These are NOT the Reasons why I am a Liberalist
When the LIA first launched ‘The Ember’ for our publishing needs, a colleague wrote a wonderful piece detailing their personal conscious decision to identify themselves as a liberalist. A Liberalist; a term most have not yet heard of, yet a term that some also revile. This is largely because of the origins of a grass-roots political movement, one centered around the call to action of a single YouTube personality and the input of his friends. My colleague’s reasons for being a liberalist were admirable – and to some extent mirrored my own. Despite his words, however, I felt it was long since time to offer up my own take, and stated which reasons are NOT the reasons that I am a liberalist.
At the outset, for the longest time I wasn’t even directly involved in any organization or discussion. I called myself a liberalist, but I wasn’t even really communicating with others about it. Meanwhile, big wheels were turning. People were organizing and discussing. The Principles were hammered out as general guideline and when I finally had a chance to read them, and enough free time in my life to discuss them with others, is when things really began to affect me. I got to meet and discuss, with varying degrees of passion, the general ideas behind the principles – even still with wide-ranging outlooks among all those that were discussing them. I had a massive dose of culture shock realizing so many things my own country took for granted, and still other things it fell short on. I got the sense that everyone wanted change, wanted a system where they could be more free, and what made the principles such a wonderful set of foundational stones for discussion and promotion was that if applied properly, each culture or nation could reach their own homeostasis within them. Not a perfect system, but perhaps a more ideal one?
The only negative experience came from those that simply didn’t understand what was happening. I found great irony in the fact that it just didn’t make sense to these people. Some of those who benefited from the blanketing protection of the USA’s freedom of speech, for example, would decry anyone for advocating towards its preservation, to any degree. ‘Why? We already have that.’ A blind dismissal, because in the marketplace of ideas there is always competition, and something as powerful as freedom of speech in the hands of each person is dangerous to several insidious ideologies that would seek to take your right to choose for yourself how to live your life. Even more perplexing to those same people was the idea that those who enjoy such rights should attempt to inspire similar countries (professing a devotion to the freedom and well-being of their citizens) to give those citizens those rights, firmly, once and for all. It made them jump to conclusions not only about the individuals within the movement, but the movement as a whole. I do not feel anger towards these people – ignorance often triggers a fight or flight response in the flawed vessels that we are. So in an effort to help them, and others, let me tell you why I am not a liberalist…
I am not a liberalist because a YouTube personality told me I had to be. I’m sure many fellow liberalists share that sentiment. I will be the first to cry out, ‘The Liberalists have no King, the Liberalists need no King.’ (There are plenty of harbors to fill with tea in such situations.) As the movement is largely anti-identitarian, it is a complicated leap of logic to assume that anyone upholding and advocating for the principles as they are written is doing so simply because of any specific person indicating we must. I have been exposed to countless ideologies; the political, the religious, and the general attempts at philosophy to resolve the complications of the human condition… None of them would ever be terms by which I describe myself. Instead, when the general call to action was given, or rather, a rallying cry based on perspective, I felt that itch finally stirring within myself. At last I knew what I had been feeling this entire time… It was as if it all clicked. I felt angry. I felt disenfranchised from everything I had known to be a source of hope in my life. I felt accused of crimes I didn’t commit by people that would strip me of freedoms guaranteed to all in order to guarantee it to few. I felt guilty for not standing up for things I knew to be right more openly and vociferously. More than all this, I knew then that I would put myself behind my ideals and my principles and do my best to remain there, pushing them forward.
I am not a liberalist because I needed a new religion, or political theory, or philosophy to drive my life – or at all for that matter; as far as I’m concerned life alone is always worth living. I chose to call myself this because for the first time, I knew what I needed to stand up for… And thankfully, I have found people that felt similar enough to stand with in that cause. I have encountered difficulty with some, as educating people as to the nature of the movement in general, there are those who sometimes treat all liberalists as an ideological hive-mind. To be fair, and brief, looking at it from their perspective, I could sympathize with that viewing… Yet once you crack the hard-candy shell of the liberalist movement, you encounter a diversity of thought that can sometimes be overwhelming in disagreements between its members.
