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Politics. Liberalism, Conservatism and Socialism


To define Liberalism we can say that liberalism is the concept which stresses on the importance of liberty and equality factor among people. Actually like all ideological vocabularies available is a contested concept. It is the dominant ideology in the post war era throughout the World. When the idea was first surfaced it was nothing short of a revolutionary concept. Moreover it replaced the feudalism, which was nothing but a static form of government and the authorities always said that they had divine authority to rule over the lands. If we look at the key elements that dominate the concept, we will find:

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  1. The privileging of all individuals
  2. All individuals are treated as equal in the concept.
  3. Every individual has the right to be free (Lock 2005).

There are a number of factors that play very important roles in the concept of being equal. It depends on the nature of the democracy where the people are staying, along with the rights that they are exercising. Liberalism also concentrates on the opportunities that the people of a society get to improve their living standards. Socio-economical conditions play a very important part in the concept. The concept mainly focuses around the equality for the political rights and all the opportunities. And in many ways we can say that it is a profound aspect. The idea of liberalism is closely linked with ideas of freedom and equality. Liberalism finally tries to establish a higher power of state in order to maintain relations between individuals, and tries to guarantee the rights and freedom (Dos 2006).

The role of State in the concept is basically dependent on the individual and collective security aspects, and the proper rule of the law. Finally, it leads to a free market economy.


Conservatism is a response to the French Revolution and all the subsequent changes that happened in the 18th century Europe at that time. Here the supporters united only they were afraid to exercise the social changes that were coming at that point of time. Edmund Burke can be attributed as the earliest conservative thinker. According to them, society is considered as a “living organism” and societies have to evolve with the passage of time. If some one tries to fix the society without ever looking at its status it might cause the untimely breakdown of the society. There are two types of conservatives; reactionary conservatives generally resist change of any kind while moderate conservatives are open of graduate changing processes. They also focus on rights of property and say that private property is ultimately the cause of responsible and productive citizens in a society (Fletcher 2003).

Guy (1995) indicated that the wealthy class of the society has a responsibility towards the lower class of the society and their welfare. In recent times there is another form of conservatives surfaced and they strictly focuses on both moral and character for the total control on the population. They conceive that the market is more effective while it provides social needs rather than working for the state. Privatization is the solution for all the problems according to them and they even stress on tax cuts along with reducing all the welfare provisions that are backed by the state. There are several criticisms on the theory like it is an elitist theory and non-progressive concept, but still it is historically very important (Guy 1995).


The main concept of socialism deals in three aspects, equality, community and co-operation. The concept is basically focused on preserving the rights and interests of the working class people. According to King (2001), the wealth that is produced by collective effort must be enjoyed collectively. It is a direct critique of capitalism and tries to provide an alternative vision of society. Socialism deals with a very poignant question and the question is that what is required for a better society, evolution or revolution? And many thinkers have provided their valuable ideas in the issue that enriched the intellectual yearnings of men. Some of the very important slogans of the concept are the dependence on evolution and the solidarity in human society. They believe in the mixed economy. The aspects of globalization, the neo-liberal consensus and de alignment of classes are subsequent issues that contradict with the ideology (King 2001).

In recent times, there is a new concept that is known as the 3rd way which tries to establish a relation between liberal capitalism and democracy. It gradually accepts the concepts of democracy and the subsequent changes in the industry. It also acknowledges the decline of the power of the state too. It can be defined as a vibrant and free market economy without all the negative consequences of Neo-Liberalism. There are short comings of the economy too, but still it is a revolutionary concept in the case (Lamb 2004).

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All the three aspects, liberalism, conservatism and socialism together called as ideologies. Actually if we directly refer to Lawson we can say that these three are nothing but comprehensive set of beliefs and subsequent attitudes that attribute about the social and economic institutions that prevail in society. Throughout the course of human history, the three ideologies have been developed and practiced. All of them have similarities and dissimilarities alike. Let us discuss about the aspects.

Conservatism is the opposing factor of any radical changes that happen in the socio-economic perspective of the World. The past knowledge of the social order linked with the application of the present can ultimately derive a solid social order. The followers of conservatism generally follow the accumulated wisdom from the past generations and this leads to the devotion of traditional value-system along with the customs. Any type of socio-economical experiment done by the Government, according to the conservationists is directly regarded as a threat to the nation and all the national developments that they envisioned (Lock 2005).

It can be stated that change is only acceptable in a culmination of constant process. Strong patriotic feelings are the benchmark of general conservatism. The patriotism in the conservative ideology sometimes directly leads to a complete trust on the military power of the state, and it does not basically believe in the existence of diplomacy. But to a liberal minded people the human nature is supposedly egalitarian, and this is a direct contrast with the conservative ideology. It in an aspect some times diminishes the importance of the existing social unit. According to them both the basic human rights and subsequent liberties of a person is a factor of political necessity. To them the direct attribute of a political system has to be the subsequent factor in individual happiness. The basic effort in a liberal society is to assume maximum profit. In a liberal perspective apolitical man is some one who tries to make critical choices by directly participating in all the democratic processes (Dos 2006).

Liberalism can be strongly associated with the democracy. The essential factor of liberalism is the freedom of individuals. This individual freedom must be deployed in all the aspects of life. The last perspective of our discussion is socialism. The main stress factor of socialism is the cooperation factor of the human beings and it does not rely on aggressive competition among fellow human beings. According to the socialist thinkers the roots of exploitation of human lies in the factors of aggressive competition. The main difference of socialism with liberalism is that it is directly critical to all the existing structures and also thrives for constant change in the existing social order (Lamb 2004).

At times, revolution is the most preferred aspect of social change. Socialists believe that the Government has to ensure equal distribution of wealth. In other words they demand that all the land and other properties must be directly owned by the state and the workers will control the proceedings and it will ensure the same opportunities for every one. This is the only way to extinct poverty according to the socialist thinkers.


Basically there are numerous differences between all the three ideologies. But in the process we can mention that there are some similarities we can see between liberalism and conservatism. Still all the theories will be historically important in the course of human history as they are back bones of many a revolutions that had helped to shape the course of human history in past.

Reference list

Dos, M., 2006. The Political Truth of Thought Process. Auckland: Alliance Publications.

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Fletcher, R., 2003. Beliefs and Knowledge: Believing and Knowing. Wellington: Howard & Price.

Guy, J., 1995. People, Politics and Government: A Canadian Perspective. Scarborough, Ontario: Pearson Education.

King, H., 2001. History of Political Theories. Auckland: HBT & Brooks Ltd.

Lamb, D., 2004. Cult to Culture: The Development of Civilization. Wellington: National Book Trust.

Lock, D., 2005. Perspective and Perceptions of Politics. Wellington: Howard & Price.

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