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How and to what extent, have modern liberals departed from the ideas of classical liberalism?

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How and to what extent, have modern liberals departed from the ideas of classical liberalism? Like every ideology that is developed there are similarities and differences between the original and the modern ideology. Modern liberalism is no exception, it did have some links back to classical liberalism but it had to change due to the Industrial changes in the 19th/20th Century. Therefore to a large extent modern liberals did depart from classical liberalism and in a number of different ways. Classical liberalism was the earliest liberal tradition, classical liberal ideas have taken a variety of forms but they have a number of common characteristics. These characteristics take the forms of egoistical individualism, negative freedom and the state is regarded as a 'necessary evil'. Egoistical individualism means that you view human beings as rationally self interested creatures. This means that individuals in society are self sufficient, this leads on to the classical liberals believing in minimal state intervention. The second characteristic they believe in is negative freedom. ...read more.


The basis of modern liberalism was linked to the foundations of classical liberalism as they developed through industry. It would be the fat e of the industry that would change the liberal ideology forever. Industrialisation had brought about massive wealth but created massive poverty, accompanied by ignorance and disease. This brought about social inequality which couldn't be ignored. The idea of economic individualism came under attack and the liberal's had to change their ideas, the minimal state intervention was not possible and they had to be prepared to advocate the development of an interventionist state. So we see that the modern liberals have changed one of the main characteristics behind classical liberalism and have created a more state intervention. This was the beginning of Modern liberalism, the distinctive ideas of modern liberalism included individuality, positive freedom, social liberalism and economic management. J. S. Mills's ideas have been described as 'the heart of liberalism' due to the fact that he created a bridge between the two branches of liberalism. ...read more.


The modern liberals also believed in economic management, this was in basic terms, management of the economy in order to deliver prosperity to the people. John Maynard Keynes the thinker behind Keynesian economics put forward many ideas; he said that the governments should mange their own economies by influencing the level of demand. A free market left on its own can only lead to a downwards spiral, which Keynes saw as the cause of the Great Depression. This once again rejects classical liberal thinking as it, in particular its belief in a self-regulating free market or the doctrine of laissez faire economics In Conclusion I do believe that the Modern liberals to a great extent have departed from the originals views of the classical liberals. How ever there is evidence of some ideas that are still incorporated in the Modern Liberal ideology. This is no surprise as modern liberalism as some would say has smoothed the rough edges of Classical liberalism. The main reason why the modern liberals adopted these new ideas was due to development of industrialisation and the actions of this. A Level - Politics 28/09/04 ...read more.

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