I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with devout Catholics - as an atheist - to defend the rights of any human from being judged for their skin color. I’ve stood with with those who are pro-life - as someone politically neutral on abortion - to debate the risks of government intervention with someone’s personal property. Every step of the way I have had to re-evaluate and sometimes change my position based on the discussions had with those same people… Other times I have been able to win them over with my own argument. I remain amazed at how these discussions do not stop, and am still again struck by how 7 principles, when advocated for by a set of people, can drive discussion and understanding among such a diverse group of thought without stifling new ideas to debate among them.
I am not a liberalist to ‘pwn’ the Alt-Right. Or the Alt-Left. Or Antifa. This is not a game of ‘RISK’. There is no zero-sum game to play in the complexities of human life and its interactions. The perplexing thing to me is that all those factions – in general – believe there is a zero-sum game to be played out; that after their particular idea is carried out everything we be ‘fixed’. All of them sell a cure, and by our ‘very fortunate circumstances’ theirs is always somehow the only cure. I have seen Cobras with less snake oil in them… These ideological tyrants seek to sell you a cure for a disease you do not have, one that will make you sick in that which it denies you: The freedom to choose. To disagree, To say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ at your own discretion.
There can be no confusion, as long as humans are humans there will be diversity of thought to be had. Someone will disagree with you. The fact humans exist in their current state, either as entities in a grand narrative of divine design outcast from paradise, or as the distant cousins of the great apes... Humans have always made individualistic choices and will continue to do so. Those choices will inevitably form disagreements. Those disagreements, and resolving them through various levels of conflict, confrontation, co-operation, or simply discussion, are what have driven humanity to the point we are right now. A point where, even as you read this on a device and infrastructure capable of summoning nearly the entirety of human knowledge in moments. The gods of myth and legend, the oldest expression of absolute power summoned by our ancestors and then abandoned by those same humans did not have such power. Humanity will always find a way to screw up a good thing, but we are just as apt to make that thing better than its previous iteration.
As I am so fond of saying to my best friend when discussing the human condition and the current confusion of our species: ‘There is nothing more powerful or beautiful than humans working together for a common goal, and yet there is nothing more terrifying and dangerous at the same time.’ As far as I know, I have not plagiarized that thought, but the underlying sentiment of that personal idiom, at least to my reckoning, has always been applicable, and shall ever be, by that same reckoning. Within that understanding, more and more I am resigned that conflict, discussion and debate, the open and free competition of ideas, will never lead to anything less than the advancement of what could very well be the terrible void of our own self consumption… Or, alternatively, it just might be the salvation we were always meant to provide for ourselves.
Perhaps with that terrible knowledge and looming possibility of annihilation I can steer the reigns, in my own minute capability, to avoid the first possibility and gallop full speed towards the later, but to even utter that is the tacit admission that I would be incapable of doing it alone. There is no Heracles. There is no Odysseus, Beowulf, Ōkuninushi, or Sun Wukong. So, I feel I have found like-minded people, ones who see the same possible multi-variate dooms accelerating towards us, like a black-hole that stretches to engul the entire horizon; Invisible by any other means than observing that which it consumes. With what little reassurance it may mean to some, I stand resolute that it will not be humanity to cross the event horizon, and it will not be me.
I do not know, Reader, if you are a liberalist. You could be, or you could not. Regardless, now you know the reasons I am not a liberalist… The one thing I was getting sick of is people telling me why I was a liberalist, and in doing so decided to state their error clearly on my behalf. It can quite often be aggravating – people assigning motive to your actions and getting it wrong. It’s the psychological equivalent of someone telling you to ‘calm down’ repeatedly. It is an action taken out of fear of the unknown, to disrupt and act out against that which they do not understand. That very fear may yet still paralyze them from investigating any further.
But their ignorance, intentional or otherwise is something I do not wish to share, and actually is one of the reasons I am a liberalist… Because in the principles I have share a common thread throughout, something that other philosophers and others advocating for the equality of humankind have said from the beginning.
It is the simple idea that the circumstances of one’s birth do not necessarily determine the circumstances of their life; That no man claiming to be moral can feel entitled to the labor of another man, and that the net worth of someone does not determine their moral fortitude. Everyone is capable of making good decisions in the proper circumstances, and that we should advance the idea of a society that gives people the freedom to make those choices, or at the very least the opportunity to exercise that freedom.