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This page is about the historical movement known as ‘‘radicalism’’, for the political radicalism in general see Radicalism (Disambiguation).

"No human government has a right to enquire into private opinions, to presume that it knows them, or to act on that presumption. Men are the best judges of the consequences of their own opinions, and how far they are likely to influence their actions; and it is most unnatural and tyrannical to say, "as you think, so must you act. I will collect the evidence of your future conduct from what I know to be your opinions."

Radicalism (Rad) or Radical Liberalism (RadLib) was a historical set of movements within Classical Liberalism and represented the left-wing of the historical movement. Radical liberalism took principles behind liberalism and applied them to their conclusion (a.k.a. their 'root' or 'radix' and latin, therefore 'radicalism').

For example. a classical liberal might espouse that a democratic system of government and the right to vote should be given. In turn, a radical liberal would take such a statement to its conclusion, that being that women, those without property, immigrants, slaves etc., should all be given the right to vote. Radical liberals also supported positive rights whereas classical ones only advocated negative ones. Moreover, radical liberals were historically the early advocates of welfare states.

By modern standards 'radicalism' is not radical at all, as the reforms made by radical liberals got accepted as the norm; in the modern-day 'radical liberal' is mainly used as an insult.


Radical Liberalism first took roots in America following the war of independence and was championed by founding father Thomas Paine. He called for many modern Social Liberal policies like a minimum wage and state pension as universal suffrage (including voting rights for women, which wasn't included in the original Constitution). Radical Liberalism was also practised in pre-Napoleonic France at the time, with similar policies.

Following the Napoleonic wars, radical liberalism would be the dominant ideology of non-classical liberals in democracy. The British Whigs also had a left-wing comprised of radicals and it could be said that Abraham Lincoln was one as well as the former American Whig party (replaced by Lincoln's republicans) and the abolitionist movement at large.

Radical liberal movements declined during the latter half of the 19th century as socialism became the dominant ideology of the left; some radicals became much more moderate and became social liberals and liberal democrats, while others joined the socialists and became liberal socialists and reformist marxists.


Radical Liberals, in the framework of Classical Liberalism, believe in civil liberties such as voting elections, equality before the law, and religious tolerance, but they usually fall into such positions that extended suffrage, positivism and rationalism, welfare for all and any higher sense of just are necessary reforms. These policies are seen as Progressive then and now, Radical Liberals viewed Conservative or Monarchist ideologies as protecting the broken system, one unjustified in its nature and needed to be overthrown with social change. This paved the way for modern Social Liberalism.

Radicalists was just the general trend of more staunch Liberals that would define the left. They vary in every country, ranging from the radical French Republicans to the British quasi-Christian Socialism to the Italian National positivism. Supportive of the redistribution of property and workers' rights, they influenced some Socialist ideologies along the way. Ironically, Radlibs were against common ownership.


Popular Radicals

The popular radicals were a faction within the radicals (UK) but could be seen around the world as they were strongly for further Democracy, freedom of speech, of press, of religion and from economic distress. They were known to be strong agitators and would often be associted with violence and outright revolution they can be seen in France with the Jacobins, in Britain as the Popular Radicals but also with Fergus O'Connor's Physical Force Chartism, and arguably several of the National Liberal revolutions throughout Europe during the Springtime of People.

Philosophic Radicals

The philosophic radicals were another faction within the British radicals but could be seen throughout the world too as they were exclusively reformist believing that violence was morally wrong and authoritarian which means that revolution will only worsen the situation. They were strongly rooted in enlightenment values and beliefs while generally taking those beliefs far further than originally intended to argue for the rights of women, of slaves and of the poorest. Despite their compassion for the working class they often remained exclusively among the upper class due to their elitist connotations and disdain for riots and mass rallies. By the end of the Radicals as a separate group in British politics at least they clashed with more working class radicals over the Factory Acts which prohibited women and young children from working in dangerous mines as the philosophic radicals believed that economic regulation such as those acts was beyond the scope of government.

Humanitarian Radicals

The Humanitarian radicals are the final faction of the British radicals that were seen throughout the world. They emerged in the 1850s around the time of the Factory Acts as they believed that a properly elected government had a responsibility to aid its people even if that meant a larger government. These radicals could be seen as early social liberals that started the fight for government regulation for the common good and a welfare state which, in Britain, culminated in the People's Budget in 1910 and the radical Henry Campbell-Bannerman becoming prime minister in 1905. The French Radical party was also dominated by humanitarian radicals although they were initially more concerned about the protection of the republic via the separation of church and state.


