Liberal economists emphasize the significance of free market and free trade. This is in light of limited state restrictions and regulations in domestic economy and foreign market (Hall 1998). Liberals views the balance between the responsibility of the government on social services and private interventions in it. Recently, liberals in many countries supported liberalization and privatization of social services. These mean lesser services on health, education and basic utilities provided by the government, and allowing private enterprises to provide it (Kautz 1995).
One of the critics of liberalism is those backing collectivism. They reject the stress of liberals on individual rights. In contrary, collectivists advocate the collective where the individual rights are either gradually diminished or eliminated (Tomasi 2000:40). The collectivism on the left of political spectrum of liberalism, seeks to develop the state in the structure of socialism (Avnon & De-Shalit 1999:146) The views on human rights and international relations of liberals are also criticized by federalists.
The latter rejects the idea of the former on non-intervention on armed conflicts and genocides. Federalists criticize liberals’ view that intervention is critical on the sovereignty of nation states (Tomasi 2000:108): Many liberals in Europe are also against state regulations on employing women and minorities, which is in conflict on the general view of liberals against racism. Most European liberals are against employment quotas of women and ethnic minorities, whereas their American counterparts agree on such policies (Avron & de-Shalit 1999: 81).
Liberals also differ on the view on sustainable development. Although generally they are advocating the protection of the environment, some liberals are against state restrictions on private enterprises over environmental issues. They argue that such restrictions should come form the private industries themselves and not from the state (Hall 1988). Conclusion Although liberalism dates back form Medieval Europe, its main tenets are still in application and practice by major political parties in various countries.
However, different strands of the ideology of liberalism tend to confuse the public on their different views on many issues. Liberalism has much strength and also has weaknesses it in. But the gauge on what ideology or strand to choose is when they are put into practice. If it theoretically and practically provides long term solutions on the issues of poverty, inequality and oppression, then it is worth considering among the rest.
List of References:
Avnon, D. & De-Shalit, A. (1999) Liberalism and Its Practice. London: Routledge. Hall, J. A. (1988) Liberalism: Politics, Ideology and the Market. Chapel Hill NC: University of California Press. Hardin, R. (1999) Liberalism, Constitutionalism and Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Tomasi, J. (2000) Liberalism beyond Justice: Citizens, Societies and the Boundaries of Political Theory. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Kautz, S. (1995). Liberalism and Community. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.