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Overview of Philosophical Liberalism/3 types of liberalism

 Philosophical Liberalism and political 

Philosophical Liberalism has been influential in shaping modern politics and society. This overview examines the key ideas that make up this philosophical concept, from individual rights and freedoms to government limited by law, as well as its impacts on today's world.

An Overview of Philosophical Liberalism

liberal flag

Philosophical Liberalism is a political ideology that espouses individual rights and freedoms, limited government interference in the economy, and an emphasis on personal responsibility. It originated with philosophers such as John Locke and Thomas Hobbes in the 16th and 17th centuries. It has since come to shape the modern world by influencing governments around the world, from those of Europe to North America.

The key ideas of Philosophical Liberalism are focused on the autonomy and liberty of individuals. This autonomy is dependent upon limiting government power and allowing citizens to pursue their own interests. Additionally, philosophical liberalism places emphasis on private property rights, religious freedom, and political freedom as essential components to maintaining individual autonomy. Furthermore, it advocates for economic liberties such as free markets and the right to pursue productive enterprise.

The principles of philosophical liberalism have had a major impact on modern society. For example, the limited government it supports has protected citizens' rights to express their ideas and demonstrate their beliefs. It also encourages private enterprise by allowing individuals to benefit from their economic endeavors. Additionally, it promotes freedom of choice in goods and services which allows for a thriving market economy. Finally, philosophical liberalism is linked to democracy as citizens are viewed as valuable participants in political discourse thereby making them an integral part of decision-making processes.

Prior to the Enlightenment period, rights were granted and obligations fulfilled in relation to one's station in life. Philosophical Liberalism changed this outlook by saying that all citizens should be free to pursue their interests and develop their skills. During the Enlightenment, philosophers such as John Locke argued for the right of individuals to own private property and the right to religious and political freedom. These advocates sought limited government power, arguing instead for individual autonomy and economic liberty.

What is  Liberalism  philosophy

THE rise of liberalism, in politics and philosophy, provides material for the study of a very general and very important question, namely: What has been the influence of political and social circumstances upon the thoughts of eminent and original thinkers, and, conversely, what has been the influence of these men upon subsequent political and social developments? 

 Firstly, liberalism places the individual at the heart of society and argues that the highest value social order is one that is built around the individual. Secondly, the purpose of society is to allow individuals to reach their full potential if they want to, and that the best way to do this is to give the individual as much liberty as possible. These two key principles are the foundations upon which the various elements of liberalism spring forth.


Two opposite errors, both common, are to be guarded against. On the one hand, men who are more familiar with books than with affairs are apt to over-estimate the influence of philosophers. When they see some political party proclaiming itself inspired by So-and-So's teaching, they think its actions are attributable to So-and-So, whereas, not infrequently, the philosopher is only acclaimed because he recommends what the party would have done in any case. Writers of books, until recently, almost all exaggerated the effects of their predecessors in the same trade. But conversely, a new error has arisen by reaction against the old one, and this new error consists in regarding theorists as almost passive products of their circumstances, and as having hardly any influence at all upon the course of events. Ideas, according to this view, are the froth on the surface of deep currents, which are determined by material and technical causes: social changes are no more caused by thought than the flow of a river is caused by the bubbles that reveal its direction to an onlooker. For my part, I believe that the truth lies between these two extremes. Between ideas and practical life, as everywhere else, there is reciprocal interaction; to ask which is cause and which effect is as futile as the problem of the hen and the egg. I shall not waste time upon a discussion of this question in the abstract, but shall consider historically one important case of the general question, namely the development of liberalism and its offshoots from the end of the seventeenth century.

3 types of liberalism

Liberalism can be divided into 3 types of liberalism /phases: the Classical, the Modern and Neo-liberalism. However, neo-liberalism is contemporary and influenced by Classical liberalism.

Classical liberalism is a political philosophy and history

classical liberal philosophers

Early liberalism was a product of England and Holland, and had certain well-marked characteristics. It stood for religious toleration; it was Protestant, but of a latitudinarian rather than of a fanatical kind; it regarded the wars of religion as silly. It valued commerce and industry, and favoured the rising middle class rather than the monarchy and the aristocracy; it had immense respect for the rights of property, especially when accumulated by the labours of the individual possessor. The hereditary principle, though not rejected, was restricted in scope more than it had previously been; in particular, the divine right of kings was rejected in favour of the view that every community has a right, at any rate initially, to choose its own form of government.

