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LIBERALISM Liberalism is a broad political ideology or worldview founded on the ideas of liberty and equality.

It is a political doctrine that takes protecting and enhancing the freedom of the individual to be the central problem of politics. Liberals typically believe that government is necessary to protect individuals from being harmed by others; but they also recognize that government itself can pose a threat to liberty. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally liberals support ideas such as capitalism (either regulated or not), constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free press, free and fair elections, human rights and the free exercise of religion.

Liberalism first became a powerful force in the Age of Enlightenment, rejecting several foundational assumptions that dominated most earlier theories of government, such as nobility, established religion, absolute monarchy, and the Divine Right of Kings. The early liberal thinker John Locke, who is often credited for the creation of liberalism as a distinct philosophical tradition, employed the concept of natural rights and the social contract to argue that the rule of law should replace both tradition and absolutism in government, that rulers were subject to the consent of the governed, and that private individuals had a fundamental right to life, liberty, and property. AMERICAN REVOLUTION AND THE FRENCH REVOLUTION They used liberal philosophy to justify the armed overthrow of what they saw as tyrannical rule. The nineteenth century saw liberal governments established in nations across Europe, Latin America, and North America. Liberal ideas spread even further in the twentieth century, when liberal democracies were on the winning side in both world wars and liberalism survived major ideological challenges from fascism and communism. Today, liberal political parties remain a political force with varying degrees of power and influence on all major continents. A twenty-first century development is an emerging new liberalism that is centered on the concept of timeless freedom (ensuring the freedom of future generations through proactive action taken today). This is an idea that has been endorsed by the President of Liberal International Hans van Baalen. CHARACTERISTICS Liberalism is derived from two related features of Western culture. 1. WESTS PREOCCUPATION WITH INDIVIDUALITY as compared to the emphasis in other civilizations on status, caste, and tradition. Throughout much of history, the individual has been submerged in and subordinate to his clan, tribe, ethnic group, or kingdom. Liberalism is the culmination of developments in Western society that produced a sense of the importance of human individuality, a

liberation of the individual from complete subservience to the group, and a relaxation of the tight hold of custom, law, and authority. In this respect, liberalism stands for the emancipation of the individual. 2. EUROPEAN POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC LIFE A process in which institutionalized competitionsuch as the competition between different political parties in electoral contests, between prosecution and defense in adversary procedure, or between different producers in a market economygenerates a dynamic social order. Adversarial systems have always been precarious, however, and it took a long time for the belief in adversariality to emerge from the more traditional view, traceable at least to Plato, that the state should be an organic structure, like a beehive, in which the different social classes cooperate by performing distinct yet complementary roles. The belief that competition is an essential part of a political system and that good government requires a vigorous opposition was still considered strange in most European countries in the early 19th century.