What is Liberalism?

Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on liberty and equality.......Wikipedia.

Liberalism has been under attack in the US and around the world, so I thought I'd take a brief look at the history. The idea grew out of the Enlightenment and its emphasis on reason as the basis life and policy. It's enemies were hereditary privilege, state religions, and absolute monarchy, but it also became associated with individual rights, representative democracy, free trade and free enterprise.

Initially, of course, those rights were reserved for the elite - wealthy white men in a few advanced countries. The internal logic of freedom and equality was biased in favor of expansion of those rights, though, and gradually, ponderously and against ferocious resistance it was expanded to end slavery, enfranchise women, and largely end colonialism.

Revolutions in England, the US, and France announced liberalism to the world, but absolute monarchy didn't end until after World War I. That War also loomed ominously for colonialism, but it also gave birth to two new and powerful enemies Communism and Naziism/Fascism. World War II shattered fascism and put colonialism in terminal decay, but Communism didn't really crumble until the fall of the Soviet Union.

So why is liberalism faltering today? More later.


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