Overview: Resistance to Liberalism

© The Capital and the Capitalist by Viktor Deni. Courtesy Scholar's Resource
In Unit Three, you learned about the evolution of liberalism. You learned that political and economic systems in liberal democracies changed gradually from what is known as classical liberalism to modern liberalism, or the liberalism of today.

From its inception until today, liberalism was extended gradually to apply to all citizens in a nation. Working class people, new immigrants, and women obtained the right to vote. Governments began to provide positive liberties so that all people were free to pursue their own goals, regardless of their backgrounds, through the provision of education and social programs. Labour standards and labour unions developed to deal with the concerns of workers. Human rights were extended to all, including women, children, and members of minority groups.

However, at the same time that modern liberalism was developing in many parts of the world, other nations rejected the idea that liberal democracy could ever respond to some the problems that seemed to accompany liberal thought. Communism in the Soviet Union and other parts of the world reflected more collectivist values. Fascism in Germany rejected liberal principles in favour of greater government control and ultranationalism.

The conflict between ideologies influenced the political and economic structures which continues to influence today's world.

The last part of the unit focuses on how resistance to liberal principles occurs in Canada as well as in other parts of the world. Aboriginal groups, with their more collectivist worldview, reject some liberal principles. Religious groups and those who believe society needs to protect the environment also reject some fundamental beliefs of liberalism. In our world today, liberalism has been imposed on various nations against their will. 

Take notes about reasons people and their governments reject liberalism and if the techniques they use are justified.

  • Read the pages that follow.
  • Study carefully all photos, artwork, propaganda posters, and historical film clips.
  • Read the required textbook readings.

As you complete this unit, consider the issue question:
To what extent is resistance to liberalism justified?

This unit has three sections:

  1. Why and how did Germany and Russia reject liberalism?
  2. How did conflict between ideologies shape our modern world?
  3. How does resistance to liberalism continue to influence the world today?