Original Articles

LUBP debate: How do we define liberalism?

A question was poised by Aliarqam Durrani on what liberalism means. This question was poised by him on the LUBP google group – the consequent discussions are given here. It may be noted that responses are put here based on the topic they pertained to, and not on the order of response

The Question
Aliarqam Durrani
Dear Friends
Recently we have gone through a debate on our writing choices, As Rabia wrote recently

“Recently we’ve been accused of attacking bloggers/writers personally and committing some kind of witch-hunt. there is some element of hypocrisy to the accusations made against us as it seems that there is a certain group of people who are considered above criticism and our criticism of them has really upset many of their supporters.

However, that being said I do wonder what LUBP writers think of the
policy of writing such personal attacks. Do you think it’s an effective strategy or is it simply bringing down the reputation of our blog and making us appear like some dogmatic leftists who criticize everyone but a tiny group of people that they approve is. Is that harmful for our image and for what our blog is intended to be? This is not meant to be a criticism of any of our contributors or editors…
just an open question which I thought it would be important for us to discuss”

We have described some people as Pseudo-liberals, confused liberal, brain dead, brain freeze etc. Why not having a debate to make sense of this whole issue, to reassess what do we think?, as what are our own choices, what is really mean by a critical PPP supporter. First start from the very first concept of being Liberal,

What do we mean by a Liberal?

As the word is used in many ways across the globe, Am copying some points from a veteran Indian blogger Amit Varma to kick start the debate,

“The term ‘liberal’ has been so debased and so variedly used as to have practically no meaning left in it. I consider myself a classical liberal, believing in individual freedom, negative rights and a free society, which is how liberals in continental Europe would see themselves. Yet, in the US, the term means practically the opposite, as American liberals, from the Left, are opposed to free markets, which makes their appropriation of the term oxymoronic.”

“Instead, I think classical liberals need to ask themselves the question,Why are we liberals? For me, the answer is not just that liberalism gives me an intellectual framework with which I can make sense of the world, but also that I believe that it has solutions to most of the political and economic problems that the world, and modern India, faces: from farmer suicides in Vidarbha to rising prices to deepening inequality.” (Source)

Being critical PPP supporters, this group is committed to providing constructive criticism on the policies of Pakistan People’s Party while remaining committed to the original 1970 manifesto of the party based on the following four principles:


Islam is our Faith
Democracy is our Policy
Socialism is our Economy
All Powers to the People

Hope, most of our members will not agree to what Amit Varma is saying, So what do we mean by Liberals?

Responses

Saad Mansoor:

Here’s the thing Ali, I do not think that most of the people here believe in religion being present in a manifesto or socialism being the system of economy.

As far liberalism is concerned it is basically the belief that humans have a full right to do anything unless they do not infringe upon the rights of other humans. Like the Democrats in US consist of a number of practicing Jews and Christians but they belief and respect other people’s right to live.


aliarqam Durrani:


Saad,

Actually the term Liberalism has different meaning in America than Europe.As Amit Verma also has stated,
“Yet, in the US, the term means practically the opposite, as American liberals, from the Left, are opposed to free markets, which makes their appropriation of the term oxymoronic. (Some of my friends would remove the ‘oxy’ from that judgment.)”

And as you wrote above,

“I do not think that most of the people here believe in religion being present in a manifesto orsocialism being the system of economy.

I think the statement on behalf of the most is hyperbolic, as we should have a discussion that, if most of the people agree to you then, we need a review, as party has reviewed in some parts.

Sindhyar Talpur:
Taking Verma & Saad’s point of view further : Liberalism in my view, is about having as little constrains on the individual freedom as possible. This of course is different from leftist and rightist debate, which in political discourse, more often than not, takes its root from French demarcation of parliament (progressive republicans
sitting on left, monarchists on the  right),
conversely the argument has become about challenging the status quo and now it is synonymous with revolutionists who want little do with free market.
This much is clear in Europe, where these terms emerge from. It is then possible for a party to be liberal, about individual freedom yet economically seek free market and is a rightist party. there are many examples of this American confusion may be is because in America debate has, till recently, never been against free-market. In fact both main parties are pro market. America has been staunchly anti-socialism for years.
See the witch hunt of communist party of America and its consequent disbanding in 1950s. Arguments always have been about rights under the bill of rights and consequences of it. Conservatives always want to be less ‘liberal’ about these, apart from of course right of property.
It was emergence of neo-liberalism in 1980s, that this idea of small government under Reagan came and confused the terminology a little

