What is meant by being liberal?

Photo by Rehan Syed on Unsplash

“All mankind, being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.”

— John Locke

Liberalism has become a really scary and cumbersome idea in conservative and religious divisions. But no one knew what is the exact meaning of being a liberal. They are just shotting in the dark.

It is actually based on liberty. Derived from the Latin word “liber” means ‘independence’. Liberty means freedom of the individual with no interruption of the state in matters of an individual.

It all started in the age of enlightenment replacing norms of absolute kingship, religious kingdoms, and conservatism that were governing the world.

John Locke is regarded as the father of Liberalism. He was an English philosopher and physician. He was the one influencing the works of Rousseau, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant.

The dwellers of liberalism are equality before the law, democracy, individual rights, freedom of speech. freedom of association, racial equality, secularism, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, public trial, and universal access to education.

It revolves around three central ideas :

  1. Basic human rights:

It includes all the universal rights of humans. They are the rights that every single human has irrespective of all other factors such as caste, color, creed, religion, and beliefs. The core idea is the equality of all humans having these inherent rights.

Yuval Noah explains them as theoretical rights because biologically we know that nobody is equal. Everyone has a different set of genes.

But this is what meant to be Homo sapiens. We are different from other animals in having the ability to form myths and imaginations which unites a very large number of individuals giving rise to civilizations and cultures.

John Locke explained “life, liberty and property” as the most basic and inalienable rights of every single human being. These are termed as natural rights of humans. Others include the rights which are granted to an individual because of the legislative system in which he is living.

2. Free market:

The free market means that there is the least impact of government or state on the financial affairs of a citizen. It gives rise to the principle of Supply and demand. The system for it is present within a state but its intervention would be minimal.

The government provides administrative and legislative laws but there is core freedom to every citizen to barter freely. The state is there to serve the citizen not the citizen to serve the state. It also means that the interest of the state is in the interest of the citizen.

They believe that the best way to utilize resources is private ownership. Religious fundamentalists and conservatives are the anti-allies of the liberals but they believe in the same economic system as addressed by liberalism.

3. Rational Thinking:

Rational is someone who believes in the importance of reason and it is the primary source of knowledge. They believe that knowledge is deciphered not with sensory experience but with the intellect and rationality in our brains.

It consists up of intuition which means that every human can instinctively understand the truth with the direct involvement of consciousness. and deduction which is deciphering true knowledge with logic.

Another thing which is part of rational thinking is Innate ideas which means we all have certain ideas pre-existing in our minds. With this knowledge, we do not need experience, though experience triggers the knowledge to be part of the awareness.



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