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  1. Classical liberalism, also known as American Conservatism, is still the majorities understanding of the ideology today. Classical liberalism and modern liberalism share many similarities, considering they are both rooted in nineteenth-century liberalism, which was defined as “a political philosophy and ideology that prioritizes individual political rights, private property, and limited government.”

  2. The key difference between classical liberalism and conservatism is the same core belief that still defines liberal and conservative ideologies—their conceptions of human nature. Classical liberalism called for limited government in the belief that individuals, being basically good and well-intentioned, needed little government.

  3. The term classical liberalism may also refer to actual political systems that instantiate classical-liberal principles. Both classical liberalism, which was first articulated in England in the mid-17th century, and modern liberalism, which was predominant in western Europe, North America, and elsewhere for much of the 20th century, hold that government is necessary to prevent individuals from being harmed by others.

    • The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica
    • Classical Liberalism as An Ideology
    • Modern Liberalism and Modern Conservatism as Sociologies
    • The Sociology of Modern Liberalism
    • The Sociology of Modern Conservatism
    • Conservatism, Liberalism and The Courts
    • platonic Roots of Conservative and Liberal Sociologies
    • The Impossibility of Consistent Conservative and Liberal Thought
    • Conservatism, Liberalism and The Reform of Institutions
    • Other Varieties of Liberalism and Conservatism
    • Liberal Aberration: Political Correctness and The Emergence of Group Rights

    Classical liberalism was the political philosophy of the Founding Fathers. It permeates the Constitution, the Federalist Papers and many other documents produced by the people who created the American system of government. Many emancipationists who opposed slavery were essentially classical liberals, as were the suffragettes, who fought for equal r...

    One of the difficulties in describing political ideas is that the people who hold them are invariably more varied and complex than the ideas themselves. Take Southern Democrats, for example. For most of the 20th century, right up through the 1960s and even into the 1970s, virtually every Democratic politician in the South was an advocate of segrega...

    Most liberals — at least mainstream liberals — believe you should be able to say anything you like (other than yelling fire in a crowded theater), no matter how much it offends and, for the most part, no matter how seditious. They also believe you should be able to publish almost anything as a matter of right. But they reject the idea of economic r...

    Most conservatives — at least mainstream conservatives — believe in economic rights. Individuals should be able to freely sell their labor to any buyer or enter almost any profession and sell goods and services to the market as a matter of freedom of exchange. Any restrictions on these rights are justified only if there is some overriding general w...

    As noted in “Classical Liberalism” the U.S. Supreme Court has increasingly sided with the liberal view of rights over the conservative view. Throughout the 20th century, Court rulings strengthened substantive First Amendment rights, as well as procedural rights related to most non economic liberties. At the same time, the Court weakened (indeed, el...

    The distinction between economic and civil liberties actually has its roots in philosophy. It rests on an idea that goes all the way back to Plato. Whether the distinction is between consciousness and reality, mind and body, mental and physical, spiritual and material, etc., all philosophers in the Platonic tradition have focused on two fundamental...

    Regardless of one’s view of the mind-body dichotomy, the case for freedom of thought is not stronger than, weaker than, or any different from the case for freedom of contract. Just as there are externalities in the world of commerce, so there are externalities in the world of ideas. Just as public goods exist in the economy, so there are public-goo...

    Classical liberals were reformers. Throughout the 19th century, they reformed economic and civil institutions — abolishing slavery, extending the right to vote to blacks and eventually to women, expanding the protections of the Bill of Rights to state and local governments and creating a largely free market economy. Indeed, part of the notion of wh...

    Not all liberals think alike. Nor do all conservatives. Two strands of these sociologies deserve special attention, particularly in light of the contrast with classical liberalism.​

    A variation of modern liberalism is popular among faculties at college campuses. Its adherents reject not only the idea of individual economic rights, but also the idea of individual rights as such. Instead, they believe that people enjoy rights and incur obligations as members of groups. On this view, a black American should enjoy rights that are ...

  4. That being said if American Conservatism is correctly defined as “seeking to conserve the values of the the framers and those values that defined the founding of America,” American Conservatism should almost entirely mirror the tenants of Classical Liberalism, that is: all humans are created equal in right, with inalienable rights to life, liberty and property.