Political Liberalism

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Political Liberalism Norman Davies describes liberalism as "being developed along two parallel tracks, the political and the economic. Political liberalism focused on the essential concept of government by consent. In its most thoroughgoing form it embraced republicanism, though most liberals favored a popular, limited, and fair-minded monarch as a factor encouraging stability." (A History of Europe, p.802) At the core of liberalism was the idea of freedom of thought and expression. People were now not only able to think for themselves, but also express those same thoughts. Popular sovereignty was also a very strong tenet of liberalism. Popular sovereignty advocated that government derives its power from the people and sovereignty is never unlimited to anyone. Political liberalism centered on the ideas of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of press, the natural rights of man, the freedom to own property, and that status is not a birthright but an extension of talent. Property also represented a very strong idea in the minds of many liberals. Davies concludes, "nineteenth-century liberals also gave great weight to property, which they saw as the principal source of responsible judgement and solid citizenship." (A History of Europe, p.802) However, property soon became defined as a natural right. Davies expresses, "economic liberalism focused on the concept of free trade, and on the associated doctrine of laissez-faire, which opposed the habit of governments to regulate economic life through protectionist tariffs. It stressed the right of men of property to engage in commercial and industrial activities without undue restraint." (A History of Europe, p.802) Hence, both economic and political liberalism had the right of property as a core ingredient. Property was a major element in the minds of the liberals because it enabled them to be known as a citizen. The liberals were the working middle classes, those with money but no birthright. Liberalism was translated into a pursuit of wealth by the middle class. "The principal concern of early-nineteenth-century liberalism was protecting the rights of the individual against the demands of the state", explains Davies. (A History of Europe, p.802) Here, the liberals were concerned with the state interfering with the natural rights of man. The tenets of liberalism affected the political deve... ... middle of paper ... ...he natural right of man. As a result, nationalism and liberalism want people to live together in harmony. Also, nationalists were ignited with an inner spirit and the belief that their state was the best. "Most nationalists were liberals who viewed the struggle for unification and freedom from foreign oppression as an extension of the struggle for individual rights. Few liberals recognized that nationalism was a potentially dangerous force that could threaten liberal ideals of freedom and equality." (Sources of the Western Tradition, p.141) Hence, both liberals and nationalists were fighting for equal individual rights of man. In conclusion, "liberals advocated a constitution that limited the state's authority and a bill of rights that stipulated the citizen's basic freedoms." (Sources of the Western Tradition, p.171) Liberals were heavily concerned with the basic rights of man and other rights, such as freedom of thought and expression. However, they were also concerned with the idea of property. As a result, liberalism, which had a profound effect on the early nineteenth century, grew and had an impact on the ideas or ideologies presented in the later nineteenth century.
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