Lost Language, Lost Liberalism

A review of the changes 1880-1940 to the central semantics of liberal civilization.

Liberalism  Confusions

Anonymous. 1878. “Brief and Various,” The New Monthly Magazine 14 N.S.: 101-105.

[103] Nothing is in reality more contrary to the truth than the assertion of the Liberal speakers, that Liberalism is not the progenitor of Socialism. … The charge now raised against Socialists—namely, that it undermines State authority—must also be brought against the Liberalism of those days. Liberalism is, therefore, beyond all doubt, the father of the Socialism of to-day.


St. George Jackson Mivart  (1827 – 1900) was an English biologist. He is famous for starting as an ardent believer in natural selection who later became one of its fiercest critics.

St. George Jackson Mivart  (1827 – 1900) was an English biologist. He is famous for starting as an ardent believer in natural selection who later became one of its fiercest critics.

Mivart, George. 1879. “The Government of Life,” The Nineteenth Century 5(26): 690-713.

[713] Thus the ideals of modern Liberalism, ‘freedom’ (especially ‘freedom of conscience’), a political ‘social contract,’ as also ‘equality’ and ‘fraternity,’ all find their true realisation in the recognition of ‘duty’ as the aim of life, and may be adopted without scruple by patriotic Conservatism.


Starkey, Nathaniel. 1882. “The Coming Kingdoms and the Coming Kings,” The Prophetic News 6(11): 340-343.

[341] And already we see this Lawless One rising among the nations of Europe, under the various names of Feminism, Communism, Socialism, and Nihilism, a spirit of insubordination prevailing everywhere, and disordering everything in social, commercial, political, and religious life. And let the Liberals in politics take warning we would here give, that Advanced Liberalism means Democracy, and Democracy sooner or later crowns King Mob. 


Harwood, George. 1882. The Coming Democracy. Macmillan and Co.: London.

[307-308] The second ideal is a reaction from this; the common vice of the first is doing too much, and so men run to the other extreme of doing too little. Let the government protect our lives and property, securing us freedom of action and expression, they say, and then let it leave the rest to individual zeal and enterprise. Liberalism has, during the last fifty years, chiefly taken the direction of removing previous restrictions, and so many have come to imagine that this is what Liberalism means; ignoring that, after all, government is a positive, and not merely a negative, art. Because some laws have become superfluous, it does not follow that all laws are unnecessary; and the political creed which professes to be most favourable to human progress, cannot consistently advocate a return to that state of unrestriction which is so closely allied with barbarism. Progress implies increased freedom, but also increased complexity, in the relationships of men; and therefore increased arrangements for regulating and developing these. In a world of which the first condition is doing something, an ideal of government founded upon doing nothing, must surely be out of place. This ideal has been the favourite of a certain school of Radicalism; but such Radicalism is now decaying, because this ideal is not that of the Coming Democracy. The policy of laissez-faire has not turned out very favourably for the masses; because it means the unrestricted operation of that principle of competition which always favours the strong at the expense of the weak, giving more to those who have, and taking away their little from those who have not. The body of the people of England have a settled conviction that one of the main duties of the State is to check the inequalities resulting from the open competition of men as individuals. Of all ideals, the most repugnant to Democracy is that of the State merely keeping an open field, in which men may scramble as they can; because this is most unfavourable to the welfare of the masses. This second ideal then, however popular it may be amongst many who are associated with democratic aims, will receive no favour from the Coming Democracy as a whole.


Russell, George, W. E. 1883. “A Protest Against Wiggery,” The Nineteenth Century 13(76): 920-927.

[925] Modern Liberalism…aims at establishing the freedom and security of the tenant, at facilitating the transfer of land, and at increasing the number of landowners.

[925] The high Whig doctrine would limit the functions of the State to the preservation of life and property, and the enforcement of contracts. Modern Liberalism, on the other hand, regarding the State, with Burke, as ‘the nation in its collective and corporate character,’ sees in it the one sovereign agent for all moral, material, and social reforms, and recognises a special duty to deal with questions affecting the food, health, housing, amusement, and culture of the working classes.

[926] One of the most hopeful signs of the times is that Modern Liberalism…no longer regards the possession of a vote as the be-all and end-all of civil life, but treats it only as a means to an end, and that end the creation of better moral and physical surroundings for the great mass of our fellow-citizens.


Armstrong, Richard A. 1884. “Liberal or Socialist,” The Modern Review 5(20): 731-747.

[733-734] Liberalism in the old days stood for distrust of artificial legislative checks, balances, restraints or interferences, and enthusiastic trust in the working of unhampered, unhindered individualities for the greatest good of the greatest number.

[736] If Liberalism is indeed in its proper principle solely the removal of legal restraint, then truly we have here a prodigious catalogue of anti-liberal Acts and aspirations on the part of Liberals falsely so-called.

[739-741] In the Liberal view the State is subordinate to the individuals who constitute it. It is an instrument for their convenience. It fulfils its functions in the measure in which it secures to them the conditions necessary for their full and free development. It is in fact absurd to say that the aim of Liberalism is the relaxation of restraint…. Yet it was not long ere the statesmen of the new time took in hand legislation for the enfranchisment of the individual which did not consist in any direct removal of positive legal restraints. It was not enough to forbid ancient interferences with individual rights in industry or religion. Fresh classes of men must he endowed with the positive powers of citizenhood; and one after another Reform Bills came upon the arena and were universally recognised as typical in their conception, beyond all other measures, of the Liberal idea. Liberalism stood and stands for the making of citizens, the producing of units in the State endowed with all powers and opportunities of individual initiative and building up by various and spontaneous energies a happy and efficient people.

Liberalism aims at the enfranchisement of the individual, at making him as efficient as possible for himself and for society. … For he who aims at the largest possible enfranchisement of individuals soon discovers that his aim is hindered not only by old oppressive enactments restraining individuals from natural vents for their physical and mental energy, but to the full as effectually by oppressive forces yielded in the evolution of society without any intervention of the statute-book whatever. … He perceives that, while freedom of contract is indeed the breath of commerce and the condition of all industrial welfare, there is no freedom of contract where one party dictates and the other is compelled to accept or to starve; and so he gives the Irish peasant a chance of rising into a genuine citizenhood by insisting on certain conditions in his behalf when the bargain is struck. He sees that children bound to the factory wheel for thirteen hours a-day from the time they are seven years old have no reasonable chance of developing an individuality worthy of human beings; and so he secures to them the leisure and the rest which are the conditions of juvenile health. In all things he seeks to enfranchise the individual, by securing to him the elementary conditions without which neither body nor mind can attain its proper growth.

[743] Liberalism then does not consist in undoing the restraining laws of human legislatures and then leaving human greed and the relentless natural laws of society to press upon the individual and crush him, if so hap, all undefended.

[746] We take it then that the true formula of Liberalism is ‘Enfranchisement of the individual; the virtue of paternal legislation up to that point, the vice of all paternal legislation beyond.’


McGuire, Thomas. 1885. “Mr. Chamberlain and Socialism,” Progress 5(July): 316-320.

[319] I incline to the belief that the President of the Board of Trade is in more or less measure influenced by similar forebodings and that his plain statements anent[1]  ‘natural rights,’ ‘equality’ and the functions of Government partake of a nobler and wider morality than could find refuge in the breast of an unjust steward anxious in the hour of his desolation to be taken into the heart of another master. For certain it is that middle-class Liberalism has had enough, and to spare, of Joseph Chamberlain, as no remote dawn will disclose. Liberalism is at present a ruling majority through the union of two conflicting elements—namely, the progressive and the conservative. … Vigorous individualities of the one element…find themselves in helpless antagonism with the progressive tendencies of the other. What else can it portend save that a split is pending—that progressive Liberalism and Conservative Liberalism must, sooner or later, part company?


Montague, Francis C. 1885. The Limits of Individual Liberty. Rivingtons: London.

 [16] The reconstruction of society, not the liberation of individuals, is now their most pressing task. Most Liberals will not plead to so heinous a fact. It answers much better to revise our practice and preserve our theory…. We profess to be successors of Bright and Cobden, to be disciples of Ricardo and Mill; but we conform our action to the urgent necessities of the age, nor does the great reputation of Mr. Herbert Spencer shame us out of constraining all children to go to school. A change of policy which was necessary must have been rational. If fifty years ago it was rational to abridge, and it is now rational to enlarge the functions of the state, there must be some principle in the philosophy of politics by which both of these contrary endeavours are justified.


Politicus. 1886. New Social Teachings. Kegan Paul, Trench, and Co.: London.

[153] In this doctrine of the States constitution and aim we have the common root of Socialism and of Liberalism. In the past this principle has been foolishly applied by people who have monopolized the name of Socialists and Communists.

[155] What it is desirable to see is that the Socialism which is alleged to be a recent infection of English politics has long been present there. It is but the development of a principle widely accepted as sound, rational, just; it is the common good versus the class or individual good, which is a public wrong. Liberalism has especially sought to regard politics from this standpoint, and that it has ‘harassed every interest’ indicates that its power has been used to restrict individual rights for the benefit of the whole society. In thus denying the right of any individual to freedom and privilege which are inimical to the total welfare, the Liberal party has always been of those here described as Opportunist Socialists, bending every unit to the right social will just so far as the current human nature would bear the process without producing overbalancing evils.


Champlin, John D. 1887. “The Union of English-speaking Peoples,” The Forum 5: 156-165.

[163] Mr. Matthew Arnold may believe that liberalism has reached its nadir, and Mr. Froude may prove from Aristotle and Plato that democracies are unstable; but liberalism will blossom into democracy, and democracy will in due season yield sound republican fruit.


Ritchie, David George. 1887. “The Political Philosophy of the Late Thomas Green,” Contemporary Review 51(6): 841-851.

[845-846] Another side to the mistake in Pattison’s remark about [Thomas Hill] Green is the failure to appreciate fully the change that has come over English Liberalism. During the last century and the earlier part of the present century, the friends of social and political reform were engaged in a struggle mainly against mischievous interference with individual liberty on the part of a government which chiefly represented the influence and interests of a hereditary ruling class: thus Liberalism came to be identified with the criticism and removal of repressive laws and institutions, and an intellectual basis for such a policy was naturally found in a philosophy of critical analysis. It was in the same spirit that Locke, the father of English Empiricism, criticized the doctrine of innate ideas and the doctrine of the divine right of kings. And this alliance between Empiricism in philosophy and Liberalism in politics continued with few exceptions to the time of John Stuart Mill, whose philosophical creed remained, on the whole, in its intellectual aspects what his father had taught him, however modified by emotional sympathies, but whose political ideas underwent a greater change than he himself was aware of. … Thus there is a real affinity between the newer stages of Radicalism and a political philosophy such as that of Hegel or of Comte….


Hall, Richard N. 1888. Liberal Organization and Work. National Liberal Federation: London.


[21] I look upon Liberalism, notwithstanding its imperfections and excrescencies, as the Society pledged to remove evil from the path of the people, as entrusted to utter and shape the voiceless cry of a down-trodden humanity…. True Liberalism—not mere Party Shibboleth—is Philanthropy, and Philanthropy is Christianity.


Lacy, George. 1888. Liberty and Law. Swan Sonnenschein, Lowrey and Co.: London.

[116n.1] I say the Liberal did, for at the present day Liberalism has no reason for being. It was a passing phase of progress, when men thought they had found in Liberty its final principle. But its final principle has been shown to be the associated duality of Liberty and Law: while it lasted it represented the highest conception of progress, but that conception is now completely outgrown. The new conception has got to be called by the extremely absurd and meaningless name of Radicalism: its real name is Progressist, or more definitely Collectivism. … Radicals at present mostly attach themselves to the Liberal party, but this is only because, as in the case of the inception of all great movements, its true philosophy is not yet understood. The aims of Radicalism can never be attained by the principle that guides the Liberal party. Removal of restraints must always favour the rich minority, and removal of restraints is the central doctrine of Liberalism. Liberalism, however much it may disguise itself, is Capitalism pure and simple, and as such is the antithesis of Radicalism. Radicals will find this out ere long, and many of them will regret having incontinently thrown in their lot with the leaders of the party of ‘Liberty,’ or capital.

[160] [Liberalism’s] cry for liberty is a hypocritical one; all it means is the liberty of the capitalists and traders to squeeze as much as they can by force and fraud out of the wage-earners. The liberty of the latter, to get as high wages as he can is nominally accorded, but those who do not see the mockery of this, are wanting in the commonest powers of reasoning. While therefore Liberalism makes the pretension of leaving things alone, it only does so in so far as the interests of capital are concerned. When these become endangered, then the Liberal discovers that the let alone principle is all a mistake, and none can interfere more vigorously than he. …  Liberalism is thus a mere class system, and whether or not capitalists are, as De Tocqueville declares, the worst masters the world has yet seen, they are certainly little or no better than any that have preceded them.


Robbins, Alfred F. 1888. Practical Politics, Or, the Liberalism of To-day. T. Fisher Unwin: London.

[206] Liberalism can never return to the days when it munched the dry remainder biscuit of worn-out Whiggery. A hide-bound programme may be a bad thing, but nothing worse can be imagined than the string of airy nothings which used to do duty for a policy among the latter-day Whigs. Take the addresses issued by them at the general election of 1852 as an instance…: “They promised (in the words of Sir James Graham) ‘cautious but progressive reform, and (in those of Sir Charles Wood) ‘well-advised but certain progress.’ Lord Palmerston said he trusted the new Liberal Government would answer ‘the just expectation of the country,’ and Lord John Russell pledged it to ‘rational and enlightened progress.’