Implicitly, the tendency of early liberalism was towards democracy tempered by the rights of property. There was a belief not at first wholly explicit that all men are born equal, and that their subsequent inequality is a product of circumstances. This led to a great emphasis upon the importance of education as opposed to congenital characteristics. There was a certain bias against government, because governments almost everywhere were in the hands of kings or aristocracies, who seldom either understood or respected the needs of merchants, but this bias was held in check by the hope that the necessary understanding and respect would be won before long. 

Early liberalism was optimistic, energetic, and philosophic, because it represented growing forces which appeared likely to become victorious without great difficulty, and to bring by their victory great benefits to mankind. It was opposed to everything medieval, both in philosophy and in politics, because medieval theories had been used to sanction the powers of Church and king, to justify persecution, and to obstruct the rise of science; but it was opposed equally to the then modern fanaticisms of Calvinists and Anabaptists. 

It wanted an end to political and theological strife, in order to liberate energies for the exciting enterprises of commerce and science, such as the East India Company and the Bank of England, the theory of gravitation and the discovery of the circulation of the blood. Throughout the Western world bigotry was giving place to enlightenment, the fear of Spanish power was ending, all classes were increasing in prosperity, and the highest hopes appeared to be warranted by the most sober judgement. For a hundred years, nothing occurred to dim these hopes; then, at last, they themselves generated the French Revolution, which led directly to Napoleon and thence to the Holy Alliance. After these events, liberalism had to acquire its second wind before the renewed optimism of the nineteenth century became possible. 

Before embarking upon any detail, it will be well to consider the general pattern of the liberal movements from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. This pattern is at first simple, but grows gradually more and more complex. The distinctive character of the whole movement is, in a certain wide sense, individualism; but this is a vague term until further defined. The philosophers of Greece, down to and including Aristotle, were not individualists in the sense in which I wish to use the term. They thought of a man as essentially a member of a community; Plato Republic, for example, is concerned to define the good community, not the good individual. With the loss of political liberty from the time of Alexander onwards, individualism developed, and was represented by the Cynics and Stoics. According to the Stoic philosophy, a man could live a good life in no matter what social circumstances. 

This was also the view of Christianity, especially before it acquired control of the State. But in the Middle Ages, while mystics kept alive the original individualistic trends in Christian ethics, the outlook of most men, including the majority of philosophers, was dominated by a firm synthesis of dogma, law, and custom, which caused men's theoretical beliefs and practical morality to be controlled by a social institution, namely the Catholic Church: what was true and what was good was to be ascertained, not by solitary thought, but by the collective wisdom of Councils. 

The first important breach in this system was made by Protestantism, which asserted that General Councils may err. To determine the truth thus became no longer a social but an individual enterprise. 

Since different individuals reached different conclusions, the result was strife, and theological decisions were sought, no longer in assemblies of bishops, but on the battle-field. Since neither party was able to extirpate the other, it became evident, in the end, that a method must be found of reconciling intellectual and ethical individualism with ordered social life. This was one of the main problems which early liberalism attempted to solve. 

Meanwhile individualism had penetrated into philosophy. Descartes's fundamental certainty, "I think, therefore I am," made the basis of knowledge different for each person, since for each the starting-point was his own existence, not that of other individuals or of the community. His emphasis upon the reliability of clear and distinct ideas tended in the same direction, since it is by introspection that we think we discover whether our ideas are clear and distinct. Most philosophy since Descartes has had this intellectually individualistic aspect in a greater or less degree. 

There are, however, various forms of this general position, which have, in practice, very different consequences. The outlook of the typical scientific discoverer has perhaps the smallest dose of individualism. When he arrives at a new theory, he does so solely because it seems right to him; he does not bow to authority, for, if he did, he would continue to accept the theories of his predecessors. At the same time, his appeal is to generally received canons of truth, and he hopes to persuade other men, not by his authority, but by arguments which are convincing to them as individuals. 

In science, any clash between the individual and society is in essence transitory, since men of science, broadly speaking, all accept the same intellectual standards, and therefore debate and investigation usually produce agreement in the end. This, however, is a modern development; in the time of Galileo, the authority of Aristotle and the Church was still considered at least as cogent as the evidence of the senses. This shows how the element of individualism in scientific method, though not prominent, is nevertheless essential. 

Early liberalism was individualistic in intellectual matters, and also in economics, but was not emotionally or ethically self-assertive. This form of liberalism dominated the English eighteenth century, the founders of the American Constitution, and the French encyclopædists. During the French Revolution, it was represented by the more moderate parties, including the Girondins, but with their extermination it disappeared for a generation from French politics. In England, after the Napoleonic wars, it again became influential with the rise of the Benthamites and the Manchester School. Its greatest success has been in America, where, unhampered by feudalism and a State Church, it has been dominant from 1776 to the present day, or at any rate to 1933. 

