Liberalism, Classical

Liberalism is a political ideology distinguishable from other ideologies by its assignment of a much greater political importance and value to human liberty, understood as a condition of being subject to as few constraints and restraints imposed by others as possible. All liberals agree that human beings will suffer deliberate constraint and restraint at each others' hands if there is no system of law limiting their powers over each other. Accordingly, liberals regard laws that prohibit these constraints as being conducive to, rather than destructive of, liberty.

Liberalism only acquired its name in the early 19th century, well over a century after the ideology began to take shape. Classical liberalism is the original version of the ideology. It received its qualifying adjective only in relatively ...

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