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{{Hatnote|This article discusses the ideology of liberalism. Local differences in its meaning are listed in [[Liberalism by country]]. For other uses, see [[Liberal (disambiguation)]].}}
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{{Liberalism sidebar}}
'''Liberalism''' (from the Latin ''liberalis'')<ref>[ Latin Dictionary and Grammar Aid] University of Notre Dame. Retrieved 2010-02-20.</ref> is a broad political ideology or worldview founded on the ideas of [[liberty]] and [[social equality|equality]].<ref>Song, p. 45. ''Grounded on these foundations are the two central values of liberalism: equality and liberty.''</ref> Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally liberals support ideas such as [[capitalism]] (either [[mixed economy|regulated]] or [[economic liberalism|not]]), [[constitutionalism]], [[liberal democracy]], [[Freedom_of_the_press|free press]], [[Election#Difficulties with elections|free and fair elections]], [[human rights]] and the [[freedom of religion|free exercise of religion]].<ref name="Kathleen G. Donohue">{{cite book|url=|author=Kathleen G. Donohue|title=Freedom from Want: American Liberalism and the Idea of the Consumer (New Studies in American Intellectual and Cultural History)|publisher=[[Johns Hopkins University Press]]|quote=Three of them - freedom from fear, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion - have long been fundamental to liberalism.|accessdate=2007-12-31}}</ref><ref name="The Economist">{{cite book|url=|title=The Economist, Volume 341, Issues 7995-7997|publisher=[[The Economist]]|quote=For all three share a belief in the liberal society as defined above: a society that provides constitutional government (rule by laws, not by men) and freedom of religion, thought, expression and economic interaction; a society in which ...|accessdate=2007-12-31}}</ref><ref name="Sheldon S. Wolin">{{cite book|url=|author=Sehldon S. Wolin|title=Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought|publisher=[[Princeton University Press]]|quote=While liberalism practically disappeared as a publicly professed ideology, it retained a virtual monopoly in the ... The most frequently cited rights included freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion, property, and procedural rights|accessdate=2007-12-31}}</ref><ref name="Edwin Brown Firmage, Bernard G. Weiss, John Woodland Welch">{{cite book|url=|author=Edwin Brown Firmage, Bernard G. Weiss, John Woodland Welch|title=Religion and Law: Biblical-Judaic and Islamic Perspectives|publisher=[[Eisenbrauns]]|quote=There is no need to expound here the foundations and principles of modern liberalism, which emphasizes the values of freedom of conscience and freedom of religion|accessdate=2007-12-31}}</ref><ref name="John Joseph Lalor">{{cite book|url=|author=John Joseph Lalor|title=Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States|publisher=Nabu Press|quote=Democracy attaches itself to a form of government: liberalism, to liberty and guarantees of liberty. The two may agree; they are not contradictory, but they are neither identical, nor necessarily connected. In the moral order, liberalism is the liberty to think, recognized and practiced. This is primordial liberalism, as the liberty to think is itself the first and noblest of liberties. Man would not be free in any degree or in any sphere of action, if he were not a thinking being endowed with consciousness. The freedom of worship, the freedom of education, and the freedom of the press are derived the most directly from the freedom to think.|accessdate=2007-12-31}}</ref>
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]], [[state religion|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 [[Traditionalist conservatism|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 [[private property|property]].
The revolutionaries in the [[American Revolution]] and the [[French Revolution]] 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 [[Liberalism in Europe|Europe]], [[Liberalism and conservatism in Latin America|Latin America]], and [[Liberalism in the United States|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 Party|liberal political parties]] remain a political force with varying degrees of power and influence on [[Liberalism worldwide|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).<ref></ref> This is an idea that has been endorsed by the President of [[Liberal International]] [[Hans van Baalen]].
==Etymology and definition==
Words such as ''liberal'', ''[[liberty]]'', ''[[Libertarianism|libertarian]]'', and ''[[libertine]]'' all trace their history to the Latin ''liber'', which means "free".<ref name="Gross, p. 5">Gross, p. 5.</ref> One of the first recorded instances of the word ''liberal'' occurs in 1375, when it was used to describe the ''[[liberal arts]]'' in the context of an education desirable for a free-born man.<ref name="Gross, p. 5"/> The word's early connection with the classical education of a medieval university soon gave way to a proliferation of different denotations and connotations. ''Liberal'' could refer to "free in bestowing" as early as 1387, "made without stint" in 1433, "freely permitted" in 1530, and "free from restraint"—often as a pejorative remark—in the 16th and the 17th centuries.<ref name="Gross, p. 5"/>
In 16th century [[Kingdom of England|England]], ''liberal'' could have positive or negative attributes in referring to someone's generosity or indiscretion.<ref name="Gross, p. 5"/> In ''[[Much Ado About Nothing]]'', [[William Shakespeare|Shakespeare]] wrote of "a liberal villaine" who "hath...confest his vile encounters".<ref name="Gross, p. 5"/> With the rise of the [[Age of Enlightenment|Enlightenment]], the word acquired decisively more positive undertones, being defined as "free from narrow prejudice" in 1781 and "free from bigotry" in 1823.<ref name="Gross, p. 5"/> In 1815, the first use of the word ''liberalism'' appeared in English.<ref>Kirchner, pp. 2–3.</ref> By the middle of the 19th century, ''liberal'' started to be used as a politicized term for [[Liberal Party|parties and movements]] all over the world.{{Citation needed|date=December 2010}}
{{Main|History of liberalism}}
'''Liberalism''' originated in the 17th century with ideas expressed during the [[English Civil War]], the period following the [[Glorious Revolution]] and with the views expressed in [[John Locke]]'s ''[[Second Treatise on Civil Government]]''.<ref>Gray, p. 13</ref> Locke wrote that men have a natural right to life, liberty, and property. Liberalism as a political movement spans the better part of the last four centuries, beginning in the [[English Civil War]] and continuing today, though the word ''liberalism'' was not used to describe these ideas until the early 19th century. The first major government founded on liberal principles, with no hereditary aristocracy, was [[The United States of America]], whose [[Declaration of Independence]] states that "all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights". A few years later, the [[French Revolution]] overthrew the hereditary aristocracy, with the slogan "liberty, equality, fraternity".
===Inception to revolution===
{{See also|Middle Ages|Age of Enlightenment|American Revolution}}
The emergence of the [[Renaissance]] in the 15th century helped to weaken unquestioning submission to the institutions of the Middle Ages by reinvigorating interest in science and in the [[Classical antiquity|classical world]].<ref>Johnson, p. 28. ''Dante was not just a medieval man, he was a Renaissance man too. He was highly critical of the church, like many so scholars who followed him.''</ref> In the 16th century, the [[Protestant Reformation]] developed from sentiments that viewed the [[Catholic Church]] as an oppressive ruling order too involved in the [[feudalism|feudal]] and baronial structure of European society.<ref>Colton and Palmer, p. 75. ''They might wish to manage their own religious affairs as they did their other business, believing that the church hierarchy was too much embedded in a feudal, baronial, and monarchical system with which they had little in common.''</ref> The Church launched a [[Counter-Reformation|Counter Reformation]] to contain these bubbling sentiments, but the effort unraveled in the [[Thirty Years' War]] of the 17th century. In [[Kingdom of England|England]], a [[English Civil War|civil war]] led to the execution of [[Charles I of England|King Charles I]] in 1649. Parliament ultimately succeeded—with the [[Glorious Revolution]] of 1688—in establishing a limited and [[constitutional monarchy]]. The main facets of early liberal ideology in [[Early Modern Britain|Britain]] emerged against the backdrop of these events.<ref>Historians Colton and [[Robert Roswell Palmer|Palmer]] characterize the period in the following light:
{{Cquote|The unique thing about England was that Parliament, in defeating the king, arrived at a workable form of government. Government remained strong but came under parliamentary control. This determined the character of modern England and launched into the history of Europe and of the world the great movement of liberalism.Colton and Palmer, p. 171.}}</ref>
The [[Thirteen Colonies|American colonies]] had been loyal British subjects for decades, but they [[United States Declaration of Independence|declared independence]] from rule under the monarchy in 1776 as a result of their dissatisfaction with lack of representation in the [[Parliament of Great Britain|governing parliament]] overseas, which manifested itself most directly and dramatically through [[No taxation without representation|taxation policies]] that colonists considered a violation of their [[natural rights]]. The [[American Revolution]] was primarily a civil and political matter at first, but [[American Revolutionary War|escalated to military engagements]] in 1775 that were largely complete by 1781. The 1776 [[United States Declaration of Independence]] drew upon liberal ideas of [[unalienable rights]] to demonstrate the tyranny of the British monarchy, and justify a complete denial of its [[Legitimacy (political)|legitimacy]] and [[authority]], leading to the creation of a [[self-determination|self-determining]] and [[sovereign]] new nation. After the war, the new nation held a [[Philadelphia Convention|Constitutional Convention]] in 1787 to resolve the problems stemming from the first attempt at a [[Confederation|confederated]] national government under the [[Articles of Confederation]]. The resulting [[Constitution of the United States]] settled on a [[republic]] with a [[Federation|federal]] structure. The [[United States Bill of Rights]] quickly followed in 1789, which guaranteed certain [[natural rights]] fundamental to liberal ideals. The American Revolution predicated a series of drastic socio-political changes across nations and continents, collectively referred to as the "[[Atlantic Revolutions]]", of which the most famous is probably the French Revolution.
