© 2005 David Koeller.  All rights reserved.

Classical Liberalism


  • Def: A political belief in which primary emphasis is placed on securing the freedom of the individual by limiting the power of the state.  In its economic form, it advocates a respect for private property and free markets.
  • As a political belief, its origins can be traced back to both the Ancient Greeks and Ancient Hebrews.  
  • But in its modern form, it begins on the one hand with the urban culture of Italy and the Northern European city-states and on the other with the Reformation, particularly with those dissenting sects which found themselves in opposition to the government.
  • It is given shape during the Puritan Revolution in England, especially among the Diggers and Levelers.
  • The first to give the modern view philosophical expression was John Locke, who wrote during the Glorious Revolution in England.
  • Classical Liberalism was the ideology of the moderate, constitutional monarch phase of the French Revolution, which promoted limited government and was based on principles of natural law.
  • Classical Liberalism should not be confused with democracy.  One can be a liberal and yet be opposed to democracy.
  • Classical Liberalism should also not be confused with modern, American liberalism, which is a mild variation of socialism.  


© 2003 by David Koeller.  All rights reserved.