Liberalism vs Socialism. Compare the core features

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1 Liberalism vs Socialism Compare the core features

2 Core features of Liberalism

3 The Individual Following the enlightenment individuals started to be seen as ends in themselves. People have the opportunity to make themselves through the choices that they make. Individuals have personal and distinctive qualities. Each individual is unique. Each individual has rights Sometimes liberals have been accused of turning away from the idea of society- towards atomism where everyone inhabits a separate sphere. This can be criticised on the grounds of selfishness egoism, self-seeking and self-reliant. Margaret Thatcher has been often misquoted as saying there is no such thing as society, there is only the individual and the family. Liberals are dedicated to creating a society where each individual is allowed to develop and flourish to the fullness of his/her potential.

4 Freedom This follows on logically from the belief in the supreme importance of the individual. Liberty/Freedom is the underlying principle in liberal ideology. Liberty is the natural right, an essential requirement to pursue ones own interests by exercising free choice. One must have liberty to be able to develop skills and talents to their full potential. However there is some acceptance that liberty cannot be unrestricted goes back to the social contract idea we have to give up some of our freedoms over other people in order for them to give up theirs over us. John Stuart Mill said that the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others Classical and Modern Liberalism are separated by a different view of freedom. Classical Liberals believe in negative freedom freedom from control. Institutions of the state should have a very limited impact on people s lives. Low taxes, limited services apart from the nightwatchman security things like army, police and courts. Modern Liberal like the Lib Dems, tend to believe in positive freedom freedom to. This means that people should be given equal opportunities. So a good state health and education system to try and equalise people s opportunities the freedom to develop skills and talents and be one s own master Isiah Berlin.

5 Reason In order to accept that people should be allowed to be free to make choices, liberals have to accept that humans are essentially reasonable creatures. Not just governed by basic animal instinct. If humans are rational, thinking creatures, then they are able to define and pursue their own best interests. This means that they are against paternalism people have to be able to make choices make mistakes and learn from them. Liberals also view human history as progress a movement forward. The understanding of science meant that people could understand the world and shape it for the better. Each generation is able to move on from the last. This explains the liberal emphasis on education it is a good in itself it is a vital means of promoting self-development and achieving historical and social advancement. Reason is significant in highlighting the importance of discussion, debate and argument. Liberals may be generally positive about human nature, but they still recognise that humans can be selfish and prone to compete to get what they want, and this causes conflict. Liberals believe the best way out of these situations is debate and negotiation not war. Liberals are against the use of violence and war. The use of force can only be for self-defence and only after the opportunities for reasoned discussion have been exhausted.

6 Justice The liberal theory of justice is based on belief in equality of various kinds (equality is a very contested concept) Human beings are seen to be born equal in the sense that each individual has the same moral worth same human rights. Each individual should have the same status in society in terms of rights and entitlements Therefore there should be no privileges or discrimination based on colour, gender, sexuality, disability etc. All people are legally and politically equal Liberals believe in equality of opportunity everyone has the same opportunity to rise or fall in society this is called meritocracy. Individuals should have an equal opportunity to develop their unequal skills and abilities so not equality of outcome some will do better than others, but everyone had the same chance Most liberals accept that the market economy is the most efficient way of distributing resources to meet the needs of as many individuals as possible

7 Toleration We should accept and encourage moral, political, cultural and religious diversity. This is all part of individualism we are all separate and unique individuals. So we must tolerate difference and this leads to free speech I detest what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it Voltaire. Toleration is necessary to ensure the health and progress of society, as new ideas are allowed to emerge good ideas will displace bad ideas. Sympathy for toleration also shows that liberals believe in a balanced society not one divided by fundamental conflict we basically all have shared interests in building the best possible society for each person to develop their individual skills and talents.

8 Core features of Socialism

9 Community Socialism offers a unifying vision of human beings as social creatures, capable of overcoming social and economic problems by drawing on the power of the community rather than simply human effort. Socialists believe that people have a capacity to work collectively to pursue goals together, rather than striving for personal self-interest. Socialists have the most optimistic view of human nature. They believe very mush in nurture rather than nature that we are formed completely by the experiences we have and the circumstances of social life. All human skills and attributes are learned from society. The individual is inseparable from society. We are not self-sufficient nor selfcontained. Individuals can only be understood as part of the social groups to which they belong. The way people behave tells us more about the society they have grown up in, than about their human nature. Socialists are not so concerned with what people are like now, but with what they have the capacity to become. Socialism is sometimes seen as Utopianism a rose-tinted vision of a perfect society

10 Cooperation As humans are social animals the natural relationship between them should be co-operation rather than competition. Socialists see competition as very negative encouraging people to deny their social nature. Competition promotes selfishness and aggression. Socialists believe that humans can be motivated by moral incentives, not just material incentives like money. Socialists believe that people would work for the good of the community, developing empathy, sympathy and bonds of responsibility for other human beings, especially the most vulnerable.

11 Equality This is the most fundamental political value of socialism. Socialists believe in equality of outcome Socialists do not believe that inequality of oncome and wealth is a sign that some people have worked harder than others they believe it is a sign of the fundamental unfairness of the system.. Socialists do not believe that we are all born the same with the same skills and capacities, but they do believe that most economic inequality in society is the fault of the economic system. Equality of opportunity legitimises the system, by making it seem like it is the poor person s fault that they have not succeeded. Social equality is important because it helps a community to bond together and work together for the common good. Wealth should be distributed on the basis of need. Some vulnerable people have greater need than others. We should all have our needs met by the society we live in. We should all work together to meet those needs.

12 Class Politics Social class is the most politically significant of social divisions. People tend to think and act together with others with whom they share a common economic position or interest. Marxists believe that historical change is the product of class conflict For Marxists in capitalist society there are two classes the bourgeoisie and the proletariat there is irreconcilable conflict between the two. There will eventually be a paradigm shift to the next stage of history. (you know all that stuff about how history moves along through dialectical materialism)

13 Common Ownership Socialists blame private property for the competition and inequality in society. They see private property as unjust as all wealth is produced by collective effort (remember the sociological imagination stuff we did on a chair, or a table how many different processes have gone into that) therefore all wealth should be owned by the community, not by private individuals. Property breeds greed and envy Property blinds us to the true nature of society it keep sus all going out to work to get the next I-phone (I don t know if I have mentioned this, but I really want it). We believe that happiness can only be achieved through stuff. Socialists believe that all wealth should be owned by communities and all services should be run for the good of communities, not for private profit

14 Compare and Contrast Differences Similarities first of all the idea of the individual vs community, also the idea of class contrasts with individualism Competition and meritocracy vs cooperation and empathy Private property and meritocracy vs Common Ownership Differing views of Equality outcome (s) or opportunity (l) Socialists would see there being no justice in an unequal society the liberals say the state protects us, socialists say it is the superstructure there to protect the rights of the rich Both have a generally optimistic view of humanity humans need not necessarily be greedy and selfish (liberals through choice, socialists through socialisation) Both see history as progress moving forward to something better but socialists see a need for revolution, whereas liberals see negotiation and reasoned argument leading us on to better things. Socialists would say there is no freedom in a market economy proletariat is blinded to its true condition

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