It was heartening to get a positive response to the open call to debate on challenging the Liberal Left monopoly in the public discourse.
Full details on how to participate in this Open debate can be found here.
In the run up to this Open debate, there will be a series of posts on Offstumped to flesh out the underlying issues.
We begin this Curtain Raiser with a focus on Labels and Definitions.
To make this debate meaningful there has to be a broad consensus on the definition of Left Liberalism.
It would be useful to frame this definition from the point of view of the tension between the Individual, Community and the State.
It would also be useful to characterize this tension along the three axes of – Cultural and Economic Choices the Individual must make and Strategic choices the State must make to preserve itself.
So how must we define Left Liberalism ?
The label Left Liberalism must refer to any ideology or policy that advocates all of below.
#1 Primacy of Individual over Community and the State in making Cultural Choice
#2 Illegitimacy of Community in making any Cultural Choice on behalf of Individual.
#2 Primacy of the State over Community and primacy of the Community over the Individual in making Economic Choice
#3 Illegitimacy of any autonomy to the Individual in making Economic Choice
#4 Illegitimacy of any autonomy to the State in making choices to preserve itself
How do I know if I am opposed to “Left Liberalism” ?
You should consider yourself opposed to “Left Liberalism” if you fail the illegitimacy test i.e. if you believe it is legitimate for any one or more of the below:
#1 It is legitimate for either the Community or the State to make some Cultural choices on behalf of the individual (to some degree and under some circumstances)
#2 It is legtimate for the Individual to have some autonomy in making economic choice (to some degree and under some circumstances)
#3 It is legitimate for the State to have some autonomy in making choices to preserve itself (to some degree and under some circumstances)
The degree to which you may believe in the legitimacy of above and the circumstances under which you may so believe could be the basis for defining other Labels.
But broadly speaking if you are opposed to any kind of blanket illegitimacy to the above positions then you should consider yourself opposed to Left Liberalism.
What if Left Liberals make compromises consistent with above, How then do we tell the difference ?
Left Liberalism is not above political compromises on the 4 core tenets outlined previously .
In fact if anything Left Liberalism has Institutionalised a certain class of compromises with near total consensus on the grounds of perceieved victimhood of socio-cultural Minority Communities.
Thus Left Liberalism also believes that
#1 It would be legitimate for the State to make cultural choices on behalf of the individual on the pretext of protecting the Minority Community from the tyranny of the Majority
#2 It would also be legitimate for the State to make economic choices on behalf of the individual and in favor of the Minority Community to reverse discriminate against the Majority
#3 It would be deeply illegitimate for the State to make autonomous choices on Strategic Issues to protect itself since such choices could discriminate against the Minority Community
Some more questions on Left Liberalism
Is Left Liberalism synonymous with Psuedo Secularism ?
Psuedo-secularism at best describes an opportunistic political compromise on one issue. It is not coherent as an ideological label for it tells us little to nothing about the tension between the Individual, Community and State along the three axes of Cultural, Economic and Strategic choices.
Is there a distinction between Communism and Left Liberalism ?
While Communism and Left Liberalism agree on the Primacy of State and Community over the Individual in making economic choice, there are perhaps atleast two major points of difference between Communism and Left Liberalism.
#1 In Communism the State overrides the Individual and Community in making Cultural choices
#2 In Communism the State also enjoys a blanket autonomy on making Strategic choices to preserve itself
Based on the above it is perhaps safe to say that Indian Communists are really Liberal Leftists.