Now, in these days, we want something decidedly more definite than that. … Happily we need do neither, for the Liberal chiefs, with Mr. Gladstone at their head, are prepared to advance with the needs of the times, and to advocate those measures which the circumstances demand and their principles justify.

 [223] Liberalism, at all events, will have neither act nor part in any denial of popular rights; rather it will be ever on the move towards a fuller extension of them. When it is said that the Tories of to-day are to be trusted because they go farther than the Liberals of twenty years ago, it can be fairly replied, ‘Even if…what does it prove? Words change their meaning as the world grows older; what yesterday was revolution is to-day reform, and to-morrow will be called reaction.’

[224] Resolved to broaden and strengthen the bounds of freedom, we who continue attached to the principles of our party will never swerve from the straight course, will never be daunted by the virulence or the violence of our opponents, will never forget to strive for that ideal of Liberalism —liberty of thought, equality of opportunity, and fraternity of aim.


Graham, R. Cunningham. 1888. “Has the Liberal Party a Future?” The Contemporary Review 53(2): 295-300.

[300] The new democracy seems not to reverence Liberalism as we once knew it, but Gladstone. It is the name, the personality of the man, that holds them.

His very shortcomings they condone but nothing but the scorn is manifest for those timorous miserable invertebrate who whilst posing as Liberal leaders are really Tories at heart have seen the poor bludgeoned and outraged in London the driven to desperation the Welsh farmers infuriated and have not a word too timorous to risk a newspaper reviling too empty to be able to face the pin prick of public opinion so that immediate collapse brings about one thing only at any price and any cost return to Downing Street and a fat salary leaders as useful to a democracy as a blind dog to a blind as utterly illiberal and far less honest than the most antiquated content for his sole function to endeavour to force down throats as by advertisement those who sell Bazaar tea would us to drink it their shallow and petty schemes which can result in their own personal achievements No if the Liberal party has future it must get rid of these nobodies and show that it has no of modern thought it must pledge itself to an Eight Hours institute a municipality for London nationalize the land and commence public works for the unemployed and then if it has luck it may regain the confidence of the democracy that is to say if some other party has not been beforehand in the field.



Richard Burdon Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane (1856 – 1928), was an influential British Liberal Imperialist and later Labour politician, lawyer and philosopher.

Richard Burdon Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane (1856 – 1928), was an influential British Liberal Imperialist and later Labour politician, lawyer and philosopher.

Haldane, Richard Burton. 1888. “The Liberal Party and its Prospects,” The Contemporary Review 53(1): 145-160.

[145] The old order is rapidly passing away, and a new order is as rapidly taking its place. This is one of the few things which it is possible to say with something like certainty of the situation in this country. … The relations of labour and capital are apparently about to be forced on our attention with practical and formulated demands. What is to be the attitude of the party towards them? The answer to this question may prove to be of profound moment as regards the future of Liberalism.

[160] Liberalism must mean for the working classes not merely an appeal to the memory of the great things it has accomplished for them in the past, but the immediate prospect of great and definite changes for the better in their circumstances and surroundings. … And these statements must, if they are to accomplish their second purpose, be such as to reassure the middle-class voters who have to be won back. They must declare unsparing war on what is unjustifiable in modern Socialism; they must repudiate emphatically all that savours of confiscation or the going back on public guarantees. On no other terms can Liberalism hope to remain in a healthy and vigorous condition. No party can bear the strain of a separation between progress and justice.


Haldane, Richard Burton. 1888. “The Liberal Creed,” Contemporary Review 54(4): 461-474.

[467-468] This brings me to the relation of the Liberal party to Socialism. If by Socialism be meant the recognition that the time for construction has come, and that the State must actively interfere in the process, then it is true that we are all Socialists.

[469-470] Just as legislation against privilege was the instrument of the old destructive Liberalism, so the means which proportional contribution can supply is probably the chief instrument with which the new constructive Liberalism must accomplish the work of building upon the ground which has been cleared a system of equality.


Llewellyn Archer Atherley-Jones (1851 – 1929) was a British politician and Barrister who eventually became a judge.

Llewellyn Archer Atherley-Jones (1851 – 1929) was a British politician and Barrister who eventually became a judge.

Atherley-Jones, L. 1889. “The New Liberalism.” The Nineteenth Century 26 (150): 186-193.

[187] Now, indeed, for the first time in the history of English politics, we find Liberalism almost exclusively identified with the particular interests of the working class.

[188] Official Liberalism is completely out of touch with the aspiration and aims of modern Liberal thought.

[191] …[T]he exclusion of the Liberal Party from power seems likely to be indefinitely prolonged—unless, indeed, the leaders adequately recognize the transformation of the old into the new Liberalism, and adopt their policy to the requirements of the people.


Russell, George W. E. 1889. “The New Liberalism: A Response,” The Nineteenth Century 26(151): 492-499.

[495-496] But, be the causes what they may, we have to face the twofold fact that the cause of Home Rule, taken alone, does not evoke enthusiasm, and that, to a political party which has lost the adventitious aids of rank, wealth, and influence, popular enthusiasm is the breath of life. How is that enthusiasm to be aroused? Here, I conceive, is the opportunity of the New Liberalism. … But the difficulties were enormous. The Liberal party still clung to its miserable old assumptions of laissez faire, and steadily refused to learn the new and nobler language of Social Service.

[498] A definite though by no means exhaustive scheme of social legislation was (or seemed to be) accepted by at any rate two of our leaders. The elections for the London County Council were fought and won upon the cry of Social Reform. The course and the results of those elections seem to me by far the most hopeful sign of the times, and it looks as if a social enthusiasm might even quicken the dry bones of metropolitan Liberalism into beneficent activity. … And whoever will lead the New Liberalism in its mission of Social Reform must be prepared to find his loyalty to the principle of  ‘unrestricted competition’ rudely shaken. Of course, we do not breathe a word against Free Trade. But the question whether Parliament can properly interfere with the hours of labour, with the importation of foreign workmen, perhaps even with the rate of wages, will assuredly have to be faced in the not distant future, and in order to its right solution we shall have to consult quite another set of guides than Adam Smith and Mr. Mill, or even Professor and Mrs. Fawcett.

[499] If we are worthy of the name, we must be in earnest about a cause which promises happiness, and health, and length of days to those who by their daily labour of hand and head principally maintain the supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon race. We must be impatient of a state of society in which healthy dwellings and unadulterated food and pure water and fresh air are made the monopolies of the rich. We must be eager to do our part towards abolishing filth and eradicating disease, and giving free scope to those beneficent laws of Nature, which, if only we will obey them, are so manifestly designed to promote the welfare and longevity of man. If we believe that every human being has equally and indefeasibly the right to be happy, we must find our chief interest and most satisfying occupation in Social Service. Our aim is first to lighten the load of existence for those thronging thousands of the human family whose experience of life is one long suffering, and then ‘to add sunshine to daylight by making the happy happier.’ The poor, the ignorant, the weak, the hungry, the overworked, all call for aid, and in ministering to their wants the adherent of the New Liberalism knows that he is fulfilling the best function of the character which he professes, and helping to enlarge the boundaries of the kingdom of God.


Anonymous. 1889. “Liberalism Philosophically Considered,” The Westminster Review 132(4): 337-347.

[340-341] Conservatism is [Liberalism’s] opposite or, in some aspects, its negative merely. Liberalism is the positive, the expansive force in politics; Conservatism the dead or resistant force, the vis inertiae. …Liberalism is the political force which tends towards the consolidation of human interests, Conservatism that which maintains individual, class, or national insulation. … Liberalism affirms the essential or underlying solidarity of human interests, and the relativity and interdependence of all class or individual privileges, and of all ‘rights.’

[342] To the Conservative mind, accordingly, all human laws and customs in vogue for the time being are ‘sacred,’ and should be treated as absolute and irrevocable. Liberalism, on the other hand, seeks through its legislation, by its personal examples, and in the education of its rising generation, to give form and expression to as much of that eternal (and therefore true) law and order as it is capable, for the time being, of discerning and aspiring towards.

[342-343] With Conservatives, and for that matter with Whigs and Liberals of the old-fashioned ‘Manchester’ type (who have long since lost touch with the Liberal Democracy), the true party shibboleth is ‘Proputty, proputty.’ It is only in dealing with the property of the nation that they are inclined to be liberal, to the advantage, or supposed advantage, of the classes whom they represent—-that is to say, of those who are ‘in the swim’ with them. The property of the individual…is so very sacrosanct that it must not be violated even in the interests of the whole nation, without compensation on a magnificent scale. … It need not be assumed, of course, that "the rights of property" as embodied in written law conflict necessarily with Liberal principles.

The old laissez-faire, ‘devil-take-the-hindmost,’ Individualism of the extreme Manchester school is, of course, entirely opposed to the spirit of true Liberalism. The chief modern champions of Individualism within the ranks of the Liberal-Radical party, such as Mr. Charles Bradlaugh and Mr. Auberon Herbert, may fairly be acquitted of any such illiberal doctrines. If not, their life and actions belie their creed. Their Individualism (the Spencerian Individualism as it should be labelled) has more affinity to philosophic Anarchism than to the cult which our German neighbours have christened ‘Manchesterismus.’

[343] Liberalism does not, then, preclude a certain superstitious weakness for the rights of individual property. All the same, in its present historic phase, its tendencies are decidedly Collectivist; that is to say, the Liberal mind, reviewing society in Europe and America as it now is, and grasping the economic situation more thoroughly than it has done heretofore, favours collectivist rather than individualist solutions of the various social problems which press for its attention.

[344] Liberalism, the greater term, includes Socialism the less, or rather all that is true, righteous, and permanent in the various ideals comprised under that somewhat vaguely applied designation. …  The Liberal party is resigning itself quite contentedly to an educational course of Socialism, as evidenced by Sir William Harcourt’s oft-quoted jest in earnest, ‘We are all Socialists now.’

[347] Finally, Liberalism may be described as the way leading towards political emancipation, or, in other words, the political method which leads out of politics into religion in the truest and highest sense of that word. It is that spirit in the government of a people which is ever tending to promote in individuals, as in the various sections of society, a consciousness of their essential unity, a generous recognition of their mutual interdependence; the realization, in short, of the underlying brotherhood of humanity.


Robertson, John Mackinnon. 1890. The Future of Liberalism. Bradford: London.

[15] And, indeed, whether or not we reckon ourselves Socialists, it will not be hard to show that to strive for equality of opportunity to all is the destiny of Liberalism in the future, as it has been the tendency of its action on the past. … To give equality to all it must grapple with those indirect forms of privilege which it has hitherto regarded as natural and inalienable. There is no escape. If Liberalism did not do this, there would soon be practically nothing for Liberalism to do.


Ernest Belfort Bax (1854 –1926) was a British socialist journalist and philosopher, associated with the Social Democratic Federation.

Ernest Belfort Bax (1854 –1926) was a British socialist journalist and philosopher, associated with the Social Democratic Federation.

Bax, Ernest Belfort. 1891. Outlooks from the New Standpoint. Swan Sonnenschein and Co.: London.

[66] What is the crucial distinction between Liberalism or Radicalism and Socialism? This is a question very often asked. That they are actually often opposed is not to be denied. But the general opinion among advanced Liberals seems to be that Liberalism, if its principles are thoroughly carried out, is not in any necessary conflict with Socialism. We propose to examine this position with special reference to the economic basis respectively of Liberalism and Socialism. The Liberal party has always claimed to be the party of progress, to be the exponent of the progressive lines of social and political development at a given epoch, and, as such, to be opposed to the party of reaction. This may be termed the negative side of Liberal theory, and so long as it maintains this attitude as the party in the vanguard of progress, it must necessarily become identical with Socialism—i.e., from the standpoint of Socialists. But here comes the crux. If Liberalism becomes identified with Socialism, it surrenders bodily all that has hitherto formed the positive side of its theory, and, indeed, what has hitherto given it the reason of its being. It has up till now placed the freedom of the individual as the professed aim of all its measures, and as its basal principle. But does not Socialism also aim at the freedom of the individual we shall be asked? Certainly. But the question is, what do Liberals (for the most part) understand by their freedom of the individual, or individual liberty, and why have they always made it such a strong point in their political faith? The answer is, they meant by individual liberty, first and foremost, the liberty of private property as such, to be uncontrolled in its operations by aught else than the will of the individual possessing it. What was cared for was not so much the liberty of the individual as the liberty of private property. The liberty of the individual as such was secondary. It was as the possessor and controller of property that it was specially desired to assure his liberty. Indeed, in the extreme form of  ‘Liberal’ theory and practice, as embodied in modern legislation, the individual appears merely as the adjunct of property.

[69-70] But I shall hope to show, further, that progress has now turned a corner, so to speak; that the removal of all hindrances to the acquirement of wealth other than what is based upon conscious fraud or open force; that the absolute right of the individual over the property he has acquired or inherited—in short, that security and freedom in the tenure of private property is no longer synonymous with individual liberty, but often with its opposite; that individual liberty now demands the curtailment and the eventual extinction of the liberty of private property, and that Liberalism, in so far as it aims at maintaining the liberty of private property, is reactionary and false to the principle which it has always implicitly or explicitly maintained, of the right of each and every individual to a full and free development. In so far as Liberalism does this, in so far as it assumes as axiomatic a state of society based on unrestricted freedom of private property, and proceeds to adjust social arrangements solely or primarily in the interests of the owners of private property—in so far, Liberalism and Socialism are death enemies. Liberalism has been negatively described by Sir Henry James as being alike opposed to Toryism and Democracy, and this is, I think, no unfair description of Liberalism during this century. Liberalism has historically opposed itself alike to Toryism, landed interest, and democracy, working-class interest, whenever that interest appeared as a distinct political party. It has been the political creed of the middle-classes, which has used the war-shout of individual liberty as a means for the acquirement of individual property. The individual liberty now desired by the Socialist is the liberty of the individual as man, and no longer his liberty as mere property-holder.

