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

According to liberals, guaranteeing 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 in order to address inequalities by creating jobs and fund welfare programs. As a result, these policies would create a larger government. Hence, that is why liberalism is often linked with left-wing politics.

Goddess of Justice

Liberalism also emphasizes the value of diversity. For instance, individuals naturally have different values and desires, and 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 the moral obligation to improve oneself and one’s society. Therefore, liberals are very open to change. Thus, liberals to associate with progressivism. Nevertheless, it is not a rule. In addition, liberals believe that it is possible to improve the government and its power. A society must be striving to achieve those improvements so that individuals can have equal opportunities. In truly liberal societies, the government is constantly developing to meet the needs of its citizens.

Forms of Liberalism

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

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