Radicalism (historical)

The term "Radical" (from the Latin radix meaning root) during the late 18th-century and early 19th-century identified proponents of democratic reform, in what subsequently became the parliamentary Radical Movement.

During the 19th century in the United Kingdom, continental Europe and Latin America, the term "Radical" came to denote a progressive liberal ideology inspired by the French Revolution. Historically, Radicalism emerged in an early form with the French Revolution and the similar movements it inspired in other countries. It grew prominent during the 1830s in the United Kingdom (see the Chartist Movement) and Belgium (see the Revolution of 1830), then across Europe in the 1840s–50s (see the Revolutions of 1848). In contrast to the social conservatism of existing liberal politics, Radicalism sought political support for a "radical reform" of the electoral system to widen the franchise. It was also associated with republicanism; civic nationalism; abolition of titles; rationalism and the resistance to a single established state religion; redistribution of property; and freedom of the press.

In nineteenth-century France, Radicalism had emerged as a minor political force by the 1840s, as the extreme-left of the day (in contrast to the socially-conservative liberalism of the Moderate Republicans and Orléanists monarchists, and the anti-parliamentarianism of the Legitimist monarchists and Bonapartist republicans). By the 1890s the French Radicals were not organised under a single nationwide structure, but had become a significant political force in parliament; in 1901 they consolidated their efforts by forming the country's first major extra-parliamentary political party, the Republican, Radical and Radical-Socialist Party, which became the most important party of government during the second half (1899 to 1940) of the Third Republic. The success of the French PRRRS encouraged Radicals elsewhere to organise themselves into formal parties in a range of other countries in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, with Radicals holding significant political office in Switzerland, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Bulgaria, Romania, and Russia. During the interwar, European Radical parties organised their own international, the Radical Entente.

As social-democracy emerged as a distinct political force in its own right, the differences that once existed between left-wing radicalism and conservative-liberalism diminished, and between 1940 and 1973 Radicalism became defunct in most of its European heartlands, its role and philosophy taken on by social-democratic and conservative-liberal parties.

Radicalism and liberalism

The two Enlightenment philosophies of Liberalism and Radicalism both shared the goal of liberating humanity from traditionalism. But Liberals regarded it as sufficient to establish individual rights that would protect the individual. Radicals, however, sought institutional, social/economic and especially cultural/educational reform to allow every citizen to put those rights into practice. For this reason we could say that Radicalism went beyond the demand for liberty, by seeking also equality, that is, universality (see Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité).

In some countries, Radicalism represented a minor wing within the Liberal political family, as in the case of England's Radical Whigs. Sometimes the Radical wing of the Liberals were hardline or doctrinaire, and in other cases more moderate and pragmatic.

In other countries, Radicalism had had enough electoral support on its own, or a favourable electoral system or coalition partners, to maintain distinct Radical parties: Switzerland and Germany (Freisinn), Bulgaria, Denmark, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands,[1] but also Argentina (Radical Civic Union), Chile and Paraguay.[2]

Victorian era Britain possessed both trends: in England the Radicals were simply the left-wing of the Liberal coalition, though often rebelled when the coalition's socially-conservative Whigs resisted democratic reforms; whereas in Ireland Radicals lost faith in the ability of parliamentary gradualism to deliver egalitarian and democratic reform and, breaking away from the main body of liberals, pursued a radical-democratic parliamentary republic through separatism and insurrection.

This does not mean that all radical parties were formed by left-wing liberals. In French political literature, it is normal to make a clear separation between Radicalism as a distinct political force to the left of Liberalism but to the right of Socialism. Over time, as new left-wing parties formed to address the new social issues, the current right-wing of the Radicals would splinter off in disagreement with the main Radical family and became absorbed as the left-wing of the Liberal family – rather than the other way around, as in Britain and Belgium.

However, the distinction between Radicals and Liberals was made clear by the two mid-20th century attempts to create an international for centrist democratic parties. In 1923-4, the French Radicals created an Entente Internationale des Partis Radicaux et des Partis Démocratiques similaires: it was joined by the centre-left Radical parties of Europe, and in the democracies where no equivalent existed – Britain and Belgium – the Liberal party was allowed attend instead. After the Second World War the Radical International was not reformed; instead, a centre-right Liberal International was established, closer to the conservative-liberalism of the British and Belgian Liberal parties.[3][4][5] This marked the end of Radicalism as an independent political force in Europe, though some countries such as France and Switzerland retained politically-important Radical parties well into the 1950s–1960s.

Thus, many European parties that are nowadays categorised in the group of social-liberal parties have a historical affinity with radicalism and may therefore be called "liberal-radical".[6]

Other Languages
العربية: راديكالية
Bân-lâm-gú: Kip-chìn-phài
беларуская: Радыкалізм
català: Radicalisme
čeština: Radikalismus
Deutsch: Radikalismus
eesti: Radikalism
español: Radicalismo
français: Radicalisme
galego: Radicalismo
hrvatski: Radikalizam
Bahasa Indonesia: Radikalisme (sejarah)
íslenska: Róttækni
italiano: Radicalismo
ქართული: რადიკალიზმი
қазақша: Радикализм
lumbaart: Radicalism
magyar: Radikalizmus
македонски: Радикализам
Nederlands: Radicalisme
日本語: 急進主義
português: Radicalismo
русский: Радикализм
slovenčina: Radikalizmus
українська: Радикалізм
中文: 激进主义