[77] Liberalism was therefore now entering upon a new phase. The middle-class was beginning to see that its interest lay in a fuller carrying-out of its ground-principles, rather than as heretofore in their merely tentative and limited application. The working-man, like everyone else, must be freed from artificial restraints in the acquirement of wealth, must be allowed free liberty to make what contract he pleased; this was the claim, at least, of the more advanced section of the party. He must be made equal before the law. Now the working-man for a long time heeded the music of the Liberal syren. Chartism went to pieces. The new Liberalism carried all before it.


Ritchie, David George. 1891. Principles of State Interference. Swan Sonnenschein and Co.: London.

[138] The efforts of Liberals having passed from the merely negative work of removing mischievous State-action to the more positive task of employing the power of a government, which is now, more or less, the real representative of the ‘general will,’ in behalf of the well-being of the community, it is natural and necessary that the intellectual basis of the new political creed should be found in a philosophy of construction, and not in one of merely negative criticism and analysis.


Smalley, George Washburn. 1891. London Letters, Vol. I. Harper and Brothers: New York.

[94] Among the worst things that can be said of the Caucus in England is that it tries to banish independence from public life. It has declared war, for example, on Mr. Forster, who, among living English statesmen, is one of the most independent, as he is one of the most Liberal in the best sense of the word. He has been for nearly a quarter of a century a representative of Bradford in the House of Commons. … Some of the most beneficent reforms in this generation are identified with his name. The most beneficent of all, the Education Act of 1870, was his work. Few men have done so much for Liberalism, or are to-day better exponents of the cause which bears that name, or likely to be better servants of it. Yet he is ostracised by the so-called Liberal Association of Bradford.

[239] If Westminster has two characteristics more prominent than all others, it is a Whig constituency and a shop-keeping constituency; in other words, its liberalism is conservative and timid.

[320-321] The appointment of Dr. Jowett to the Vice-Chancellorship of the University of Oxford is recognised by everybody as a shining illustration of the new liberalism in the University. And not in the University only, but throughout England…. As a teacher, as a college head, as a leader of youth, Dr. Jowett may be likened to a very different man, the late Dr. Arnold. Their methods were not the same but their hold on the young men of their day is equally remarkable.

[451] The cause of Liberalism in England to-day, which is identified with the cause of Liberalism not only elsewhere in Europe but also in America, is the stronger, the nearer to its goal, for what has been said here and what has been done here during this last month. The triumph of English Liberalism means ultimately Democracy, —means, at least, manhood suffrage.


Francis Julius Bellamy (1855 – 1931) was an American Socialist, minister, and author, best known for authoring the American Pledge of Allegiance.

Francis Julius Bellamy (1855 – 1931) was an American Socialist, minister, and author, best known for authoring the American Pledge of Allegiance.

Bellamy, Francis Rufus. 1894. The Outlook 50(19): 742.

[752] In Manchester, England, formerly the very heart of individualistic Liberalism, the Liberal party has practically adopted the Socialistic programme of the new Labor party. A correspondent of the New York ‘Evening Post’ brings out the situation most strikingly in an admirable letter. Only two years ago the Labor party was organized. It drew its strength from the Liberals, and in the first two campaigns the chief tangible result of its work was the election of Conservatives. Meanwhile, however, it thought out its own programme, and persistently agitated for it. This year the Liberal party, in response to a demand from its own members and in order to prevent its own disruption, adopted a platform which concedes nearly everything the Labor party has demanded. The approaching elections are municipal, and the platform deals only with municipal issues. Its industrial demands are these:

1. Standard wages to corporation workmen, and jealous scrutiny of proposed increases of large salaries.

2. Working day of eight hours for corporation workmen.

3. City work to be done, as far as possible, when other work is slack.

4. The abrogation of the contract system, and the direct employment of workmen by the city wherever practicable.

5. The election of more workingmen to local governing bodies.

6. Stricter public control of street railways, and public ownership at the earliest opportunity.

7. The demolition of slum property, and the increase in the number of open spaces.

8. The energetic enforcement of sanitary laws and of the Workshops Act.

9. The abolition of the bath-tax on the cheaper houses.

10. Cheaper gas.

After reading this programme it seems hard to realize that only a few years ago ‘Manchesterism’—meaning Manchester Liberalism—was, all over Europe, the synonym of the doctrine that the State should confine itself to ‘the rôle of a night-watchman.’


James Annand (1843 – 6 February 1906) was a Scottish journalist, newspaper editor and Liberal Party politician.

James Annand (1843 – 6 February 1906) was a Scottish journalist, newspaper editor and Liberal Party politician.

Annand, James. 1895. “The Reorganisation of Liberalism," New Review (Nov.).

[14] There is no hope for the Liberal party except in education, and by education I mean not mere hand-to-mouth dishing up of party superficialities, but a thorough and honest exposition of the principles of national policy and the story of our national life. A Liberalism that is based on anything more narrow and shadowy than this is not worth preserving, and may as well be allowed to die in peace. The Liberal leaders will be wise, if they recognise that there is not a single Liberal proposition that has been accepted of old, and become part of the nation’s policy, but needs to be re-argued from the rudiments upwards in the hearing of the new generation.


National Liberal Federation. 1895. Proceedings at the Annual Meeting of the Council of the National Liberal Federation. The Liberal Publication Department: London.

[56] Mr. J. Compton Rickett, M.P. (Scarborough), seconded the motion. He said that the trend of Liberalism had been for many years in the direction of individualism. Collectivism was now making its claim upon the party. They had been setting institutions free to do their work within their own lines, but all were not yet so untramelled. The House of Commons was still embarrassed by the obstruction of the Second Chamber. The laity and the Church were not yet unfranchised. Mr. Balfour was shrewd in his prophecy that in the near future Home Rule and Disestablishment might be the two planks of the Liberal party programme. After years of robust individualism the party was swinging round to a moderate collectivism. Municipal socialism was making headway, and so far as monopoly was the watershed of Liberal socialism, they might accept it with confidence. Taxing ground values was a just reform, but it was only a stop in the direction required. It was not the money but the land which they demanded for the people, for the municipalities, for the housing of the poor, and for open spaces. This land should be obtained under compulsory powers, without spoliation, and the unearned increment would in future belong to the community.


MacDonell, Philip James. 1897. “The Historic Basis of Liberalism” in Essays in Liberalism by Six Oxford Men. Cassell and Co.: London.

[269-270] The remedy is simply this Liberalism must once again base its claims on broad, abstract, moral lines. Its measures aim to fulfil great moral ideas, not merely to confer small material gains. In the days of Bright and Cobden, Liberalism appealed to great abstract conceptions. It was fighting for rights which should belong to every man. Its aim was to make each man a worthier citizen by giving him the capacity for citizenship. … But of late years an entire change has come over the tone of our thought. The philosopher notes a reaction from the Liberalism of ’48. He sees that the force of these ideas has waned, or at best lies dormant. The wave of reaction has run strong. It has flooded the platform and the polling booth.

[275] [The principles of Liberalism] are not of one time or age. It has taken a certain very distinct colour from the special circumstances of England in the nineteenth century. Yet the root idea is eternal. Wherever there is inequality, wherever there is unjust privilege, wherever men are chattels rather than citizens, there will be Liberalism and Liberals fighting to redress the balance. To hold its creed demands constant effort, constant struggle. But the creed is well worth the fight, for its name is Liberty.


Ball, Sydney. 1898. “Individualism and Socialism II,” The Economic Review 8(2): 229-235.

[230] Socialism is, as I maintain, the economic complement or development of moral and political Liberalism.

[234-235] As regards my own position in relation to Socialism, I am content to be a follower of Mill, from whom I learnt my first lessons in Socialism as well as Liberalism. To my mind, Socialism is simply the economic complement of Liberalism.


Reinsch, Paul Samuel. 1900. World Politics at the End of the Nineteenth Century. The Macmillan Company: New York.

[70-71] Everywhere individualism is on the wane. Though theoretical socialism, with its democratic manifestations, meets with strenuous opposition from every quarter, yet the internal social solidarity which that theory demands is fostered by the nations with all their power. This is very clearly shown by the recent general reaction against the political doctrines of liberalism, which affects even English politics. When liberalism extended the suffrage to democracy, it was believed that the permanent dominion of liberal ideas, of individualistic principles, was at last assured. But democracy in power shows a remarkable disregard for those checks on government and those merely structural elements of politics, which are so dear to liberalism. Hence it is that in England interest in the question of reforming Parliament and the House of Lords, of Disestablishment, of Home Rule, of the Local Veto, of free competition in industries, and even of free trade, has entirely waned. The old liberalism of Gladstone, which until 1886 reigned supreme, is now practically dead. The simple questions of national greatness and glory, and of such social legislation as that of old-age pensions, are of greater interest to the new democracy, — and of these two, the former, with its constant appeals to patriotic feeling, has the stronger hold on the masses.


Sidney James Webb, 1st Baron Passfield (1859 – 1947) was a British socialist, economist, reformer and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. He was one of the early members of the Fabian Society in 1884, along with George Bernard Shaw.

Sidney James Webb, 1st Baron Passfield (1859 – 1947) was a British socialist, economist, reformer and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. He was one of the early members of the Fabian Society in 1884, along with George Bernard Shaw.

Webb, Sidney. 1901. “Lord Rosebery’s Escape from Houndsditch” The Nineteenth Century and After 50(295):  366-386.

[366-367] What then is the matter with the Liberals? For fifty years, in the middle of the last century, we may recognise their party as ‘a great instrument of progress,’ wrenching away the shackles—political, fiscal, legal, theological and social—that hindered individual advancement. The shackles are by no means wholly got rid of, but the political force of this old Liberalism is spent. During the last twenty years its aspirations and its watchwords, its ideas of daily life and its conceptions of the universe, have become increasingly distasteful to the ordinary citizen as he renews his youth from generation to generation. Its worship of individual liberty evokes no enthusiasm.

[368] [Liberalism] held that position for so large a part of the last century that it came to believe that it held it by natural right. How is it that it has now lost it? The answer is that, during the last twenty or thirty years, we have become a new people. ‘Early Victorian’ England now lies, in effect, centuries behind us. Such things do happen. The processes which make one generation differ from another operate sometimes slowly and imperceptibly, sometimes quickly and even suddenly. At one period centuries may pass without any discoverable difference in the mind or character of a nation. At another new ideas are precipitated and new parties crystallised almost before the old parliamentary hands have time to prove their visionariness.


  Herbert George "H. G." Wells (1866 – 1946) was an English writer, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary.

 Herbert George "H. G." Wells (1866 – 1946) was an English writer, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary.

Wells, Herbert George. [1901] 1998. The Correspondence of H. G. Wells Vol.  I: 1880–1903 edited by David C. Smith: London.

[457] I do sincerely believe that Liberalism (as Gladstone knew it) is as dead as Adam and that there is an urgent need for an ordered body of doctrine that will secure the scattered good intentions that are the soul of Liberalism to come together upon.


Wells, Herbert George. [1901] 1998. The Correspondence of H. G. Wells Vol. II: 1904–1918 edited by David C. Smith: London.

[142] ‘…[George Bernard Shaw’s] exposition of the irreconcilable gulf between Liberalism and the Fabian Society is just an intellectual freak for which we are not responsible. There is no such gulf. There are the closest links in sympathy and personality between the Liberal left and the Fabian Society.


Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, (1852 –  1928) served as the Liberal Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916. Until Margaret Thatcher, he had been the longest continuously serving Prime Minister in the 20th century.

Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, (1852 –  1928) served as the Liberal Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916. Until Margaret Thatcher, he had been the longest continuously serving Prime Minister in the 20th century.

Asquith, H. H. 1902. “Preface” in Liberalism by Herbert Samuel. Grant Richards: London.

[vii] [This volume presents] a restatement of Liberal principles in their application to the most urgent problems of contemporary politics… If [a political party] has within it a spring of real vitality, it must be constantly refashioning its weapons and shifting its camps… It requires a cool head and a clear vision to disentangle the essential continuity of ideal and spirit, which preserves the identity of a political party, in its prosecution from time to time of particular measures and policies.

[viii] The ground, every inch of which has been contested, and won with difficulty, by the fighters of one generation, becomes, in the next, the common property of the successors of both sets of combatants…. And so the process goes on with a bewildering variety and confusion, which makes it often difficult at first sight to say whether what, in the dialect of politics, is called a ‘new departure,’ is a development or an abandonment of old principles.

[x] Liberalism, lastly, claims to have been and to be in a special sense the creed of Democracy. We are, or course, all Democrats now.

[xi] The great Liberals of the past were democrats upon sounder, or at any rate more practical grounds…because…popular government is the best means in the long run of securing the subordination of particular interests to the common good…[and] the most effective safeguard for social and political stability. Here again old principles have to be applied to new conditions.


Herbert Louis Samuel, 1st Viscount Samuel (1870 –1963) was a British politician and diplomat.

Herbert Louis Samuel, 1st Viscount Samuel (1870 –1963) was a British politician and diplomat.

