Explain the concept of liberalism. What did it politically emphasise during the nineteenth century?
- The term ‘liberalism’ derives from the Latin word liber, meaning free. For the new middle classes liberalism stood for freedom for the individual and equality of all before the law.
- Politically, it emphasised the concept of government of consent.
- Since the French Revolution, liberalism had stood for the end of autocracy and clerical privileges, a constitution and representative government through parliament.
- Nineteenth-century liberals also stressed the inviolability of private property.
- Revolutionary France marked the first political experiment in liberal democracy in which, right to vote and get elected was granted exclusively to property-owing men.
- Men without property and all women were excluded from political rights.