Ali Raja:

For some reason (unknown) there exists a perception that being a liberal is some sort of being anti religion, I remember I had a hot conversation with my brother when I wrote “liberal” in my religious views over Facebook. According to him liberalism was being independent to the extent that puts religion aside. I obviously did not agree and called him a fundamentalist but latter on I came to realize that many other people also carry this Interpretation in their head. I don’t know weather it is fine to say it not but let me just say it. A few days ago I saw a liberal over PTH who was offering another liberal a beer. He was saying “I would love to have a cold beer with you some day. Why don’t you come along tomorrow?” I am not much of intellectual but this was no form of liberalism to me.

For me Liberalism is the very born instinct of a human being. Liberalism is not a characteristic applicable to ones personal life it is rather a characteristic of social interaction. For example if beer is some thing not allowed in my religion I must refrain from it at any cost, this is a personal life but if some one else drinks beer I have no right to interfere in his domain. I have all the right to like Hijab or Burka or whatever but have no right to endorse my likings on someone else. In matter of society each and every person with his own believes, is as much respectable and important as myself. Every one must be pious in personal life but society has no right to keep checks and balances on ones piety…

Liberalism is the name of mutual respect….I have all the right to consider my religion the best of all, but have no right to derogate other religions. I have no right to issue cheap remarks on the ones religious views as I would not tolerate the same in my case. Liberalism stops me from saying “Hindu Zehniat…Hindu Zehniat”…

Liberalism teaches me co-existence. A famous writer by the name Nasim Hijazi writes “There is only one solution to the problems of man-kind that Islam conquers the globe.” and when we ask did Islam solve problems of the globe when it was in power we a straightly tagged as anti-Islam. Liberalism is the name of humanity…With my religion inside me I must stand with the others for a better world. Without having all on the board I can never row the boat.

Liberalism also teaches me to impartial standards. If I shout at the top of my voice in calling America an intruder in Afghanistan, I must also call Tariq-Bin-Ziad an intruder in Spain. If I tag war on terror a genocide, I must also tag the Turk-American war a genocide committed by Muslims. I must not cover my people and point fingers on others….These are some of the characteristics of my Liberalism…..

Nuwas Manto:

I mostly agree with Ali Raja on the point of defining Liberalism,while also retaining the belief that Liberalism can be defined in various ways.
My definition of Liberalism is that I have a right to hold a certain opinion and direct my efforts and expression  towards manifestation of that idea/thought. However I donot have the right to propagate direct hate speech. Now thats the problem. How do we demarcate between the indirect hate speech (is it even hate speech then the question arises) and free speech?
Using Mr.Raja’s example, I would say the same: if as a Muslim I tend to believe that drinking is against MY religious belief I have the right to think so. But I do not have the right to ‘force’ my opinion on a Muslim who drinks and it is unethical and idiotic of me to personally attack him. Now the question arises do I have the right to call him a bad Muslim? Or bring him into a debate regarding drinking and my religious beliefs versus his religious beliefs when he is not the one to initiate the argument or debate?
THIS to me seems to be the problem. At least to me. For me,Liberalism not only means that I have the right to hold free thought and expression and lets others have the same basic human right but also that I have the right to question mine and their thoughts and actions. If I dont like a Burka I have the right to think so. If a Muslim female friend of mine beliefs But the fact that I question her beliefs does not render me Islamophobic (the misconception among the pseudo-liberals).
Co-Existence does not mean respecting multi-culturalism to such an extent that basic human rights become negligible,non-existent and/or disrespected and manipulated.

Nuwas (Continued):
Also I would like to see the word Secularism in the manifesto of LUBP.
Sorry but without that I just feel that there will be sham democracy.
Democracy itself,at least for third world countries like Pakistan and India, a tool of self-destruction. We need to compliment it with Constitutional Liberalism as is the idea put forward by Fareed Zakaria in his book Future of Freedom. And I tend to heavily agree with him
I recommend that ‘Islam is our faith’ be erased. And That ‘We belief in a Secular Democracy’ (or something of the sort) be replacement.
I dont see if as a sincere Pakistani Hindu/Sikh/Atheist/Agnostic I cant be a prime minister or president of Pakistan, or AT LEAST dream of it,why would I want to work toward building such a nation? EVEN if I DONT want to be a President or Prime Minister of the country. Its about dignity and respect.

