Free Sample essay on the rapid Growth of Liberalism


In contrast to England where liberalism made rapid progress towards the close of the eighteenth century and the nineteenth century, the Liberalism could not make much progress in countries of Europe.

This slow progress in these countries was due to civil and religious strifes and the slow pace of commercial and industrial development. Further, the presence of strong state and traditions of authority also hampered the de­velopment of liberalism and democracy. No doubt, certain liberal and democratic movements did make an appearance in some of the European countries but they enjoyed very limited support.

Often the liberal move­ments in European countries tried to promote reactionary tendencies and sacrificed individual liberty and general good. Prof. David G. Smith has rightly asserted that the European liberalism was decidedly aristocratic, supporting not only liberty but also the inequitable privileges of localities, corporations and social and religious groups. This specimen of Liberalism is best represented by Montesquieu and Benjamin Constant.


The European Liberalism underplayed the principles of political liberty and popular participation and showed preference for enlightened despotism.

It ignored constitutional tradition and laid greater emphasis on the reform of civil and administrative institutions. In fact, the Liberal thinkers of Europe were sharply divided. While some espoused despotic methods, the others sought to discover liberal spirit in the general will of the people.

In the economic spheres also scholars like Jean Baptiste Say, Fredereck Bastiat and Friedrich Von Herman made a forceful plea for laissez faire and free trades, but their ideas could not gain ground due to absence of a well-organized middle class.

No wonder economic liberalism remained confined to a section of bourgeoisie and the scholars. These economic principles were implemented in France and Italy at a later stage, but they were intended to promote the interests of only a small section of economically affluent members of society and completely ignored the principles of individual liberty and equality.


In short, we can say that Liberalism could not achieve same success in other countries of Europe during the period under review, as it attained in Britain.

This was largely due to the fact that Liberalism was rather slow in taking roots in these countries of Europe. And later on when conditions for its success appeared, the entire atmosphere had been transformed.

People were more allured by doctrines of democracy, republicanism, na­tionalism and socialism. In the new context, the Liberalism also adopted new methods and assumed new shape.

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