A new movement, which has gradually developed into the antithesis of liberalism, begins with Rousseau, and acquires strength from the romantic movement and the principle of nationality. In this movement, individualism is extended from the intellectual sphere to that of the passions, and the anarchic aspects of individualism are made explicit. The cult of the hero, as developed by Carlyle and Nietzsche, is typical of this philosophy. Various elements were combined in it. There was dislike of early industrialism, hatred of the ugliness that it produced, and revulsion against its cruelties. 

There was a nostalgia for the Middle Ages, which were idealized owing to hatred of the modern world. There was an attempt to combine championship of  the fading privileges of Church and aristocracy with fence of wage earners against the tyranny of manufacturers. There was vehement assertion of the right of rebellion in the name of nationalism, and of the splendour of war in fence of "liberty." Byron was the poet of this movement; Fichte, Carlyle, and Nietzsche were its philosophers. 

But since we cannot all have the career of heroic leaders, and cannot all make our individual will prevail, this philosophy, like all other forms of anarchism, inevitably leads, when adopted, to the despotic government of the most successful "hero." And when his tyranny is established, he will suppress in others the self-assertive ethic by which he has risen to power. This whole theory of life, therefore, is self refuting, in the sense that its adoption in practice leads to the realization of something utterly different: a dictatorial State in which the individual is severely repressed. 

There is yet another philosophy which, in the main, is an offshoot of liberalism, namely that of Marx. I shall consider him at a later stage, but for the moment he is merely to be borne in mind.

The first comprehensive statement of the liberal philosophy is to be found in Locke, the most influential though by no means the most profound of modern philosophers. In England, his views were so completely in harmony with those of most intelligent men that it is difficult to trace their influence except in theoretical philosophy; in France, on the other hand, where they led to an opposition to the existing regime in practice and to the prevailing Cartesianism in theory, they clearly had a considerable effect in shaping the course of events. This is an example of a general principle: a philosophy developed in a politically and economically advanced country, which is, in its birthplace, little more than a clarification and systematization of prevalent opinion, may become elsewhere a source of revolutionary ardour, and ultimately of actual revolution. It is mainly through theorists that the maxims regulating the policy of advanced countries become known to less advanced countries. In the advanced countries, practice inspires theory; in the others, theory inspires practice. This difference is one of the reasons why transplanted ideas are seldom so successful as they were in their native soil. 

Before considering the philosophy of Locke, let us review some of the circumstances in seventeenth-century England that were influential in forming his opinions. 

The conflict between king and Parliament in the Civil War gave Englishmen, once for all, a love of compromise and moderation, and a fear of pushing any theory to its logical conclusion, which has dominated them down to the present time. The principles for which the Long Parliament contended had, at first, the support of a large majority. They wished to abolish the king's right to grant trade monopolies, and to make him acknowledge the exclusive right of Parliament to impose taxes. 

They desired liberty within the Church of England for opinions and practices which were persecuted by Archbishop Laud. They held that Parliament should meet at stated intervals, and should not be convoked only on rare occasions when the king found its collaboration indispensable. They objected to arbitrary arrest and to the subservience of the judges to the royal wishes. But many, while prepared to agitate for these ends, were not prepared to levy war against the king, which appeared to them an act of treason and impiety. As soon as actual war broke out, the division of forces became more nearly equal. 

The political development from the outbreak of the Civil War to the establishment of Cromwell as Lord Protector followed the course which has now become familiar but was then unprecedented.

The Parliamentary party consisted of two factions, the Presbyterians and the Independents; the Presbyterians desired to preserve a State Church, but to abolish bishops; the Independents agreed with them about bishops, but held that each congregation should be free to choose its own theology, without the interference of any central ecclesiastical government. The Presbyterians, in the main, were of a higher social class than the Independents, and their political opinions were more moderate. They wished to come to terms with the king as soon as defeat had made him conciliatory. Their policy, however, was rendered impossible by two circumstances: first, the king developed a martyr's stubbornness about bishops; second, the defeat of the king proved difficult, and was only achieved by Cromwell's New Model Army, which consisted of Independents.

Consequently, when the king's military resistance was broken, he could still not be induced to make a treaty, and the Presbyterians had lost the preponderance of armed force in the Parliamentary armies. The defence of democracy had thrown power into the hands of a minority, and it used its power with a complete disregard for democracy and parliamentary government.

