Ever since the origin of state, Liberalism has been a continuously present ideology.
In all periods of history, liberalism found staunch supporters who defined and advocated it as the best ideology which stood for the rights, freedoms and interests of the Individual.
However, liberalism was defined differently in different periods of history. Initially it got the name individualism. Later on, it got the name modern individualism or new liberalism. At present, it enjoys the name liberalism or contemporary liberalism. It is the most popular ideology of the 21st Century.
In the 18th century, Liberalism had a powerful influence upon Western Europe and America. It was at the basis of both the French Revolution and the American War of Independence. In England, liberalism assumed the status of a national ideology. It continued to govern the thinking, policies and actions of a host of other countries. In the 20th century, it was adopted and practiced by a large number of states.
The states of Western Europe became totally imbued with the ideology of Liberalism. It became the guiding star for the national liberation movements in Asia and Africa, which became very strong in the first half of the 20th century.
It was also challenged by the ideology of Marxism or Marxian Socialism or Communism. However liberalism was successful not only in remaining popular but also in getting recognition as the best ideology. In fact in the last decade of the 20th Century, Liberalism got a universal acceptance as the most popular and loved ideology. It continues to be a universally accepted and followed ideology.
The word Liberalism owes its origin to the Latin word ‘Liberalis’ which means ‘freeman’. In this way, Liberalism stands for a social, economic and political order wherein man may feel free, safe and get encouraged to develop himself fully without outside interference.
In simple words it can be said that Liberalism advocates that the aim of State/Politics is to preserve individual rights and freedom. It stands for the development of individual and his society. It also expresses faith in the idea of progress and improvement in the social conditions.
It accepts individual development as the end and advocates that it must form the basis of all socio-economic development. It has faith in human potential and accepts that human creativity and rationality can provide the best foundations for our development.
Liberalism repudiates the concentration of power in the hands of state in the name welfare or development or equality. States is the social organisations of society. It is to promote necessary conditions for human and social development without unduly and unfairly putting restraints upon rights and freedoms of the people.
Contemporary liberalism regards the securing of the ideals of justice, liberty, equality, welfare state and all round development of the individual and his society as the goals. For achieving these it advocates total faith in the rights and freedom of all the people. It regards democracy as real only when it is governed by the ideology of liberalism.