Samuel, Herbert. 1902. Liberalism. Grant Richards: London.

[3-4] [Liberals] hold certain principles, and believe that these measures will realize their principles. … “[Liberal ideas] originate in one motive and spring from one essential doctrine…If we try to express [the central doctrine of the Liberal creed] in a single sentence, we shall best formulate it perhaps in these words—That it is the duty of the State to secure to all its members, and all others whom it can influence, the fullest possible opportunity to lead the best life.

[4] …[T]he ideas characteristic of Liberalism—social reform, democracy, freedom of trade, freedom of though, religious equality, international peace—all ultimately take their rise in this conception of the object of government.

[20] The State, it is said, lastly is incompetent to touch these grievances. State interference always fails. Leave men alone and they will find their own way out of their difficulties. Your policy of social reform will weaken self reliance and cause more  evils that it cures. This was the view in the main of the older school of Liberals…To many fathers of modern liberalism, government action was anathema. They held, as we hold, that the first and final object of the State is to develop the capacities and raise the standard of living of its citizens; but they held also that the best means toward this object was the self-effacement of the State. Liberty is of supreme importance, and legal regulation is the opposite of Liberty. Let governments abstain from war, let them practice economy, let them provide proper protection against violence and fraud, let them repeal restrictive laws, and then the free-enterprise of commerce will bring prosperity to all classes… such was their doctrine. The economics of Adam Smith and the philosophy of Bentham united to found a creed of non-interference which has inspired in large measure the politics for a century.

[21-23] If, especially, proposals were made for interfering with conditions of employment, the Liberals of that generation heard them with suspicion and accepted them…with reluctance… Contrast this with the measures of social reform that were the distinctive work of the Liberal Government of 1892 to 1895. A striking departure from these principles will bee seen. … No more complete abandonment of the old theory of negation can be imagined than is shown by this governmental activity so extensive and so minute.

[28-29] Three causes then, combined to convert Liberalism from the principle of State abstention. … It was seen that the State had become more efficient and its legislation more competent, and laws of regulation were found by experiment neither to lessen prosperity nor weaken self-reliance. … It was realized that the conditions of society were in many respects so bad that to tolerate them longer was impossible, and that laissez faire policy was not likely to bring the cure. And it was realized that extensions of law need not imply diminutions of freedom, but on the contrary would often enlarge freedom. … In [these facts and arguments] we find the answer to those who use the doctrine the old Liberalism to attack the policy of the new.

[31] From time to time the State undertakes fresh duties. As new wants arise, and as government becomes more efficient, the province of State action is gradually enlarged. For this reason the Liberal programme of to-day is very different from that of a century ago. It makes no claim to finality. Liberalism, indeed, is no stereotyped collection of fixed proposals. It is a living force that applies itself in turn to all the changing phases of national life, in ways conditioned by the character and the customs of the people. As times alter, the proposals of Liberalism must alter as well.


Cosby, Dudley S. A. 1903. “Liberalism in Chaos,” The Westminster Review 160(Oct.): 375-380.

[375] Why is Liberalism in such chaos to day To answer this must go back to Mr Gladstone's time whose great life work consisted in the evolution of a free democracy which he through in spite of the opposition of a powerful press and was one of the greatest difficulties he had to contend with During Mr. Gladstone’s lifetime, Liberalism was focused, so to speak, on the great work of emancipating the masses, and giving them the franchise; but this once accomplished, it has become a necessity to continue his policy in accordance with the new needs of the empire. The honour of liberating the people and giving them freedom rests entirely with the old Liberal party but their to-day if it is to gain the support of the country must now carried out in accordance with the altered condition of affairs be a constructive and not a negative policy if it is to carry on Mr Gladstone's work to its legitimate conclusion.


Terry, Benjamin. 1903. A History of England for Schools. Scott, Foresman, and Co.: Chicago.

[578] The death of Palmerston marks the beginning of a new era in English politics. The extensive introduction of the railroad and the steamboat, the penny post and the electric telegraph, the vast increase in the number and quality of books, the multiplication and cheapening of newspapers, the enlargement of existing ideals of education and the adoption of more rational methods, the granting of self-government to the colonies, and the growth of a sense of unity and mutual interest among the widely extended members of the empire, had bred new conditions and brought in a whirl of new ideas. In this vigorous atmosphere had developed a new liberalism, founded upon confidence in the democracy and faith in the British Empire; a liberalism which, while it did not shrink from assuming the responsibility of empire, insisted that in administering the vast trust the government treat all with honesty and equal fairness, and that in order to guarantee an administration which should be fair to all, the government be so constituted as to represent all. The new liberalism had found a natural spokesman in Gladstone.


Anonymous. 1903. “Contemporary Literature,” The Westminster Review 159(6): 585-586.

[584-585] In The Political Re-organisation of the People Mr. Sanders, endeavours to show that the time has come for the organisation of a third party and for its introduction into the political arena. He admits, as he is bound to do, that in this country third parties have up to now proved failures; but, believing that the distinctions between Liberalism and Conservatism have disappeared, he considers there is ample justification for an independent Democratic party. We quite agree that official Liberalism has been far to seek of late years. We quite agree that the trail of Manchester laisser faire is still over it; but we do not agree that Liberalism and Conservatism are convertible terms. Since the world began two great forces have been in constant operation and at war with one another—the principle of progress, or Liberalism; and the principle of reaction, or Conservatism. As long as civilisation lasts, so long will these two forces continue to play their parts under whatever names we may apply. Surely the recent reactionary measures of the present Government are sufficient to make abundantly clear the essential difference between the principles of Liberalism and Conservatism. With the Manchester School eliminated there is no necessity for a third party however democratic. Under the old Liberal banner all men of progression can and ought to unite. Conservatism may be intelligent opportunism, as Lord Hugh Cecil has said, but it will never become progressive in the true sense of the word. Recent elections have proved the tremendous force behind a Liberal and Labour alliance. Together, both can fight and destroy the present party in power—a party resting on privilege, caste and wealth; a party which is the natural enemy of Liberalism and Labour alike. A Labour party acting alone on its own selfish lines is little better than the plutocratic power it seeks to destroy. United with Liberalism it rests on a broader and higher basis, with great traditions and a national past of which any party may be proud. … The great mass of Liberals throughout the country are thoroughly alive to the great doctrine of the progress and elevation of humanity. We cannot congratulate Mr. Sanders upon his ethical ideas of present-day politics. There is nothing in his programme which is not already favoured by the progressive Liberal.


Anonymous. 1904. “Contemporary Literature,” The Westminster Review 162(5): 581.

[581] In The Parting of the Ways, an address delivered in the William Morris Labour Church at Leek, Mr. MacKail describes the passing of William Morris from Liberalism to Socialism, and in so doing points out the weakness of Liberalism—its connection with Capitalism. No longer, he asserts, is it a Religion as it was to Grote, Cobden, J. S. Mill, the Brownings, and Charles Dickens. It is inert towards reform, feeble against reaction, a mere political party, without high ideals. The principle of Liberalism, he says, is Freedom: the principle of Socialism is Justice. This of course is largely true, but the Manchester School of thought which once dominated the Liberal Party in its fight against the privileged classes, is now chiefly the property of the Tory Party. For our part we see nothing incompatible in combining the two principles, and in labelling ourselves Liberals and Socialists. Many Liberals now recognise that more real freedom for the individuals exists in a collectivist than in an individualistic society. We believe that an alliance between what is vital in Socialism and what yet lives in Liberalism is something more than the dream in which Mr. MacKail indulges.


Godard, John George. 1905. Racial Supremacy, Being Studies in Imperialism. Simpkin, Marshall and Co.: London.

[47-48] The definition of Liberalism which most nearly combines the three qualities of exactitude, conciseness and comprehensiveness is ‘the promotion of political equality’; in the doctrine of political equality is found the fundamental principle of Liberalism, although that doctrine no doubt admits of expansion, and there are corollated or allied principles. ‘Equality’ simpliciter, as given by Dr Bevan, if by that is meant absolute equality in all matters, is not possible, and probably not desirable. There are natural inequalities which it would be vain to attempt entirely to remove, and some of which give a charm to life and to man's intercourse with man. But there are also artificial inequalities, and these are generally mischievous—nature can take care of herself—and the conception of Liberalism is that it is safe, wise and beneficial to war against inequality; that equal rights and equal opportunities should be enjoyed by all, and that in proportion as this ideal is approached will the prosperity and happiness of the race be promoted.

[49-50] It is to the grave disparity in the distribution of wealth—the result of monopoly—that to a great extent, not only political inequality, but social inequality is due; and whilst Liberalism is not communistic in the sense of seeking to bring about an equal distribution of wealth, it is concerned with the removal of that inequality which is due to privilege, and with the securing to all of the same opportunities and the same rights. And with this conception of liberty— a conception to which it is not of course suggested every Liberal has attained, though it is the logical outcome of his creed—the distinction between Liberalism and Socialism becomes less pronounced or important, the difference being largely one of methods; and not the least conspicuous achievement of Socialism is that it has to a great extent succeeded in educating and infusing its spirit into the Liberal party.



Sir Richard Claverhouse Jebb (1841 – 1905) was a British classical scholar and politician. He was a Member of the Cambridge Apostles, the intellectual secret society, from 1859.

Sir Richard Claverhouse Jebb (1841 – 1905) was a British classical scholar and politician. He was a Member of the Cambridge Apostles, the intellectual secret society, from 1859.

Jebb, Richard. 1905. Studies in Colonial Nationalism. Edward Arnold: London.

[133] It is interesting to notice the divergent development of Liberalism, always claiming the same British origin, in England and beyond the seas. Thus in Canada, Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s Government has been the first in the world to devise a special, ‘anti-dumping’ tariff measure. In Australia the Liberals are the high protectionists, the free-traders or ‘revenue-tariffists’ being known as Conservatives. Further, the Australian Liberals are essentially the champions of ‘State interference’ and nationalization; their political creed being the absolute negation of the old, individualist Liberalism, surviving in the crude rant about ‘liberty’ which sometimes is the stock-in-trade of superficial Liberal politicians in England. A vital question for the rising generation of English Liberals is whether the development of the common tradition beyond the seas is not more in accordance with its real spirit than its present development in England; where now in some respects ‘Liberalism’ is indistinguishable from the Tory habit of mind.


Mackinght, Thomas and C. C. Osborne. 1905. Political Progress of the Nineteenth Century. Linscott Publishing Company: Philadelphia.

[431-432] The dominant principle of recent democratic legislation is that justice and humanity ought to govern in economic affairs, as they have always been supposed to govern in the other affairs of life. In its application, this remarkable principle has not yet reached its full development. To what results it may ultimately lead, who can say? That it will bring about even more important changes in the existing state of society than we have yet witnessed, there appears no reason to doubt. Though the logical outcome of the labours of enlightened statesmen of both parties during the past century, the new doctrine, in its practical working, conflicts not less with the principles of the old Liberalism than with those of Conservatism. Little more than a generation ago, freedom of contract, the rights of property, the liberty of the individual, were among the essential articles of the Liberal faith. But it is now a matter of daily occurrence for Parliament to restrict freedom of contract, interfere with the rights of property, restrain the liberty of the individual, where the welfare of any considerable section of the community is concerned.


  Frank Arthur Vanderlip, Sr. (1864 – 1937) was an American banker. He was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and was president of the National City Bank from 1909 to 1919.

 Frank Arthur Vanderlip, Sr. (1864 – 1937) was an American banker. He was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and was president of the National City Bank from 1909 to 1919.

Vanderlip, Frank A. 1905. “The Progress of Socialism,” Scribner’s Magazine 37(2): 173-196.

[193] The success of the socialist parties will in the main, for the present at least, mean the success of liberalism.


James Ramsay MacDonald, FRS (1866 – 1937) was a British statesman who was the first ever Labour Party Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, leading a Labour Government in 1924, a Labour Government from 1929 to 1931, and a National Government from 1931 to 1935.

James Ramsay MacDonald, FRS (1866 – 1937) was a British statesman who was the first ever Labour Party Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, leading a Labour Government in 1924, a Labour Government from 1929 to 1931, and a National Government from 1931 to 1935.

MacDonald, James Ramsay. 1905. Socialism and Society. Independent Labor Party: London.

[164] These conclusions have an important bearing upon the relation between the old parties and the new. One sometimes hears of ‘the profound gulf’ fixed between Liberalism and Socialism, and of the Liberal party being crushed out. That is the thought of the logician who sees things in the abstract, and not of the biologist who is accustomed to deal with life. The fact is, there are no gulfs in the course of organic evolution, and nothing in the main stream of that evolution has been crushed out. Lower forms merge into higher forms, one species into another, the vegetable into the animal kingdom; in human history, one epoch slides into another. Each new stage in evolution retains all that was vital in the old and sheds all that was dead. Even when we see revolution and sudden change in thought or habits of peoples and individuals, we only behold the result of many hidden influences become visible. Socialism, the stage which follows Liberalism, retains everything of permanent value that was in Liberalism, by virtue of its being the hereditary heir of Liberalism. Thus we have seen in recent times that when two vital principles of Liberalism were assailed—the existence of nationalities and the policy of free exchange between nations—Socialism rallied to their defence even when enfeebled Liberalism could not always command enough vital force to do so itself. The democratic work of Liberalism is the basis of the Socialist State; the individualist morality of Evangelicism is the basis of the social morality of Socialism; the economics and organisation of production are the basis of the Socialist economics and organisation of distribution.


Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse (1864 - 1929) was a British liberal political theorist and sociologist, who has been considered one of the leading and earliest proponents of social liberalism. 

Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse (1864 - 1929) was a British liberal political theorist and sociologist, who has been considered one of the leading and earliest proponents of social liberalism. 

Hobhouse, Leonard T. 1905. Democracy and Reaction. G.P. Putnam’s Sons: New York.

[164-165] Thus the teachings of our recent history appears to be not that the older Liberalism is ‘played out,’ but that the several elements of its doctrine are more vitally connected than appears on the surface.

[209] Personal freedom, Colonial self-government, national rights, international peace, Free Trade, reduce expenditure—these were the watchwords of the old Liberalism… We began to hear them with certain impatience. The old Liberalism, we thought, had done its work. It had been all very well in its time, but political democracy and the rest were now well-established facts. What was needed was to build a social democracy on the basis so prepared, and for that we need new formulas, new inspirations. The old Liberalism was standing in our way and we were cutting it down.

[210-214] That the work of the old Liberalism was done…was a too hasty assumption…. Against the South African War…as in the defense of Free Trade, the socialist leaders and the most notable spiritual descendants of Cobden and Mill stood on the same platform. Was this alliance…the logical working out of principles in political practice? … [Even Cobden] favored free education and the prohibition of the employment of children under thirteen in factories. … Cobden held by freedom of contract on the ground that as a rule the adult sane man is best judge of his own interests and that when each party to the bargain is free to take it or leave it, the bare fact that it is concluded is sufficient evidence that it is for the advantage of both…[and] if these conditions do not hold, the principle of non-intervention does not apply. If either party…is not perfectly free to choose or reject, if he has not full knowledge of the circumstance, if he is not capable of forming a judgment, if he is so circumscribed that refusal is not really within his option, or is within his option only on pain of incurring penalties much heavier that those which would fall on the other party, then the contract is no longer free and equal…true freedom does not apply…. [This admits] that apparent freedom of contract was not necessarily real freedom…[and] that the State has an interest in, and a responsibility for conditions, which, operating upon a large scale, determine the health and welfare of its own members. These two principles…[are] much of what is called ‘socialistic’ legislation…directed to the redressing of inequality in bargaining.

[217] Therefore, this kind of socialistic legislation appears not as an infringement of the two distinctive ideals of the older Liberalism, ‘Liberty and Equality.’ It appears rather as a necessary means to their fulfillment.

[219-221] So far, then, it appears that what seem on the surface to be the main departures from the principles of liberty and equality, which have commanded the approval of the average modern Liberal, are in reality departures by which the principles of liberty and equality are developed and extended. It results that the breach of principle between the Liberalism of Cobden’s time and the Liberalism of to-day is much smaller that appears upon the surface. … Men of Cobden’s time…[had] the habit of looking upon Government as an alien power, intruding itself from without upon the lives of the governed. We, on the contrary, habituated by the experience of a generation to looking upon Government as the organ of the governed, begin to find even the phrases of Cobden’s time unfamiliar and inexact expression of the facts…. The change which has taken place in the minds of popular statesmen since Cobden’s day is due to the realization of the democratic principles for which the men of Cobden’s time fought.


Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith,  (1852 –1928) served as the Liberal Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916. Until 5 January 1988, he had been the longest continuously serving Prime Minister in the 20th century.

Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith,  (1852 –1928) served as the Liberal Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916. Until 5 January 1988, he had been the longest continuously serving Prime Minister in the 20th century.

Asquith, H. H. 1902. “Preface” in Liberalism by Herbert Samuel. Grant Richards: London.

[x] …[W]ith the growth of experience a more mature opinion has come to recognize that Liberty (in a political sense) is not only a negative but a positive conception…. To be really free, they must be able to lake the best use of faculty, opportunity, energy, life. It is in this fuller view of the true significance of Liberty that we find the governing impulse in the later development of Liberalism in the direction of education, temperance, better dwellings, an improved social and industrial environment; everything, in short, that tends to national, communal, and personal efficiency.


Barker, J. Ellis. 1908. British Socialism. Smith, Elder, and Co.: London.

[230-231] Liberalism, with its championship of exaggerated individualism, stands not for liberty, but for administrative anarchy. … The less government we have the better, is the keynote of Liberalism. This was Emerson’s theory, and Emerson was an anarchist.


MacDonald, James Ramsay. 1908. Socialism and Society, sixth ed. Independent Labour Party: London.

[80-81] Consequently to speak or think, after the Liberal epoch, of State action being ‘grandmotherly,’ a limitation upon liberty, a doing for the individual something which he should do for himself, is as meaningless as to credit Liberalism with Hanoverian principles and Toryism with Jacobite sympathies. … Democratic law tends to become national law, because democracy in working tends to harmonise and co-ordinate the social functions. A democratic government expresses the will of the social organism, and when it directs the actions of the people it speaks to them in their own voice. This has been the chief contribution of Liberalism to the evolution of social functions and their organisation.


Howe, Frederic Clemson. 1909. The City: The Hope of Democracy. Charles Scribner’s Sons: New York.

[136-137] But the English city is democratic in its ideals, in the personnel of its council, in its responsiveness to public opinion as well as in its achievements. Democracy is finding itself in England, not through Parliament, but through the agency of local government. England is to-day being democratized, just as it was commercialized— through the city. From these centres of ancient tradition, caste, and privilege, the most vital influences of the Empire are emanating, while the people are being awakened to a larger life through the political forces that were ushered in by the parliamentary reforms of 1882. Through this change democracy is assuming new forms and taking on new functions. The liberalism of the middle of the century is being Fabianized, while the political programme of an earlier generation is being extended into the realms of industrial and social reform. From a system of political indifference, tempered by charitable effort, the city has become an agency of cooperative endeavor. New issues are being raised about the taxation of land values for local purposes, the municipalization of all monopolies, the housing of the poor, the extension of public education, the improvement of the conditions of labor, and the standard of living of the people.


Hobson, John Atkinson. [1909] 1974. The Crisis of Liberalism. Harper & Row Publishers: New York.

[xii-xiii] …[T]his period synchronized with fresh and full disclosures of poverty and sweating in our town, the decay of rural industry and population, of conflicts of capital and labour assuming graver and more dangerous aspects, Liberalism made no serious endeavour to formulate an organic policy of social reform. The old laissez faire individualism was still too dominant a doctrine among her intellectual leaders. … For over a quarter century Liberalism has wandered in this valley of indecision, halting, weal, vacillating, divided, and concessive.

[3] Nay, the whole conception of the State disclosed by these new issues, as an instrument for the active adaptation of economic and moral environment the new needs of individuals and social life, by securing full opportunities of self-development and social service for all citizens, was foreign to Liberalism of the last generation. Now, in England, as elsewhere these positive, constructive, and primarily economic proposals are clamoring for consideration. The old laissez faire Liberalism is dead.

[92] The negative conception of Liberalism, as a definite mission for the removal of certain political and economic shackles upon personal liberty, is not merely philosophically defective but historically false.


Hobhouse, Leonard T. [1911] 1994. Liberalism and other Essays. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, MA.

[8] The modern State accordingly starts from the basis of an authoritarian order, and the protest against that order, a protest religious, political, social, economic, social, and ethical, is the historic beginning of Liberalism. Thus Liberalism appears first as a criticism, sometimes even as a destructive and revolutionary criticism. Its negative aspect is for centuries foremost. Its business seems to be not so much to build up as to pull down, to remove obstacles which block human progress, rather than to point the positive goal of endeavour or fashion the fabric of civilization. It finds humanity oppressed, and would set it free. It finds a people groaning under arbitrary rule, a nation in bondage to a conquering race, industrial enterprise obstructed by social privilege or cripples by taxation, and it offers relief….

[15] Once more the struggle for liberty is also, when pushed through, a struggle for equality. Freedom to choose and follow an occupation, if it is to become fully effective, means equality with others in the opportunities for following such occupation. This is, in fact, one among the various considerations which lead Liberalism to support a national system of free education….

[17] …[A]s time has gone on, men of the keenest Liberal sympathies have come not merely to accept but eagerly advance the extension of public control in the industrial sphere…. On this side Liberalism seems definitely to have retraced its steps, and we shall have to question whether the reversal is a change of principle or of application.

[18] …[T]he function of Liberalism may be rather to protect the individual against the power of association than to protect the right of association against the restriction of the law. In fact, in this regard, the principle of liberty cuts both ways, and its double application is reflected in history…. It was again, a movement to liberty through equality. … Upon the whole it may be said that the function of Liberalism is not so much to maintain a general right of free association as to define the right in each case in such terms as make for the maximum of real liberty and equality.

[22] …[W]e have recognized Liberalism  in every department as a movement fairly denoted by the name—a movement of liberation, a clearance of obstructions, an opening of channels for the flow of free spontaneous vital activity.

[64]…[New Liberals] regard the State as one among many forms of human association for the maintenance and improvement of life…at which we stand furthest from the older Liberalism…the positive conception of the State…not only involves no conflict with the true principle of personal liberty, but is necessary to its effective realization.

[66] The heart of Liberalism is the understanding that progress is not a matter of mechanical contrivance, but of the liberation of living spiritual energy.

[93] Liberalism is the belief that society can safely be founded on this self-directing power of personality that it is only on this foundation that a true community can be built and so established its foundations are so deep and so wide that there is no limit that we can place to the extent of the building, Liberty then becomes not so much a right of the individual as a necessity of society. It rests not on a claim of A to be let alone by B, but on the duty of B to treat A as a rational being.

[209-210] The central point of Liberal economics then is the equation of social service and reward. This is the principle that every function of social value requires such remuneration as serves to stimulate and maintain its effective performance; that every one who performs such a function has the right, in the strict ethical sense of that term, to such remuneration and to no more; that the residue of existing wealth should be at the disposal of the community for social purposes…. It is, indeed, implied that the State is vested with certain overlordship over property in general and a supervisory power over industry in general, and this principle of economic sovereignty may be set side by side with that of economic justice as a no less fundamental conception of economic liberalism.


Vrooman, Frank Buffington. 1911. The New Politics. Oxford University Press: New York

[17] The chaos reigning over Anglo-Saxon Politics today is a pathetic commentary upon the vanity of all human hopes. We find everywhere democracy discredited and a disappointment, and liberalism bankrupt, and that after all the millennial dreams of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Everywhere we see simultaneously, in the old world and the new, liberalism leaping with starving avidity upon the program of socialism, with no justification in logic and with no excuse but its own sterility and emptiness. In England it is Cobdenism, which represents the democracy of individualism and laissez faire, abandoning the principles which once made it a rationally consistent (for it never was a consistently rational) political creed, for a program of socialistic opportunism. The only difference between British Liberalism and its present tendencies, and British socialism and its present status, is that socialism is built in the foundations of principles consistent with its articles, whereas modern liberalism issues a propaganda whose articles are founded on the principles of neither individualism nor socialism. This political melange is a sorry commentary on the intelligence, or on the sincerity, of modern British liberal statesmen.

[18-19] Anglo-Saxon Politics is opportunist and destitute of a guiding principle. Starting off over a hundred years ago with the negative idea that we should keep just as near anarchy as possible and still have an excuse for a government, we, the American contingent, have blundered along making such headway as was necessary to a race which blind luck had given the best chances in the history of humanity; making such progress as we could not well avoid because of our geographical and economic position. Neither England nor America enjoys the luxury of solitude in its political confusions. … We are brought to face the indisputable fact that laissez faire liberalism is inadequate to the necessities of twentieth century politics, or to any national life in its foreign relations or its domestic concerns.


Weyl, Walter Edward. 1912. The New Democracy. The Macmillan Company: New York.

[188] What has happened is that the whole problem of the mutual relations of classes has moved from its old moorings, and we — all of us alike — have drifted into a new economic and, therefore, into a new psychological world. Just as the old liberalism was deaf and blind to the development which was to superimpose big business upon little business, and monopoly upon competition, so the old absolute socialism, with keener prevision, failed to realize the limitations and minor tendencies of the change, the persistence of the small farm, the survival and even the strengthening of a middle class, the material progress of the workingman, the possibility of alignments in the new society different from the alignment within the factory. The old laissez-faire liberal philosophy is done for, and the old absolute socialism is dying in the embrace of its dead adversary. To-day even conservatives unhesitatingly accept reforms which, a generation ago, would have been decried as socialistic, while socialists in good party standing propose alliances, concessions, and palliatives which would formerly have been called (and by the crassly logical are still called) subversive of socialistic doctrine and inimical to the emancipation of the proletariat.


Gretton, Richard Henry. 1913. A Modern History of the English People, Vol. II: 1899-1910. Small, Maynard, and Co.: Boston.

[259-260] As the new Government pursued its course it became abundantly clear that it represented a new Liberalism. Throughout the election the reliance of Liberals was placed, even if sometimes unconsciously, upon a wider basis than its old middle-class support. … [Sir Charles Dilke] frequently directed the working man’s hopes towards a great Budget which should not only be aimed at bringing into the State coffers a larger proportion of the wealth of individuals, but should ‘entail legislation outside its own sphere’—a Budget, that is, which should be a kind of nursing mother of social reforms. … The new Liberalism would find one that was not middle-class in conception.


Blease, W. Lyon. 1913. A Short History of English Liberalism. G. P. Putnam’s Sons: New York.

