Monday, December 5, 2016

The State of Liberalism: A Series

It's been a long time since I posted on this blog, and it remains to be seen whether or not I will continue to post here. But I wanted to take some time and articulate some of my basic beliefs as a person who considers himself "liberal". Some people are appalled by the word liberal. Some believe in it so strongly that they would say that I am far too right-wing to be a liberal. Which is why I think it is important to describe what liberalism means to me.

This project was inspired by a link to Will Wilkinson's article about revitalizing liberalism. It's worth a read in its entirety. He writes:
Liberal political order is humanity’s greatest achievement. That may sound like hype, but it’s the cold, hard truth. The liberal state, and the global traffic of goods, people, and ideas that it has enabled has led to the greatest era of peace in history, to new horizons of practical knowledge, health, wealth, longevity, and equality, and massive decline in desperate poverty and needless suffering. It’s clearer than ever that the multicultural, liberal-democratic, capitalist welfare state is far-and-away the best humanity has ever done.
And yet, Wilkinson notes, support for the liberal political order is at an all-time low, especially among young people like myself. He cites a New York Times article which contains what I find to be an incredibly a disturbing fact: Only 19% of millennials in the US think a military takeover of the government would be illegitimate if the government was failing to function properly.

Does that mean what four out of five people in my generation are latent fascists? I don't think so. Having grown up with all the benefits of the liberal order, we see only the downside to it: the civil unrest, the infighting, the government shutdowns, the fake news, the televised gaffes of leadership figures, the gruesome consequences of international intervention. Most people would probably be shocked to discover that the modern liberal era is the freestmost peaceful, and most prosperous era in all of human history. That success is a direct product of the post-war American order and the rise of the multicultural, liberal-democratic, capitalist welfare state. Yet I have a feeling that most people in the West don't feel really good about where things are going right now - if they did, they probably wouldn't be voting for Brexits and Trumps. Heck, even I don't feel great about it.

This series will continue until I feel I have completed my personal exercise in political philosophy, however insignificant it may be. I encourage anyone who happens to read to join in.

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