When Charles I had attempted to arrest the five members, there had been a universal outcry, and his failure had made him ridiculous. But Cromwell had no such difficulties. By Pride's Purge, he dismissed about a hundred Presbyterian members, and obtained for a time a subservient majority.

When, finally, he decided to dismiss Parliament altogether, "not a dog barked"--war had made only military force seem important, and had produced a contempt for constitutional forms. For the rest of Cromwell's life, the government of England was a military tyranny, hated by an increasing majority of the nation, but impossible to shake off while his partisans alone were armed. 

Charles II, after hiding in oak trees and living as a refugee in Holland, determined, at the Restoration, that he would not again set out on his travels. This imposed a certain moderation. He claimed no power to impose taxes not sanctioned by Parliament. He assented to the Habeas Corpus Act, which deprived the Crown of the power of arbitrary arrest. On occasion he could flout the fiscal power of Parliament by means of subsidies from Louis XIV, but in the main he was a constitutional monarch. Most of the limitations of royal power originally desired by the opponents of Charles I were conceded  at the Restoration, and were respected by Charles II because it had been shown that kings could be made to suffer at the hands of their subjects. 

James II, unlike his brother, was totally destitute of subtlety and finesse. By his bigoted Catholicism he united against himself the Anglicans and Nonconformists, in spite of his attempts to conciliate the latter by granting them toleration in defiance of Parliament. Foreign policy also played a part. The Stuarts, in order to avoid the taxation required in war-time, which would have made them dependent upon Parliament, pursued a policy of subservience, first to Spain and then to France. 

The growing power of France roused the invariable English hostility to the leading Continental State, and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes made Protestant feeling bitterly opposed to Louis XIV. In the end, almost everybody in England wished to be rid of James. But almost everybody was equally determined to avoid a return to the days of the Civil War and Cromwell's dictatorship. Since there was no constitutional way of getting rid of James, there must be a revolution, but it must be quickly ended, so as to give no opportunity for disruptive forces.

The rights of Parliament must be secured once for all. The king must go, but monarchy must be preserved; it should be, however, not a monarchy of Divine Right, but one dependent upon legislative sanction, and so upon Parliament. By a combination of aristocracy and big business, all this was achieved in a moment, without the necessity of firing a shot. Compromise and moderation had succeeded, after every form of intransigeance had been tried and had failed. 

The new king, being Dutch, brought with him the commercial and theological wisdom for which his country was noted. The Bank of England was created; the national debt was made into a secure investment, no longer liable to repudiation at the caprice of the monarch. The Act of Toleration, while leaving Catholics and Nonconformists subject to various disabilities, put an end to actual persecution. Foreign policy became resolutely anti-French, and remained so, with brief intermissions, until the defeat of Napoleon. 

Classical liberalism john Locke 

It was John Locke who provided classical liberalism one of its most influential ideas that the aim and justification of government are to protect the life, liberty and property of its citizens. These are natural rights constituted in, and protected by, natural law, which is antecedent to political society. Locke believed that the appropriate means by which the government can provide this protection is a system of justice defined and made possible by law. All citizens are equally subject to the authority of the government and citizens find it reasonable to accept the authority because each is guaranteed the rights to life, liberty, and property. According to Heywood (2004), classical liberals emphasize that human beings are essentially self-interested and largely self-sufficient; as far as possible, people should be responsible for their own lives and circumstances. One of the clearest statements of this philosophy is found in the Declaration of Independence.

Classical liberalism 19th century 

By the end of the 19th century, some serious consequences of the Industrial revolution and laissez-faire market occurred in the form of rising of capitalism.

The main problem was that the profit had concentrated in the hand of a small number of industrialists. Consequently, masses of people failed to benefit from the wealth flowing from factories that resulted in the poverty of the populace.

On the other side, because of the industrial revolution, the production of goods and services were at a massive level, but masses could not afford to buy. Markets became glutted, and the system periodically came to a near halt in periods of stagnation that finally resulted in the Great Depression. Moreover, the industrialist class used its power not only in economic decision making but also influenced and controlled government to limit competition and obstruct social reforms. It became the main drawbacks of classical liberalism vis-a-vis the laissez-faire market economy.

