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Has Modern Liberalism Betrayed Its Classical Principles?

828 words - 4 pages

Has modern Liberalism betrayed its' classical principles?
By Sophia Harris

Classical liberals have argued that modern liberals have departed from the original ideas of liberalism as their new beliefs embrace collectivism instead of individualism. However, others argue that although both modern and classical liberals diverge on many areas, such as freedom, it is still said that modern liberals have a fundamental foundation of caring for the individual.
Firstly, classical liberals are seen as extremely egotistical and 'utility maximisers' as they believe in self-interest; believing all humans have the natural ability to decide the rightness of a situation to make the outcome more ...view middle of the document...

Smith believed that the market operates under he wishes and decisions of free individuals, as relationships between consumers and retailers and employers and employees means freedom of choice, promoting a self-regulating economy and therefore no need for intervention from the state. In addition, this links in with a belief in meticoracy, as classical liberals believe that those with the willingness and ability to suceed wll work hard to do so, whilst those who aren't will not prosper as others do - more or less a survival of the fittest, as those who are more adapted to this nature will rise, and others will fall, as well as seeing class divide and poverty are natural and also need no interferance from the state.
However, modern liberals like J.S. Mill have argued that negative freedom maybe necessary for liberty but ideally is not a sustainable concept. Due to negative freedom leading to freedom of choice, leaving individuals the right to exploit and completely undermines the concept of equality. Mill also believed that liberty gave the individual the motivation to achieve self-realisation and take control of their own life. He saw that the idea of humans being utility maximisers unconvincing and shallow, and instead raised the notion of 'positive' freedom, as T.H. Green argued that freedom allows the individual to develop skills and naturally progress. This theory built a foundation for a more developmental approach to individualism, concentrating more on the need for humans to flourish rather than entertaining themselves with greed. Instead, the concept of an 'enabling' state whcih promotes freedom by protecting individuals from...

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