Criticisms Faced Against Liberalism are as follows:
1. Liberalism Lacks Clarity:
Liberalism is not a clearly defined concept. It is ambiguous and unclear. Several different kinds of opinions and ideas of various scholars stand incorporated into it. It has been charging its colours too often. On the hand, it supports the individual and on the other, it pushes the individual into a capitalist economic system with all its exploitations.
2. Undue Faith in the Rationality of Individual:
Liberalism puts unduly big faith in individual’s intellect and rationality. A common man usually lacks the intellect to understand each and every problem of life and to find solutions. A common man so much engrossed in life around him and his problems that he hardly gets a chance to apply his intellect to solve social and global problems.
3. Individual is seldom the best judge of his interests:
It is wrong on part of the liberalists to claim that every individual understands his interests fully well and functions accordingly. There are very few people in any society who are educated knowledgeable and able to understand everything fully. Most of the people are ignorant even about their real interests. Secondly, most of them know only their immediate interests. The Socialists believe that the State alone can be the best judge of an individual’s physical, psychological, social and economic needs.
4. Individual is not a separate-isolated entity:
The liberalists’ view that individual is a unit separate from society, is not true. The very idea that society is a mere collection of individuals is wrong. Society has its own character and aims which are larger and more extensive than individual aims and individuality. An individual has little entity and identity outside the Society.
5. The State is not an artificial institution:
The belief that the State is an artificial institution is not acceptable. The State is a natural institution which evolved over a long period of time and several factors have contributed to its growth. It is not a necessary evil.
6. Conception of Natural Rights is wrong:
The traditional conception of natural rights of man is an unsound proposition. It is wrong to say that certain rights which man had in prehistoric state of nature must be considered inviolable. The rights in here in society and the State is the protector of rights. In the larger interests of society, the State can impose some restrictions on the rights.
7. Wrong conception of Liberty by the Traditional Liberalists:
It is said that the liberalists’ view of liberty is wrong. It is not correct to say that an extension in the sphere of State activity destroys the liberty of the individual. Liberty does not mean absence of restraints. In a positive sense, liberty means rightful and just imposition of restrictions so that all individuals may find it convenient to function within society. The restrictions imposed on individual liberty by the laws of the State are primarily meant to safeguard the liberty of all the people in society.
8. Open Competition is harmful for weaker sections of Society:
Liberalists support open competition in-economic sphere. Open competition leads to stage where the capitalists grow very powerful and the poor get exploited. The rich grow richer and the poor become poorer. There emerges starvation, hunger, disease and unemployment in society. Open competition suits the capitalists and not the common people.
9. Criticism by the Socialists and Communists:
The liberalists think that society can be transformed through peaceful methods. The communists do not agree with it. They argue that those who control the means of production and distribution cannot be peacefully unseated from their privileged position. The rich are bound to always oppose any kind of change with their full might. Communists therefore justify the use of violence and force i.e. revolution for securing changes in the existing socio- economic system.
The Socialists criticise Liberalism because it gives less importance to society and social needs. It places total faith in the individual and forgets the society
10. Liberalism is a philosophy of Middle Class:
The critics point out that he ideology of liberalism is a philosophy of middle class. It places greater emphasis on maintaining stability and balance within the existing order. The suggestions put forward by the liberalists for the general welfare really serve the interests of the class if the rich. It does nothing to promote the interests of the workers and the poor critics hold that liberalism can never lead to active social and economic transformation. Thus the critics of Liberalism point out its several limitations.
However, the views of the critics now stand rejected in this age of Liberalism, In-fact, most of the points of criticism stand directed against Classical Liberalism and lot Contemporary Liberalism. Liberalism in the 21st century stands for human welfare liberty, liberalisation, social, economic and political pluralism, market-economy, open struggle for power, open competition in trade and commerce, social security under law, and human rights and freedoms. The world has now, with near unanimity, accepted the virtue of Liberalism as the best way if organising the social, economic and political life in each society.
Contemporary Liberalism accepts that state is a natural and essential human organisation. Its primary function is to provide security and create conditions essential for the enjoyment of rights and freedoms by all the people. The State and its Government has to be a democrats state and government. People have the right and freedom to organise their interest groups and associations for protecting and promoting their interests.
The government has to work along with these to promote social-welfare and development. State and Civil Society have to coexist and work together in harmony. The transformation of narrow and negative liberalism of the 19th century into a broad and positive liberalism of 21st century committed to the ideals of both individual development and social welfare, has enabled Liberalism to get recognition as the most respected ideology of our age.