Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

The 7 stages of Liberalism (2)

In 2018, I wrote my blog The 7 stages of Liberalism. Increasingly, I’m wondering if stage 7 was wrong and should have been on the rise of illiberal liberalism. Several articles deal with this phenomenon: Hoover-2014, OUP-2015, Politico-2017, Heritage-2017, Economist-2018 and T&F Online-2022.

The key criterion of illiberal liberalism is the immediate desire to forbid anything that is unwelcome in the view of the illiberal liberals. I suppose they even fail to understand the irony of their response. After all, (classic) liberalism is about freedom. The Latin word liber means free.

Why are illiberal liberals not an oxymoron??

I consider myself a liberal, albeit a conventional and a conservative one. Nevertheless, it’s not easy for me to accept the various kinds of eccentric behaviour. I have no appetite in forbidding because I adhere to the Golden Rule: “the principle of treating others as one wants to be treated.”

I suppose that Isaac Newton‘s second Law of Motion applies: “Whenever one object exerts a force on a second object, the second object exerts an equal and opposite force on the first.” Hence, if liberalism is the first force than illiberalism is the counterforce. In that context, illiberal liberalism must be an oxymoron.

Ultimately, illiberal liberalism is about giving freedom to oneself, while taking freedom from others. It’s a selfish act that opposes the Golden Rule in ethics and morality.

The curtailing of liberal views is often witnessed in countries that adhere to nationalism. This makes sense as liberalism is about the individual while nationalism is about the country or about society. Increasingly, illiberalism equals nationalism.

Perhaps, the rise of illiberalism marks the end of liberalism. Also in that context, illiberal liberalism is an oxymoron.

The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine has shown the limits of European liberalism, unlike the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea. Today, there’s an increasing awareness of the benefits of (allied) European nationalism. Even the NATO axis is shifting eastbound (eg, Politico-2023).

‘If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart.  If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.’

A misattributed quote to Winston Churchill (1874-1965), a British statesman and twice a former PM of the UK

Libera L’Anima (1991) by Jovanotti
artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-artist, Wiki-album+song

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


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