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John Stuart Mill

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Prince of Orange lands at Torbay
Credit: Hopepark

The Glorious Revolution was the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III, Prince of Orange. King James's policies of religious tolerance after 1685 met with increasing opposition from members of leading political circles, who were troubled by the king's Catholicism and his close ties with France. The crisis facing the king came to a head in 1688, with the birth of the king's son, James Francis Edward Stuart, on 10 June (Julian calendar). This changed the existing line of succession by displacing the heir presumptive with young James Francis Edward as heir apparent. After consolidating political and financial support, William, crossed the North Sea and English Channel with a large invasion fleet in November 1688, landing at Torbay. William's successful invasion of England with a Dutch fleet and army led to his ascension to the throne as William III of England jointly with his wife, Mary II, James's daughter, after the Declaration of Right, leading to the Bill of Rights 1689.

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