Liberalism is an ethical and political philosophy founded on freedom, liberty and equality before the eyes of the law. It is the philosophy that believes that the government should seek to maintain the equal rights of all citizens. In its most fundamental form, liberalism stands for a rejection of arbitrary rule and advocates freedom of speech, press, religion and assembly. This philosophy also rejects violence as a means to achieve social goals and promotes social justice and welfare. Liberalism also tends to minimize the role of authority in people’s lives and advocate the empowerment of the people.
In the European tradition, liberalism has had varying influences from French liberalism during the modern period through Italian, German and British liberalism. The influence of liberalism can be seen in the forerunners of modern liberalism like Locke, Beverley and Mill. The influence of modern liberalism can be seen in some of today’s most prominent liberal thinkers including John Locke, Sidney Poitier, Montaigne and Charles Dickens. In the United States, the influence of liberalism can be seen in the likes of John Kennedy, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Some philosophers and political scientists have proposed that what is a liberal thinker differs from what is a liberal politician. A liberal philosopher will often argue against absolute rulers and in favor of self-rule and constitutional monarchies. A liberal politician will stand up for the ruled and will support democratic governments. So what is a liberal with regards to politics?
A liberal thinker will support freedom of speech, press, religion and assembly. This means that liberal thinkers tend to be sympathetic towards the rights of minorities. For instance, liberals may be pro-woman, pro-black or pro-immigrant. However, what is a liberal to a conservative viewpoint is someone who is big government and increases taxes and spends without regard to the effects on the individual.
There are two basic schools of thought concerning what is a liberal thinker. The first school of what is a liberal is associated with realism or what is a world view. The liberal in this school believes that all of society and politics are motivated by something as the result of an historical process. What is a liberal in this view is someone who looks at the world as it is and not something that is shaped by a particular person or political movement.
The second school of what is a liberal thinker is associated with idealism or the belief that something is better than nothing. This type of liberal believes that if something is worth doing then it will be done, and that human beings have an innate desire for social justice. The liberal in this school believes that something is worth doing because it would help the world.
How do we differentiate between what is a liberal thinker and what is an idealist? Often we look at people who believe that government should solve problems by solving problem in society or politics. However, these people believe that their ideas are right because they have read the newspaper or watched the nightly news. Liberalism does not involve being right about what is best for the world, or even the people within a country. Liberalism involves the search for what is best for humanity as a whole.
In order to get into liberalism you have to at least accept some of the premises. Liberals believe that individuals and societies are rational and that they can cooperate. They believe that freedom and justice are universal and that these principles can be used to lead an idealistic existence. How can we tell what is a liberal thinker? Perhaps we should ask those who use the term – as it is most commonly used in the news, politics and social science journals and publications.