New Liberal Successions: The Modernization of an Ideology

Michael Freeden

in Ideologies and Political Theory

Published in print April 1998 | ISBN: 9780198294146
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599323 | DOI:
 New Liberal Successions: The Modernization of an Ideology

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An examination of J. S. Mill's ideational legatees offers a useful insight into ideological variation, since later liberals constantly alluded to Mill as a yardstick by which to measure their own attainments; we thus face a tradition consciously absorbed and recreated by a new generation of ideological consumers, employing common points of reference to forge a sense of ideological community through expanding horizons. The Millite paradigm of the previous chapter becomes pivotal not merely as a preference of the analyst of ideologies, but because so many shapers of liberalism believed Mill to be pivotal; assessment of their contributions on the basis of that perception is methodologically justified, and moreover, from the historical perspective, a period offering instances of both ideological continuity and change is optimally suited to studying ideological diversity and conceptual mutability. In answer to the question of how the core concepts of liberty, individualism, progress, rationality, the general interest, sociability, limited, and responsible power fared in the hands of the Millite succession, it is contended in this chapter that they all remained constituents of the liberal core, but that some underwent redecontesting owing to changing scientific fashion, new sets of ethico‐cultural beliefs, and specific events that made their mark on ideological assumptions. The final feature of liberalism—structural tolerance—was a key facilitator in that process, allowing critical distancing from the modernist project with which liberalism was associated. The eight sections of the chapter are: (a) The idealist liberalism of T. H. Green; (b) Perimeter practices and adjacent aftermaths; (c) The new liberalism: the evolution of an ideology (d) The changing adjacencies of liberty; (e) The organic analogy; (f) Fleshing out the new liberal morphology; (g) State, group, and society: the German case; and (h) state, group, and society: the French case.

Keywords: decontestation; French liberalism; German liberalism; T. H. Green; idealist liberalism; ideology; individualism; liberal morphology; liberalism; liberty; limited power; J. S. Mill; modernization; new liberalism; power; progress; rationality; responsible power; sociability; the general interest

Chapter.  19833 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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