Tuesday, September 25, 2012

'I am liberal' - Twill

I think that everyone should be treated as equals. no matter what ethnicity, religion, sexuality or race. People shouldn't think any less of you.
Twill's Twitter Feed

Monday, September 24, 2012

Igor Markaida - 'I am (a) liberal'

Any attempt at a meaningful explanation of the term 'liberal' requires a great deal of care. The main interpretation of liberalism as 'negative freedom' brought the concept closer to free market ideology, generally pairing it to the ideas of liberal democracy and capitalism. Antagonistic political formats of the twentieth century, like fascism and communism, mixed with anti-colonial (and anti-neocolonial) sentiment, accentuated this relationship further. The limits of the liberal ideals were put to the test. The rise of mass-media driven politics didn't help either, causing complex concepts to lose currency among the myriad messages that the average citizen was (and is) object to on a daily basis.

The fact is that liberals themselves have often shied away from responsibility, looked the other side or passed the reins on to non-liberals when things got tough and their principles did not seemed to provide any answers. On an even darker note, it would be disingenuous to ignore the way in which "freedom of expression" has trumped on someone's "freedom from hunger", the liberal ideal as moral cover to free market abuse. Living on less than a dollar a day makes it a little difficult for one's thoughts to be free from figuring out where the next dollar is going to come from.

But, although many liberals retreated quietly from using the term themselves, there is no denying that Western societies are built on the foundational liberal principles. Even self-proclaimed non-liberals voice their concerns under the protection of these principles. Their influence can be felt also in organized religion and the attitudes of people of faith that have shifted their beliefs to softer positions to the more conciliatory discourse of the ''spiritual'. Although far from resolved, issues that were of great concern to liberals only fifty years ago (such as the rights of women) have increasingly been addressed and interiorized by citizens in these societies. And although we cannot pretend that freedoms and rights are not being abused on a daily basis, it cannot be denied either that they play an important part in every individual's self-narrative.

The difficulty to assess the liberal values and its role in the organization of society only reflects the complexity of today's social and political scenario. Traditional concerns give way to new ones: environment, cultural and ethnic diversity, disability rights, sexual orientation, privacy and intellectual property in a hyper-connected world … the list of challenges grows faster than our ability to confront them. Perhaps the liberal toolset only works at a particular scale. From the ground up, at individual level, the foundational tenets of liberalism still help us position ourselves among those around us, in a harmonious way. But could it be that these tools do not work at a larger, global, political level and we ought to be looking for some sort of post-liberal mechanisms?

Discussion and compromise, a stubbornness in refusing to deal in absolutes and an underlying faith on the potential of human ingenuity are what sets the liberal ideal apart. Liberalism promotes individual contribution to the collective endeavour, as an in-built safeguard against too much state intervention on personal affairs. Legitimacy validated by representation also contributes to a sense of fair play, of equal of opportunities. Individual freedom comes with individual responsibility.

If it aspires to be other than just an illusion, liberalism needs to stop seeing itself as a destination point and rediscover the spirit of struggle, of work-in-progress, inherent to it. It has to recover a tradition of dissent, and appeal to freedom of thought and expression, not only from the state, but also from corporations that monopolize media and public opinion, education, culture … If its principles are to be in any way relevant in the twenty-first century, liberalism has to show that it has the capacity to work within ideological formats other capitalism (as capitalism without liberalism has done in China).

Warts and all, I think I will remain a staunch liberal for a longer while.

Igor Markaida works as a freelance Communications Consultant

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I am liberal - Anonymous

'Liberal', for me, means respect for one's neighbours, belief in the rule of law and a profound willingness to protect the rights of my brothers.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bishop Gregory Cameron - 'I am (a) liberal'

Finding value and meaning in the world has puzzled humanity for all its existence.  Humanity’s answers have been hugely diverse, bringing healing and hope, violence and harm.  Among these myriad voices, I believe also that God’s Spirit speaks to the world and to humanity, encouraging us to find the reality and meaning which he writes into creation.  Two approaches stand out – a dogmatic approach, which wraps itself in a mantle of knowing the truth and coercing or cajoling others into it, and an approach which is forever open to the wisdom and experience of others.  The first is ultimately sterile.  It inhibits authenticity and exploration and tentativeness and integrity, and becomes a play about power.  The second is about hospitality and generosity, about discovering the echo of the Spirit’s whisperings in unexpected places, about affirmation and growth.  The growth into such wisdom begins with a liberality of soul; this is why I am “liberal”.

Gregory K Cameron, Bishop of St Asaph, Trustee of Gladstone’s Library

I am liberal - Anonymous

Because I think 'we', and not just 'I'.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Nathan North - 'I am (a confused) liberal'

Would Gladstone even be regarded as a liberal today? He certainly became more liberal the older he got (his views moving in the opposite direction to how most people's change), but I think a lot of his views would put him in UKIP today or at least on the right of the Conservative Party. Perhaps it is unfair to take him out of his historical context and judge him by contemporary standards; but if he was a liberal, then he seems like a very conservative one - as opposed to a radical liberal, such as John Stuart Mill.

Nathan North studied Philosophy at London University and is currently a journalist in Poland.

'I am liberal' - Sophie Jessop

I am liberal as I am open-minded to change; change in the community as well as change within myself.

Miss Sophie Jessup, Caerphilly, Wales.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

'I am liberal' - Chloe Bramwell

I think liberalism transcends party politics: it means celebrating diversity and offering opportunities to all.

Chloe Bramwell was born in 1995 and enjoys indulging in liberation.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

'I am liberal' - Kaye

I think that all people are fundamentally equal and should be free to express their opinions. For me, being liberal is more closely related to equality than to permissiveness.

Kaye from Birmingham

Monday, September 10, 2012

Want to take part?

Then do! There's plenty of thought-provoking stuff already on the blog, and we'd love new contributors to offer new perspectives or engage with previous posts.

You can take part in any way you like: a written entry of between 5-500 words, pictures, links...You don't have to be 'a' Liberal, or a Liberal Democrat, or even politically inclined, to take part - 'liberal' will mean whatever the public say it means!

The blog will run and run, but all entries submitted before September 30th will be put forward for consideration in the Why I am (or am not) liberal book, due out later this year. Don't miss your chance to be published!

'I am liberal' - Eryl Thomas

Being ‘liberal’ means being tolerant, open-minded, egalitarian, compassionate: and nice.

Eryl Thomas is a North Wales solicitor with sadly few liberal qualities.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

'I am liberal' - William Goddard

Freedom to think, tolerance, constant curiosity: all liberal, and all important elements of learning and development.

William Goddard - retired academic; Vice-President, Learning Teacher Network; Trustee of Southern Educational Leadership Trust; active regional RSA Fellow.