[328] Paradoxical as it may appear to say that a positive policy of constant interference is the same as a negative policy of constant abstention, it is true that the mental habit at the back of the one is identical with that at the back of the other. Both aim at emancipating the individual from the things which prevent him from developing his natural capacities. The Manchester School saw only the fetters which directly impeded him. The modern Liberal sees also the want of the positive aids without which he is only half free.

[332] Economic society is to be converted into a gigantic Trade Union, based upon the belief that the highest good of the individual can only be secured in co-operation with his fellows, and limiting his freedom only in so far as it is necessary to secure freedom to his associates. It is obvious that this new economic Liberalism has borrowed largely from Socialism, and it has one character in common with Protection.


Key, Ellen. 1914. The Younger Generation. G. P. Putnam’s Sons: New York.

Ellen Karolina Sofia Key (1849 – 1926) was a Swede, and a difference feminist writer on many subjects in the fields of family life, ethics and education and was an important figure in the Modern Breakthrough movement. She was an early advocate of a child-centered approach to education and parenting, and was also a suffragist.

Ellen Karolina Sofia Key (1849 – 1926) was a Swede, and a difference feminist writer on many subjects in the fields of family life, ethics and education and was an important figure in the Modern Breakthrough movement. She was an early advocate of a child-centered approach to education and parenting, and was also a suffragist.

[202-204] This transformation socialism seeks to carry out logically. Only in this way do socialists believe they will be able to change the conditions of life of the great majority, which is condemned by the present system to destruction or to an unalterable subjection. It is this inevitable transformation to which liberalism—its eyes bandaged with the tricolour—is blind.

Liberalism and socialism, both children of the French Revolution, regard each other with that mutual resentment which usually results when the elder brother has received practically the whole inheritance. Liberalism, the elder brother, assumes a haughty attitude towards the younger. But this does not prevent liberalism from being constantly forced to preserve its power by concessions to the demands which—whenever they have been first put forward by socialism—have been called ‘infringements of personal liberty. In this connection it is only necessary to recall the normal working day, workmen's compensation, old-age insurance, and the regulation of female and child labour. But in making these concessions liberals insist that their object is to prevent the final transformation, the needlessness of which, they say, will become apparent when all these partial reforms have taken place. And in order to hinder the final transformation they show the same tendency in practical politics as did the corresponding ‘liberals’ of the eighteenth century—of doing everything for the people, but nothing through the people themselves.

Meanwhile liberalism is becoming more and more hybrid. It becomes so, on the one hand, through being forced to adopt more and more of the claims of socialism in its programme; on the other, through assuming a more and more conservative attitude towards existing conditions. Now, however, as a hundred years ago, the only proof of true liberalism is being able to liberate one's self from the prejudices peculiar to one's own time—not from those of another age.


Carver, Thomas Nixon. 1915. Essays in Social Justice. Harvard University Press: Cambridge.

[159] We must conclude, therefore, that though there is no good reason why the state should interfere with a capable individual for his own good, there is yet an excellent reason why it should interfere with him for the good of others. Though he knows his own interest better than public officials can be expected to know them, and will, if left to himself, pursue those interests, yet because his interests sometimes conflict with those of the rest of society, he will, if left to himself, sometimes do things which are harmful to the general interest. Here only is the ground for public interference with the capable individual. It may as well be admitted that the old liberalism erred in assuming a general harmony of interests and in concluding that government control and regulation should be limited to mere protection from violence. The new liberalism must correct this error by recognizing the conflict of interests and extending the control of government to all cases where individual interests conflict. The new gospel of individualism must therefore proclaim three things: 1. The absolute necessity for the suppression of all harmful methods of pursuing one’s self-interest. 2. The absolute freedom of the individual to pursue his self-interest in all serviceable ways. 3. The absolute responsibility of the individual for his own well-being, — allowing those to prosper who, on their own initiative, find ways of serving the community, and allowing those who cannot to endure the shame of poverty.


Sabine, George H. 1916. “Liberty and the Social System,” The Philosophical Review 25(5): 662-675.

[662] [English Idealism] originated, in fact, in an effort to restate the traditional liberalism of the revolutionary period in terms of Hegelian philosophy, and with an eye to avoiding the factors which, even as early as the middle of the nineteenth century, has brought this earlier liberalism to decay.

[663-664] The practice, in fact, contradicted the theory; for the substantial result of this early liberalism was the writing into law of certain liberties which appeared to be inseparable from the maintenance of a humane standard of life. Its practice presented the paradox of securing by law rights which the theory held prior to and the foundation of law. … Inconsistencies in theory, however, were not the only factors which tended to discredit the older liberalism. Two powerful sentiments worked against it, viz., the growing sense of national unity and an increasing historical habit of thought in regard to all social problems. The natural rights position, both in origin and nature, was cosmopolitan; it depended upon the assumption of a certain inherent core of rationality which belonged to every individual by virtue merely in the fact that he was a human being. The claim to rights was made on behalf of a common humanity, and differences of time and place, of race and nationality, were conceived to be superficial and unimportant in comparison. With the turn of the century, however, the sentiment of national patriotism and of loyalty to the national vocation quite displaced the enthusiasm for man as such.

[664] Thus a complete reconstruction of the theory of political liberalism was called for. A theory was needed which would bring into accord the two apparently contradictory principles of self-control by the individual and restraint of the individual by the law. It was evident on all scores that the only sane or fruitful principle of reform was liberty in accordance with and by means of law; but such a principle cannot be founded on the assumption that liberty consists in the absence of restraint. In particular, it was evident that freedom could no longer be defended on the prima facie ground that the individual possesses a sphere of strictly private interests not to be invaded by public forces.


Herbert Vere "H.V." Evatt (aka Doc Evatt) (1894 – 1965), was an Australian jurist, lawyer, parliamentarian and writer. He was the third President of the United Nations General Assembly from 1948 to 1949 and helped draft the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Herbert Vere "H.V." Evatt (aka Doc Evatt) (1894 – 1965), was an Australian jurist, lawyer, parliamentarian and writer. He was the third President of the United Nations General Assembly from 1948 to 1949 and helped draft the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Evatt, Herbert Vere. 1918. Liberalism in Australia. The Law Book Co. of Australasia: Sydney.

[51] It was at this time that Australia was realising that State interference, as such, and irrespective of any particular party, was not to be roundly condemned. The ‘new Liberalism,’ as it was termed, attracted attention in England, where it was asserted that the new principles had been accepted and introduced at the Antipodes. At the latter, of course, individual and particular movements had become associated with the name of ‘Liberal,’ carrying immediate conviction to many Australians, and although Bruce Smith and others asserted that the aggressive function of Liberalism is over, it only remains to ‘preserve and guard over the equal liberty of citizens generally,’ it is certain that the terms ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’ were being used with a wider but truer connotation than before.

Ellwood, Charles A. 1918. “Democracy in the United States,” International Journal of Ethics 28(4):  499-514.

[513-514] It is such laissez-faire individualistic business which has bred in American society a spirit of ultra-conservatism in some classes, and of revolutionary radicalism in other classes; and both of these spirits are foes of democracy in America as well as elsewhere. Conservatism would preserve institutions of the past which are no longer adapted to the present. Such institutions hamper the development of some section or class in society. To maintain them under such conditions rapidly becomes social injustice, and injustice long maintained destroys good will and mutual understanding, and so the necessary basis of democracy. Thus is born revolutionary radicalism which invokes the immediate use of force to redress real or fancied grievances; and this also destroys good will and is in itself the negation of democracy. Thus American democracy is threatened, as is democracy in all the world, by the division of society into two extreme hostile camps, both thinking not so much of their duties to society at large as of the rights of their class. And in the United States there is as yet lacking a strong, organized social liberalism which can mediate between the opposing camps. Under the leadership of President Wilson, it is true that such a social liberalism is rising and, perhaps, becoming regnant; but, as the periodical above cited says, the real understanding and support of President Wilson’s policies are best found thus far in the British Labor Party.


McClure, M. T. 1918. “Pragmatism and Democracy,” The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 15(18): 481-488.

[486] The leading ideas of pragmatism are flexibility, adaptation and compromise. Such concepts involve one at once in a system of relationships. Plato taught long ago that justice is a social matter and that until one has had a little experience he can not tell what it is. That is to say, right equality, liberty—these are not abstract and absolute things; they imply personal and social relations. Each is bound to his fellows by a thousand ties. Compromise means a willingness to recognize those ties and to make our plans in the light of that recognition. To introduce compromise as a social ideal is to provide for a philosophy of liberalism. It is also to introduce human feeling into social practise and thereby to provide for a philosophy of humanity. And these are…the germinal ideas for a philosophy of democracy.


Benjamin, Edward Bernard. 1918. The Larger Liberalism. The University Press: Cambridge, Mass.

[1-2] …[T]he fact stands that probably never before in history had the cause of social reform received a more respectful hearing than at the moment. We are speaking now in particular of social reform as directed towards more equitable distribution of wealth and the improving of working conditions in industry. This liberalism of the hour has become for the intellectuals of all countries a vital interest; has attained, indeed, a sort of intellectuality of its own.

[197] Such are the essentials of the larger liberalism.


Stearns, Harold. 1919. Liberalism in America. Boni and Liveright: New York.

[27] Liberalism is something much bigger than partyism or economic doctrinarism. It is, as Lord Morley says, its marked way of ‘looking at things, feeling them, handling them, judging main actors in them.’ It is concerned primarily, not with any specific doctrines, but with the creation of a certain temper and attitude in society at large—a temper and attitude of tolerance especially valuable in a time of bitter partisan strife such as the present and immediate future. Liberalism assures that the end of all reasonable activity is to produce a certain quality of human society, which depends upon the quality of the men and women who compose it, which, in turn, depends upon the existence of an atmosphere of freedom and tolerance must as definitely as it does upon an economic situation wherein the material needs of the great majority can be decently and adequately satisfied.


Gleason, Arthur. 1920. What the Workers Want. Harcourt, Brace, and Howe: New York.

[470-471] The period 1855-1914 was…the tendency towards the transformation of individualist liberalism into social liberalism.


Harper, George McLean. 1920. John Morley and Other Essays. Princeton University Press: Princeton.

[3] Some of these achievements and efforts are in line with the old Liberal tradition of Cobden, Bright, and Gladstone; some foreshadow, it may be, a new Liberalism, based upon a conception of property which would have been as unacceptable to the early Victorian Liberals as to the Tories of their day. When Mr. Asquith formed his first cabinet the prediction was made that it could not hold together long, because of the incongruity between its extremes. It was said that conservative Liberals, sired and bred in the individualism of the Manchester school, could not work in harness with Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. John Burns. The radical side of the cabinet, like the radical wing of the coalition majority, was socialistic, and would therefore prove unmanageable.

[5] Americans, as a rule, probably do not realize the thoroughgoing character of the new British Liberalism. We are surprised even by the fact that the older Liberalism came at length to tolerate its own radical adherents, such as Bradlaugh. … A professed believer in the doctrines of the French Revolution would be regarded as dangerous in the nation that Thomas Jefferson helped to found.


Brooks, John Graham. 1920. Labor's Challenge to the Social Order. The Macmillan Company: New York

[415] As against the acceptance of socialism, I hear much of a ‘new liberalism.’ It comes from those who know well that the older political liberalism with its negations is a thing of the past.


Hayes, Carlton Joseph Huntley. 1920. A Political and Social History of Modern Europe, Vol. II. The Macmillan Co.: London.

[305] The old laisser-faire Liberalism, which declared the state must not interfere with the free economic relations of employer and employed, was now contemptuously cast aside as a disgraceful failure, and in its place a new Liberalism arose with ardent enthusiasm, determined ‘to wage implacable warfare against poverty and squalidness.’ The new ideal of government for the people fired the ardent spirits of many younger men, among them David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, who infused the old party with fresh life. The new Liberals reminded the workingmen that Joseph Chamberlain, since his alliance with the Conservatives, had become absorbed in imperialistic schemes and had forgotten his former zeal for social reform. The new Liberals were becoming the party of social reform. This new-born determination of the Liberals to improve the economic condition of the lower classes made possible an alliance with the Labor party.


May Gorslin Preston Slosson ( 1858 –  1943) was an American educator and suffragist.

May Gorslin Preston Slosson ( 1858 –  1943) was an American educator and suffragist.

Slosson, Preston. 1921. “Reaction and the Way Out,” The Independent (Feb. 26): 210-211.

[210] The one point on which all who style themselves ‘liberals’ seem to be agreed is that liberalism is in a bad way just now. Partly this is the natural result of the Great War.

[211] It is necessary that liberalism be more thoroughly  studied by those who call themselves liberals. It is confused with all sorts of things that have nothing to do with it; such as peculiar theories of art and literature, agnostic tendencies in religion, scorn of popular morality, particular opinions on politics. A heretic is not necessarily more ‘free’ than an orthodox person; freedom inheres in the right to hold and express opinions and not in the nature of the opinions held or expressed. A liberal may be a Catholic or an atheist, but he must not be a Spanish inquisitor or an anti-clerical fanatic. He may prefer Pope or Tennyson or Amy Lowell, but he must not be the sort of critic who declares that nothing is literature which does not conform to certain rules. He may be a capitalist or a Socialist, an aristocrat or a democrat, but he must not be the ‘shoot ‘em down’ type of Tory or the ‘blow ‘em up’ type of revolutionist. Good nature, a willingness to live and let live, a respect for the personality of other people and a reluctance to suppress what is eccentric unless it is also positively harmful; these qualities will make anyone a liberal no matter what his creed or party may be.


Stunsky, Simeon. 1921. “What the War did to the Dictionary,” The Atlantic Monthly 127(4): 448-457.