Aliarqam

Nuwas, Your point persist as valid, PPP manifesto speaks of Islam as
fath on behalf of the majority, but I think they should not have brought faith in political discourse, but now removing it will be politically incorrect for the party, as you might have observed that before the eighteenth amendment, the faith of the Prime Minister was not mentioned in Constitution, as he will be a muslim etc, but
Eighteenth amendment along with some brilliant steps corrected it with faith mentioned for the premier too.

But we recently have discussion among us, Abdul, Ali Inayatullah and Rabia, on the LUBP About page, being critical PPP supporters, we are not bound to Party politically correct compromises, and can think on the future prospects of People’s Party. That is why we mostly agreed on clearly mentioning our secular credentials, support for democratic forces and economically progressive outlines.

The reason to start a debate on Liberalism was because of this reconsideration.

Rabia:

Ali, Nuwas and others, what do you think of the idea that PPP’s slogan of “Islam is our faith”  and “Islamic socialism” is a pragmatic way to survive in Pakistan’s landscape. We all know that a party that was avowedly secular would not have a chance to win national elections in Pakistan. It would win approval of a few diehard secularists like ourselves but that’s it. imo it was ZAB’s genius to construct a grassroots populist movement & the fact that it involved islam surely had something to do with it. Even in European countries there are many parties with names like Christian democratic party, etc. I don’t think it matters that much that PPP has islam in its slogan – islam is a part of our life. The issue is the kind of islam and we all know that PPP’s brand of islam is very different from JI’s so why should. Pakistan’s biggest political party deliberately exclude itself from what is, let’s admit, probably the most important facet of Pakistani life which is religion, and let other hardliners dominate the discourse. Anyway it’s not something that I am 100% comfortable with either… maybe I will disagree with myself tomorrow 🙂

Sindhyar:
@Rabia-
I feel using religion as a slogan has two affects. Eqbal Ahmed’s article on the site talks about it brilliantly and more eloquently than I could ever hope to, but succinctly put it talks of religion in politics creates thakedars effectively who decide what and how and then we have differences etc. religion, not principles, then starts to dictate policy – that is dangerous because different interpretations of religion lead to squabbles of ‘waladuan leen’ and ‘walazua leen’ – these are centuries old wars over trivialities and they all come out on the national stage. Another issue with introduction of religion by leftist democratic party is that its clear contradiction. Religion in many ways is not likely to be flexible, but a democracy is .. because latter seeks to be voice of people and the mood of the times. Further not many leftists are staunch religious people- Instead of being up front about this, to be hide being slogans might introduce some religious to your ranks, but possibly at a risk of subversion of your own principles and efficiency.

Suleman Akhtar:
Here’s an excellent piece by Ed Rooksby, published in “The Guardian” on Saturday, November 20th, 2010. It might be helpful for understanding modern narrative of Liberalism. I find it obligatory to
share it with you all.

“Who’s correct about
human nature, the left or the right?”

due to copyright issues, the whole of article is not published here. I have only put in some excerpts.. the full article can be viewed without any hindrance on: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/20/human-nature-politics-left-right

Most conservatives see it as ‘common sense’ that humans are selfishly competitive – but things looked different pre-capitalism. When the political right confront the left in debate, the arguments of the former usually boil down to a simple underlying idea: that the left’s “grand projects” of social change are incompatible with human nature. Those on the left, in this view, do not understand – or cannot bring themselves to accept – the grim reality in relation to the fundamental determinants of human behaviour. Human beings are essentially selfish, greedy, competitive, individualistic and generally unpleasant. This nature, furthermore, is fixed and immutable.

Rather conveniently, we happen to live in the kind of social order that is most in tune with our natural inclinations – a capitalist free market economy. In fact, for conservatives, capitalism is not really a discrete “system” at all; it is simply the natural and spontaneous state of things.

conservative thought in general, bound up with its broadly positivist assumption that one can understand the world through simple observation and application of “common sense”

modern right’s understanding of human nature (and thus the broader political doctrine founded on this conception) first emerged with the birth of liberalism which was itself bound up with the emergence of capitalism.  In fact modern conservatism is really a form of liberalism

As a fundamentally “complete” individual, the liberal human has pre-given and fixed, rather than socially constructed needs and preferences. More often than not, the liberal individual is also a radical egoist who enters into interaction with other individuals simply in order to satisfy pre-formed preferences.

