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The Origins of Liberalism

The Origins of Liberalism

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The Origins of Liberalism

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  1. The Origins of Liberalism The only part of the conduct of anyone for which he is amenable to society is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign. John Stuart Mill

  2. Liberalism • The word liberal comes from the Latin liber, meaning free • The word was first used during in Spain during the Napoleonic Wars • Liberalism has been applied to those who favour the reform of government • Liberalism is associated with being open-minded and supporting freedom of speech and freedom within actions

  3. The basic principles of liberalism Personal freedom: refers to the absence of coercion (force) and includes free speech, religious liberty, the right to private property, and the right to political opposition Limited government: means that the state (government) is an instrument serving a function in society and not in general charge of ALL society The government is there to prevent people from hurting each other through force and fraud Equality of Right: all must abide by the same laws, which the government enforces with impartiality Similar to belief in the Rule of Law – as created in the Magna Carta Consent of the governed: Government is responsible to people and may be changed by them

  4. Classical Liberalism • John Locke, an English philosopher was the first to argue that individuals had innate rights of life, liberty and property • Government comes about through the agreement of free individuals that their rights are best protected by associating with one another • If the Contract was broken the people have the right to rebel

  5. More Locke • Locke’s ideas justified the Glorious Revolution in Britain in 1688, the American Revolution of 1776 and the French Revolution of 1789 • The purpose of government is basically to protect the people in their ‘life, health, liberty, or possessions’. • Locke believed that people should have a ‘private sphere’ that the government could not interfere with – religion in particular – the state should be tolerant of all religions

  6. American Declaration of Independence • Let’s take a look at ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ to learn about the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence of 1776 • • “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights: that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted by men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed……

  7. French Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man • The National Assembly also took to Locke’s ideas and put those very ideas into their Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen • “The end of all political associations is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptable rights of man; and these rights are liberty, property, security, and the resistance of oppression.” • Portrays the idea called ‘Rule of Law’.

  8. John Stuart Mill • John Start Mill put together many themes on liberalism in his book entitled ‘On Liberty’. • His ideas impacted many people throughout history. Let’s hear what Teddy Roosevelt said about liberty. • • Here is a quote from Mills about liberty and the use of power. “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”

  9. Classical Liberalism in Economics • Classical liberalism is identified in the economy as a free market economy • The ideas a free market economy were brought to life by Adam Smith • Adam Smith wrote ‘The Wealth of Nations’ • Adam Smith wrote about the Invisible Hand – this implies that human needs are best served by free competition in the marketplace – along the same ideas as liberalism

  10. Aboriginal Contributions to Liberalism It has been argued that many of the principles of liberalism originated in traditional Aboriginal societies. In Canada, our Aboriginal communities use liberal ideas such as elected leaders, government by consensus, leadership on the basis of merit, just punishment, and concepts of equality and equality before the law.

  11. Great Law of Peace The Great Law of Peace provided the Haudenosaunee peoples with a constitution that dates back to the 15th century. The Great Binding Law, as it sometimes is referred to, has three main principles: righteousness, health and power – all characteristics of liberalism. Take a look at the original document.

  12. Liberalism Today Liberals today generally believe today that every individual is unique. The purpose of life is to realize that potential, and to become whatever it is one is capable of becoming. The role of the state (government) is to produce the conditions under which individuals have the broadest possible choice in deciding upon their definition of good. Society, meanwhile, should celebrate this diversity while giving equal treatment to all, regardless of a person’s origins, colour, sex or status in life. In exchange for this respect, the individual must acknowledge responsibility for his own fortunes and for the fortunes of the community.

  13. Liberalism in Canada In 1982 the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms advanced the liberal cause by entrenching into the Canadian Constitution (Canada Act) both basic liberties and new linguistic (language) rights for minorities. The purpose of the Charter was to entrench (dig in) rights, especially language rights, where no government could ever take them away. With the Charter as a shield a single citizen can achiever Locke’s vision of a society in which rights take precedence over authority.