United Kingdom

Chartism was a radical, somewhat socialist political movement in the early 1800s in Britain. It had the popular support of the British working class and was particularly in Northern England, the East Midlands, the Staffordshire Potteries, the Black Country and the South Wales Valleys. They even tried to launch attempted revolutions in South Wales and Yorkshire.

Eventually the Chartist movement stagnated and failed due to government repression, and due to their leaders at one point faking a referendum.

Radical Republicanism

Radical Republicans were a faction within the early Republican party that existed from the party's founding in 1854 to the end of Reconstruction. They were called radicals due to their goal of ending slavery without compromise. During the Civil War they clashed with moderate Republicans led by Abraham Lincoln who wanted to compensate slave owners for their freed slaves where as radicals wanted no compensation for slave owners. After the Thirteenth Amendment, Radicals pushed to pass the Fourteenth Amendment granting citizenship rights to all former slaves and establish civil rights for former slaves. Radicals opposed allowing ex-Confederate soldiers to hold political office and brought impeachment charges against Andrew Johnson. Radicals supported the Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant and led Reconstruction efforts until they were effectively ended with the results of the 1876 Presidential Election.

As a pejorative

There are 2 different instances of the term “radlib” being used in a pejorative sense, both coming from a left-wing perspective.

From Conservative Socialists

Due to the strong anti-liberal bent of consocs, they feel compelled to blame the wokeness entering leftist spaces on liberals and cultural marxists.

From Revolutionary socialists

Revolutionary socialists will often criticize those socialists who appear radical on the surface but are in fact extremely moderate by using the term “radlib.”


Radicalism behaves like a 90's "cool kid" rebel that speaks with similar lingo and slang. Particularly he prides himself on being a radical rebel, saying that his ideas and policies are groundbreaking and revolutionary, when in reality they are mild and moderate, as they have become the norm over the last century and a half.

How to Draw

Flag of Radicalism
  1. Draw a ball
  2. Fill it with dark blue
  3. Draw a rose in yellow
  4. Draw the eyes and you're done!
Color Name HEX RGB
Dark Blue #37356D 55, 53, 109
Gold #FFDC23 255, 220, 35



  • Radical Democracy - Dude, Radical Democracy is the best! Like, everyone should have a voice.
  • Welfarism - Giving poor people free money? That sounds totally rad!
  • National Liberalism - 1848 best year of my life!
  • Liberal Feminism - Yeah, I'm such a radical liberal that I believe women should have the right to vote. You go girl!
  • Social Liberalism - My COOL direct successor who carried on my COOL ideals!
  • Liberal Socialism - Yeah bro, combining liberalism with socialism is totally awesome!
  • Jacobinism - Sock it to the monarchy! But why did you put Paine in Jail?
  • Philosophical Anarchism - Extremely radical bro that also supported the French Revolution.
  • Peelitism -Thanks for coming to my rad party!
  • Civil Libertarianism - Well done bro! Abolish slavery in America and compensate suffrage to the enslaved!
  • Jeffersonian Democracy - Despite being a hypocritical slaveowner, Jefferson is still one of my only good friends after these guys gave up on me.
  • Steiner-Vallentyne School - Thats so rad mixing up left libertarian thought with liberal principals just like an extreme version of ME!
  • Social Libertarianism - It is so rad that you value freedom and giving 1000 smakaroos to people! Some of my modern variants are you.


  • Classical Liberalism - My AWESOME father taught to me the AWESOMENESS of liberalism and democracy! But is pretty boring ngl, he doesn't even want to kill monarchs with me anymore.
  • One-Nation Conservatism - Tory Radicalism? What the heck dude?
  • Kemalism - Son of my friend but you are pretty authoritarian and not really liberal at all dude.
  • Revolutionary Progressivism - Progress is cool and all but DAMN, bro, you need to chillax. Some of my variants are basically you, though.
  • Marxism - Why, like, did you leave me for him? I'm WAY cooler, man!

Dude, uncool



Comics and Artwork

Further Information




  1. Hugo believed in Colonialism as a means to end slavery and to "civilize" the Africans.
  2. This references to the break between Edmund Burke and Charles James Fox, who were once great friends but never reconciled due to their differing opinions on the French Revolution.