===French Revolution===
{{Main|French Revolution}}
Three years into the French Revolution, German writer [[Johann Wolfgang von Goethe|Johann von Goethe]] reportedly told the defeated Prussian soldiers after the [[Battle of Valmy]] that "from this place and from this time forth commences a new era in world history, and you can all say that you were present at its birth".<ref>Coker, p. 3.</ref> Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in [[human history]], and the onset of the Revolution in 1789 is considered by some to mark the end of the [[early modern period]].<ref>Frey, Foreword.</ref>
[[File:Women's March on Versailles01.jpg|thumb|left|alt=An engraving showing women armed with pikes and other weapons marching. |The [[The Women's March on Versailles|march of the women]] on [[Versailles]] in October 1789 was one of the most famous examples of popular political participation during the [[French Revolution]]. The demonstrators forced the royal court back to [[Paris]], where it would remain until the proclamation of the [[First French Republic|First Republic]] in 1792.]]
The French Revolution is often seen as marking the "dawn of the [[modern history|modern era]],"<ref>Frey, Preface.</ref> and its convulsions are widely associated with "the triumph of liberalism".<ref>Ros, p. 11.</ref> For liberals, the Revolution was their defining moment, and later liberals approved of the French Revolution almost entirely—"not only its results but the act itself," as two historians noted.<ref>Manent and Seigel, p. 80.</ref> The French Revolution began in May 1789 with the convocation of the [[Estates-General of 1789|Estates-General]]. The first year of the Revolution witnessed, among other major events, the [[Storming of the Bastille]] in July and the passage of the [[Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen]] in August.
The next few years were dominated by tensions between various [[The Legislative Assembly and the fall of the French monarchy|liberal assemblies]] and a [[conservatism|conservative]] monarchy intent on thwarting major reforms. A [[First French Republic|republic]] was proclaimed in September 1792. External [[French Revolutionary Wars|conflict]] and internal squabbling significantly radicalized the Revolution, culminating in the "[[Reign of Terror]]", led by [[Maximilien Robespierre|Robespierre]]. After the fall of [[Maximilien Robespierre|Robespierre]] and the radical [[Jacobin (politics)|Jacobins]], the [[French Directory|Directory]] assumed control of the French state in 1795 and held power until 1799, when it was replaced by the [[French Consulate|Consulate]] under [[Napoleon]].
Napoleon ruled as [[First Consul]] for about five years, centralizing power and streamlining the bureaucracy along the way. The [[Napoleonic Wars]], pitting the heirs of a revolutionary state against the old monarchies of Europe, started in 1805 and lasted for a decade. Along with their boots and [[Charleville musket]]s, [[Grande Armée|French soldiers]] brought to the rest of the European continent the liquidation of the [[Feudalism|feudal system]], the liberalization of [[property law]]s, the end of [[Manorialism|seigneurial dues]], the abolition of [[guild]]s, the legalization of [[divorce]], the disintegration of [[Ghetto|Jewish ghettos]], the collapse of the [[Spanish Inquisition|Inquisition]], the permanent destruction of the [[Holy Roman Empire]], the elimination of church courts and religious authority, the establishment of the [[metric system]], and [[Equality before the law|equality under the law]] for all men.<ref>Colton and Palmer, pp. 428–9.</ref> Napoleon wrote that "the peoples of Germany, as of France, Italy and Spain, want equality and liberal ideas,"<ref name="Colton and Palmer, p. 428">Colton and Palmer, p. 428.</ref> with some historians suggesting that he may have been the first person ever to use the word ''liberal'' in a political sense.<ref name="Colton and Palmer, p. 428"/> He also governed through a method that one historian described as "civilian dictatorship," which "drew its legitimacy from direct consultation with the people, in the form of a plebiscite".<ref>Lyons, p. 111.</ref> Napoleon did not always live up the liberal ideals he espoused, however. His most lasting achievement, the [[Napoleonic code|Civil Code]], served as "an object of emulation all over the globe,"<ref>Lyons, p. 94.</ref> but it also perpetuated further discrimination against women under the banner of the "natural order".<ref>Lyons, pp. 98–102.</ref>
===Aftermath of the French Revolution===
{{See also|Classical liberalism}}
[[File:Général Toussaint Louverture.jpg|thumb|left|upright|General [[Toussaint Louverture]], inspired by the French Revolution led revolutionary forces during the [[Haitian Revolution]] that ended [[slavery]] in [[Haiti]] and resulted in the creation of the short-lived Haitian Republic - the first self-governing independent [[Black people|black]] state in the [[Americas]].]]
Liberals in the 19th century wanted to develop a world free from government intervention, or at least free from too much government intervention. They championed the ideal of [[negative liberty]], which constitutes the absence of coercion and the absence of external constraints.<ref>Heywood, p. 47.</ref> They believed governments were cumbersome burdens and they wanted governments to stay out of the lives of individuals.<ref>Heywood, pp. 47–8.</ref> Liberals simultaneously pushed for the expansion of [[civil rights]] and for the expansion of [[free market]]s and [[free trade]]. The latter kind of economic thinking had been formalized by [[Adam Smith]] in his influential ''[[Wealth of Nations]]'' (1776), which revolutionized the field of economics and argued that the "invisible hand" of the free market was a self-regulating mechanism that did not depend on external interference.<ref>Heywood, p. 52.</ref> Sheltered by liberalism, the ''[[laissez-faire]]'' economic world of the 19th century emerged with full tenacity, particularly in the United States and in the United Kingdom.<ref>Heywood, p. 53.</ref>
[[File:Coaltub.png|thumb|right|The relatively [[laissez-faire]] liberal economy of the [[Industrial Revolution]] and rise of living standards allowed an increasingly larger number of parents to avoid sending their children to work.<ref>{{cite journal|last=Booth|first=Charles|title=Occupations of the People of the United Kingdom, 1801-81|journal=Journal of the Statistical Society of London|date=1886|month=Jun|volume=2|issue=49|pages=314-436|url=}}</ref><ref>[ See also Child Labor during the British Industrial Revolution - Table 1: Child Employment, 1851-1881]</ref>]]
Politically, liberals saw the 19th century as a gateway to achieving the promises of 1789. In Spain, the ''[[Liberalism and radicalism in Spain|Liberales]]'', the first group to use the ''liberal'' label in a political context,<ref>Colton and Palmer, p. 479.</ref> fought for the implementation of the [[Spanish Constitution of 1812|1812 Constitution]] for decades—overthrowing the monarchy in 1820 as part of the ''[[Trienio Liberal]]'' and [[First Carlist War|defeating]] the conservative [[Carlists]] in the 1830s. In France, the [[July Revolution|July Revolution of 1830]], orchestrated by liberal politicians and journalists, removed the Bourbon monarchy and inspired similar uprisings elsewhere in Europe.
[[File:1848-revolutia-Romania.jpg|thumb|left|Depiction of [[Romania]]n revolutionaries during the [[Revolutions of 1848]].]]