So what, if anything, is human nature? Marx provides a much richer account. He is often said to have argued that there is no such thing as human nature. This is not true. Though he did think that human behaviour was deeply informed by social environment, this is not to say that human nature does not exist.
For Marx, we are essentially creative and producing beings. It is not just that we produce for our means of survival, it is also that we engage in creative and productive activity over and above what is strictly necessary for survival and find fulfilment in this activity.

Eagleton argues that Marx was “a closet Aristotelian of sorts”, by which he means that Marx, like Aristotle, felt that humans live well when they act to realise their own creative nature.

A response to the debate by Nimer Ahmed

Dear Ali,

As I am not a critical supporter of PPP and never claimed to be liberal, so I am sending you my response directly. Now its upto you to decide whether it should be put on your forum or not.

There is a basics on which you are discussing the whole issue without being skeptical on those basics. I think you should all consider those as well.

1) Democracy is not just about voting. Voting is the “process” to initiate the ideology, so there can be other process and there are in different democracies.

2) Bhutto is an important person in our democratic history because he is the first leader of western Pakistan who started the people’s politics in this region. There are many examples to prove that he is not a genuine democrat but the most important one is “1973 Constitution” who technically withdrew people from there right of lead.

3) Liberalism, human right activism, women rights, etc are post industrial phenomenons they are by product of capitalism and free markets. i.e capitalism needed worker at large scale that initiated the idea of women liberalization, like moving machine parts so man and women can work together without friction, with liberal views to accommodate each other.

4) Socialism as an economic system has failed in recent history and with current economic challenges it is not viable. i.e socialism and capitalism has the same “Development” goals and this Development ideology is not viable economically, socially and environmentally.
I know these are really debatable and I can only point out few because of limitations but I think your whole team should get more skeptical about everything.

I think your team is misinterpreting the current political crises. It is not about Zardari or PPP, or giving a better economic conditions to poor, or Pakistan economic development, it is about the perception that people are in charge of Pakistan, Current status-quo is not ready to even accept this democratic right as a perception, “better economic conditions to poor, or Pakistan economic development” are really far ahead. First people have to understand that what is the real fight than people will win it. Pro democratic or PPP supporters should understand it.
“Delhi Door Ast”

Ali Abbas:
Its been an educational thread. Nonetheless,
“Islam is our Faith” simply should not be a part of the PPP manifesto any longer. The world has changed since 1967.  Also, it makes no sense as the minorities in Pakistan mostly gravitate towards the PPP and for Hindus and Christains, Islam is really not their faith. Similarly, even for muslims, their faith should not be used for political posturing!

“Socialism is our economy”

I don’t think socialism as a philosophy is dead. It is under attack by both economic and ideological forces. Western Europe and North America is in the process of scaling back its once amazing social services not just due to rigth wing forces but due to the stupidity of the left and the double games of the Islamofascist lobbies there who call for (mis)using liberal values and social services to literally destroy these systems from within.

Therefore this needs some tweaking as well.

Sindhyar:

1- Democracy is governance through collective will of people. Voting is the simplest form of ascertaining this will. It then is the basic necessity-  I don’t see any other way we can find the will of people.
Many a dictators have taken over and considered the silence (due to gun) as an approval of their junta. No one in their right mind considers that to be a democratic government. Even if a government formed without voting, is popular, it still isn’t democratic. 2- Biggest flaw- as I see it in 1973 constitution is the embracing of objective resolution. Which in one stroke takes away right of people to govern themselves and gives it to select few – those who now call thakadars of state, morality and religion

3- It is generalisation akin to libel to say that human rights and liberalism are creation of capitalism. One must differentiate individualism and liberalism and human rights from one another. They interact but are themselves separate ideas. Human rights, such as right to live, right to fair trial and right of association are as old as Roman times – even in Greek times there is some understanding of these rights. Freedom of religion is also something that we find pre-dates capitalism, especially in Arab states post Islam but also by
some Roman Emperors.
Equality of man and woman is another idea that is debatable. Certainly woman liberation movement is something that we find in modern times, but we have history of women emperors, from ancient Egypt, to Muslim states of India. We also have in the west, prior to Olympian religion of Greeks, the earthly religions, some of which are called pagan religions. They held woman, being the child bearer, to be greater than man.

