Ideologies • Q. Why are they so important? • A. They guide the beliefs and conduct of statesmen, political thinkers and ordinary citizens.
Classical Liberalism 17th – 19th C • Arose in opposition to “divine rights of Kings”. Liberals sought to limit the power of the state and maximize the rights of the individual against arbitrary rule. • John Locke (1632 – 1704): Two Treatises of Government. Challenged Thomas Hobbes’ notion that the state needs to be all-powerful in order to maintain peace, security and order within societies.
Classical Liberalism cont… • Adam Smith (1723 – 1790) The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). Argued for “free markets” inside and between countries. Selfish, private interests play out to produce socially optimal outcomes. Other classical liberals include: David Ricardo, David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant and Baron de Montesquieu, Tom Paine and the Founding Fathers.
The main tenets of Classical Liberalism • Individual liberty (politics, economics, religion). We must restrain institutions that may endanger liberty such as gov’t, churches, the army, social conventions. Conceived as “negative freedom” i.e., freedom from. • Human Nature: Man is born ignorant but not wicked. Government is the “necessary evil” (Thomas Paine).
Main tenets of Classical Liberalism cont… 3. Reason: Reason van solve our problems. Institutions that demand obedience to authority on the basis of reverence for tradition, revelation or faith, rather than reason are threats to social progress. 4. Progress: By expanding knowledge, allowing debate, improving economic conditions, banish superstition and eliminate old attitudes etc… mankind will advance.
Main tenets of CL cont… 5. Equality: Of opportunity rather than outcome. They wished to extend the rights of citizenship to the “responsible” men and classes i.e., property qualifications as well as gender ones. 6. Universalism: The rights of men are universal or human rights. All societies could benefit from liberalism.
Main tenets of CL cont… 7. Government: The single most important requirement of government is the protection of citizens’ life, liberty and property. 8. Economic freedom: The other side of political freedom. They were against state monopolies and espoused “free market” principles.