Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Key Elements of Liberalism

So, who is the Liberal again?...

Key elements of liberalism 
1. Individual autonomy
The basis of society is the individual. Humans are primarily motivated by self-interest.
2. Individual rights
If the individual is autonomous, then all individuals must be free and equal. This implies political equality, the protection of individual rights, respect for individual choices, and the use of reason in making decisions. "I am free and thus I rule myself." The key individual rights are freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of worship, and the right to property.
3. Religious toleration
Individuals and the state must respect one's right to worship as one pleases. Implies a separation of church and state.
4. Popular sovereignty and consent
Government should be ruled by the people rather than by a monarch, a religious figure, or some other elite. Government's legitimacy rests on the consent of the governed..
5. Limited and representative government
The government's role in society and the scope of its power should be clearly defined. The purpose of government is to protect individual's life, liberty, and property. Further, in a society of autonomous individuals pursuing their own self-interests, government must represent the various interests of that society. This implies representative government, majority rule, constitutional government, and the rule of law.
6. Private property
Society should generally encourage the private accumulation of property rather than place restrictions on it. This implies an economy of free markets, equality of opportunity in the market, and competition. In sum, liberalism defends capitalism.
7. Universalism and progress
All people are fundamentally the same. Differences of culture, religion, race, gender, nationality, etc. are ultimately superficial. Overall, liberalism tends to interpret historically progressively: society, economy, technology are all advancing and elevating the human condition in the process.

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