Portal:Liberalism

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Portal:Liberalism

Introduction

Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but they generally support civil rights, democracy, secularism, gender and race equality, internationalism and the freedoms of speech, the press, religion and markets.

Liberalism became a distinct movement in the Age of Enlightenment, when it became popular among Western philosophers and economists. Liberalism sought to replace the norms of hereditary privilege, state religion, absolute monarchy, the divine right of kings and traditional conservatism with representative democracy and the rule of law. Liberals also ended mercantilist policies, royal monopolies and other barriers to trade, instead promoting free markets. Philosopher John Locke is often credited with founding liberalism as a distinct tradition, arguing that each man has a natural right to life, liberty and property, adding that governments must not violate these rights based on the social contract. While the British liberal tradition has emphasised expanding democracy, French liberalism has emphasised rejecting authoritarianism and is linked to nation-building.

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Eleanor Roosevelt holding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. The Declaration represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are entitled. It consists of 30 articles which have been elaborated in subsequent international treaties, regional human rights instruments, national constitutions and laws. The International Bill of Human Rights consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two Optional Protocols.

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Picture of John Locke
John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 8 May 1873) was an English philosopher, political economist and civil servant. One of the most influential thinkers in the history of liberalism, he contributed widely to social theory, political theory and political economy. Dubbed "the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century", Mill's conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state and social control. Mill was a proponent of utilitarianism, an ethical theory developed by his predecessor Jeremy Bentham, and contributed significantly to the theory of the scientific method. A member of the Liberal Party, he was also the first Member of Parliament to call for women's suffrage.

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Norberto Bobbio, Liberalism and Democracy, 1985.

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"The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor", 16 December 1773
Credit: Kevin Myers

The Boston Tea Party was a political protest by the Sons of Liberty in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 16, 1773. The demonstrators, some disguised as Native Americans, in defiance of the Tea Act of May 10, 1773, destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company. They boarded the ships and threw the chests of tea into Boston Harbor. The British government responded harshly and the episode escalated into the American Revolution. The Tea Party became an iconic event of American history, and since then other political protests such as the Tea Party movement have referred to themselves as historical successors to the Boston protest of 1773.

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