Who are the liberals

Olga Nagornyuk
16.10.2015

Liberals. Who is it?

What do we know about liberalism? This philosophical doctrine, which appeared in the 17th century and developed into a socio-political movement, has become a serious force in the political arena today. Therefore, to not know today who the liberals are is not to be guided in the life of society.

Principles of liberalism

Feudalism was the era of absolute monarchy and the dominance of the Catholic Church. Unlimited power, concentrated in the hands of kings and churchmen, was not used by them for good.

The growing extortion and extreme impoverishment of the people against the background of the high society entertainment of aristocrats, striking with their luxury, caused an aggravation of the class struggle, a change in the social system and the emergence of a new philosophical trend proclaiming individual freedom.

Human freedom

This doctrine was called "liberalism" from the Latin "liber", which translated means "freedom." The first who began to use this term and gave explanations to it was the English philosopher John Locke, who lived in the seventeenth century. Liberals such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, Adam Smith and Immanuel Kant picked up his idea and developed it.

The biggest achievement of the liberals was the creation of the United States of America, which gained its statehood as a result of the war of independence and adopted the first constitution in the world based on the main liberal principles - equality of human rights and freedoms.

They found out who liberals were in Russia in the 18th century. True, in Russian the word “liberalism” had a slightly different meaning and meant “free-thinking”. In society, the liberals called all dissenters and treated them with contempt. The negative connotation of meaning has been preserved in our days, today we call it so people who have excessive tolerance and connivance.

The principles of liberalism, progressive for the XVII-XVIII centuries, remain relevant today:

  • proclamation of individual liberty, including freedom of speech, expression of will and religion;
  • respect for human rights;
  • inviolability of private property;
  • equality of all citizens before the law;
  • separation of branches of power and its election;
  • the inadmissibility of interference in private life by the state.

General equality

Some of these principles were borrowed and used by ideologues of other trends, but the liberals were the first to take the path of protecting the rights and freedoms of the individual.

Forms of liberalism

We found out who the liberals are and what principles they are guided by, it's time to talk about the forms of liberalism. Sociologists categorize them as follows:

  1. Political: expressed in the presence of universal suffrage and the rule of law.
  2. Economic: protects the right of private property and defends the principle of non-interference of the state in the economy.
  3. Cultural: not accepting state regulation of such issues as drug use, abortion, prostitution, gambling. At present, the country with the highest level of cultural liberalism is the Netherlands, which legalized prostitution and the use of soft drugs.
  4. Social: upholds the right of every person to education, medical care and other basic needs.
  5. Third generation liberalism, which was born during the anti-colonial struggle of the third world countries. Its main goal is to confront the developed countries in their desire to restrict the access of the third world countries to the latest technologies and material resources.

Speaking about liberals, it is worth remembering about their antipodes - conservatives.The first believe: the state should serve man. They are ready to make concessions and search for compromises, destroy the old order and create a new one through reforming.

Liberalism and conservatism

Conservatives, on the other hand, do not accept change and seek to preserve existing values. They do not allow imported goods to the domestic market, protect the interests of the national church, and consider reforms to be evil, bearing a decline. Who would have thought, but such strict principles sometimes bring more benefits to the state than liberal ideas.

Socialists are inherently closer to the liberals, because they also follow the path of electing the authorities and protecting human rights and freedoms. However, they deny private property and act uncompromisingly when it comes to the interests of the proletariat. The question of who is better - liberals, conservatives or socialists - belongs to the category of rhetorical, because it has no answer.

Interesting Facts

The United States can be called the largest project of the liberals. This state, based on the principles of freedom and equality, serves as a vivid illustration of liberal ideology. Here are some examples:

  • the manufacture of the national currency in the United States is carried out by a private enterprise, which is not influenced either by the Senate, or by the President, or by the CIA, or any other government body;

Print dollars

  • there are about 200 religious movements in this country;
  • each year more than 300,000 American adolescents become infected with sexually transmitted diseases;
  • Americans spend more money to buy food for dogs than to buy food for children;
  • every 25th death row inmate in US prisons is innocent;
  • in most states, the perpetrator is not prohibited from asking the court for custody of the child if the victim of the violence was pregnant;
  • the American teenager at the time of his 17th birthday has time to see on television about 40 thousand murders;
  • in New York, it is allowed to walk topless;
  • in the United States it is not prohibited for minors to smoke; they are only allowed to sell cigarettes;
  • 63% of prisoners serving sentences in US prisons do not know the letters.

Liberals who equate human freedom with the principle of permissiveness lead their country to collapse.Apparently, therefore, today liberalism in its pure form is not present in any country of the world.

The globalization of the economy that the world community is experiencing runs counter to many of the tenets of the liberal current, and therefore, today in the state system there are often only a few of its manifestations.


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