Frustration with the pace of political progress, however, sparked even more gigantic [[Revolutions of 1848|revolutions in 1848]]. Revolutions spread throughout the Austrian Empire, the German states, and the Italian states. Governments fell rapidly. Liberal nationalists demanded written constitutions, representative assemblies, greater suffrage rights, and freedom of the press.<ref name="Colton and Palmer, p. 510">Colton and Palmer, p. 510.</ref> A [[French Second Republic|second republic]] was proclaimed in France. Serfdom was abolished in Prussia, Galicia, Bohemia, and Hungary.<ref name="Colton and Palmer, p. 510"/> [[Klemens von Metternich|Metternich]] shocked Europe when he resigned and fled to Britain in panic and disguise.<ref>Colton and Palmer, p. 509.</ref>
Eventually, however, the success of the revolutionaries petered out. Without French help, the Italians were [[First Italian War of Independence|easily defeated]] by the Austrians. Austria also managed to contain the bubbling nationalist sentiments in Germany and Hungary, helped along by the failure of the [[Frankfurt Assembly]] to unify the German states into a single nation. Under abler leadership, however, the Italians and the Germans wound up realizing their dreams for independence. The Sardinian Prime Minister, [[Camillo di Cavour]], was a shrewd liberal who understood that the only effective way for the Italians to gain independence was if the French were on their side.<ref>Colton and Palmer, pp. 546–7.</ref> [[Napoleon III]] agreed to Cavour's request for assistance and France defeated Austria in the [[Second Italian War of Independence|Franco-Austrian War]] of 1859, setting the stage for Italian independence. German unification transpired under the leadership of [[Otto von Bismarck]], who decimated the enemies of Prussia in war after war, finally [[Franco-Prussian War|triumphing against France]] in 1871 and proclaiming the German Empire in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, ending another saga in the drive for nationalization. The French proclaimed a [[French Third Republic|third republic]] after their loss in the war, and the rest of French history transpired under republican eyes.
Just a few decades after the French Revolution, liberalism went global. The liberal and conservative struggles in Spain also replicated themselves in Latin American countries like Mexico and Ecuador. From 1857 to 1861, Mexico was gripped in the bloody [[Reform War|War of Reform]], a massive internal and ideological confrontation between the liberals and the conservatives.<ref>Stacy, p. 698.</ref> The liberal triumph there parallels with the situation in Ecuador. Similar to other nations throughout the region at the time, Ecuador was steeped in turmoil, with the people divided between rival liberal and conservative camps. From these conflicts, [[Gabriel García Moreno|García Moreno]] established a conservative government which was eventually overthrown in the [[Liberal Revolution of 1895]]. The [[Ecuadorian Radical Liberal Party|Radical Liberals]] who toppled the conservatives were led by [[Eloy Alfaro]], a firebrand who implemented a variety of sociopolitical reforms, including the separation of church and state, the legalization of divorce, and the establishment of public schools.<ref>Handelsman, p. 10.</ref>
Although liberals were active throughout the world in the 19th century, it was in Britain that the future character of liberalism would take shape. The liberal sentiments unleashed after the revolutionary era of the previous century ultimately coalesced into the [[Liberal Party (UK)|Liberal Party]], formed in 1859 from various [[Radicals (UK)|Radical]] and [[Whig (British political party)|Whig]] elements. The Liberals produced one of the most influential British prime ministers—[[William Ewart Gladstone]], who was also known as the ''Grand Old Man''.<ref>Cook, p. 31.</ref> Under Gladstone, the Liberals reformed education, disestablished the [[Church of Ireland]] (with the [[Irish Church Act 1869]]), and introduced the secret ballot for local and parliamentary elections. Following Gladstone, and after a period of [[Conservative Party (UK)|Conservative]] domination, the Liberals returned with full strength in the [[United Kingdom general election, 1906|general election of 1906]], aided by working class voters worried about food prices. After that historic victory, the Liberal Party shifted from its classical liberalism and laid the groundwork for the future British [[welfare state]], establishing various forms of health insurance, unemployment insurance, and pensions for elderly workers.<ref>Heywood, p. 61.</ref> This new kind of liberalism would sweep over much of the world in the 20th century.
===Conflict and renewal===
{{See also|Social liberalism}}
[[File:Thomas Woodrow Wilson, Harris & Ewing bw photo portrait, 1919.jpg|thumb|upright|[[Woodrow Wilson]], [[President of the United States]] (1913-1921). Wilson's [[Fourteen Points]] became the foundation for both the principle of [[self-determination]] and inspired the founding of the [[League of Nations]] and its successor the [[United Nations]].]]
[[File:Louise Weiss.jpg|thumb|left|French [[suffragettes]] in 1935 carrying papers saying: "The Frenchwoman Must Vote". Women's suffrage was not granted in France until 1944.]]
[[File:Martin Luther King - March on Washington.jpg|thumb|left|African American civil rights leader [[Martin Luther King Jr.]] in his famous speech during the [[March on Washington]] where he declared that African Americans deserved the civil rights legally accorded to them by the [[Constitution of the United States]] and the [[Emancipation Proclamation]] that had been denied to them.]]
The 20th century started perilously for liberalism. World War I proved a major challenge for liberal democracies, although they ultimately triumphed, along with Communism, over the monarchies. The war precipitated the collapse of older forms of government, including [[empire]]s and [[Dynasty|dynastic states]]. The number of republics in Europe reached 13 by the end of the war, as compared with only three at the start of the war in 1914.<ref>Mazower, p. 3.</ref> This phenomenon became readily apparent in [[Russian Empire|Russia]]. Before the war, the Russian monarchy was reeling from [[Russo-Japanese War|losses to Japan]] and political struggles with the [[Constitutional Democratic Party|Kadets]], a powerful liberal bloc in the [[Duma]]. Facing huge shortages in basic necessities along with [[February Revolution|widespread riots in early 1917]], [[Nicholas II of Russia|Czar Nicholas II]] abdicated in March, ending three centuries of [[House of Romanov|Romanov rule]] and allowing liberals to declare a republic. Under the uncertain leadership of [[Alexander Kerensky]], however, the [[Russian Provisional Government|Provisional Government]] mismanaged Russia's continuing involvement in the war, prompting angry reactions from the [[Petrograd Soviet|Petrograd workers]], who drifted further and further to the left. The [[Bolshevik]]s, a [[communism|communist]] group led by [[Vladimir Lenin]], seized the political opportunity from this confusion and launched a [[October Revolution|second revolution]] in Russia during the same year. The communist victory presented a major challenge to capitalism as a core component of liberalism. As some manifestations of communism historically resulted in totalitarian regimes, mainstream liberalism has shied away from association with communism. However, the economic problems that rocked the Western world in the 1930s proved even more devastating, leading to fundamental reforms in some of the aims of the liberal state.
The Great Depression fundamentally changed the liberal world. There was an inkling of a new liberalism during World War I, but [[social liberalism|modern liberalism]] fully hatched in the 1930s as a response to the Depression, which inspired [[John Maynard Keynes]] to revolutionize the field of economics. [[Classical liberalism|Classical liberals]], such as economist [[Ludwig von Mises]], posited that completely [[free market]]s were the optimal economic units capable of effectively allocating resources—that over time, in other words, they would produce [[full employment]] and economic security.<ref>Shaw, pp. 2–3.</ref> Keynes spearheaded a broad assault on [[classical economics]] and its followers, arguing that totally free markets were not ideal, and that hard economic times required intervention and investment from the state. Where the market failed to properly allocate resources, for example, the government was required to stimulate the economy until private funds could start flowing again—a "prime the pump" kind of strategy designed to boost [[industrial production]].<ref>Colton and Palmer, p. 808.</ref>
The social liberal program launched by [[Franklin Delano Roosevelt|President Roosevelt]] in the United States, the [[New Deal]], proved very popular with the American public.<ref>Whitfield, p. 485. ''But before Franklin D. Roosevelt, no politician had won such popular approval for a program of reforms that drew so systematic a conclusion from the drastic structural changes in industry and society. Social liberalism, which dictated domestic politics from the New Deal into the 1960s, marked the limits of welfare state activity as determined and limited by the individualistic political culture of the United States.''</ref> In 1933, when Roosevelt came into office, the [[Unemployment|unemployment rate]] stood at roughly 25 percent.<ref>Auerbach and Kotlikoff, p. 299.</ref> The size of the economy, measured by the [[Measures of national income and output|gross national product]], had fallen to half the value it had in early 1929.<ref>Dobson, p. 264.</ref> The electoral victories of Roosevelt and the [[Democratic Party (United States)|Democrats]] precipitated a deluge of public works programs. Despite this, by 1936 the level of unemployment had only fallen to around 10 percent (when counting persons on work relief as employed) or 17 percent (when counting persons on work relief as unemployed).<ref>Gene Smiley, Recent Unemployment Rate Estimates for the 1920s and 1930s, Journal of Economic History, Juni 1983, Vol. 43, Nr. 2, Seite 487–93.</ref> Deficit spending sparked by World War II eventually pulled the United States out of the Great Depression. From 1940 to 1941, government spending increased by 59 percent, the [[Measures of national income and output|gross domestic product]] skyrocketed 17 percent, and unemployment fell below 10 percent for the first time since 1929.<ref>Knoop, p. 151.</ref> By 1945, after vast government spending, [[Government debt|public debt]] stood at a staggering 120 percent of GNP, but unemployment had been effectively eliminated.<ref>Rivlin, p. 53.</ref> Most nations that emerged from the Great Depression did so with [[deficit spending]] and strong intervention from the state.
