Classical liberals sought for economic liberty (66). This led to opposing of mercantilism and monopoly which only benefited an advantaged few (67). This paved way for capitalism in the eighteenth century. This view was greatly promoted by Adam Smith (1723-1790), who argued that individuals should be left to compete freely in the market.


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In the nineteenth century, the British Empire was experiencing immense benefits from the industrial revolution and acquiring of colonies in India, Canada, Australia, and later on Africa (69). The result was immense industrialization that benefited the middle class while leaving the working class exploited through poor working conditions such as long working hours and poor pay (70). A group of liberals, known as utilitarians, noticed this plight and sought to rectify it. Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), regarded as their leader, established that people should seek utility since utility promotes happiness (71). As such, he urged every individual to take the action that promotes the happiness of the greatest number of people (71). This is also referred to as the principle of utility. Bentham also entertained the idea that the government should intervene to promote the happiness of the majority. However, for such to be practical, such a government would need to be elected by the majority (72).

            John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), also a utilitarian, aimed at extending individual liberties. He achieved this through advocating for women rights. Mill was also concerned about the minority who did not conform to social standards. To improve the liberties of such groups, Mill formulated the Harm principle which stated that the only reason the government or society should interfere with a person’s activities is only when such actions are harming or threatening to harm others.

Neoclassical liberalism

Welfare liberalism


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