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  • W.B.C.S. Examination Notes On – Liberalism – Political Science Notes.

    The scholars, after a thorough research, have concluded that the liberalism as a political ideology is not the outgrowth of the twentieth century’s intellectual progress. Its origin can be traced to the political ideas of the fourteenth century.Continue Reading W.B.C.S. Examination Notes On – Liberalism – Political Science Notes.

    During the last six centuries the concept had to face several situations and had to overcome uphill tasks in the sense that many political systems, individuals and organisations stridently opposed it on various grounds some of which had solid foundations.

    The flood-like appearance of Marx’s and Engels’ works and Marxian literatures eclipsed though temporarily, the growth and influence of liberalism. The establishment of Bolshevik government in Russia in 1917 kindled the hope in the minds of anti-liberals that with the weapon of Marxism the rapid advance of liberalism could be stopped and particularly an anti-liberal atmosphere could be built up in the Third World states.

    At first Moscow and later on Beijing opposed liberalism tooth and nail. Ultimately the academic and political worlds were deeply plunged into the conflict between two leading ideologies of the world—liberalism and socialism. The recession of the Cold War in the mid-seventies and finally the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991 turned the condition of liberalism upside down. It was being felt that only liberalism could provide solace to all people of the world. It was capable of solving the basic problems both economic and political.

    Origin and Definitions

    The word liberal is derived from the Latin word liber which means free men Liberalis is also a derivative of liber. The central idea of all these words is freedom or liberty. Liberal also denotes generosity or open-mindedness. Open-mindedness/generosity indicate liberty in taking food, drink, social attitude, behaviour and selection of the alternatives.

    Thus we find that freedom is always associated with the word liberal. In the middle Ages when the French people used the word liber they meant that people will have freedom in respect of their selection of alternatives and pursuit of thoughts and ideas.

    There are large numbers of definitions of liberalism which convey more or less same ideas.

    Liberalism does not embody a particular meaning. It is a cluster of meanings, in different periods it has meant different conceptions. For example, it is an intellectual movement whose purpose is to curb the power and authority of state and to ensure freedom of individuals. It has been observed by a recent analyst that liberalism is an ideology based on a commitment to individualism, freedom, toleration and consent.

    Hence we can say that in modern sense liberalism are both an ideology and a movement whose purpose is to strengthen the cause, progress etc. of individuals through the vindication of right to select the choicest alternative and for that purpose to endorse the restrictions upon the authority of state.

    Liberalism, strictly speaking, an offshoot of capitalism since it was believed that the meteoric growth of capitalism could be possible only through an adoption of liberal policies which contain an allowance of maximum freedom to investors and producers. Thus, liberalism is an economic and political doctrine.

    Rise and Growth of Liberalism

    It is really an uphill task to ascertain the origin of liberalism because an ideology cannot be created at a particular point of time. However, it’s quite safe to say that liberalism was born in England during the middle of seventeenth century. Here again the readers may be cautioned that the seeds of liberalism existed in British society even before that time.

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