Liberalism is the belief in individual freedom due to historical repression and exploitation found previously in society and still to this day. It promotes ideologies of self-interest, but due to societal circumstances has progressed though time into many different strands of liberalism. These include classic liberalism and modern liberalism: classic liberalism is a political ideology that advocates civil liberties, under the rule of law with an emphasis on economic freedom. Modern liberalism is believed to be a progression of classic liberalism; it combines ideas of civil liberty and equality with support for social justice and a mixed economy. Although these two forms of liberalism may not sound too juxtaposing, the differentiation lies in their ideology surrounding the role of the state and the economy. In this essay, I will be addressing the conflicting ideologies of classic and modern liberals and the role that they believe the state should play in today’s society.
Classic liberals tend to focus on the progression of individualism in a free capital market. They believe in natural law and the view that the state should provide intervention in order to maintain civil liberties and regulate discrimination. This is believed to be achieved through higher funding in the military and policing as they feel that the state’s role is to offer terms of protection for all social classes, but that equality should be regulated in civil liberties and economic prosperity should be determined by an individual success in the free market. In other words, classic liberals perceive the state as the issue but still respect its authority in terms of law; this promotes privatised healthcare and education and often relies on charity. These privatised systems are believed contribute to the overall competitive nature seen today while also promoting voluntary good will. This naturally provides a resistance to government and corporatism because they are seen to reduce the freedom in the country and narrow the free market. Which may lead to further reduction in individualism, which is the core basis for classic liberal ideology.
In continuation, modern liberals also known as social liberals core goal is to find a balance between individual liberties and social justice, while still accepting the modern development of the free market. Meaning they feel that current circumstances and modern political issues should be addressed by the state directly in a democratic fashion, while not taking away the capital ideologies of a free market in order to continue national economic prosperity. This is to be competed through the means of higher income tax specifically targeted at economically thriving individuals in society, in order to provide higher income. Therefore, the state can provide economic welfare for minorities and vulnerable members of society. As modern liberals in terms of rights require action from others (the state) in order to combat political issues such as poverty, unemployment and public health in the overall goal to achieve social justice and reduce the class divide in today’s society.
Overall modern and classic liberals although seem to have mixed feelings, can agree on the same concepts in terms or freedom and civil liberties. The differentiation stems from the way in which the common goal is achieved. For example, classic liberals still feel that combatting poverty, unemployment and public health issues are a high priority, but feel the way to achieve these ambitions are through progression of the individual. As a pose to classic liberals who feel these political issues should be the government’s responsibility in order to contribute to social justice. Yet the conflicting roots stem from ideology regarding economics as classic liberalism sides with very capitalist views whereas modern liberalism seems to side with origins surrounding unity with more communistic traits.
In conclusion, although both strands of liberalism correlate ideology in terms of civil liberties and freedom. It is clear to see a high amount of conflict in terms of economic progression for the individual and state as a whole. I have come to this conclusion as I feel the key divider is due to economic self-interest. With classic liberals believing in individualism In terms of the free market where as modern liberals, still accepting the undeniable terms of the modern capital market feel that the state should be the main provider for equality and social justice.