• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

"At the heart of liberalism is a fear of unchecked power."

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

"At the heart of liberalism is a fear of unchecked power." "An illiberal tendency of our new government is the move towards government by regulation. Our government is determined to draft legislation which imbues the relevant minister with wide and unchecked powers to make regulations which have the force of law. In practice, this amounts to government by executive decree. We know this odious creature well, as a particular favourite of the old National Party. The ANC are not na�ve to the fact that delegated legislation removes the scrutiny of Parliament and opposition parties from the law-making process." Tony Leon, South African liberal A simple definition of power could be the ability both to demand that people do something, and to say how a thing should be done or organised. Authority, however, is where power is granted by consent; and when an individual or committee is said to have authority, the reason that justifies this authority is known as legitimacy. In general, the government has authority because it has legitimacy through: tradition, as Parliament has existed for hundreds of years; charisma, as many people may follow present PM Tony Blair through the strength and attraction of his personality; and democratically through the people, as they vote in elections for the MP or party they wish to form the government. ...read more.

Middle

They saw democracy as applying majority rule and forcing the will of the majority on all individuals if they wanted it or not, liberals believed minority rights and individual liberty would be crushed in the name of the people. Nineteenth century liberals saw democracy as the Ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle did, a system of rule by the masses at the expense of wisdom and property. All of this gives this appearance of a fear of unchecked power being at the heart of classical liberalism, a fear that democracy if given too much free reign could crush the rights of individuals. Other classical liberal arguments including those for social Darwinism and beliefs on social equality support this. Classical liberals believe so firmly in laissez-faire economics and that humans were self-reliant that the state should not attempt to look after the few who were too weak to look after themselves. They believed giving even this much power to the state would be detrimental to their lives, as it would take their money in tax to look after these people who they believed deserved what they had in life as they had earned it. It is easy to conclude that at the heart of classical liberalism certainly lays a fear of unchecked power and that classical liberalism as an ideology is about combating that power and making certain it can not have any influence of individual rights and freedoms. ...read more.

Conclusion

At the heart of modern liberalism would seem to be a belief that the state should help individuals help themselves to become the best they can and give equal opportunity to all rather than help no one for fear of the state becoming all powerful. So is the statement of unchecked individualism being the fear at the very heart of liberal ideals? The classical liberals seem to have a much harsher stance on this, due to the specifics of their ideologies, and the fact that their strict belief in individual success. The Modern liberals have a much more relaxed view on this, as they appreciate that sometimes it is essential to some individuals rising to the level of their full potential. To say that the statement it then only true of one of the two factions of liberalism though would be wrong, as it is still an important factor in the way Modern liberals think. Overall I think it is possible to class both as having differing fears for, and in turn it is possible to conclude that in that case, liberalism does have a degree of fear for unchecked power at its heart, just to varying degrees depending on the different beliefs of liberals. Modern liberals do fear unchecked power but not to the overriding extent that classical liberals do. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Political Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Political Philosophy essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Analyse the similarities and differences between Classical and Modern Liberalism

    4 star(s)

    Modern Liberal's on the other hand argue for some measure of social equality. John Rawls argued in 1970; "economic equality is only justified if it works to the benefit of the poorest in society". Social liberals, who are the equivalent of Modern liberals, conclude that a just society is one

  2. Analyse The Main Features of Classical Liberalism

    In place of absolutism they advocated constitutional and, later, representative government. Liberals critised and also thought it was unfair, the political and economic privileges the landed aristocracy got. It was unfair as the only possible way for someone to gain these privileges and the social position was purely determined by the 'accident of birth'.

  1. Is Liberalism compatible with democracy?

    In short, we could say that Rousseau was showing a preference for consensus politics rather than simple majority rule. Rousseau therefore rejected democracy as a satisfactory system of government, except in the unusual circumstance that a small community of enlightened individuals take into account the interests of others as well as their own.

  2. How and why does Locke explain the creation, value and protection of property?

    possessions and also makes it possible to "use" an unlimited amount of the produce of the land. This, as mentioned earlier, is when Locke's fundamental idea for the necessity of government comes into the equation. Individuals now enter a social contract to protect their right to life, liberty, and property.

  1. To what extent is Liberalism compatiable with democracy?

    It allows the individual the freedom of choice, to pursue their interests resulting in less conflict through the acceptance of pluralism. Democracy ensures pluralism can flourish and Voltaire once stated "I may despise what you say, but I defend to the death your right to say it."

  2. In what sense(s) can liberalism be regarded as individualistic? Should individualism be regarded as ...

    A testament to liberalism being individualistic is fact that all forms of liberalism believe in the importance and freedom of the individual. Three main political thinkers in particular support individualism in classical liberalism: John Stuart Mill, John Locke and Adam Smith.

  1. Evolution of Democracy and the Athenian Constitution

    The ekklesia must also have delegated a most of the day-to-day business of state to the appropriate boards or individuals because it might have been unfeasible or a body of that size to look after such matters properly. On the other hand, all state officials were acutely aware that, at

  2. What is Liberalism?

    These ideas came to be known as 'one nation conservatism' and when the welfare state was introduced in Britain it was accepted in the name of paternalism, because the welfare state did not attempt to abolish hierarchy and authority but to establish the role of social obligation and duty.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work