[454-455] The Liberal, as we knew him before the war, was the middle-of-the-road man. The Liberal temper was the half-a-loaf temper. In the spectrum of political parties or social philosophies, reading from right to left, the scale ran thus: Conservatism, Liberalism, Radicalism, Revolutionism. To-day Liberal has lost its native meaning, having been partitioned, like Poland, by its neighbors to right and left. The Conservative is now rather fond of describing himself as liberal with a small l. The radical and revolutionist have blended into ‘Liberalism with a capital. We do not usually go to newspaper headlines for precision of statement, but there is really a great deal of truth in the headlines that speak of the arrest or deporttation{C}{C}[3]{C}{C} , indiscriminately, of ‘Liberals,’ ‘Radicals,’ and ‘Reds.’ Three words formerly denoting gradations in the methodology of social progress — the cautious reformer, Liberal; the root-and-branch reformer, but still reformer, Radical; and the overturner, Revolutionist —are now all in verbal coalition, ‘Liberals.

Now the odd thing is that the name of ‘Liberal’ should have been appropriated by radical and revolutionist, who yield to no one in their contempt for what the old Liberalism stood for. The Liberal is, historically, the man of timid advances and ready compromises. He is content with much less than half-a-loaf; he will take half of that half, if he can do no better. … If we wish to be quite harsh, we may describe the old-style Liberal as the liniment vender and poulticer of society, of some use for temporary aches and small bruises, but ridiculously inept in dealing with major diseases. We might go further, and deny to Liberalism any positive influence of its own in social evolution. Liberalism is simply the resultant of two opposite forces, of reaction and revolution. When men have grown weary of Toryism, and have found out to their cost that a lurch to revolution is worse, they seek refuge and rest, for a while, in Liberalism. A philosophy of normal times and dormant passions, a philosophy of sedatives and hypodermics — thus an enemy might describe historic Liberalism, with a fair amount of justice.


Muir, Ramsay. 1921. Liberalism and Industry. Houghton Mifflin: Boston.

[ix] Feeling real sympathy with many aspects of the protest against the existing economic order, they were convinced that a generous programme of reconstruction, inspired by clearly thought out principles, must be undertaken if the nation is to be saved from ruin. They found no hope of a real solution in a policy of hand-to-mouth makeshifts and ‘concessions,’ such as seemed to them likely to be followed by a Coalition of men of widely varying principles. On the other hand, the Labour Party appeared to them to waver between two mutually incompatible doctrines, both abstract, ill-defined and undigested; and the more they studied the problem, the more convinced they became that the best hope of a steady approximation to greater justice and a finer spirit of freedom and comradeship in industry lay in a courageous and clear-thinking redefinition of Liberalism in relation to modern needs and conditions.

[15] Liberalism is a habit of mind, a point of view, a way of looking at things, rather that a fixed and unchanging body of doctrine. Like all vital creeds, it is the spirit not a formula. It gets expression, from time to time, in formulae and programmes of policy; but these are always and necessarily determined by the circumstances of the time which they are framed. They can therefore have no permanent validity. They need to be constantly revised and recast, or they become mere shackles on the spirit which they try to express.

[16] Often enough the Liberal, if he will be honest with himself, has to admit that the formulae in which his predecessors expressed their beliefs are no longer valid, and perhaps even that they were at no time an adequate expression of the ideals of Liberalism.

[29] [Older Liberals] overlooked…their distrust of State interference, of compulsion, and of regulation [and] failed to realize that in one aspect the State ought to be regarded as a great partnership for good living. Rightly valuing individuality, they often forgot the community.


Hayes, Carlton J. H. 1922. “Review: Liberalism and Industry by Ramsay Muir (1921),” Political Science Quarterly 37(4): 683-686.

[683-684] There are signs that Liberalism is again raising its head in England. In Manchester, the historic center of English Liberalism, a group of manufacturers and tradesmen have been discussing economic problems and elaborating a program of social reform. This program has now been put in writing by Mr. Ramsay Muir, with the assistance of Lord Haldane, and has received the endorsement of the General Council of the Manchester Liberal Federation.

It is Liberalism in the sense that it combats State Socialism on the one hand and Anarchism on the other. It is Liberalism also in the sense that it is inspired by the spirit of ‘Liberty’. But much water has gone under the bridge since the days of Cobden and Bright, and the new Manchester School is far removed from the old. Either might say of the other, ‘Liberty, Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name.’

The old Liberalism championed the classical political economy of Adam Smith and David Ricardo—laissez-faire and individualism, freedom of trade and freedom of contract. Outside of the protection of private property, all state interference in economic matters was anathema. The new Liberalism, as set forth by Mr. Muir and his Manchester friends, frankly recognizes that those earlier doctrines tended in practical operation to justify ‘a very narrow and selfish view of a man's duty to his fellows’ and to encourage ‘the acceptance of conflict instead of cooperation as the natural relationship between the organizers of industry and the workpeople’. The new Liberalism therefore starts with the assumption that it is the duty of the state to secure for all its citizens such conditions of life as will make real liberty possible. Intellectually Mr. Muir is the heir of Sismondi and Michael Sadler, the foes of historic Liberalism; and the Liberalism which he proclaims is indebted less to the precepts of Smith and Ricardo than to the theories of Guild Socialists and even State Socialists.


Pearlman, Selig. 1922. A History of Trade Unionism in the United States. The Macmillan Company: New York.

[291] In recent years a new type of intellectual has come to the front. A product of a more generalized mental environment than his predecessor, he is more daring in his retrospects and his prospects. He is just as ready to advance an ‘economic interpretation of the constitution’ as to advocate a collectivistic panacea for the existing industrial and social ills. Nor did this new intellectual come at an inopportune time for getting a hearing. Confidence in social conservatism has been undermined by an exposure in the press and through legislative investigations of the disreputable doings of some of the staunchest conservatives. At such a juncture ‘progressivism’ and a ‘new liberalism’ were bound to come into their own in the general opinion of the country.


Barnes, Harry E. 1922. “Some Typical Contributions of English Sociology to Political Theory” The American Journal of Sociology 27(4): 442-485.

[443] Further, while both are avowed Liberals in English politics, Spencer’s Liberalism was of the ‘Mid-Victorian’ brand of Cobden and Bright, while Hobhouse is a supporter of that newer Liberalism of Asquith and Lloyd George which has abandoned most of the laissez faire tenets of the earlier period and is the party in England which has been the most consistent of the major political parties in advocating and carrying out an extensive program of social reform and remedial legislation. It was the growth of this modern phase of Liberalism which compelled Spencer in his later years to find himself more inclined to favor the Conservative party.


Hobhouse, Leonard T. 1922. Elements of Social Justice. George Allen and Unwin: London.

[146] With these limitation we must admit remuneration in proportion to the value of work done as a maxim of economic justice. The admission is of the first importance in the application of the principles of justice to ideals of social organization. For the admission makes possible a system of free exchange—which will never take place except at equal values—and its denial involves a system of industry communally organized. It is thus the point of division between Socialism proper and the Social Liberalism which seeks the harmony of the communal and the individual.


Hobson, John Atkinson. 1922. Problems of a New World. The Macmillan Company: New York.

[235-236] More important than the collapse of monarchism is the collapse of the policy and organization of Liberalism. In Britain, in America and, though less decisively, in the industrially developed countries of the Continent, a large bourgeoisie of petty employers and traders, with the main body of the professional classes, formed a solid phalanx of support for a moderate progressive policy. The concentration of industry and finance upon the one hand, the growth of workers’ organizations upon the other, were weakening this main support of Liberalism during the last generation. But its downfall has been hastened by the experiences of the war. The cautious and unprincipled opportunism upon which it had lived so long is discredited as a policy hopelessly incompetent to cope with the live issues of our time, and its economic prosperity is damaged by a redistribution of income in which it cannot hope to hold its own against the upper and the nether pressures to which it is everywhere subjected.


Carpenter, Niles. 1922. Guild Socialism. D. Appleton and Company: New York.

[57] ‘The New Liberalism’ was one channel through which Fabianism worked. The student of recent British political history will remember that, following the fall of the last Gladstone ministry, the Conservative or Unionist Party enjoyed a ten-year term of power. Following the Tory Democrat principle of Disraeli, it passed some laws favorable to labor and a comprehensive factory law.

[58] There followed a social reform program ordinarily known as ‘The New Liberalism.’ Abandoning the traditional laissez-faire policy of mid-Victorian Liberalism, the new ministry introduced a series of reforms, many of which verged on Collectivism. Besides a series of child-welfare bills, including the provision of free meals for under-fed school-children, and further regulation of industry, the Liberal Parliament passed an Old Age Pensions Act in 1908, a Labor Exchanges Act in 1909 and an Insurance Act in 1911, which provided for compulsory insurance against sickness and unemployment. … The climax of ‘the New Liberalism’ was reached when Mr. Lloyd George, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, sought to provide funds for the increased expenditures which this program had laid on the government by his famous ‘Budget,’ which increased the taxation on the landed classes to a greater degree than on the moneyed classes.


John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes, (1883 – 1946) was a British economist whose ideas have fundamentally affected the theory and practice of modern macroeconomics, and informed the economic policies of governments.

John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes, (1883 – 1946) was a British economist whose ideas have fundamentally affected the theory and practice of modern macroeconomics, and informed the economic policies of governments.

Keynes, John Maynard. [1925] 1963. “Am I a Liberal?” in Essays in Persuasion. W. W. Norton and Company: New York.

[328-330] What then do I want Liberalism to be? … To begin with, it must emancipate itself from the dead-wood of the past. In my opinion there is now no place, except in the Left Wing of the Conservative Party, for those whose hearts are set on old-fashioned individualism and laissez-faire in all their rigour—greatly through these contributed to success of the nineteenth century. … Our programme must deal not with the historic issues of Liberalism, but with those matters—whether or not they have already become party questions—which are of living interest and urgent importance to-day.

[335] The transition from economic anarchy to a regime which deliberately aims at controlling and directing economic forces in the interests of social justice and social stability, will present enormous difficulties both technical and political. I suggest, nevertheless, that the true destiny of New Liberalism is to seek their solution.


John Dewey 1859 – 1952) was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. Dewey is one of the primary figures associated with philosophy of pragmatism and is considered one of the founders of functional psychology.

John Dewey 1859 – 1952) was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. Dewey is one of the primary figures associated with philosophy of pragmatism and is considered one of the founders of functional psychology.

Dewey, John. 1927. The Public and Its Problems. Henry Holt: New York.

[134] In the United Stated the name ‘liberal,’ as a party designation, is still employed to designate a progressive in political matters. … The irony of history is nowhere more evident than in the reversal of the practical meaning of the term ‘liberalism’ in spite of a literal continuity of theory.


Durant, Will. 1929. The Mansions of Philosophy. Simon and Schuster: New York.

[413-414] It is remarkable how far the ideology of the rising bourgeoisie, in the century of revolution, partook of that hunger and thirst for liberty which generates in anarchism the simplest and most alluring of political philosophies. Adam Smith…argued that the wealth of nations depended upon the freedom of the individual. …[A]nd Herbert Spencer, inheriting the liberal tradition from Bentham and Stuart Mill, reduced the state to a vanishing point, retaining it only as a ‘night-watchman’ for his property. … This aspiration to absolute liberty shows an arresting universality and a strange persistency.


Haldane, Viscount. 1929. An Autobiography. Hodder and Stoughton: London.

[212-213] [A] new spirit was disclosing itself, a spirit that was moving the democracy to go beyond the old-fashioned Liberal tradition, and to show that it would be content with nothing short of a demonstration that the democracy was for the future to have the last word.


Haldane, Richard Burton. 1929. An Autobiography. Doubleday, Doran and Company: New York.

[228] We liberals failed to realize in the beginning of 1906 that the spirit was rapidly changing, and the outlook of Victorian Liberalism was not sufficient for the progressive movement which had set in early in the twentieth century.


Richard Henry "R. H." Tawney (1880 – 1962) was an English economic historian, social critic, ethical socialist, Christian socialist, and an important proponent of adult education.

Richard Henry "R. H." Tawney (1880 – 1962) was an English economic historian, social critic, ethical socialist, Christian socialist, and an important proponent of adult education.

Tawney, Richard Henry. [1931] 1979. Equality. Unwin Books: New York.

[200-201] The political psychology with which the British socialists have to deal is, no doubt, pretty complicated; but its essentials, at any rate, are obvious enough. Unlike that of Europe, and still more that of Russia, it has been steeped for two centuries in a liberal tradition, and the collapse of political Liberalism has not effaced the imprint. The result is the existence of a body of opinion…which is sensitive on such subjects as personal liberty, freedom of speech and meeting, tolerance, the exclusion of violence from politics, parliamentary government—what, broadly, it regards as fair play and the guarantees for it. … [Socialists] must make it clear beyond the possibility of doubt that the socialist commonwealth which they preach will be built on democratic foundations.


Muir, Ramsay. 1933. “The Prospect for British Liberalism,” Foreign Affairs 11(2): 290-306.

[291] It is true that in the nineteenth century Liberalism might fairly be described as aiming at the threefold goal of democratic government, national freedom, and economic individualism. But it is not true…that this was ever an adequate description of the Liberal outlook, and is far less adequate today than in the past. Liberalism is a state of mind, not a rigid body of doctrine; and its immediate aims must always be determined by the circumstances of the time.

