What is Liberalism?

Historically, there have been many uses of the term liberal. Four popular conceptions include: philosophical liberal, originating during the Enlightenment period with philosophers such as Hobbes, Locke, and Hume, who supported the fundamental freedom of human beings and legitimacy of government stemming from consent of the governed;economic (classical) liberal, originating during the 19th century, which fought government interference in the economy, supported free trade, and created open enterprise;liberal in political position, originating from the French Revolution, where being 'left' of the current political climate made one liberal, regardless of what system existed (e.g.) one could exist in a communist system, support more radical communism, and be considered a liberal);social liberal (modern US understanding), originating after the Second World War, where many philosophical and economic liberals supported welfare reform and more socially equitable wealth distributions. In Britain and Canada, they are usually called 'social liberals' to distinguish them but, in the US, where socialism and communism have become stigmatised, many refer to anyone who supports higher social equality of wealth a liberal. Technically, social liberals support capitalism with some degree of government intervention and, therefore, are neither communist nor socialist.