Classical liberalism is one of the most important political and social philosophies, one which promotes peaceful cooperation, individual freedom, and limited government.
This set of remarkable ideas was foundational to Canada and indeed, the modern world. It fostered a political climate that allowed for open markets, innovation and ideas and an unprecedented increase in living standards over the last two centuries.
Classical liberalism developed over a long arduous history from the Magna Carta and many thinkers including Adam Smith, John Locke, Milton Friedman to Friedrich Hayek. Classical liberals do have various emphases, but all agree that the priority should emphasize the freedom of the individual and that people should be allowed to live their lives as they see fit with as little restraint as possible.
This approach to our society is now being actively undermined by a myriad of illiberal forces including special interests, utopian impulses and the need to save us from ourselves. Meanwhile, many take for granted classical liberalism’s profound and unique significance for our daily lives. In many respects, Canada and western civilization is now at a cross-road that may place our liberty and freedom at risk. In this context, the need is more than ever to renew our understanding of our liberal heritage as we seek to, as Eamonn Butler says, “unleash the infinite optimism and adaptability of the world.”
Therefore, what are the ten foundational principles that guide all classical liberals and their importance? What are the very real challenges to classical liberalism and what are the actions and solutions?
Our Guest – Dr. Eamonn Butler
Dr. Butler is an internationally renowned author, commentator, and director of the Adam Smith Institute, a leading policy think tank. He will be offering an overview of the classical liberal tradition and thoughtful insight into the need and opportunities for better public policy.
He has degrees in economics and psychology and a PhD in philosophy, and an honorary Doctor of Letters. In the 1970s he worked in Washington for the US House of Representatives, and taught philosophy at Hillsdale College before returning to the UK to help found the Adam Smith Institute.
He is a former winner of the UK’s National Free Enterprise Award. He is the author of numerous books on the pioneering economists of Milton Friedman, F.A. Hayek and Ludwig von MIses. His Foundations of a Free Society won the Fisher Prize in 2014.