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Liberalism is one of the three main political ideologies, along with conservatism and socialism. The phrase first appeared in the 1820s. Soon, it influenced politics. The Liberal Party in the UK rose to fame shortly after. Liberalism has its roots in freedom. Individual rights, equality, and a free market are key factors. Widely regarded as the intellectual founders of the theory are Adam Smith and John Locke.

According to liberals, ensuring equal opportunities and equal rights for all citizens is necessary. While initially supporting limited government, today, it may be the opposite. Currently, liberals often support higher taxes. They want to address differences by creating jobs and fund welfare programs. These policies result in a larger government. Hence, that is why modern liberalism links with left-wing politics. However, a liberal can also be right-winged in some cases.

Goddess of Justice

Liberalism also emphasizes the value of variety. For example, people naturally have different values and desires. Thus, the liberal ideology states that acknowledging these differences creates a stronger, more balanced society. The notion that diversity makes civilization stronger also drives liberals to accept people who follow different religions, have different sexual orientations or gender identities, have different races or ethnicities, and various other differences. In addition, liberals are typically very accepting of people with other political beliefs.

Finally, liberalism stresses moral duties. Namely, to improve oneself and one’s society. Hence, liberals are very open to change. So, they tend to be more progressive. But, it is not a rule. In addition, liberals believe that it is possible to improve the government and its power. Society must strive to achieve those improvements. That would result in individuals having equal opportunities. In truly liberal societies, the government is constantly progressing to meet the needs of its citizens.

Forms of Liberalism

  • Classical
  • Social
  • Conservative
  • Economic
  • Cultural
  • Neoliberalism
  • American
  • National

Key Figures

  • John Locke, English philosopher
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States
  • Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States
  • Nick Clegg, Former Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom