Liberalism is characterised by the holding of liberal views, a willingness to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one’s own, and openness to new ideas. Liberalism is typically favourable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms, favouring individual liberty, free trade, and moderate political and social reform. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but they generally support civil rights, democracy, secularism, gender and race equality, internationalism, and the freedoms of speech, the press, religion, and markets.
Liberalism became a distinct movement in the Age of Enlightenment, seeking to replace the norms of hereditary privilege, state religion, absolute monarchy, the divine right of kings, and traditional conservatism with representative democracy and the rule of law. Liberalism also put an end to mercantilist policies, royal monopolies, and other barriers to trade, instead promoting free markets and capitalism.
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