[[File:Thefalloftheberlinwall1989.JPG|thumb|right|The protests at the [[Berlin Wall]] in 1989 that resulted in its fall, the end of [[single-party state]] rule in [[East Germany]], and the [[reunification of Germany]] in the form of a [[liberal democracy]].]]
[[File:Worldbank protest jakarta.jpg|thumb|left|Protest against the [[World Bank]] in [[Indonesia]]. [[Neoliberalism|Neoliberal]] economic policies pursued by international institutions since the 1970s and 1980s have provoked strong criticism and protest, especially in developing or underdeveloped countries that have been pressured by institutions such as the [[International Monetary Fund]] to privatize parts of their economy and remove protectionist measures, in order to gain IMF assistance.]]
The economic woes of the period prompted widespread unrest in the European political world, leading to the rise of [[fascism]] as an ideology and a movement that heavily criticized liberalism.<ref>Perry et al., p. 759. Hitler writes that the chief principle of fascism is the following: ''to abolish the liberal concept of the individual and the Marxist concept of humanity, and to substitute for them the Volk community, rooted in the soil and united by the bond of its common blood''.</ref> Broadly speaking, fascist ideology emphasized [[Elitism|elite rule]] and absolute leadership, a rejection of [[egalitarianism|equality]], the imposition of [[Patriarchy|patriarchal society]], a stern commitment to war as an instrument of natural behavior, and the elimination of supposedly inferior or subhuman groups from the structure of the nation.<ref>Heywood, pp. 218–26.</ref> The fascist and nationalist grievances of the 1930s eventually culminated in World War II, the deadliest conflict in human history. The [[Allies of World War II|Allies]] prevailed in the war by 1945, and their victory set the stage for the Cold War between communist states and liberal democracies. The Cold War featured extensive ideological competition and several [[proxy war]]s. While communist states and liberal democracies competed against one another, an [[1973 oil crisis|economic crisis]] in the 1970s inspired a temporary move away from [[Keynesian economics]] across many Western governments. This classical liberal renewal, known as [[neoliberalism]], lasted through the 1980s and the 1990s, bringing about economic privatization of previously state-owned industries. However, [[Financial crisis of 2007–2010|economic troubles]] in the early twenty-first century have prompted a [[2008–2009 Keynesian resurgence|resurgence in Keynesian economic thought]]. Meanwhile, nearing the end of the 20th century, communist states in [[Eastern Europe]] [[Revolutions of 1989|collapsed precipitously]], leaving liberal democracies as the only major forms of government. At the beginning of World War II, the number of democracies around the world was about the same as it had been forty years before.<ref>Colomer, p. 62.</ref> After 1945, liberal democracies spread very quickly. Even as late as 1974, roughly 75 percent of all nations were considered dictatorial, but now more than half of all countries are democracies.<ref>Diamond, cover flap.</ref> However, liberal democracies still confront several challenges, including the proliferation of [[terrorism]] and the growth of religious fundamentalism.<ref>Wolfe, p. 257.</ref> The rise of [[People's Republic of China|China]] is also challenging Western liberalism with a combination of authoritarian government and capitalism.<ref>Gifford, pp. 6–8.</ref>
Liberalism—both as a political current and an intellectual tradition—is mostly a [[Modernity|modern phenomenon]] that started in the 17th century, although some liberal philosophical ideas had precursors in [[classical antiquity]]. The [[List of Roman Emperors|Roman Emperor]] [[Marcus Aurelius]] praised "the idea of a polity administered with regard to [[egalitarianism|equal rights]] and equal [[freedom of speech]], and the idea of a kingly government which respects most of all the freedom of the governed".<ref>Antoninus, p. 3.</ref> Scholars have also recognized a number of principles familiar to contemporary liberals in the works of several [[Sophism|Sophists]] and in the ''Funeral Oration'' by [[Pericles]].<ref name="Young, pp. 25–6">Young, pp. 25–6.</ref> Liberal philosophy symbolizes an extensive intellectual tradition that has examined and popularized some of the most important and controversial principles of the modern world. Its immense scholarly and academic output has been characterized as containing "richness and diversity," but that diversity often has meant that liberalism comes in different formulations and presents a challenge to anyone looking for a clear definition.<ref name="Young, p. 24">Young, p. 24.</ref>
===Major themes===
{{Individualism sidebar}}
Though all liberal doctrines possess a common heritage, scholars frequently assume that those doctrines contain "separate and often contradictory streams of thought".<ref name="Young, p. 24"/> The objectives of [[List of liberal theorists|liberal theorists and philosophers]] have differed across various times, cultures, and continents. The diversity of liberalism can be gleaned from the numerous adjectives that liberal thinkers and movements have attached to the very term ''liberalism'', including ''[[Classical liberalism|classical]]'', ''[[egalitarianism|egalitarian]]'', ''economic'', ''[[Social liberalism|social]]'', ''welfare-state'', ''ethical'', ''[[Humanism|humanist]]'', ''deontological'', ''perfectionist'', ''democratic'', and ''institutional'', to name a few.<ref>Young, p. 25.</ref> Despite these variations, liberal thought does exhibit a few definite and fundamental conceptions. At its very root, liberalism is a philosophy about the meaning of humanity and society. Political philosopher [[John N. Gray|John Gray]] identified the common strands in liberal thought as being ''individualist'', ''egalitarian'', ''meliorist'', and ''universalist''. The individualist element avers the ethical primacy of the human being against the pressures of [[Collectivism|social collectivism]], the egalitarian element assigns the same moral worth and status to all individuals, the meliorist element asserts that successive generations can improve their sociopolitical arrangements, and the universalist element affirms the moral unity of the human species and marginalizes local cultural differences.<ref name="Gray, p. xii">Gray, p. xii.</ref> The meliorist element has been the subject of much controversy, defended by thinkers such as [[Immanuel Kant]], who believed in human progress, while suffering from attacks by thinkers such as [[Jean-Jacques Rousseau|Rousseau]], who believed that human attempts to improve themselves through social cooperation would fail.<ref>Wolfe, pp. 33-6.</ref> Describing the liberal temperament, Gray claimed that it "has been inspired by [[skepticism]] and by a fideistic certainty of divine revelation ... it has exalted the power of reason even as, in other contexts, it has sought to humble reason's claims". The liberal philosophical tradition has searched for validation and justification through several intellectual projects. The moral and political suppositions of liberalism have been based on traditions such as [[Natural and legal rights|natural rights]] and [[Utilitarianism|utilitarian theory]], although sometimes liberals even requested support from scientific and religious circles.<ref name="Gray, p. xii"/> Through all these strands and traditions, scholars have identified the following major common facets of liberal thought: believing in equality and [[liberty|individual liberty]], supporting [[private property]] and individual rights, supporting the idea of limited constitutional government, and recognizing the importance of related values such as [[Pluralism (political philosophy)|pluralism]], [[toleration]], autonomy, [[bodily integrity]] and [[Consent of the governed|consent]].<ref>Young, p. 45.</ref>
===Classical and modern===
[[File:Thomashillgreen.jpg|thumb|upright|left|alt=Black and white photograph of British philosopher Thomas Hill Green |[[Thomas Hill Green]] was an influential [[List of liberal theorists|liberal philosopher]]. In ''Prolegomena to Ethics'' (1884), he established the first major foundations for what later became known as [[positive liberty]]. In a few years, his ideas became the [[Liberal welfare reforms|official policy]] of the [[Liberal Party (UK)|Liberal Party]] in [[United Kingdom|Britain]], precipitating the rise of [[social liberalism]] and the modern [[welfare state]].]]
