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ORIGINS OF WESTERN

DEMOCRATIC
LIBERALISM

What are the origins of


liberal thought in Western
societies?
Social 30-2

HOW LIBERALISM STARTED


1700s to early 1800s
Absolute Monarchies = King and his court had complete control over
the government
Royal families had all the wealth and power, and abused it
Common people did not have freedom of speech, freedom to travel,
or freedom to own private property
Rights were extremely restricted or non-existent = citizens could not
improve their poor living conditions

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Challenged absolute monarchies
Society should ensure civil rights and freedoms for individuals
Liberal ideas emerging

HOW LIBERALISM STARTED


Emerging Liberal Ideas
Individual freedoms and rights should be protected
Nobody should be above the law
What is good for individuals within a community can also be good for the
community as a whole
Most individuals, if left alone, will make good decisions for themselves
and community
Government intervention should be limited so as to allow individuals as
much freedom of choice about their lives as possible
Individuals and companies should be allowed to create, market,
purchase, and sell products with a minimum of government intervention
(free-market economy)

LIBERAL IDEAS ON
ECONOMIC SYSTEMS
Economic System Before Changes of Industrial
Revolution:
Mercantilism = Countries need
to export more than they import
i.e. Countries need to sell more
than they buy to make money
A large number of workers were
needed to do labour but almost
all profits were kept by the
government while everyone else
was poor resulting in a class
system that limited the

Class Systems = the mercantilist


system limited the possibility of economic
advancement
Upper Class: smallest number of people
Wealthy landowning aristocrats
Middle Class: slightly larger number of
people
Business owners, merchants, bankers,
professionals
Working Class: majority of people
Manual laborers

LIBERAL IDEAS ON
ECONOMIC SYSTEMS
Adam Smith
Challenged and criticized the mercantilist system:
1. The mercantilist system did not distribute wealth throughout society very well
Problem = Wealthy upper class held most of the money and power in society
Solution = If people had a say in what they made, how they made it, and
what price they sold it at, the result would be a better distribution of wealth
2. Government leaders played favorites with business owners and landowners
Problem = Favoritism resulted in monopolies (only one or two companies
could make a product) and monopolies resulted in a lack of competition which
actually decreased product value
Solution = Competition!

LIBERAL IDEAS ON
ECONOMIC SYSTEMS
Adam Smith and the Invisible Hand
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulyVXa-u4wE
If people were free to compete, it would be in their self-interest to
improve
Business owners pursue profits due to greed, self-interest, and
competition with others = more jobs would be created and the
economy improves benefitting all of society
The Invisible Hand = the pursuit of self-interest is guided by an
invisible hand that unintentionally improves society as a whole

LIBERAL IDEAS ON
ECONOMIC SYSTEMS
Adam Smith and Government Intervention
If Smiths Invisible Hand idea was going to work, people needed to be
allowed to act freely
Smith was against full government intervention in society
He was against governments restricting trade, assigning monopolies,
and misusing public funds
Smith believed in limited government
1. Government is necessary to protect the security of individuals
2. The role of the government should be:
A. Enforcing laws that protect individuals and their property from harm
B. Maintaining public works i.e. roads, bridges

LIBERAL IDEAS ON
ECONOMIC SYSTEMS
Adam Smith and Meritocracy
A type of economic system in which individuals are
rewarded based on their abilities and hard work

How is this different from the class system in the 1800s?

LIBERAL IDEAS ON
ECONOMIC SYSTEMS
Capitalism and Liberalism
Adam Smith + Industrial Revolution = evolving economic systems

Mercantile Systems Economic Liberalism (capitalism)


Capitalism: consumers and producers have the individual
freedom to make economic choices for themselves

Role of Government
Protect individuals private property and other rights
NOT to interfere with the trade of goods and labour

WHATS THE DIFFERENCE


BETWEEN MERCANTILISM
AND
CAPITALISM?
Mercantilism
Capitalism
- Government regulation of - Little or no government
business
regulation of business
- Monopolies

- Competition

- Accumulation of wealth
- Distribution of wealth across
by a few people in society
a wider range of society

LIBERAL IDEAS ON
ECONOMIC SYSTEMS
Laissez-faire Economics = Let it be
The government keeps its hands off many decisions about the
economy
Economic liberals believed government intervention would upset
the natural up-and-down cycle of the economy (boom and bust)

