Posted by: bklunk | February 8, 2007

The L Word

Here is something from ndarland at international politics.  He raises the contention that trying to understand matters from others’ points of view may be crucial to political success.

The importance of liberalism

In light of the second chapter of Richardson’s book, I want to discuss what I believe both she and I mean when we use the word “liberal”. Many people have a bias when it comes to the use of the word liberal because they automatically associate it with a political party. According to Wikipedia, the origin of the term liberal came from the latin word “liberalis”, meaning “appropriate for free men”. In academic establishments today, liberal studies are intended to provide the student with a broad base of knowledge ranging from science to math to the arts. It seems that a student who has a diverse outlook on things is more likely to be better suited to deal with the complex issues that face us in society today. So when I say that I believe liberalism will help us combat terrorism, I use it as an apolitical expression.

Liberal thought is the only effective method for analytical thinking when one is dealing with a societal problem that is tied up in many political and cultural complications. I don’t feel this is a bold statement; we are living in the information age. Now that people from different cultures are in constant contact, we have to learn how to deal with problems that arise from cultural and societal differences. Nineteenth century philosopher John Stuart Mill brings up a very important point about liberal thought in his essay, “On Liberty”. He writes that it is foolish to be so bold as to assume we can understand others without any serious effort to look at things from their perspective.

Isn’t that what the current administration has done? Terrorism is undoubtedly a complex problem without an easy solution. But rather than examine our enemy and what motivates them, President Bush has hurled the U.S. into conflict with various foreign nations head on by declaring that other countries are either with us or against us in the war on terror.

More on why counter terrorism requires liberal thinking next time…

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  1. I agree the word liberal is used quite easily without thinking of its multiple meanings. It seems to have taken on a few different definitions, but still the most common people refer right away to, is the political party.

    We discussed last week in my World Politics class that the word liberal means less government and interdependence from people of the society. It stands for a limited amount of government, but most importantly requires cooperation among everyone for the country and its economy to succeed.

    I find it interesting that you used the term liberalism as the means to help terrorism, I would have never thought of that, but I guess I agree. There is no real answer to help better the problem of terrorism. However, as you defined the world liberalism, if we all work together maybe there would be improvement. This would require attitude changes though. These beliefs terrorist have are strongly set and I don’t know if things can viewed differently.

    I looked on Wikipedia as well and read that, “liberalism emphasizes individual rights” and seek a society characterized by freedom of thought for individuals. It emphasizes limitations on power, especially of government and religion. It’s hard to see terrorists giving up their actions connection towards religion. So many times when terrorists act out, they connect to a religious belief. Usually they state their actions are because of their religion. To conduct a liberal society, this would have to change as well. It’s sad, but I do not see a cooperation ever being followed by all.

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