Classical liberalism is a philosophy committed to the ideal of limited government, liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets.
In the late 19th century, classical liberalism developed into neo-classical liberalism, which argued for government to be as small as possible in order to allow the exercise of individual freedom. In its most extreme form, it advocated Social Darwinism. Libertarianism is a modern form of neo-classical liberalism.
The term classical liberalism was applied in retrospect to distinguish earlier 19th-century liberalism from the newer social liberalism. The phrase classical liberalism is also sometimes used to refer to all forms of liberalism before the 20th century, and some conservatives and libertarians use the term classical liberalism to describe their belief in the primacy of economic freedom and minimal government. It is not always clear which meaning is intended.
Social liberalism is the belief that liberalism should include social justice. It differs from classical liberalism in that it believes it to be a legitimate role of the state to address economic and social issues such as unemployment, health care, and education while simultaneously expanding civil rights. Under social liberalism, the good of the community is viewed as harmonious with the freedom of the individual. Social liberal policies have been widely adopted in much of the capitalist world, particularly following World War II. Social liberal ideas and parties tend to be considered centrist or centre-left.
A reaction against social liberalism in the late twentieth century, often called neoliberalism, led to monetarist economic policies and a reduction in government provision of services. However, this reaction did not result in a return to classical liberalism, as governments continued to provide social services and retained control over economic policy.
The term “social liberalism” is often used interchangeably with “modern liberalism”. The Liberal International is the main international organisation of liberal parties, which include, among other liberal variants, social liberal parties. It affirms the following principles: human rights, free and fair elections and multiparty democracy, social justice, tolerance, social market economy, free trade, environmental sustainability and a strong sense of international solidarity.
Social justice is based on the concepts of human rights and equality and involves a greater degree of economic egalitarianism through progressive taxation, income redistribution, or even property redistribution. These policies aim to achieve what developmental economists refer to as more equality of opportunity than may currently exist in some societies, and to manufacture equality of outcome in cases where incidental inequalities appear in a procedurally just system. The Constitution of the International Labour Organization affirm that “universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice