If you’re a Liberal such in my case, or a Libertarian/Objectivist in Ayn Rand’s case, you believe in individual liberty. That the people have the right to essentially govern themselves. Now, my approach to liberty compared with Ayn Rand’s, is much different, but our objectives are the same. Ayn Rand, is exactly what a Classical Libertarian is. Keep government completely out of the economy. No taxation, regulation, or a safety net coming from the government. I however, believe that government has a role in not regulating how people live their own lives, but how they interact with each other. To protect innocent people from those who would hurt them, but not try to protect people from themselves.
If you’re a Socialist, you essentially believe that the country is in it together and that no one should have a lot more than others. Even if they created that material wealth on their own. And that government should heavily tax those who make a lot. For one, to give to those who don’t have much. And that government essentially knows best in what the people need to live and should be the one providing those service for the people. That government’s role is essentially to spread the wealth throughout society through high taxes. But not just high taxes on high earners, but everyone in general.
If you’re an authoritarian, or statist, lets take Communists for example, you essentially believe that government’s role is to protect people from themselves, but also to protect people from the government. And that power comes and rests with the government. That if people have liberty, they won’t know what to do with it, which will cause instability. This is essentially the argument that the Chinese Communist Party and the Iranian Theocratic Islamists have made since they’ve been in power.
Despite all the stereotypes that Liberals have now about being about the welfare state and centralized power, especially coming from the right-wing and being bought in by the mainstream media, that’s really not what liberalism is about. Liberalism, is not about the welfare state, centralized power and government control. Those things relate to socialism and statism. Liberalism, is about individual liberty and equality of opportunity for the individual. Liberalism, has more in common with libertarianism like in Ayn Rand’s case, but different from libertarianism and socialism.