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What does it mean to be a liberal today?

01.23.09

What does it mean to be a liberal today?

Peculiarly, assaults on freedom often come in liberal clothing, from political correctness to burqa bans.  And day-to-day, when it comes to smoking and booze bands or ‘nudges’ to eat healthily and recycle, few self-styled liberals seem confident people should really be free.  From John Stuart Mill’s harm principle to the birth of liberalism with John Locke, in this enthralling panel debate, Frank Furedi, Lisa Appignanesi, Mark Littlewood and Nigel Warburton do battle on what it means to be a liberal today.

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Related topics: Civil Liberties, Debates

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Tauras said:

Libertarianism as a theory sounds good, by the way communism as a bunch of ideas sounds good too. In reality It looks like in libertarianism would be more casinos and less museums. And all the time we’ll would seek or draw the line among libertarianism and chaos. But really attempt to reduce influence of an authorities in society life is welcome. There are more than enough samples when authorities take a full control on economy and society. Liberalism instead of libertarianism can reduce these control And liberalism (and libertarianism) can defeat to other (left) political doctrines, because there is not main aim to obtain social equality (this is an utopia in some cases)and distribute public sources for equality improvement purposes. Many of electorate prefer to hear about increasing raising funds f.e. for social care instead of developing more personal freedom of decision making. And sometimes question is about traditional values which are so difficult to follow, but it can help for society long term goals. And how it can agree with liberalism? Actually liberalism inspires most of the progress. And take act when there are needs to change something. There is one rule “My liberty ends where your liberty begins” and vice versa. It is a great challenge to be able to do situation modeling how one or other solution affects life of society and individual life the near and further future. It would be important to remember, that contribution for society means helping for our own sake as well.

Lluisa V said:

In these days I think that we live in a liberal world more than ever. We live in a society where we elect our leaders. It hasn’t always been this way, at the time of the Inquisition if you had an opposite point of view of things you could end up in the fire. But what it was a good start, in reference to the democracy, today’s can be an invasion of our private sphere and a limitation of our freedom. Why does the government say us where, what and how much we have to eat? Definitely not, but where is the limit between what they should legislate and what not.

Andy H said:

I like the comments here and this is I agree a very important subject. I think the general point on toleration is what we need to explore further. I can’t wait to read Furedi’s new book.

Jenna said:

I do like some of Mark Littlewood’s points although he is a rank Tory . In my view the off putting thing though is his idea that being a liberal means letting people do what ever they want to do and go to hell etc Isn’t htis the other extreme version of contempt for people?

Donna said:

I have just read on liberty and was really impressed and amazed it was from so long ago as we seem to have forgotten so many of these important things about free speech and even listening to other people’s rubbish so we can better develop our own ideas. I think his harm principle had a lot going for it as well but now we’ve gone way over the top and want to protect everyone from possible maybe harm to the point where we are all victims and can’t stand up for ourselves.

Hamish G said:

Best debate I have seen on here -point about personhood is startling – no one seems to get that though- contempt for other people is everywhere. We shouldn’t overstate Mill though he wasn’t exactly for the masses was he.