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What is Liberalism?

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Ideology Ideology is the name given to any comprehensive and mutually consistent set of ideas by which a social group makes sense of the world. 1When ideology is employed in the use of government it effects not only those who already conform to the ideology but those citizens who do not. In my view as long as ideology exists there can never be a consensus among all as to how people should live and view the world. Liberalism, Conservatism and Socialism are notable examples of the major ideologies in this world that are employed by those who possess power. Due to the way the political process works ideology can effect many areas of life, social equality is one such area, which falls victim to the changing perspectives and ideologies of those who possess power. Each ideology would provide a differing perspective on social inequality and each would employ a separate way of dealing which the problem. I will attempt to outline the differing views and compare and contrast them against each other. Liberalism is in general, the belief that it is the aim of politics to preserve individual rights and to maximise freedom of choice2. ...read more.


This perspective of Social Darwinian liberalism is in effect a complete contrast to the idea of a welfare state and any attempt by the state to provide pensions, benefits free education and healthcare results in the individual becoming lazy and is deprived of self-respect. Alternatively if the individual is encouraged to 'stand on his own two feet' then he enjoys dignity and becomes a productive member of society. The Thatcher and Major governments subscribed to this view and they attacked the dependency culture which was developed through the welfare state thus they advocated to 'Roll back the state'.6 Modern liberalism on the other hand outlines its attitudes to social equality under 'Social Liberalism'. Within liberalism modern liberals on the basis of equality of opportunity defend the case for welfarism, if particular individuals are socially disadvantaged, then the state possesses a social responsibility to reduce or remove these disadvantages. This is reflected in the development of the welfare state. Thus citizens have acquired a range of welfare or social rights, such as the right to work and the right to decent housing. So the distinction between the traditional and modern is that Traditional liberals believe that the only rights to which the citizen is entitled is 'Negative' rights whereas the ...read more.


Therefore private property should be distributed more equally in society rather than being abolished. The difference in opinion between the Marxist and social democrats is that the Marxists believe in absolute equality whereas the social democrats believe in greater distributive equality. 9 Overall if we look at each perspectives responses to the inequality we can see that traditional liberalism, libertarian conservatism and Marxists all believe in the restricted role of the state, whereas Modern liberalism, paternalistic conservatism and social democrats all seek the expansion of the welfare state. It is interesting that in all three perspectives the divided view on the restriction or the expansion of the welfare state exists, even though they all claim to be from different ideologies and claim to have a separate rationale for their beliefs. 1 Iain McLean, Concise Dictionary of Politics, Oxford, p 233. 2 Ibid. p286 3 Andrew Heywood, Political Ideologies An Introduction, 2nd Ed, Macmillan press ltd., pp27 + 69. 4 Iain McLean, Concise Dictionary of Politics, Oxford, p459 5 Andrew Heywood, Political Ideologies An Introduction, 2nd Ed, Macmillan Press ltd. P111. 6 Ibid. PP 54-55 7 Andrew Heywood, Political Ideologies and introduction, 2nd Ed, Macmillan press td, PP 58-59 8 Ibid. P96 9 Andrew Heywood, Political Ideologies an introduction, 2nd Ed, Macmillan press ltd. PP109-111 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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