[294] The belief in national freedom, which is the second characteristic element in nineteenth century Liberalism, has by no means weakened, but has changed its form: today its aim is to bring the freedom and security of all nations…under the protection of law by the creation of an organized international system.

[295] It is therefore not merely misleading, but historically untrue, to contend that — at any rate in Britain — Liberalism has ever been identified with the barren and negative creed of laissez faire, save in regard to the movement of international trade.


Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, (1872 – 1970) was a British nobleman, philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic. At various points in his life he considered himself a liberal, a socialist, and a pacifist, but he also admitted that he had never been any of these in any profound sense.

Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, (1872 – 1970) was a British nobleman, philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic. At various points in his life he considered himself a liberal, a socialist, and a pacifist, but he also admitted that he had never been any of these in any profound sense.

Russell, Bertrand. 1934. Freedom and Organization 1814-1914. George Allen and Unwin: London.

[505] [Liberalism] stood for liberty, both individual and national, with as little government as possible; indeed, the functions of government were reduced by many Liberals to the prevention of crime.”

[506] “Radicalism, unlike Liberalism, was a doctrine inspired by economic considerations, especially such as were suggested by nascent industrialism. Radicals were even more individualistic that Liberals, since they took no interest in nations. … They believed in free trade, free competition, free individual initiative within the limits of the criminal law.


Usher, Abbott Payson. 1934. “A Liberal Theory of Constructive Statecraft,” The American Economic Review 24(1): 1-10.

[1] Classical and neo-classical economic theory is commonly associated with a form of liberalism that was more largely directed toward the repeal of old laws and regulations than to the constructive development of institutions to meet new social problems. In the past the chief emphasis has been laid upon these destructive accomplishments of economic liberalism. It has therefore been easy to overlook the actual constructive accomplishments of the early nineteenth century, and many are disposed to believe that these positive achievements were inconsistent with the primary postulates of classical and neo-classical theory. …[B]ut a positive theory of constructive statecraft is implicit in the basic liberal concepts. The most characteristic of classical theory lead directly toward a broad concept of the task of the state.


Hocking, William Ernest. 1935. “The Future of Liberalism,” The Journal of Philosophy 32(9): 230-247.

[230] …Liberalism as a special historic pattern of political and economic ideas has already passed: it has no future.


Studebaker, John W. 1935. “Liberalism and Adult Civic Education,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences 182(Nov.): 63-72.

[63-64] First, let us inquire into the meaning of liberalism. The function of liberalism, it seems to me, is to liberate. Liberalism historically has been an attack on despotic authority. … Liberalism is a temper of mind, a way of thinking. It shuns dogmatism. It urges unfettered, absolutely free investigation of every problem. Liberalism is not afraid to face the facts and follow where they lead. … Liberalism asks for freedom of inquiry in the belief that the truth about sociological, problems cannot be discovered in any other way.


Wells, Herbert George. 1935. “Impression of Masaryk,” Nase doba 42.

[321-322] There is as it were a pause in liberal progress, a pause between the great liberal drive of the nineteenth century…and the renascent Liberalism of the twentieth century which will carry us on to the planned economy of a unified and pacified world.


Soule, George. 1935. A Planned Society. The Macmillan Company: New York.

[91] The mistake of liberalism arose from concentration on its negative aspect—of trying to free the individual from being forced into ways of behaving which were unsuitable to a new intellectual and physical environment. Liberalism forgot the equal importance of finding suitable ways of behaving. … Its sounder instincts persist, but the balance of emphasis needs to be more truly rendered. Today more than ever we need synthesis, coordination, rational control.


Randall, Jr., John Herman. 1935. “Liberalism as Faith in Intelligence,” The Journal of Philosophy 32(10): 253-264.

[263] The method of liberalism to-day, then, is to explore critically and intelligently what social and institutional changes are under present conditions necessary for the liberation of human energies. It is to examine and make use of all the means which will secure the action of human beings in behalf of those changes.


  Harold Joseph Laski (1893 – 1950) was a British political theorist, economist, author, and lecturer. He was active in politics and served as the chairman of the British Labour Party during 1945–1946, and was a professor at the London School of Economics from 1926 to 1950. 

 Harold Joseph Laski (1893 – 1950) was a British political theorist, economist, author, and lecturer. He was active in politics and served as the chairman of the British Labour Party during 1945–1946, and was a professor at the London School of Economics from 1926 to 1950. 

Laski, Harold J. 1936. The Rise of Liberalism. Harper and Brothers: New York.

[274] Liberalism did not abandon its belief in the validity of private ownership of the means of production. … But it was at least taught by pressure of trade unions, on one hand, and by thinkers like Green and Mathew Arnold, in England, by Tocqueville in France, by the socialists of the chair in Germany, that it must adopt a positive conception of the state. The conception of progressive taxation in the interest of the masses then became an essential part of the Liberal idea.


Dewey, John. 1935. “The Future of Liberalism,” Journal of Philosophy 32(9): 225-230.

[225] The emphasis of earlier liberalism upon individuality and liberty defines the focal points in discussion of the philosophy of liberalism to-day.

[230] Any liberalism that does not make full cultural freedom supreme and that does not see the relation between it and genuine industrial freedom as a way of life is a degenerate and delusive liberalism.


Dewey, John. [1935] 1963. Liberalism and Social Action. Capricorn Books: New York.

[56] Liberalism is committed to an end that is at once enduring and flexible: the liberation of individuals so that realization of their capacities may be the law of their life.

[88] …[T]he recent policy of liberalism has been to further ‘social legislation’…. It marks a decided move away from laissez faire liberalism, and has considerable importance in educating the public mind to a realization of the possibilities of organized social control…. But the cause of liberalism will be lost for a considerable period if it is not prepared to go further and socialize the forces of production, now at hand, so that the liberty of individuals will be supported by the very structure of economic organization.

[90] Since liberation of the capacities of individuals for free, self-initiated expression is an essential part of the creed of liberalism, liberalism that is sincere must will the means that condition the achieving of its ends.

[90] The notion that organized social control of economic forces lies outside the historic path of liberalism shows that liberalism is still impeded by remnants of its earlier laissez faire phase, with its opposition of society and the individual. The thing which now dampens liberal ardor and paralyzes its efforts is the conception that liberty and development of individuality as ends exclude the use of organized social effort as means. Earlier liberalism regarded the separate and competing economic action of individuals as the means to social well-being as the end. We must reverse the perspective and see that socialized economy is the means of free individual development as the end.

[91] Translation into action signifies that the general creed of liberalism be formulated as a concrete program of action.


Perry, Charner. 1936. The Forms and the Substance of Liberalism,” International Journal of Ethics 46(3): 308-329.

[315-316] In the modern period many theories, each claiming to be correct and claiming to provide a basis for comprehensive reform, have been formulated. Each of these theories may be a liberal theory, since liberalism, in so far as it is a theory, is no doubt the belief that it is possible to construct a comprehensive and reasonable diagnosis and prescription for society.

[319-320] During the nineteenth century the doctrine that conflicts of interests and of ideals will be harmonized by unplanned social processes was generally abandoned. As a consequence, the doctrine that social order must be due to planning and agreement was reinstated. More accurately, the doctrine that social order is the necessary resultant of social processes was partly abandoned, and the notion that social order is due to planning was partially reinstated; and these two doctrines were fused into a theory which has been the conspicuous form of liberalism in recent years. According to this theory, the doctrine of a planned society, social processes run themselves in general or to a certain extent, and it is not necessary for ordinary members of society to understand the nature of social processes of the structure of society. … Experts would slow up certain processes, speed up others, stimulate production in one place, stimulate consumption in another place, mange the currency, perhaps, and in general bring order and harmony into society. This theory combines two doctrines which are contradictory, and both which are false.


Sabine, George H. 1937. A History of Political Theory. Henry Holt: New York.

[676] [Thomas Hill] Green’s general principle, that a liberal government ought to legislate in any case where the law can remove an obstacle to the highest moral development of its citizens, provided at least the framework for a wholly different conception of government from that held by the older liberalism.

[680] Green’s restatement of liberal principles gave them the moral driving force of an ethical idealism at once socially-minded and serious in its purposes. At the same time, however, the ideal of self-realization was so formal in its nature and so vague in its practical implications that its concrete meaning had to depend largely on circumstances. In consequence later liberalism has tended to disintegrate either in the direction of conservatism or in the direction of socialism, between which it has aspired to steer a middle course.


Bowden, Witt. 1938. “Freedom for Wage Earners,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 200(Nov.): 185-209.

[209] Many of the advocates of ‘liberty,’ it is true, refused to recognize such an interpretation of liberalism. The French Declaration of the Rights of Man held private enterprise and private property to be sacred and inviolable. Later liberals, however, abandoned such a view. After an evolution of a century and a half, liberalism is no longer committed unalterably to any ‘natural’ or ‘inviolable’ institutional framework. In keeping with present-day complexities…contemporary liberalism is a method of social adjustment. The essential of the liberal method are the processes of inquiry, discussion, democratic decision, and unobstructed action for giving effect to decisions.


League for Social Reconstruction. 1938. Democracy needs Socialism. Thomas Nelson and Sons: Toronto.

[26-27] Liberalism is no longer a way out. … The Liberal party is a conservative party. It believes that individual business men should be allowed to run their own business exclusively for profit. It is not working to replace but to preserve capitalism. … The economic philosophy of Liberalism is utterly false, and hence the party is a reactionary rather than a progressive element in our political life.


John Maurice Clark (1884 – 1963) was an American economist whose work combined the rigor of traditional economic analysis with an "institutionalist" attitude.

John Maurice Clark (1884 – 1963) was an American economist whose work combined the rigor of traditional economic analysis with an "institutionalist" attitude.

Clark, John Maurice. 1939. Social Control of Business. McGraw-Hill Company: New York.

[498] The system of democratic liberalism is itself in a state of transition. … Piecemeal control has gone so far that it is high time to contemplate its total cumulative effect. We have lived through the period of special controls, either limited to incidental matters or conforming in a general way to free-market standards and leaving to private enterprise the main task of putting resources to work and determining what they should work at. This period appears to be over. The ‘main task’ has become a matter of community concern, perhaps permanently.


Barker, Ernest. 1942. Reflections on Government. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

[3] There was a time when Liberalism might be described as the party of the Left. To-day it has moved to the centre; and it leads a precarious life, under a constant threat of elision, between the Nationalism of the Right and the Socialism which now occupies its old station of the Left. … The original attitude of Liberalism may seem to be negative, the attitude of the spirit der stets verneint, the attitude of a constant ‘No’ to the claims of the organized State. But it is negative only to those who regard the spirit of man, in its own intrinsic individuality, as itself a negative quantity; and in any case the primary protest of Liberalism soon came to be transcended. … Political was added to civil liberty; and the cause of Liberalism, by a natural extension, became the positive course of affirmative and active Democracy.


Herrick, Francis H. 1944. “British Liberalism and the Idea of Social Justice,” American Journal of Economics and Sociology 4(1): 67-79.

[74] Even today it repays careful study, for it reveals a clear and significant Liberal philosophy, neither radical nor socialist, which helped to create what has been called the ‘welfare state’ and which still influences the course of British history even though the party which upheld it has practically disappeared from the political scene.

What was this new Liberalism? The party of Gladstone was inspired by a belief in individual liberty within the national State. It sought the gradual achievement of a community of enfranchised and educated citizens, each with the greatest possible freedom in buying and selling of goods, and in the profitable management of property. Since this sort of progress was the summation of individual strivings and property was over the years accumulating reward of individual industry and probity, Liberals supposed that the State should be the guarantor of personal and property rights than an active participant in progress. … The major premises of Liberalism were too firmly established to be questioned when the intrusion of the social problem forces a new generation of Liberals to adjust their views to the actual condition of the world. Unlike the socialists, who rejected altogether the principle of laissez-faire at home, the new Liberals sought the solution of the social problem in the reservations always attached to their principles.

[78] Although it might not reap the credit, British Liberalism in its final phase established the ‘sovereignty of social welfare’ and raised the framework of the modern welfare state.


Hill, Lewis E. 1964. “On Laissez-Faire Capitalism and ‘Liberalism,’” American Journal of Economics and Sociology 23(4): 393-396.

[393] What is economic liberalism? Who are the economic liberals? The answers to these questions have been confused by the advocated of laissez-faire capitalism, who have been attempting to reclaim the word ‘liberalism’ as the designation of their philosophy. … In the United States, Henry C. Simons, Milton Friedman and other members of the ‘Chicago Group’ have classifies themselves as ‘liberals’ and their philosophy as the ‘new liberalism.’ … We may sympathize with these distinguished contemporary laissez-faire economists, because the ‘liberal’ designation belonged to their predecessors, the laissez-faire economists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Nevertheless, their attempt to reclaim the ‘liberal’ appellation is to be deplored, because it adds more confusion to a terminology which is already very confused. … The word ‘liberalism’ meant one thing during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but means something quite different in the twentieth century.

[394] Twentieth-century liberalism can be conveniently designated as ‘welfare liberalism’ because it calls for positive efforts to augment the public welfare. Most welfare liberals follow John R. Commons’ usage to distinguished between the negative removal of outside restraints, which Commons called ‘liberty,’ and the positive provision of accessible alternatives, which he called ‘freedom.’ Liberty alone is not enough; it must be supplemented with freedom.

4L is authored by Daniel B. Klein, Professor of Economics, JIN Chair at the Mercatus Center, George Mason University, Associate Fellow of the Ratio Institute; email: dklein@gmu.edu

Quotations compiled by Ryan Daza & Daniel B. Klein