Welcome to Column F! To mark our launch we would like to decorate the new place with a set of Ten Unscholarly Articles.
Why would anyone actively choose not to be a liberal? We have sketched out below ten possible reasons. We are looking for articles that align (loosely or otherwise) with each of the ten, which we will publish on the website.
If you feel you would like to contribute, please contact us
Be warned, this may be the one and only time you are permitted to watch someone walk past and observe “there goes an “eight”!”
Nemo me impune lacessit! You may imagine a term like “liberal” might be relatively unambiguous. Yet some see it in relation to the permissive society. For some it is primarily about social-justice, for others it is tolerance of difference. There are even some who claim to fly under its colours when espousing the economic liberalism of the free market. What does it mean (and what should it mean) to be a liberal? Where does it sit in relation to other labels, such as socialism or the left? Where are the fault lines? What are the contradictions? Is it reasonable to speak of a hierarchy of liberal values?
If liberalism aims to appeal to our better instincts, is it equally fair to say that it is opposed by our baser instincts? Is it easier to be a liberal in principle than practice? What happens when we feel threatened or frightened? Does it depend who is watching?
In a complex world, what are the limits on our own information gathering capability? How far can we justify our beliefs as self-evident? How do we trust the information that comes from other sources? Whose agenda are we following?
“Among the novel objects that attracted my attention during my stay in the United States, nothing struck me more forcibly than the general equality of condition among the people“
So wrote Alexis de Tocqueville in his author’s introduction to Democracy in America in 1835. One imagines he was contrasting what he saw with the Europe he had left behind where the Revolution of 1789 had abolished the hated symbols of oppression such as lettres de cachet whereby political dissidents could be imprisoned indefinitely without trial.There may be a musical awaiting composition drawing the parallel between American history and the life of an individual. Either way, it is proverbial that our values can creep to the right as we progress.What is the logic behind why this occurs and what does it affect some and not others?
 Battle scars
Pick your audience successfully and when you get to number five, you may receive a spontaneous, prolonged round of applause. If you are a liberal, you may expect to be ridiculed, harassed, vilified, or if you live in the wrong part of the world, imprisoned, tortured and shot. Does there come a point where pain, suffering and ignominy become too much?
 Psychopathic tendencies
It is an oft-quoted fact that if a person does not yawn when the person they are talking to is yawning they are indeed a gnarled old reactionary. When we see suffering, we are like superheroes that receive a message, albeit to the emotions, that self-destructs in ten seconds. It is the instinct that makes people respond to a charity appeal. Whence liberalism without it?
When I lived on my own my flat could quite often resemble a fleapit. This was not how I seek or intend to live but somehow it just happened.
The lobbying industry spends two and three-quarter squillion pounds each year to persuade the government to effect the policies that benefit its clients. Who benefits from the status quo and can those who are doing so ever be expected to enact the self-denying ordinances that might see others benefit instead? Or does the cycle simply continue whereby power seeks to perpetuate itself.
 Bread and Circuses
Did you see the game last night? Who is on Strictly this year?
Presented with identical facts, people may nevertheless come to starkly different conclusions. What do you see, the two faces or the cup?