 Modern liberalism in political science/ Welfarism

Modern liberalism

The aforementioned problem brought a new change in society, the uprising of the working class. In the 20th century the rising working-class questioned classical liberalism and its core argument to support negative liberty, i.e. laissez-faire market. Laissez-faire individualism encouraged capitalist economy, and consequently, the working class was deprived of its due share. A new form of liberalism came up – Modern Liberalism, also known as welfarism. Thinkers of this strand of liberalism believed that government has to remove obstacles that stand in the way of individual freedom. The main exponent of this statement was T.H. Green. According to him, excessive power of government might have constituted the greatest obstacle to freedom in an earlier era, but by the middle of the 19th century these powers had been greatly reduced or mitigated. Now, there were different kinds of hindrances, such as poverty, disease, discrimination and ignorance that could be overcome only with positive (positive liberty) assistance of government.

It was John Stuart Mill (1806-73) who introduced the concept of positive liberty and consequently the transition from negative to positive liberalism. However, Mill started with a defense of laissez-faire individualism, but realizing its weaknesses in the light of the new socio-economic realities, he proceeded to modify it. He, therefore, sought to discover an area where state intervention

What is modern liberalism in political science approaches 

Theory could be justified. At the outset, he drew a distinction between two types of actions of men: ‘self-regarding actions’ whose effect was confined to the individual himself; and ‘other-regarding actions’ which affected others. The real significance of making such a distinction lay in Mill’s efforts to define a sphere where an individual’s behaviour could be regulated in the interests of the community. Thus, he was contemplating a positive role for the state in securing social welfare even if it implied curbing liberty of the individual to some extent. It was Mill who gave a sound theory of taxation, pleaded for the limitation of the right of inheritance, and insisted on state provision of education. After J. S. Mill, T.H. Green (1836-82), L.T. Hobhouse (1864-1929) and H.J. Laski (1893- 1950) further developed the positive concept of liberty. Green postulated a theory of rights and insisted on the positive role of the state in creating conditions under which men could effectively exercise their moral freedom. Hobhouse and Laski advocated that private property was not an absolute right and that the state must secure the welfare of the people- no matter if it is constrained to curtail the economic liberty of the privileged few.

It is important to note that the political thought of the early exponents of positive liberty was associated with the theory of the welfare state, which first appeared in England and then spread to other parts of the world. Positive liberty was considered an essential complement to negative liberty in all modern states.

However, some contemporary liberal thinkers, known as Libertarians, have sought to lay renewed emphasis on negative liberty. Of these, Isaiah Berlin (1909-97), F. A. Hayek (1899-1992), Milton Friedman (1912-2006) and Robert Nozick (1938- 2002) are the most prominent.

From the late nineteenth century onwards, however, a form of social liberalism emerged which looked more favourably on welfare reform and economic management. It became the characteristic theme of modern or twentieth-century liberalism. It is best illustrated in the views of John Stuart Mill, besides those of Kant, Green, and Hobhouse. In very distinct ways modern liberalism establishes an affirmative relationship between liberty (especially, the positive variant) and human progress. The modern liberal believes the man to be a ‘progressive being’ with unlimited potential for self-development; one which does not jeopardize a similar potential in others. This approach lays down and justifies the value of distributive justice and experiments such as the welfare state. Modern liberalism exhibits a more sympathetic attitude towards the state. It is also known as welfarism.

The process of modern liberalism or welfarism was interrupted by First World War. The devastation of WWI was massive, but the positive outcome was the overturning of four of Europe’s great imperial dynasties- Germany, Austria, Hungary, Russia and Ottoman Turkey-into liberal democracies. Europe was reshaped by the Treaty of Versailles on the basis of the principle of self- determination, which in practice meant the breakup of imperialists in nationally homogeneous states. Subsequently, the League of Nations was created in the hope of preventing wars and settling international disputes in a peaceful manner.

However, these steps could not prevent future wars. 

Many events such as harsh peace terms imposed by victorious Allies, Great Depression, Nazi uprising and Soviet Communism threatened liberalism. This was because during the post war period, the old rhetoric Sharing the Wealth gave way to a concentration on growth rates as liberals inspired by the British economist J M Keynes’ policy – wanted Liberal the government to borrow, tax, and spend not only merely to counter contractions of the business cycle, but to encourage the expansion of economy. Thus, a further expansion of social welfare programme occurred in liberal democracies during the post war decades. 

Modern welfare state practices were introduced in Britain and America, which provided not only usual forms of social insurance but also pensions, unemployment benefits, subsidized medical care, family allowances and government-funded higher education. The liberal democratic model was also adopted by Asia and Africa by most of the new nations that emerged from the dissolution of the British and French colonial empires in the 1950s and early 60s. The new nations adopted the western model believing that these model and institutions would lead to the same freedom and prosperity that had been achieved in Europe. However, the results were mixed.

