Politics in Minutes (2016)

Social liberalism

J.S. Mill, one of the greatest advocates of liberal ideology, initially advocated government only to protect those rights, and believed in an unregulated free-market economy without the burden of excessive taxation. But he later came to recognize that individual freedom is not incompatible with the good of the community and liberalism should also concern itself with social justice. Persuaded by what he saw as social injustices in Victorian Britain, he proposed that government economic policy should aim to mitigate poverty, and have a role in public health and education. This strand of British liberalism gained support, leading to radical social welfare programmes and unprecedented progressive taxation, introduced at the beginning of the 20th century by liberal governments. These paved the way for a comprehensive welfare state in the UK after the Second World War. And it was an English liberal economist, John Maynard Keynes, who provided President F.D. Roosevelt with the framework for his New Deal, bringing social liberalism to the USA in response to the Great Depression.


The crisis triggered by the Great Depression and Dust Bowl of the 1930s plunged many Americans into poverty – a crisis that was finally remedied with the introduction of the New Deal.