Enlightenment philosophers are given credit for shaping liberal ideas. [[Thomas Hobbes]] attempted to determine the purpose and the justification of governing authority in a post civil war England. Using the idea of natural law, he constructed the concept of social contract and concluded that absolute monarchy is the ideal and just form of society. [[John Locke]], while adopting Hobbes's idea of natural law and social contract, nevertheless argued that when the monarchy become a tyrant, that constituted a violation of the social contract, which bestows life, liberty, and property as a natural right. He concluded that the people have a right to overthrow a tyrant. By placing life, liberty and property as the supreme value of law and authority, Locke formulated the basis of liberalism based on social contract theory. To these early enlightement thinkers securing the most essential amenities of life—[[liberty]] and [[private property]] among them—required the formation of a "sovereign" authority with universal jurisdiction.<ref>Young, pp. 30–1.</ref> In a natural state of affairs, liberals argued, humans were driven by the instincts of survival and self-preservation, and the only way to escape from such a dangerous existence was to form a common and supreme power capable of arbitrating between competing human desires.<ref name="Young 30">Young, p. 30.</ref> This power could be formed in the framework of a civil society that allows individuals to make a voluntary [[social contract]] with the sovereign authority, transferring their [[Natural and legal rights|natural rights]] to that authority in return for the protection of life, liberty, and property.<ref name="Young 30" /> These early liberals often disagreed about the most appropriate form of government, but they all shared the belief that liberty was natural and that its restriction needed strong justification.<ref name="Young 30" /> Liberals generally believed in limited government, although several liberal philosophers decried government outright, with [[Thomas Paine]] writing that "government even in its best state is a necessary evil".<ref name="Young, p. 31">Young, p. 31.</ref>
As part of the project to limit the powers of government, various liberal theorists such as [[James Madison]] and the [[Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu|Baron de Montesquieu]] conceived the notion of separation of powers, a system designed to equally distribute governmental authority among the [[Executive (government)|executive]], [[Legislature|legislative]], and [[Judiciary|judicial]] branches.<ref name="Young, p. 31"/> Governments had to realize, liberals maintained, that poor and improper governance gave the people authority to overthrow the ruling order through any and all possible means, even through outright violence and revolution, if needed.<ref>Young, p. 32.</ref> Contemporary liberals, heavily influenced by [[social liberalism]], have continued to support limited constitutional government while also advocating for state services and provisions to ensure equal rights. Modern liberals claim that formal or official guarantees of individual rights are irrelevant when individuals lack the material means to benefit from those rights and call for a greater role for government in the administration of economic affairs.<ref>Young, pp. 32–3.</ref>
Early liberals also laid the groundwork for the separation of church and state. As heirs of the [[Age of Enlightenment|Enlightenment]], liberals believed that any given social and political order emanated [[Consent of the governed|from human interactions]], not from [[Divine law|divine will]].<ref name="Gould, p. 4">Gould, p. 4.</ref> Many liberals were [[Atheism|openly hostile]] to [[religious belief]] itself, but most concentrated their opposition to the union of religious and political authority, arguing that faith could prosper on its own, without official sponsorship or administration by the state.<ref name="Gould, p. 4"/>
Beyond identifying a clear role for government in modern society, liberals also have obsessed over the meaning and nature of the most important principle in liberal philosophy: liberty. From the 17th century until the 19th century, liberals—from [[Adam Smith]] to [[John Stuart Mill]]—conceptualized liberty as the absence of interference from government and from other individuals, claiming that all people should have the freedom to develop their own unique abilities and capacities without being sabotaged by others.<ref name="Young, p. 33">Young, p. 33.</ref> Mill's ''[[On Liberty]]'' (1859), one of the classic texts in liberal philosophy, proclaimed that "the only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way".<ref name="Young, p. 33"/> Support for ''[[laissez-faire]]'' [[capitalism]] is often associated with this principle, with [[Friedrich Hayek]] arguing in ''[[The Road to Serfdom]]'' (1944) that reliance on free markets would preclude totalitarian control by the state.<ref>Wolfe, p. 74.</ref> Beginning in the late 19th century, however, a new conception of liberty entered the liberal intellectual arena. This new kind of liberty became known as [[positive liberty]] to distinguish it from the prior [[negative liberty|negative version]], and it was first developed by British philosopher [[Thomas Hill Green]]. Green rejected the idea that humans were driven solely by self-interest, emphasizing instead the complex circumstances that are involved in the evolution of our moral character.<ref name="Adams, pp. 54–5">Adams, pp. 54–5.</ref> In a very profound step for the future of modern liberalism, he also tasked social and political institutions with the enhancement of individual freedom and identity.<ref name="Adams, pp. 54–5"/> Foreshadowing the new liberty as the freedom to act rather than to avoid suffering from the acts of others, Green wrote the following:
{{Cquote|If it were ever reasonable to wish that the usage of words had been other than it has might be inclined to wish that the term 'freedom' had been confined to the...power to ''do what one wills''.<ref>Wempe, p. 123.</ref>}}
[[File:Logo de la République française.svg|thumb|left|alt=A silhouette of a woman with flowing white hair looking to the side, with a background featuring red, white, and blue. |The official logo of the [[Government of France|French government]] displays the motto of the [[French Revolution]]. The mantra of ''[[liberté, égalité, fraternité]]'' has featured prominently in the social and political fabric of the [[modernity|modern world]], a testament to the wide-ranging influence of liberal principles.]]
Rather than previous liberal conceptions viewing society as populated by selfish individuals, Green viewed society as an organic whole in which all individuals have a duty to promote the common good.<ref>Adams, p. 55.</ref> His ideas spread rapidly and were developed by other thinkers such as [[Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse|L. T. Hobhouse]] and [[John A. Hobson|John Hobson]]. In a few short years, this ''Social Liberalism'' had become the essential social and political program of the [[Liberal Party (UK)|Liberal Party]] in Britain,<ref>Adams, p. 58.</ref> and it would encircle much of the world in the 20th century. In the 21st century it is being argued that emerging is a '''[[Social liberalism]]''' that is centred on the concept of timeless liberty, which would extend negative and positive liberty to future generations through proactive action today.<ref></ref> In addition to examining negative, positive, and timeless liberty, liberals have tried to understand the proper relationship between liberty and democracy. As they struggled to expand [[Universal suffrage|suffrage rights]], liberals increasingly understood that people left out of the democratic decision-making process were liable to the ''[[tyranny of the majority]]'', a concept explained in Mill's ''On Liberty'' and in ''[[Democracy in America]]'' (1835) by [[Alexis de Tocqueville]].<ref name="Young, p. 36">Young, p. 36.</ref> As a response, liberals began demanding proper safeguards to thwart majorities in their attempts at suppressing the rights of minorities.<ref name="Young, p. 36"/>
Besides liberty, liberals have developed several other principles important to the construction of their philosophical structure, such as [[Egalitarianism|equality]], [[Pluralism (political philosophy)|pluralism]], and [[toleration]]. Highlighting the confusion over the first principle, [[Voltaire]] commented that "equality is at once the most natural and at times the most chimeral of things".<ref>Wolfe, p. 63.</ref> All forms of liberalism assume, in some basic sense, that individuals are equal.<ref>Young, p. 39.</ref> In maintaining that people are ''naturally'' equal, liberals assume that they all possess the same right to liberty.<ref>Young, pp. 39–40.</ref> In other words, no one is inherently entitled to enjoy the benefits of liberal society more than anyone else, and all people are [[Equality before the law|equal subjects before the law]].<ref name="Young, p. 40">Young, p. 40.</ref> Beyond this basic conception, liberal theorists diverge on their understanding of equality. American philosopher [[John Rawls]] emphasized the need to ensure not only equality under the law, but also the equal distribution of material resources that individuals required to develop their aspirations in life.<ref name="Young, p. 40"/> [[Libertarianism|Libertarian]] thinker [[Robert Nozick]] disagreed with Rawls, championing the former version of [[Equal opportunity|Lockean equality]] instead.<ref name="Young, p. 40"/> To contribute to the development of liberty, liberals also have promoted concepts like pluralism and toleration. By pluralism, liberals refer to the proliferation of opinions and beliefs that characterize a stable social order.<ref>Young, pp. 42–3.</ref> Unlike many of their competitors and predecessors, liberals do not seek conformity and homogeneity in the way that people think; in fact, their efforts have been geared towards establishing a governing framework that harmonizes and minimizes conflicting views, but still allows those views to exist and flourish.<ref>Young, p. 43.</ref> For liberal philosophy, pluralism leads easily to toleration. Since individuals will hold diverging viewpoints, liberals argue, they ought to uphold and respect the right of one another to disagree.<ref name="Young, p. 44">Young, p. 44.</ref> From the liberal perspective, toleration was initially connected to [[religious toleration]], with Spinoza condemning "the stupidity of [[religious persecution]] and ideological wars".<ref name="Young, p. 44"/> Toleration also played a central role in the ideas of Kant and John Stuart Mill. Both thinkers believed that society will contain different conceptions of a good ethical life and that people should be allowed to make their own choices without interference from the state or other individuals.<ref name="Young, p. 44"/>