Where did neoliberalism start and neoliberalism what is it ?


The three decades of unprecedented growth that the Western countries experienced after the Second World War proved the success of modern liberalism. However, in the mid-1970s, slowing of economic growth in the Western countries presented a serious challenge to modern liberalism. By the end of that decade economic stagnation, maintenance of social benefits of the welfare state pushed governments towards excessive taxation and massive debt that showed up the failure of Keynesian economics. As modern liberals struggled to meet the challenge of stagnating living standards in industrial economies, others saw an opportunity for a revival of classical liberalism with some modification, and that came as neo-liberalism.

It is a contemporary version of classical liberalism (also known as libertarianism) which seeks to restore laissez-faire individualism. It criticizes the welfare state, therefore opposes state intervention and control of economic activities. The chief exponents of this perspective include Milton Friedman (1912-2006) and Robert Nozick (1938-2002). In the second half of the twentieth century, these thinkers realized that the idea of welfare state was inimical to individual liberty, as it involved the forced transfer of resources from the more competent to the less competent. In order to restore individual liberty, they sought to revive the principle of laissez-faire not only in the economic sphere but also in the social and political sphere. Neo-liberalism advocates full autonomy and freedom of the individual.

In the political sphere, neo-liberalism particularly insists that man’s economic activity must be actively liberated from all restrictions to enable him to achieve true progress and prosperity. The ideology emphasizes the value of free market competition; hence it also promotes laissez-faire economy. Furthermore, it promotes minimal state intervention in economic and social affairs and its commitment to the freedom of trade and capital.

Although the terms sound similar, neo-liberalism is distinct from modern liberalism. Both have their ideological roots in classical liberalism of the 19th century, which advocated economic laissez-faire and the freedom (or liberty) of individuals against the excessive power of government. This variant of liberalism is often associated with the economist Adam Smith, who argued in The Wealth of Nations (1776) that markets are governed by an “invisible hand” and thus, should be subject to minimal government interference. However, liberalism evolved over time into a number of different (and often competing) traditions. Modern liberalism developed from the social-liberal

Neoliberalism in political science approaches 

neoliberalism politicians

Theory tradition, which focused on impediments to individual freedom — including poverty, inequality, disease, discrimination, and ignorance — that had been created or exacerbated by unfettered capitalism and could be ameliorated only through direct state intervention. Such measures began in the late 19th century with workers’ compensation schemes, the public funding of schools and hospitals, and regulations on working hours and conditions and eventually, by the mid- 20th century, encompassed broad range of social services and benefits characteristic of the so-called welfare state. By the 1970s, however, economic stagnation and increasing public debt prompted some economists to advocate a return to classical liberalism, which in its revived form came to be known as neo-liberalism. 

The intellectual foundations of that revival were primarily the work of the Austrian-born British economist Friedrich von Hayek, who argued that interventionist measures aimed at the redistribution of wealth lead inevitably to totalitarianism, and of the American economist Milton Friedman, who rejected government fiscal policy as a means of influencing the business cycle. Their views were enthusiastically embraced by the major conservative political parties in Britain and the United States, which achieved power with the lengthy administrations of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1979–90) and the U.S. President Ronald Reagan (1981–89). Thatcherism and Reaganism dominated the socio-political economic discourse for a long time.

Neo-liberal ideology and policies became increasingly influential, as illustrated by the British Labour Party’s official abandonment of its commitment to the “common ownership of the means of production” in 1995 and by the cautiously pragmatic policies of the Labour Party and the U.S. Democratic Party from the 1990s. As national economies became more interdependent in the new era of economic globalization, neo-liberals also promoted free- trade policies and the free movement of international capital. 

The clearest sign of the new importance of neo-liberalism, however, was the emergence of libertarianism as a political force, as evidenced by the increasing prominence of the Libertarian Party in the United States and by the creation of assorted think tanks in various countries, which sought to promote the libertarian ideal of markets and sharply limited governments. During the 1990s, India also adopted the liberalization policy. The 1990s was the era of liberalization; different regional organizations and interconnected trade relations promoted the new liberal economic policy. However, the Lehman Bank crisis in 2007 and later the Euro crisis in 2009 led some economists and political leaders to reject the neo-liberal dominance of the market (Maximally free market) and to resume the greater government regulation of financial and banking industries.


A History of Western Philosophy Book by Bertrand Russell



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