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Liberalism Is Defined by a Desire to Minimise the Role of the State

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Liberalism is defined by the desire to minimise the role of the state

Liberalism’s view over the years has evolved and so as a result different liberals have different views on the state and how “large” it should be. Over the years the trend has fir liberals to become more “state-friendly” moving from classical liberals who preached for fragmented government to modern liberals who were state friendly, however since the 1960’s/70’s Neo liberals have tried to reverse this trend.
Classical liberals such as John Locke, “the father of liberalism”, have argued that in order for the state to achieve and uphold its core principles such as individualism and liberty then the frontiers of the state should be rolled back and state power curbed, An example of this is Thomas Jeffersons quote “an effective gov’t is one who governs least”. A major debate at the heart of liberalism is how to achieve freedom, positive freedom where the state ‘enables and empowers’ the individual to do more and therefore that individual is more free, or negative freedom where the gov’t should be rolled back and not inhibit the individual to be able to do things, to allow the individual to grow with minimal state intervention, classical liberals subscribe to the latter and this links in with the core principle of individualism where due to classical liberals optimistic view of human nature they believe that it is in the human nature to be rational and not take advantage of less state intervention, a key argument for this being when John Locke argued that the state of nature “wasn’t bad” due to humans being sensitive and sensible, but it was as rational beings, without the need for state intervention state that we realised the state of law would be ‘better’. This argument by Locke means that even with a smaller state people would still be sensible enough to not infringe upon others rights. Classical…...

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