Thursday, September 18, 2014

Short: Liberalism is respect, resistance, conflict, and hope

This is a review of a book that tries to tease out the basics of liberal democracy. I won't read the book because the review explains the ideas well enough, and I can already start applying them. So how do these four basic ideas work to undergird liberalism?

  • Out of respect for people, none are arbitrarily excluded from the rights and protections that others have.
  • Power tends to tyrannize, so it must be checked (resisted) through individual rights, checks and balances in government and society, and the right of the people to decide on laws.
  • Conflict is inevitable, since people desire conflicting goals. But the conflict is channeled through liberal practices of competition, discussion, debate, and voting.
  • Hope is the belief that change will generally be for the better, so the system shouldn't be frozen at a particular point, but should be allowed to adjust and change. (This is the least developed of the ideas in the review, so I've interpolated, or guessed.)
I was surprised at how well this list of four aspects explains liberal democracy. It really is a surprisingly full and satisfying explication. Who would have thought it would boil down so compactly? Amazing.


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