Main Pillars of Liberalism: the Individual

Main Pillars of Liberalism: the Individual

Liberalism consists of four main pillars: the individual, property rights, the rule of law, and tolerance. In combination, these elements ensure peace and stability to the extent possible for the individual, which is the main objective of the ideology.

What is an Individual?

A human being is an individual. A human being is equipped with free will and that amazing organ, the brain, which allows it to plan its actions and interactions with the environment. In addition, humans relate to abstract ideas and forms, such as concepts, mathematics, and philosophy.

The individual has enormous potential when it comes to intellectual properties. History has demonstrated that human creativity and imagination can produce the most incredible wonders, and come up with solutions that have made life easier for most people over time.

Therefore, an individual must be protected against oppression and violations. The peaceful individual cannot use his or her creativity while locked in a cell, and cannot reach his or her maximum potential in a society that reins in peaceful activity. This is also where property rights and the rule of law come into play.

Individual Sovereignty

The fact that the individual has huge intellectual potential and creativity means that all people essentially are independent beings. As a starting point, everyone is in the same class, and no one can make decisions for others. Exceptions here are children and criminals.

Since we all start out as independent beings, required by nature to use our brains and will freely to live and survive, this makes the individual inviolable. The individual is sovereign. The individual is a minority, whom no majority has the right to control by non-peaceful means, such as threats of fines, imprisonment, or physical violence.

In addition: You own your own body. No one else has the right to decide over you, as long as you are peaceful.

Negative Freedom

Thus, the individual is sovereign and inviolable. This means that no one else has the right to prevent the individual from living life as he or she wants, as long as this is does not violate others. The individual is entitled to negative freedom, freedom from something. Freedom from abuse, theft, fraud, threats, violence, and so on.

The individual is not entitled to positive freedom, i.e. freedom to something. This may be the freedom to receive free education or health care. If a subject is to have positive freedom, it cannot simultaneously have negative freedom, as the two are mutually exclusive. One cannot be protected from the forcible control of others while being forced to subsidize the expenses of others.

In order for the free and creative individual to be able to live in peace and develop as he or she may desire, he or she must be protected against violence and the use of force from other people. This is ensured by the constitutional rule of law, where property rights are central and ideas of tolerance and the individual as outlined here are applicable.


  • The individual has free will and great potential in creativity and intellect
  • This is valuable for oneself and for other individuals
  • In other words, the individual is sovereign, no one has the right to make decisions for others
  • The logical consequence of this is negative freedom
  • Negative freedom safeguards the individual against violations and forcible control by other individuals and organisations
  • And individual can only be free in a peaceful society which is secured by property rights within the framework of a constitutional government



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