===Criticism and support===
Liberalism has drawn both criticism and support in its history from various ideological groups. For example, some scholars suggest that liberalism gave rise to [[feminism]], although others maintain that [[liberal democracy]] is inadequate for the realization of feminist objectives.<ref>Jensen, p. 1.</ref> [[Liberal feminism]], the dominant tradition in [[History of feminism|feminist history]], hopes to eradicate all barriers to [[gender equality]]—claiming that the continued existence of such barriers eviscerates the individual rights and freedoms ostensibly guaranteed by a liberal social order.<ref>Jensen, p. 2.</ref> British philosopher [[Mary Wollstonecraft]] is widely regarded as the pioneer of liberal feminism, with ''[[A Vindication of the Rights of Woman]]'' (1792) expanding the boundaries of liberalism to include women in the political structure of liberal society.<ref>Falco, pp. 47–8.</ref> Less friendly to the goals of liberalism has been [[conservatism]]. [[Edmund Burke]], considered by some to be the first major proponent of modern conservative thought, offered a blistering critique of the French Revolution by assailing the liberal pretensions to the power of rationality and to the natural equality of all humans.<ref name="Grigsby, p. 108">Grigsby, p. 108.</ref> Conservatives have also attacked what they perceive to be the reckless liberal pursuit of progress and material gains, arguing that such preoccupations undermine traditional social values rooted in community and continuity.<ref>Koerner, p. 14.</ref> However, a few variations of conservatism, like [[liberal conservativism]], expound some of the same ideas and principles championed by [[classical liberalism]], including "small government and thriving capitalism".<ref name="Grigsby, p. 108"/>
Some confusion remains about the relationship between social liberalism and [[socialism]], despite the fact that many variants of socialism distinguish themselves markedly from liberalism by opposing [[anti-capitalism|capitalism]], [[hierarchy]] and [[private property]]. Socialism formed as a group of related ideologies in the 19th century such as [[Christian socialism]], [[communism]] (with the writings of [[Karl Marx]]) and [[anarchism]], and these ideologies — as with liberalism and conservatism — fractured into several major movements in the following decades.<ref>Grigsby, pp. 119–22.</ref> Marx rejected the foundational aspects of liberal theory, hoping to destroy both the state and the liberal distinction between society and the individual while fusing the two into a collective whole designed to overthrow the developing capitalist order of the 19th century.<ref>Koerner, pp. 9-12.</ref>
[[Social democracy]], an ideology advocating progressive reform of capitalism, emerged in the 20th century and was influenced by socialism. Yet unlike socialism, it was not collectivist nor anti-capitalist. Broadly defined as a project that aims to correct, through government reformism, what it regards as the intrinsic defects of capitalism by reducing inequalities,<ref>Lightfoot, p. 17.</ref> social democracy was also not against the state. Several commentators have noted strong similarities between [[social liberalism]] and social democracy, with one political scientist even calling [[Modern liberalism in the United States|American liberalism]] "bootleg social democracy" due to the absence of a significant social democratic tradition in the United States that liberals have tried to rectify.<ref>Susser, p. 110.</ref> Another movement associated with modern democracy, [[Christian democracy]], hopes to spread [[Catholic social teaching|Catholic social ideas]] and has gained a large following in some European nations.<ref>Riff, pp. 34–6.</ref> The early roots of Christian democracy developed as a reaction against the [[industrialization]] and [[urbanization]] associated with ''laissez-faire'' liberalism in the 19th century.<ref>Riff, p. 34.</ref> Despite these complex relationships, some scholars have argued that liberalism actually "rejects ideological thinking" altogether, largely because such thinking could lead to unrealistic expectations for human society.<ref>Wolfe, p. 116.</ref>
{{Main|Liberalism by country}}
{{Quote box|align=right|width=30%|Liberals are committed to build and safeguard free, fair and open societies, in which they seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one is enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity&nbsp;... Liberalism aims to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. |[[Liberal International]]<ref>[]</ref>}}
Liberalism is frequently cited as the dominant [[ideology]] of modern times.<ref>Wolfe, p. 23.</ref><ref>Adams, p. 11.</ref> Politically, liberals have organized extensively throughout the world. [[Liberal Party|Liberal parties]], [[Liberal International#Liberal think tanks and foundations|think tanks]], and other institutions are common in many nations, although they advocate for different causes based on their ideological orientation. Liberal parties can be [[Centre-left|center-left]], [[Centrism|centrist]], or [[Centre-right|center-right]] depending on their location.
They can further be divided based on their adherence to [[social liberalism]] or [[classical liberalism]], although all liberal parties and individuals share basic similarities, including the support for [[civil rights]] and [[Democracy|democratic institutions]]. On a global level, liberals are united in the [[Liberal International]], which contains over 100 influential liberal parties and organizations from across the [[Political spectrum|ideological spectrum]].
Some parties in the LI are among the most famous in the world, such as the [[Liberal Party of Canada]], while others are among the smallest, such as the [[Gibraltar Liberal Party]]. Regionally, liberals are organized through various institutions depending on the prevailing geopolitical context. The [[European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party]], for example, represents the interests of liberals in Europe while the [[Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe]] is the predominant liberal group in the [[European Parliament]].
[[File:Torch.svg|thumb|75px|upright|The torch in politics symbolizes enlightenment and liberty. It is often used by liberals as a political symbol.]]
{{See also|Liberalism in Europe}}
In Europe, liberalism has a long tradition dating back to 17th century.<ref>German songs like "[[Die Gedanken sind frei]]" (thoughts are free) can be dated even centuries before that.</ref> Scholars often split those traditions into [[Gladstonian Liberalism|English]] and [[Liberalism and radicalism in France|French]] versions, with the former version of liberalism emphasizing the expansion of [[Democracy|democratic values]] and [[Constitutional amendment|constitutional reform]] and the latter rejecting authoritarian political and economic structures, as well as being involved with [[nationalism|nation-building]].<ref name="Kirchner, p. 3">Kirchner, p. 3.</ref> The continental French version was deeply divided between ''moderates'' and ''[[Progressivism|progressives]]'', with the moderates tending to [[elitism]] and the progressives supporting the universalization of fundamental institutions, such as [[universal suffrage]], [[Public education|universal education]], and the expansion of [[Property|property rights]].<ref name="Kirchner, p. 3"/> Over time, the moderates displaced the progressives as the main guardians of continental European liberalism. A prominent example of these divisions is the German [[Free Democratic Party (Germany)|Free Democratic Party]], which was historically divided between [[liberal nationalism|national liberal]] and [[Social liberalism|social liberal]] factions.<ref>Kirchner, p. 4.</ref>
Before World War I, liberal parties dominated the European political scene, but they were gradually displaced by socialists and social democrats in the early 20th century. The fortunes of liberal parties since World War II have been mixed, with some gaining strength while others suffered from continuous declines.<ref>Kirchner, p. 10.</ref> The [[Collapse of the Soviet Union (1985–1991)|fall of the Soviet Union]] and the [[breakup of Yugoslavia]] at the end of the 20th century, however, allowed the formation of many liberal parties throughout Eastern Europe. These parties developed varying ideological characters. Some, such as the [[Slovenia]]n [[Liberal Democracy of Slovenia|Liberal Democrats]] or the [[Lithuania]]n [[New Union (Social Liberals)|Social Liberals]], have been characterized as [[Centre-left|center-left]].<ref>Karatnycky et al., p. 247.</ref><ref>Hafner and Ramet, p. 104.</ref> Others, such as the [[Romania]]n [[National Liberal Party (Romania)|National Liberal Party]], have been classified as [[Centre-right|center-right]].<ref>Various authors, p. 1615.</ref>
In [[Western Europe]], some liberal parties have undergone renewal and transformation, coming back to the political limelight after historic disappointments. One of the most notable examples features the [[Liberal Democrats]] in [[United Kingdom|Britain]]. The Liberal Democrats are the heirs of the once-mighty [[Liberal Party (UK)|Liberal Party]], which suffered a huge erosion of support to the [[Labour Party (UK)|Labour Party]] in the early 20th century. After nearly vanishing from the British political scene altogether, the Liberals eventually united with the [[Social Democratic Party (UK)|Social Democratic Party]], a Labour splinter group, in 1988 to form the current Liberal Democrats, a [[social liberal]] party.
