....and proud of it!

Liberalism is a political current embracing several historical and present-day ideologies that claim defense of individual liberty and private property as the purpose of government. It typically favors the right to dissent from orthodox tenets or established authorities in political or religious matters. In this respect, it is sometimes held in contrast to conservatism. Since liberalism also focuses on the ability of individuals to structure their own society, it is almost always opposed to totalitarianism and collectivist ideologies, particularly communism.

The word "liberal" derives from the Latin "liber" ("free") and liberals of all stripes tend to view themselves as friends of freedom, particularly freedom from the shackles of tradition. The origins of liberalism in the Enlightenment era contrasted this philosophy to feudalism and mercantilism. Later, as more radical philosophies articulated their thoughts in the course of the French Revolution and through the nineteenth century, liberalism equally defined itself in contrast to socialism and communism, although some adherents of liberalism sympathize with some of the aims and methods of social democracy.

Classification in a consistent manner is made difficult by the tendency of the dominant strain of liberalism in a region to refer to itself simply as "liberalism" and reject that identification for other minority positions. Since the word "liberalism" can not only refer to a variety of distinct political positions in different countries but can also range from being highly complimentary to being a term of abuse, the connotations of the word in different political cultures can be starkly different.


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