Classical liberalism is one of the many different political philosophies in existence today, founded upon the principles of liberty and equality. Its primary emphasis is on the security of an individual’s freedoms through the process of limiting the government’s power, a philosophy that emerged in response to the Industrial Revolution taking place within the 19th century. In the completion of this course, I have learned a variety of different things, serving to augment the knowledge already held by me in regard to the topic.
When looking at the classical liberalism perspective, it is important to note that it may be viewed in a variety of different ways, in terms of the political, the most common viewpoint, the social, how the viewpoint affects society, and the economic, how the philosophy may be applied to the current economic system within society. The classical liberalist perspective worked to provide the primary means of support for the leaders of industry, arguing that they were the natural leaders of society given the fact that they served to act as a means of enhancing the progress of the nation, changing the world around them, shaping it into a way that best addressed the needs of the people, or so they thought. The classical liberalist perspective, from the standpoint of the economy, saw the leaders of industry as the best things for the economy, ensuring its success through the implementation of new and innovative ideas.
This economic perspective of the classical liberalist view served to work to change the view of the individual in regard to society as well. The classical liberalist saw the championing of leaders of industry as a good thing, due to the fact that they worked to boost the economy, thereby working to boost society as well, causing it to drive forward in ways that it would not do without the successes of the industries themselves.
Meanwhile, the political perspective worked to not only promote the power of these leaders of industry, but placed a focus on decreasing the limiting power of the government in regard to such industries. The classical liberalist perspective favored a smaller government, one with less power, and one concerned with working to augment the businesses as opposed to decrease their potential for power.
Of the different things that I have learned during my time in this course, perhaps the most interesting and most thought provoking, for me, was the concept that a liberalist could not get behind Plato’s Republic due to the fact that it was said to violate the sense of what is real. It seemed to me as though this was counterintuitive to the liberalist perspective, due to the fact that Plato’s Republic was not concerned only with the concept of the city-state, but was concerned with what made a man just, which seems to me a discourse that all individuals should be able to get behind, in one degree or another. The conceptualization that this perspective and the perspectives described therein, like the theory of forms, and the roles of the philosopher and of poetry within a given society, were at war with the liberalist perspective was one that caused me to ponder greatly, due to the fact that I consider myself to be a liberalist, albeit not a classical one, and the perspective shift and attempting to determine how it came about, and why such a blanket statement would be made regarding the classical liberalist perspective would have been made. I was only able to conclude that such a blanket statement could not have been made by someone who had fully read The Republic, or that they only meant it to apply to the role of the city-state itself.