The Liberal Democrats earned significant popular support in the [[United Kingdom general election, 2005|general election of 2005]] and in [[United Kingdom local elections, 2008|local council elections]]{{Citation needed|date=July 2010}}, marking the first time in decades that a British party with a liberal ideology has achieved such electoral success. Following the [[United Kingdom general election, 2010|general election of 2010]], the Liberal Democrats formed a [[coalition government]] with the [[Conservative Party (UK)|Conservatives]] resulting in party leader [[Nick Clegg]] becoming the [[Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom]] and many other members becoming ministers.
Both in Britain and elsewhere in Western Europe, liberal parties have often cooperated with socialist and social democratic parties, as evidenced by the [[Purple (government)|Purple Coalition]] in the [[Netherlands]] during the late 1990s and into the 21st century. The Purple Coalition, one of the most consequential in [[History of the Netherlands|Dutch history]], brought together the progressive left-liberal [[Democrats 66|D66]],<ref>Schie and Voermann, p. 121.</ref> the [[Classical liberalism|market liberal]] and center-right [[People's Party for Freedom and Democracy|VVD]],<ref>Gallagher et al., p. 226.</ref> and the social democratic [[Dutch Labour Party|Labour Party]]—an unusual combination that ultimately [[Same-sex marriage in the Netherlands|legalized same-sex marriage]], [[Euthanasia in the Netherlands|euthanasia]], and [[Prostitution in the Netherlands|prostitution]] while also instituting a non-enforcement [[Drug policy of the Netherlands|policy on marijuana]].
{{See also|Liberalism in the United States|Liberalism in Canada|Liberalism and conservatism in Latin America}}
[[File:Franklin D. Roosevelt TIME Man of the Year 1933 color photo.jpg|thumb|upright|Color photo of Roosevelt as the [[Time Person of the Year|Man of the Year]] of ''[[TIME Magazine]]'', January 1933]]
In North America, unlike in Europe, the word ''liberalism'' almost exclusively refers to [[social liberalism]] in contemporary politics. The dominant Canadian and American parties, the [[Liberal Party of Canada|Liberal Party]] and the [[Democratic Party (United States)|Democratic Party]], are frequently identified as being modern liberal or [[Centre-left|center-left]] organizations in the academic literature.<ref>Puddington, p. 142. ''After a dozen years of center-left Liberal Party rule, the Conservative Party emerged from the 2006 parliamentary elections with a plurality and established a fragile minority government.''</ref><ref>Grigsby, p. 106-7. [Talking about the Democratic Party] ''Its liberalism is for the most part the later version of liberalism—modern liberalism.''</ref><ref>Arnold, p. 3. ''Modern liberalism occupies the left-of-center in the traditional political spectrum and is represented by the Democratic Party in the United States.''</ref> In Canada, the long-dominant Liberal Party, colloquially known as ''the Grits'', [[History of the Liberal Party of Canada|ruled the country]] for nearly 70 years during the 20th century. The party produced some of the most influential prime ministers in [[History of Canada|Canadian history]], including [[Pierre Trudeau]], [[Lester B. Pearson]] and [[Jean Chrétien]], and has been primarily responsible for the development of the Canadian [[welfare state]]. The enormous success of the Liberals—virtually unmatched in any other [[liberal democracy]]—has prompted many political commentators over time to identify them as the nation's ''natural governing party''.<ref>Penniman, p. 72.</ref><ref>Chodos et al., p. 9.</ref> However, in recent elections the party has been performing poorly, and have currently been eclipsed federally by both the [[Conservative Party of Canada|Conservative Party]] and the [[social democratic]] [[New Democratic Party of Canada|New Democratic Party]].<ref>{{cite web|url=|title=The great Liberal fall started long before Iggy |author=Lawrence Martin |publisher=The Globe and Mail |date=November 22, 2011 |accessdate=February 16, 2012}}</ref><ref>{{cite web|url=|title=The decline of Liberal brand in Canada continues unabated this fall |author=Chantal Hébert|publisher=The Globe and Mail |date=October 17, 2011 |accessdate=February 16, 2012}}</ref>
In the United States, [[Modern liberalism in the United States|modern liberalism]] traces its history to the popular presidency of [[Franklin Delano Roosevelt]], who initiated the [[New Deal]] in response to the [[Great Depression]] and won an [[List of Presidents of the United States|unprecedented four elections]]. The [[New Deal coalition]] established by Franklin Roosevelt left a decisive legacy and influenced many future American presidents, including [[John F. Kennedy]], a self-described liberal who defined a liberal as "someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions...someone who cares about the welfare of the people".<ref>Alterman, p. 32.</ref>
In the late 20th century, a [[Conservatism in the United States|conservative backlash]] against the kind of liberalism championed by Roosevelt and Kennedy developed in the [[Republican Party (United States)|Republican Party]].<ref name="Flamm and Steigerwald, pp. 156–8">Flamm and Steigerwald, pp. 156–8.</ref> This brand of conservatism primarily reacted against the [[African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968)|civil unrest and the cultural changes]] that transpired during the 1960s.<ref name="Flamm and Steigerwald, pp. 156–8"/> It helped launch into power such presidents as [[Ronald Reagan]], [[George H. W. Bush]], and [[George W. Bush]].<ref>Patrick Allitt, "The Conservatives", p. 253, Yale University Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-300-16418-3</ref> [[Financial crisis of 2007–2010|Economic woes]] in the early 21st century led to a resurgence of social liberalism with the election of [[Barack Obama]] in the [[United States presidential election, 2008|2008 presidential election]].<ref>Wolfe, p. xiv.</ref>
In [[Liberalism and conservatism in Latin America|Latin America]], liberal unrest dates back to the 19th century, when liberal groups frequently fought against and violently overthrew [[Conservatism|conservative]] regimes in several countries across the region. Liberal revolutions in countries such as [[Mexican Revolution|Mexico]] and [[Liberal Revolution of 1895|Ecuador]] ushered in the modern world for much of Latin America. Latin American liberals generally emphasized [[free trade]], [[private property]], and [[anti-clericalism]].<ref>Dore and Molyneux, p. 9.</ref> Today, [[Classical liberalism|market liberals]] in Latin America are organized in the [[Liberal Network for Latin America|Red Liberal de América Latina]] (RELIAL), a center-right network that brings together dozens of liberal parties and organizations.
RELIAL features parties as geographically diverse as the [[Mexico|Mexican]] [[New Alliance Party (Mexico)|Nueva Alianza]] and the [[Cuban Liberal Union]], which aims to secure power in [[Cuba]]. Some major liberal parties in the region continue, however, to align themselves with social liberal ideas and policies—a notable case being the [[Colombian Liberal Party]], which is a member of the [[Socialist International]]. Another famous example is the [[Paraguay]]an [[Authentic Radical Liberal Party]], one of the most powerful parties in the country, which has also been classified as center-left.<ref>Ameringer, p. 489.</ref>
===Other regions===
[[File:Liberal ph.png|thumb|right|alt=Logo showing a big white "L" on a red and blue background with the word "liberal" above |The [[Philippines|Filipino]] [[Liberal Party (Philippines)|Liberal Party]] has produced [[List of Presidents of the Philippines|four presidents]] since it was founded in 1945.]]
[[Liberalism in Australia|In Australia]], liberalism is primarily championed by the [[Centre-right|center-right]] [[Liberal Party of Australia|Liberal Party]].<ref name="Monsma and Soper, p. 95">Monsma and Soper, p. 95.</ref> The Liberals in Australia support [[free markets]] as well as [[social conservatism]].<ref name="Monsma and Soper, p. 95"/><ref>Karatnycky, p. 59.</ref> In India, the most populous democracy in the world, the [[Indian National Congress]] has long dominated political affairs. The INC was founded in the late 19th century by [[Liberal nationalism|liberal nationalists]] demanding the creation of a more liberal and autonomous India.<ref>Hodge, p. 346.</ref> Liberalism continued to be the main ideological current of the group through the early years of the 20th century, but [[socialism]] gradually overshadowed the thinking of the party in the next few decades.
In Asia, liberalism is a much younger political current than in Europe or the Americas. Continentally, liberals are organized through the [[Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats]], which includes powerful parties such the [[Liberal Party (Philippines)|Liberal Party]] in the Philippines, the [[Democratic Progressive Party]] in Taiwan, and the [[Pheu Thai Party]] in Thailand. Two notable examples of liberal influence can be found in India and Australia, although several Asian nations have rejected important liberal principles.
