Liberalism, merely a label that refers to a belief in the way government should run within a society. It’s a perspective on the proper role of elected officials and a decision on what types of public policies should be prioritized. Liberalism was made up of two related features from the western culture; the west’s preoccupation with individuality and the emphasis in other civilizations on status, caste, and tradition. It’s been around since the early 16th century. In Terrence Ball’s article, “Liberalism” he stated, “Liberalism is the culmination of developments in Western society that produced a sense of the importance of human individuality, a liberation of the individual from complete subservience to the group, and a relaxation of the tight hold of custom, law, and authority.” This leads to individualism.
Liberalism is a political ideology with the essentials of equal opportunity. They believe Americans should be able to look at the government to provide a structure and enacted laws to protect everyone for an equal society. In the 19th century the government was interfering in trade through importation tariffs. Britain defended the tariffs because it maintained price and agricultural produce. It resulted in a political crisis and it left the poor starving. Something needed to be done so it led to the repeal of the Corn Laws. This resulted in the formation of a political party which was committed to free trade and was also known as the Liberal party.
“According to modern liberalism, the chief task of government is to remove obstacles that prevent individuals from living freely or from fully realizing their potential. Such obstacles include poverty, disease, discrimination, and ignorance.” (Ball) They are very big on advocating public policies to get rid of inequality by using the government. There are also four ideas that guide liberal ideology; acceptance of conflict, resistance to power, belief in progress and civic respect. When liberalists say they want liberty they mean they want resistance to power which means not only political power, but economic and social power as well. With liberty, they also want respect for people in their own right.
The liberal belief in adversariality is the conviction that human beings are rational creatures and that we are capable of settling our political disputes through dialogue and compromising. This aimed more towards ending war and solving disagreements with other states through organizations such as the League of Nations, the United Nations, and the International Court of Justice.
Through an economic view point; liberals believe the government should provide more services for the less fortunate and increase taxes if necessary. Through a social view point; they believe in things such as gay’s having equal rights like everyone else. They are also supportive of abortions, embryonic stem cell research, and restrictions and regulations around the right to bear arms. They are opposed with the death penalty and want it removed for it is a “cruel and unusual punishment.”
If we look at the dictionaries definition of liberalism it states; 1) Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry. 2) Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.” In the article, “Dean’s World” the author tells us to look what the definition of liberalism does not say. It does not mention anything about the view of taxes or the views of homosexuality. It does not say anything about the right to keep and bear arms or about abortion, feminism, school prayer, or what to vote for. But what it does state is the fact that they can think and believe in whatever they want to and still be a liberal. Liberals could think abortion is murder or taxes are way too high. They could think legalizing medical marijuana is a horrible idea or how Bill Clinton was a horrible president. They can think freely and still be considered a liberal because the definition according to the dictionary does not state anything about liberals having to believe in supporting abortion or high taxes but instead being open to new ideas and tolerating the ideas and behaviors of others.
There are many arguments about liberalism and how some feel raising the taxes is unnecessary because if we really think about it, some of the money is going to things such as maintaining our roads where as the other half is going to people below middle class. People think that liberals fix unemployment by taking money from the employed and redistributing it to anyone below middle class. While others see this as beneficial.
One could say that when people think of liberals, they think of a specific set of beliefs as explained in the first few paragraphs. One could argue that there are different kinds of liberals. If we come to look at it, not all liberals are “free of bigotry,” “favoring of reform,” “unorthodox,” “broad-minded,” or “anti-authoritarian.” There seems to be a debate on whether one is really a liberal if they do not believe in these set beliefs. But according to some, we can still be a liberal and not agree with how others see and believe liberals are. There has also been a more purely conceptual or philosophical critique of new liberalism which is less concerned with its consequences and instead more focused on its priori injustices.
To sum up, There can be many different perspectives of liberalism but in the end there is only one true definition. With that being said, one can be a liberal and have different beliefs. Though most of their beliefs are going to be pro-leftist, some people might stray away from the politically correct liberalist and still be considered a liberalist while having opposing beliefs. One could be fiscally conservative and socially liberal while still agreeing with the dictionaries definition of liberalism which does not state specific beliefs such as pro abortion or being against the death penalty. One can have their own political views and still be a liberal.
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Badger, Phil. “What Is Liberalism.” N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.
“Conservative vs Liberal.” Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 4 Nov 2015.
“Conservative Vs Liberal Beliefs.” N.p., 2010. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.
Crook, Clive. “What It Means To Be a Liberal.” N.p., 24 Aug. 2014. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.
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“Political Ideology.” Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions (2013): 1781. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.