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 Age of Enlightenment, History of liberalism and French Revolution

It Is Written Age of Enlightenment, History of liberalism and French Revolution

INTERNAL

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Age of Enlightenment

Age of Enlightenment, History of liberalism and French Revolution

John Locke, the "Father of classical liberalism"

Elements of libertarianism can be traced as far back as the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu and the higher-law concepts of the Greeks and the Israelites. In 17th-century England, libertarian ideas began to take modern form in the writings of the Levellers and John Locke. In the middle of that century, opponents of royal power began to be called Whigs, or sometimes simply "opposition" or "country" (as opposed to Court) writers.

During the 18th century, classical liberal ideas flourished in Europe and North America. Libertarians of various schools were influenced by classical liberal ideas.

Thomas Paine

John Locke greatly influenced both libertarianism and the modern world in his writings published before and after the English Revolution of 1688, especially A Letter Concerning Toleration (1667), Two Treatises of Government (1689) and An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). In the latter he established the basis of liberal political theory: that people's rights existed before government; that the purpose of government is to protect personal and property rights; that people may dissolve governments that do not do so; and that representative government is the best form to protect rights.[104] The United States Declaration of Independence was inspired by Locke in its statement: "to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it..." Nevertheless scholar Ellen Meiksins Wood says that "there are doctrines of individualism that are opposed to Lockean individualism(...)and non-lockean individualism may encompass socialism".

According to Murray Rothbard, the libertarian creed emerged from the classical liberal challenges to an "absolute central State and a king ruling by divine right on top of an older, restrictive web of feudal land monopolies and urban guild controls and restrictions", the mercantilism of a bureaucratic warfaring state allied with privileged merchants. The object of classical liberals was individual liberty in the economy, in personal freedoms and civil liberty, separation of state and religion, and peace as an alternative to imperial aggrandizement. He cites Locke's contemporaries, the Levellers, who held similar views. Also influential were the English "Cato's Letters" during the early 1700s, reprinted eagerly by American colonists who already were free of European aristocracy and feudal land monopolies.

In January of 1776, only two years after coming to America from England, Thomas Paine published his pamphlet "Common Sense" calling for independence for the colonies. Paine promoted classical liberal ideas in clear, concise language that allowed the general public to understand the debates among the political elites. Common Sense was immensely popular in disseminating these ideas, selling hundreds of thousands of copies. Paine later would write the Rights of Man and The Age of Reason and participate in the French Revolution. Paine's theory of property showed a "libertarian concern" with the redistribution of resources.

In 1793, William Godwin wrote a libertarian philosophical treatise, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Morals and Happiness, which criticized ideas of human rights and of society by contract based on vague promises. He took classical liberalism to its logical anarchic conclusion by rejecting all political institutions, law, government, and apparatus of coercion, as well as all political protest and insurrection. Instead of institutionalized justice he proposed that people influence one and other to moral goodness through informal reasoned persuasion, including in the associations they joined, and that this would facilitate human happiness.

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