The Similarities Between Classical and Modern Liberalism Are Greater Than the Differences

1725 Words May 16th, 2013 7 Pages
Similarities between classical and modern liberalism are greater than the differences. Discuss. (45 marks)
Typically, liberalism is categorised into two separate components; classical liberalism, which was fashioned during the 19th century as a result of the industrial revolution, and the more recent Modern Liberalism which emerged as industrialisation continued within the UK. Although both divisions of Liberalism unavoidably overlap in attitudes and approaches regarding the theory behind the ideology, I believe, fundamentally, that clear tensions between these aspects of Liberalism are more evident when analysing this ideology.
Some will say that both classical and modern liberalists possess a number of parallel approaches towards this
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So toleration was not simply a guarantee for personal autonomy, but ensured the dynamism and health of society. All liberalists believed toleration brought about debate, argument and contest, which was inevitably bring about social progress.
However, I consider the tensions and differences between classical and modern liberalists to be far more apparent when scrutinising this ideology.
Although liberals agree about the value of liberty, their views on what it means to be ‘free’ vary significantly. It was Isaiah Berlin who first created the concepts of negative and positive freedom that helped to differentiate between the two liberals’ views of freedom. The concept of negative freedom was adopted by classical liberals, who believed that freedom was defined as being left alone and free from interference. Classical liberals believed this theory to mean that individuals should be free from external restrictions or constraints. Modern liberals, on the other hand, believed in positive freedom. This, modernist’s perceived to means that all individuals have the ability to be their own master, and thus reach full autonomy. Unlike classical liberals, who had little faith in humankind, Modernists conveyed humans in a much more positive light: people are rational beings that are capable, and therefore should be able, to flourish and
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