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  • 31 August, 2019

  • Min Read

Liberalism into national populism.

GS-II: Liberalism into national populism


No country has found the golden mean between free-range liberalism and statism.

What is Liberalism?

Liberalism is one of the major political traditions of the Western world and the prevailing political ideology in the United States. Whereas classical liberalism emphasises the role of liberty and social liberalism focuses on the importance of equality. Liberals adopt numerous views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, they support ideas and programmes such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free

markets, civil rights, democratic societies, secular governments, and international cooperation.

Concept of liberalism:

  • Liberalism is a group of political, social and economic theories that centres on the values of individual liberty, equality, economic freedom, limited and democratic government and the rule of law.
  • Liberalism, from the Latin liberalis, is a broad political ideology or worldview originating from the ideas of liberty and equality.
  • Economic freedom is also closely related to liberalism and involves support for free markets and private property rights.
  • Liberalism also holds a promise to the rule of law, which is vital for a democratic and limited government.
  • The rule of law is a proposition that law should not be random and must be applied honestly to all.

Elements of Liberalism:

  • Liberalism has been branded by many as meta-ideology which means that it encompasses many principles, values and elements within its fold. Whereas other ideologies do not possess this capacity.

The following are the main elements of liberalism—Individualism, freedom, constitutionalism and justice.

  1. Individualism: It believes that the interests or welfare of the individual should be given primacy over all other values and principles. Individual is the basic concept of political theory and arrangements shall be made to safeguard his interest. Liberalism says that since a political system consists of individuals it should be the chief objective of this system to see that their interests are fully protected and the individuals are quite capable of doing their own job.
  2. Freedom: Another important core value, principle or element of liberalism is freedom. To the liberals, it is the value of supreme importance because without it the individual will simply be a unit without any dignity. Moreover, liberty or freedom is the best vehicle for developing the best qualities. But the liberals do not advocate for absolute or unrestricted freedom because freedom/liberty will do more harm.
  3. Constitutionalism: Constitutionalism is an important element of liberalism. It has two meanings narrow and broad. In its narrow meaning, constitutionalism means certain limitations upon the government specified by the constitution. The narrow meaning further states that whenever a government intends to discharge any function or adopt a policy it must follow the restrictions. Constitutionalism is a basic principle of liberalism. It, in simple language, states that the government’s business never specifies that it has the unlimited freedom to do anything without considering the advantages or disadvantages of the common people. It must follow certain basic rules and procedures laid down in the basic or ordinary laws.
  4. Justice: Though justice is a principle of both socialism and liberalism, the latter gives it more importance and politically declares that the very basis of liberalism is justice. Liberal justice has several forms or meanings. Everyone will get the chance to have a share of opportunities. Liberalism also speaks of social equality. All these interpretations lead to the liberal conception of justice

Source: The Hindu

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