Cultural liberalism is a liberal view of society that stresses the freedom of individuals from cultural norms and in the words of Henry David Thoreau is often expressed as the right to "march to the beat of a different drummer".
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Cultural liberals believe that society should not impose any specific code of behavior and they see themselves as defending the moral rights of nonconformists to express their own identity however they see fit, as long as they do not harm anyone. The culture wars in politics are generally disagreements between cultural liberals and cultural conservatives, as cultural liberals are strongly opposed to censorship or any kind of oversight of spoken or written material. They believe that the structure of one's family and the nature of marriage should be left up to individual decision and they argue that as long as one does no harm to others, no lifestyle is inherently better than any other. Because cultural liberalism expresses the social dimension of liberalism, it is often referred to as "social liberalism", but is not the same as the economic interventionist political ideology known as social liberalism.
- Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Conclusion, 1854.
- "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
- Willard, Charles Arthur (1996). Liberalism and the Problem of Knowledge: A New Rhetoric for Modern Democracy, University of Chicago Press, ISBN 978-0226898452