In the last couple of days, I listened to/read a bit about liberalism and it got me to thinking about a new system to replace it.
I did not go out to search for ideas about liberalism, one was an article by the Economist magazine, and the other one is a chapter from the book Homo Deus. Needless to say that the perspectives were different, but the base was the same. Both of them defined liberalism as the ideology that made today possible over the last century. They also described it as the idea of letting people do what they want and let the markets self-regulate.
It is evident in 2018 that this definition of liberalism is a failing idea. We live in a darker time when people are reconsidering dictatorships and military regimes as a valid possibility (see the old cases of China and some South East Asian countries, the recent cases of Russia and Turkey and the brand new cases of extreme right populism in Europe and Brazil).
But it’s not all black and white (“famous last words”). Personal liberalism does not necessarily entail public liberalism. I think that is the one thing that traditional political parties do not seem to get. The younger generation (and by this I mean anyone 50 and younger) is increasingly BOTH a personal liberal and a public … socialist/conservative/?.
If there were no parties defined and a right-left dichotomy already established, I believe that people would not feel forced to choose left or right and instead choose something completely different. My theory is that a relatively large part of the population agrees with individual freedom as well as an equalising State. They believe that individuals should be able to do drugs, have sex with whichever gender they want, marry and have children with that same partner. They agree that one should work more part-time than full-time to be able to dedicate more time to family and experiences and less to buying things they are told to own and then slaving away to pay them back. But these the same people who believe that individuals should be free to have their religion and choose who they love and where they live, also think that we need an institution, or set of institutions, that assert some control over public life. They believe that a Government should control how cars and people interact in the streets. They think that individual companies should not be able to turn into monopolies. They agree that Government should source money from the people to create a network to support those that are unable to help themselves. They think that Government should uphold equality among its citizens, provide education and healthcare for free to all.
These ideas may seem contradictory, but they are not. I, as an individual, believe that people should be free to do what they want (a liberal, traditionally conservative idea), as long as they don’t affect others negatively (socialist, typically left-wing idea). In example, my neighbour should be able to choose which music to play as long as that allows me to sleep at night. She should be able to drive a bicycle, car or truck as long as she doesn’t park in the middle of the road and stop others from going where they want to go.
I think this is what is missing in political parties these days. These parties have fallen into a mould and can’t seem to get out of it. Unfortunately, the void they do not attend to, this whole mass of people that don’t identify with their one-sided views, is being cajoled by the “simple ideas”, the “us versus them”, the “we can make it on our own and do not need anyone else”, the “we need a strong leader, even if that means ignoring human rights”.
We no longer need a party-based system, which is increasingly tied up by the few that have a lot of money, we need a more direct democracy that allows people to vote on issues and not on parties (and even less on individuals).
We need to allow religious and conservative people to vote for women’s rights and (ex-)communists to vote for a balanced budget, which is the best in both current social issues as well as the sustainability for future generations.
We need a slightly different system, because liberalism, as it is currently represented, is not it.