What is liberalism?

A liberal is someone who agrees with and votes in support for the political philosophy, and by extension type of government that will represent their favored view. Liberalism has a spectrum of definitions that help break down the many approaches of thought towards governance seen throughout history that regulates the activities, mainly economic, of the people.[1] Liberty is the result of interaction between the government and the individual to whatever degree is allowed by the temporary representation the people put into power. Liberty in the religious context is the spiritual and moral outcome that constitutes Christianity.


Within the 21st century political landscape of the United States for example, the Republican party to some extent embraces classic liberalism or what can be called conservatism, while the Democrat political party tends to support a new, more progressive liberalism.

Classic Liberal

Classic liberalism or traditionally liberalism as it was originally conceptualized during the 18th, 19th and early 20th century, is the economic philosophy recognizing a political economy needs to be rooted within the honored principles of private property, land or soil, and an individual. A democratic government under classic liberalism goes so far as to suggest that land ownership by individuals or what can be called private property accumulation ensures both a limited government and a fomenting of individual liberty. The idea being that a free market can be attained by defining wealth through making it equal to the labor put into the production or refinement of the resources the land, or private property provides an individual. Classic liberalism is similar to free market capitalism in that a type of economic power is maintained for individuals to counter that of the federal government. Classical liberalism as well as capitalism reject the redistribution of wealth as a legitimate tenet of government.

As 20th century politics within the United States maintained a Keynesian model of economics, at first a supporter of Keynes, Milton Friedman starting in the 1950’s largely lead a revitalization of classic liberalism as a viable political and/or economic philosophy. A reinterpretation of the Keynesian consumption function model, a mathematical formula to express consumer spending, grew into an economic theory of monetarism that included far-reaching assumptions recognizing a constant rate of unemployment and concluding that the federal government should not micromanage the economy. Essentially a carefully crafted monetary policy which recognized constant realities, as was argued by Friedman, could have prevented the Great Depression rather then prolonged it as the Keynesian model of large-scale deficit spending which inevitably leads to increased federal government involvement did.[2][3][4]

New Liberal

During the 20th century in opposition to classic liberalism an intellectual critique emerged based upon John Maynard Keynes (born in 1883) (Keynesian) economics view, arguing for increased international and national economic intervention.[5] A British economist Keynes rose to fame during the end of the Great War (World War I) through critiquing reparation payments imposed by the Allied Forces against Germany. Even more so critical was Keynes of the Council of Four that consisted of Georges Benjamin Clemenceau of France, Lloyd George of Britain and Woodrow Wilson of the United States and a minor member of Vittorio Orlando of Italy. Keynes determined that the cost was to great for Germany and it would remain politically unstable as a direct result. Later in his career John Maynard Keynes, at the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference he was the main architect behind the formulation of the International Monetary Fund.[6]

Progressive Liberal

Generally someone who supports a progressive or essentially social approach towards the economics of new liberalism. Progressive reform policies are presented within the U.S. Presidential administrations of Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson considered a leading intellectual of the progressive movement[7], Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Progressive liberalism applied nationally through domestic federal government activism is considered the only way of amelioration for social inequalities. Progressive liberalism has also been called “revisionist,” “modern liberalism,” or a, “welfare state mentality” and is seen as the force behind the implementation of “social justice.”[8]

Contemporary progressive arguments are also found in the gambit of controversial issues. A type of interpretation is used by judges said to be judicial activists by its stance counter to that of an originalist perspective toward the Constitution. Progressive liberals attempt to empower the national government by international integration, neglecting sovereignty, heavy domestic corporate and individual taxation supporting social trends such as abortion, gay marriage and generally the legalization of (again through taxing) marijuana.

Liberal Theology

Liberal Christianity, liberal Christian theology or just liberal theology are the terms used to articulate and define assumptions of eisegesis that have been historically inherited by celebrating mans reason alone as the sole authority. Embraced during The Age of Enlightenment or what is also called the Age of Reason, during the 18th and 19th century, a time when the superior view of mans reason encroached into everyday life welcomed with broad adoption of its philosophical principles lifting man up to a point which he was ultimate.[9] Inevitably introduced into all realms of life including religious, enlightenment radically changed cultural, social and political milieus that ran counter to the reason of man. Thus governments adopted a secular mindset that pushed further into religious institutions and faith based organizations, attaching separate political institutions with overarching roles that allow co-mingling of values and ideals.


  1. “liberalism.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010. Merriam-Webster Online. 11 July 2010 <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/liberalism>
  2. Capitalism and freedom By Milton Friedman, Rose D. Friedman
  3. Milton Friedman By Wikipedia
  4. TAKE IT TO THE LIMITS: Milton Friedman on Libertarianism Milton Friedman interviewed By Peter Robinson for Uncommon Knowledge. February 10, 1999.
  5. Wikipedia:John Maynard Keynes By Wikipedia
  6. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money By John Maynard Keynes. Page xv.
  7. Wikipedia:Woodrow Wilson By Wikipedia
  8. Wikipedia:History of liberalism By Wikipedia
  9. Age of Enlightenment By Wikipedia

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