Classical Liberalism
Freedom for business owners in the economic system only
Not concerned about the freedoms and rights of ordinary citizens

LIBERAL IDEAS ON
POLITICAL SYSTEMS
European Renaissance, 1300s to 1700s
Focused on the individual (key development of liberalism)
Examples:
1. The American Revolution against the British monarchy
2. The French Revolution were people rose up against the
French monarchy
These new democracies embraced ideas of philosophers such as
John Locke
People should enjoy the rights to life, liberty, and property

LIBERAL IDEAS ON
POLITICAL SYSTEMS
New governments that were founded included
the following rights and freedoms:
To be allowed to participate in government
To be free from excessive government intrusion into ones life
To be assured that no one (especially the monarchy) is above
the law (rule of law)
To be protected and permitted to exercise individual rights
To be free to make decisions on ones own behalf

LIBERAL IDEAS ON
POLITICAL SYSTEMS
Liberal democracies emerged out of the opposition
to what people considered to be unjust monarchies
A political system that is based on
The equality of all citizens and that has free elections
Multiple political parties
Political decisions that are made through a democratically elected
legislature
Legal decisions that are made by an independent judiciary

HOW DOES EACH STATEMENT REPRESENT A POLITICAL


EXPRESSION OF LIBERAL IDEAS AND VALUES ABOUT RIGHTS
AND FREEDOMS?

Peace, order and good government Canada


All men are created equalwith certain unalienable Rights, that among
these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness The United States
Where there is no law, there is no Freedom. For Liberty is to be free from
restraint and the violence from others which cannot be, where there is no
Law. The United Kingdom
Liberte, Egalite, fraternite France

LIBERAL IDEAS ON
POLITICAL SYSTEMS

John Stuart Mill and Limited Government


Mill attempts to prove the benefits of allowing as many
individual rights as possible by limiting the role of the
government
Every individual should be as free as possible, as long as their actions
do not harm anyone else
Individuals rights should not be restricted on the possibility that
something bad might happen (restrictions can never be justified)
Individuals must have the ability to make their own choices, they
cannot be persuaded to do something because it is the law

LIBERAL IDEAS ON
POLITICAL SYSTEMS
John Stuart Mill and the Role of Government
The role of the government should be:
1. Preserving the rule of law
2. Protecting private property
3. Ensuring the security of the individual

LIBERAL IDEAS ON
POLITICAL SYSTEMS
John Stuart Mill and Freedom of Speech
Mill believed it was dangerous for governments or
societies to promote one acceptable way of thinking (or
mass mind)
More dangerous to silence the individual from speaking than it
was to allow him or her to express a controversial opinion

He thought that an opposing voice could be the key to


changing society for the better

CLASS DISCUSSION
1. Is there any type of expression of which you would
support a government ban?
2. Is there any type of speech you think shouldnt be
voiced?

MODERN LIBERALISM
Developed over time to address the concerns with the
inequality created by laissez-faire capitalist societies
The values of modern liberalism and classical liberalism
differ although they are both rooted in individualism
they just interpret individualism and how to best achieve
the common good in different ways

CLASS DISCUSSION
1. Can someone who must work long hours for little pay just to
survive truly be considered free?
2. Are all people really equal when some do not have the
same rights, such as the right to vote?
3. Should not all individuals have the right to an education?

MODERN LIBERALISM VS.


CLASSICAL
LIBERALISM
Modern Liberalism
Classical Liberalism

- Interested in creating
equality of opportunity for all
individuals
- Freedoms and rights favour
the individual, with more
individuals in society
receiving rights
- Government intervenes to
ensure that the most
vulnerable people are cared
for

- Interested in protecting the


freedoms of individuals in
economic affairs
- Maximum rights and freedoms
for certain individuals
(entrepreneurs)
- Government rules, regulations,
and social programs are kept to a
minimum with every person
acting on their own behalf

TASK
Summarize the key similarities and differences between
the ideas of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill. Make a
table or chart.
Then answer the questions:
1. How did Smith apply the values of individualism to
economic or political systems?
2. How did Mill apply the values of individualism to
economic or political systems?