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What was "New" about "New Liberalism"?

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What was "New" about "New Liberalism"? Old liberalism, otherwise know as classical or Gladstonian liberalism was centred around the fundamental rights of the individual. It was an ideology that the state should have little to no intervention in people's lives and in the economy. It relied heavily upon the notion of laissez faire, and the Victorian mindset of self-help. Thrift was one of these ideas. It was the theory that any family could support itself if that income was managed wisely, and a pension could be saved for. The key pillars of old liberalism was low taxes and low state intervention. This was because they believed that the people should be able to spend their money as they wised, and not be forced to send it in taxes. The second principle of low state intervention was born out of the thought that "state intervention in the working of the market was both futile and wrong" especially reforms such as social intervention, which would require public expenditure. Classical liberalism was therefore based on personal liberty. If people were believed to be able to help themselves as long as they worked hard enough, then the state did not need to intervene and therefore peoples liberties to choose how they spent there earned money was their freedom. ...read more.


Britain's inadequacy during the boar war brought forward the theory of National Efficiency and that a healthy nation would increase economic output. During the war a third of army recruits were turned away as they were not fit for service. It could therefore be said that new liberalism came about out of the challenges on the political, economic and purely moral grounds. New liberalism held at it's heart that it was the responsibility of the state to help those who could not help themselves. Therefore taxes were raised in order to fund social reforms and improvements. The believed that poverty removed the liberty of those individuals to lead a prosperous life and that every man should have the right to strive for a middle class life. The definition to which T. H. Green gave to society was a base for new liberals. He compared society, unlike Gladstone who said it was comprised of a collection of individuals, that society was more like a single being, made up of tiny cells. Each cell had it's own role to play and that the human itself was so much more than simply all the organs of the body thrown together, and yet a human will die if the heart does not beat or the lungs not breath. ...read more.


Both liberals were adamant that they were not in any way socialists. Old liberals again distinguished themselves by doing nothing to actively help the people, while the New Liberals claimed that by not giving universal insurance, rather only giving it to certain professions such as ship building, and not complete reform of all social inequalities they were indeed different to socialists. The fourth common theme that runs through both them both is a sense of deserving and undeserving wealth and individuals. Productive wealth that had been earned through hard work was something to be encouraged and so rewarded with lighter taxes, while unproductive wealth passed down through inheritances was taxed much more heavily. Old and New Liberalism to share some similarities, but then perhaps that is why it is called old and new liberalism, rather than liberalism and socialism. New liberalism was an update of old liberalism, making it acceptable to the new generation of Edwardians and building upon the changing public perception of moral acceptance as well as responding to political pressure. The scale of which the liberals embraced it with their reforms was indeed radical for the time, but was an extension of experiments such as the happenings in Birmingham. New liberalism therefore could be thought of as new when in the context of Liberalism, but when put into the context of Britain was merely an update. James Murdoch ...read more.

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