A famous struggle led by the INC eventually earned [[Indian independence movement|India's independence from Britain]]. In recent times, the party has adopted more of a liberal streak, championing open markets while simultaneously seeking social justice. In its ''2009 Manifesto'', the INC praised a "secular and liberal" [[Indian nationalism]] against the nativist, communal, and conservative ideological tendencies it claims are espoused by the [[Right-wing politics|right]].<ref>[ 2009 Manifesto] Indian National Congress. Retrieved 2010-02-21.</ref> In general, the major theme of Asian liberalism in the past few decades has been the rise of democratization as a method facilitate the rapid economic modernization of the continent.<ref>Routledge et al., p. 111.</ref> In nations such as Myanmar, however, liberal democracy has been replaced by [[military dictatorship]].<ref>Steinberg, pp. 1–2.</ref>
In Africa, liberalism is comparatively weak. The [[Wafd Party]] ("Delegation Party") was a nationalist liberal political party in Egypt. It was said to be Egypt's most popular and influential political party for a period in the 1920s and 30s. Recently, however, liberal parties and institutions have made a major push for political power. On a continental level, liberals are organized in the [[Africa Liberal Network]], which contains influential parties such as the [[Popular Movement]] in Morocco, the [[Senegalese Democratic Party|Democratic Party]] in Senegal, and the [[Rally of the Republicans]] in Côte d'Ivoire. Among African nations, South Africa stands out for having a notable [[Liberalism in South Africa|liberal tradition]] that other countries on the continent lack. In the middle of the 20th century, the [[South African Liberal Party|Liberal Party]] and the [[Progressive Party (South Africa)|Progressive Party]] were formed to oppose the [[South Africa under apartheid|apartheid]] policies of the government. The Liberals formed a [[multiracial]] party that originally drew considerable support from [[Urban area|urban]] Africans and college-educated whites.<ref name="Van den Berghe, p. 56">Van den Berghe, p. 56.</ref>
It also gained supporters from the "westernized sectors of the [[peasant]]ry", and its public meetings were heavily attended by black Africans.<ref>Van den Berghe, p. 57.</ref> The party had 7,000 members at its height, although its appeal to the white population as a whole was too small to make any meaningful political changes.<ref name="Van den Berghe, p. 56"/> The Liberals were disbanded in 1968 after the government passed a law that prohibited parties from having multiracial membership. Today, liberalism in South Africa is represented by the [[Democratic Alliance (South Africa)|Democratic Alliance]], the official opposition party to the ruling [[African National Congress]]. The Democratic Alliance is the second largest party in the [[National Assembly of South Africa|National Assembly]] and currently leads the [[Government of the Western Cape|provincial government of Western Cape]].
==Impact and influence==
[[File:Liberalinternationallogo.JPG|thumb|right|alt=Logo of a blue bird drawn as an arching "V" flying over the world, with "Liberal International" seen at the bottom. |The [[Liberal International]], a global federation of [[Liberal Party|liberal political parties]] and institutions, was founded in 1947. It represents one attempt in a long tradition of liberals trying to establish cross-cultural and transnational connections through [[Intergovernmental organization|global organizations]].]]
The fundamental elements of [[Modernity|contemporary society]] have liberal roots. The early waves of liberalism popularized [[Free market|economic individualism]] while expanding [[constitution]]al government and [[parliament]]ary authority.<ref name="Gould, p. 3">Gould, p. 3.</ref> One of the greatest liberal triumphs involved replacing the capricious nature of [[royalist]] and [[Absolute monarchy|absolutist]] rule with a decision-making process encoded in written law.<ref name="Gould, p. 3"/> Liberals sought and established a constitutional order that prized important individual freedoms, such as the [[freedom of speech]] and [[Freedom of association|of association]], an [[Independence of the judiciary|independent judiciary]] and public [[Jury trial|trial by jury]], and the abolition of aristocratic privileges.<ref name="Gould, p. 3"/>
These sweeping changes in political authority marked the modern transition from absolutism to constitutional rule.<ref name="Gould, p. 3"/> The expansion and promotion of free markets was another major liberal achievement. Before they could establish markets, however, liberals had to destroy the old economic structures of the world. In that vein, liberals ended [[Mercantilism|mercantilist policies]], royal monopolies, and various other restraints on economic activities.<ref name="Gould, p. 3"/> They also sought to abolish internal barriers to trade—eliminating [[guild]]s, [[Protectionism|local tariffs]], and prohibitions on the sale of land along the way.<ref name="Gould, p. 3"/>
Later waves of liberal thought and struggle were strongly influenced by the need to expand [[civil rights]]. In the 1960s and 1970s, the cause of [[Second-wave feminism|Second Wave feminism]] in the United States was advanced in large part by [[liberal feminism|liberal feminist]] organizations such as [[National Organization for Women]].<ref>Worell, p. 470.</ref> In addition to supporting [[gender equality]], liberals also have advocated for [[racial equality]] in their drive to promote civil rights, and a [[Civil rights movement|global civil rights movement]] in the 20th century achieved several objectives towards both goals. Among the various regional and national movements, the [[African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968)|civil rights movement in the United States]] during the 1960s strongly highlighted the liberal crusade for [[Social equality|equal rights]]. Describing the political efforts of the period, some historians have asserted that "the voting rights campaign marked...the convergence of two political forces at their zenith: the black campaign for equality and the movement for liberal reform," further remarking about how "the struggle to assure blacks the ballot coincided with the liberal call for expanded federal action to protect the rights of all citizens".<ref>Mackenzie and Weisbrot, p. 178.</ref> The [[Great Society]] project launched by [[President of the United States|President]] [[Lyndon B. Johnson]] oversaw the creation of [[Medicare (United States)|Medicare]] and [[Medicaid]], the establishment of [[Head Start Program|Head Start]] and the [[Job Corps]] as part of the [[War on Poverty]], and the passage of the landmark [[Civil Rights Act of 1964]]—an altogether rapid series of events that some historians have dubbed ''the Liberal Hour''.<ref>Mackenzie and Weisbrot, p. 5.</ref>
Another major liberal accomplishment includes the rise of [[liberal internationalism]], which has been credited with the establishment of global organizations such as the [[League of Nations]] and, after World War II, the [[United Nations]].<ref>Sinclair, p. 145.</ref> The idea of exporting liberalism worldwide and constructing a harmonious and liberal internationalist order has dominated the thinking of liberals since the 18th century.<ref name="Schell, p. 266">Schell, p. 266.</ref> "Wherever liberalism has flourished domestically, it has been accompanied by visions of liberal internationalism," one historian wrote.<ref name="Schell, p. 266"/> But resistance to liberal internationalism was deep and bitter, with critics arguing that growing global interdependency would result in the loss of national sovereignty and that democracies represented a corrupt order incapable of either domestic or global governance.<ref>Schell, pp. 273–80.</ref>
Other scholars have praised the influence of liberal internationalism, claiming that the rise of [[globalization]] "constitutes a triumph of the liberal vision that first appeared in the eighteenth century" while also writing that liberalism is "the only comprehensive and hopeful vision of world affairs".<ref>Venturelli, p. 247.</ref> The gains of liberalism have been significant. In 1975, roughly 40 countries around the world were characterized as liberal democracies, but that number had increased to more than 80 as of 2008.<ref>Farr, p. 81.</ref> Most of the [[List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita|world's richest]] and [[Great power|most powerful]] nations are liberal democracies with extensive [[welfare state|social welfare programs]].<ref>Pierson, p. 110.</ref>
==See also==
* [[Americans for Democratic Action]] is an American advocacy organization that champions modern liberalism.
* [[Biology and political orientation]]
* [[European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party]] is the European umbrella organisation for liberal parties.
* [[Friedrich Naumann Foundation]] is a global advocacy organization that supports liberal ideas and policies.
* [[Ludwig von Mises Institute]] is a think tank devoted to neo-classical liberalism.
* [[Muscular liberalism]]
* [[Rule according to higher law]]
* [[The American Prospect]] is an American political magazine that backs social liberal policies.
* ''[[The Liberal]]'' is a British magazine dedicated to coverage of liberal politics and liberal culture.
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==External links==
{{Sister project links}}
* [ Liberalism] an article by [[Encyclopædia Britannica]]
* {{sep|liberalism}}
* [ Liberalism/Antiliberalism] A critical survey
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