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liberalism

Liberalism in the Twentieth Century

By 1900, L. T. Hobhouse and T. H. Green began to look to the state to prevent oppression and to advance the welfare of all individuals. Liberal thought was soon stating that the government should be responsible for providing the minimum conditions necessary for decent individual existence. In the early 20th cent. in Great Britain and France and later in the United States, the welfare state came into existence, and social reform became an accepted governmental role.

In the United States minimum wage laws, progressive taxation, and social security programs were all instituted, many initially by the New Deal, and today remain an integral part of modern democratic government. While such programs are also advocated by socialism, liberalism does not support the socialist goal of complete equality imposed by state control, and because it is still dedicated to the primacy of the individual, liberalism also strongly opposes communism. Current liberal goals in the United States include integration of the races, sexual equality, and the eradication of poverty.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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