4 – It was fashionable to say that Socialism has failed especially after fall of Berlin wall. But now its fashionable to say the opposite, that Capitalism has failed, after fall of Lehman Brothers. Debate however continues and so do both of systems. In Europe, the idea of social welfare state that was an amalgam of both systems has faced great opposition because it aimed to give social services on the revenue of capitalists. Now we see scaling down of that, and rightists cutting social spending – So it  is ironic but not surprising that fall of capitalist markets has affected the social services so badly and led to revival of neo-liberalism and the scourge of trickle down effect. Finally I don’t see democratic rights and economic betterment as being synonymous. It is always better to have a democratic state, because in longer run your would hope to have people elected by the people, for the people. But this has nothing to do with economic welfare of the people. China is an example of this, which, while not being a democracy, is doing well economically. Our aim as socialists is not to form just economic betterment. The aim is to create …. a collective society that in modern times works as a support system economically, socially and politically. Though it is well to accept many new ideas of the age, and definitely correct to utilise and better the technology – but the answer to question how we must live should be that we live as a single entity

Nimar Ahmed
One can quote different authors and quite reliable too but it is not a class and I am just sharing my thoughts.

Voting may be simplist form but it has failed to. Just check out the critic of manufacturing consent. It is from an anarchist. In French International a debate was taken within in communist intellectuals about whether Democracy can be achieved in Capitalism or not? That debate gave birth to French anti capitalism movement and Red Postman.

The whole constitution is a flaw.. History of written laws from Greek period, to Code Napoleon till modern constitution prove that laws are placed to protect bourgeoisie.
Read any social history of law. The fundamental principal of written law was trade oriented which has not changed till now. I dont believe in equalities within a class society. Whole western equality based struggle has its cruel face as well. See Marx, Hegel, Prodohn, Gramchi, Franz Focult etc, I think while discussing a subject
matter like this we should not talk about fairy tales. I do believe in those fairy tales but not take them in account while discussing a present scenerio. If you all think that you have to perform something for this society than it should be within its paraphernalia of present not for 2.5 million years later.

Sindhyar:

‘History of written laws from Greek period, to Code Napoleon till modern constitution prove that laws are placed to protect burgioeses’

This of course is historically questionable – Bourgeoisie is relatively new phenomenon in comparison with law, which are certainly older. Though some have argued that Romans complied the 13 tables to ensure smooth trade and thus prosperity- trade in ancient times was not the capitalist Bourgeoisie do. In fact in Muslim tradition quotes Prophet Mohammad to be a merchant tradesman.  Jesus Christ was a tradesman carpenter.
I would argue so much of our present and past comforts and betterment in life are due to trade. We have now thousands of choices, that our ancestors didn’t.  food, life tenure, attire and so on – this is due to trade and ability of man to ‘trade’ among one another. I don’t see anything wrong if Law does protect trade and as I said, this is very different from Bourgeoisie, who are a new phenomenon and that is something we need to look at and better..

‘Voting may be simplest form but it has failed’
only thing voting has failed to do is that it has allowed, by governance tenure, elected representatives to go back on their election manifesto. The proper response to this is greater democratic participation, rather less participation. It is not a coincidence that with democracy comes accountability of governors. With accountability comes performance. This is a rule that is only proven by the few exceptions. States that have done away with democracy have more often than not found that their representatives have abused the unbridled power they get. Be that Fascists in Italy or Germany or Communists in Russia. I am not sure what you call ‘fairy tales’ and I can assure you that 2.5 Mn years is too long. It is very likely that within that time humans would have evolved into a different being, even left this planet – certainly are unlikely to be like today.
But you speak of fairy tales and yet talk about a world without class system a possibility – I would be more honest and say that is very difficult to happen – for many reasons – many of them social and economic. However there is no reason why we can’t ensure that the gap can be lessened, that social mobility becomes possible and that ability to earn doesn’t dictate the status one has in society – there is then a need for social, economic, political and legal restructuring of system that allows this to occur –


Contextual classification of the term ‘Liberal’

Aliarqam: The term is relevant in three aspects, social, political and economic, we should analyze it on all aspects.

Sindhyar:
it is.. Which is why i find verma’s assertions to be not as comprehensive.. Politically the debate has largely been about what sort of control should state have on a person’s being.. Conservatives want greater control from government.. Facisists were extreme right & yielded full control.. Mulahs are conservatives because they consider everything to be legislated.. While other side expects all rights to be preserved for individual.. Thats were we get freedom of speech, religion, association, right to life etc.. This is different from economical freedom.. Where cons seek full freedom to market -neo -liberal want full market power – and leftists seek more state control.. Extreme on both sides.. Finally emanating from political argument is interference of moral by government.. Whose morals and to what extent.. Liberals again want less or no state interference .. Cons want more..
In this section we see arguments on women attire, gay marriage or open relationship etc

Red Ink:
Just a few observations. CPUSA did not disband in the 1950s. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

And not all leftists seek “state contol” over the economy. There is a difference between government, radical democracy and state.

Sindhyar: ‘ CPUSA did not disband in the 1950s’ . Agreed, I should have instead said that communist ‘movement practically’ disbanded in 1950s – party still remains active you would agree specifically in terms of economics – if you call yourself a leftist you must accept that state controlled economy is what you require – the degree of this is debatable and is the debate on the left – the alternative of course is free market

Red Ink:
I still disagree. Markets Vs. State is simply a false dilemma.
Let me elaborate. In fact the “anti-statist” and ” (French) libertarian” were leftist and anti-capitalist. Capitalism cannot exist without the state. The notion of state controlled economics being the only leftist model is Stalinistic. Most Leftist models are not so.

Sindhyar: but the argument is not about the political existence of the state. Capitalism cannot survive without the assistance of the State, most important being privy of contract & also maintenance of order- it is about economic competition provided by the state and whether and to what extent should it compete with private parties. yes Anarchist, Notably Chomsky, argue for minimal state control  in political sphere – this again is totally different from Economic activities of state

Red Ink:
The state is necessarily a bureaucracy. It is contrasted with democratic control over the economy, another leftist model.

Sindhyar: This is a very strict definition of ‘state’ – one that I don’t adhere to and so wasn’t discuss on that premise.

Red Ink: I find the stricter definition useful. Otherwise there is no distinction between a coercive apparatus and collective agency in economics.

Furthermore, on a meta level, liberalism is preoccupied with *methodological* individualism. I am a methodological collectivist. That is to say I privilege the collective over the individual in analysis. This ultimately leads to an understanding of freedom drastically different from the liberal understanding, namely; I believe we are most free when encumbered by a social/ collective rubric.

Sindhyar: State as understood in political science is different from your definition – which is where I think this confusion comes from I too agree with the idea of collectivism – utilitarianism, I feel we as animals have evolved as such and we instinctively go against collective betterment, if given the choice to be individual – not withstanding Adam Smith’s invisible hand – an example of this is the current credit crisis, which was individual greed sinking people collectively – no surprise that it emanated from the cradle of individualism – US of America

Red Ink: Plenty of political theorists understand the state to mean the apparatus in particular. Look at how the term “state” (as in state department) and “establishment” (the counterpart establishment division) refer to this norm.

Sindhyar: The word you use as in state equally a bureaucracy headed by a minister is something that is what we found in the language of American Federal government is different from the normal understanding of the word state – because of the context. It is interesting sidenote that in USA state can mean three things. Sec of State is of course a Federal minister, but state of California is something else and then US as a state itself is something else all together.  (this maybe is similar to word ‘sovereign’, that changes meaning in different context) In political science literature, it is that last is normally used and this is what I meant. I would differentiate it with Establishment because establishment talks about something fleeting in history, say Blair establishment, Kennedy establishment or Bush Establishment – while state is permanent and talks of the concrete principles of a state that are so fundamental to a state. Of course we find the word state as you define in many writings, most notably with Max Weber, but then we always qualify it because state in that sense is different from what we would normally understand from the word State. This of course is definition used by Hobbes, Locke and
Rousseau.

Red Ink: Didn’t Hobbes have the same narrow definition as mine? Im gonna have to reread leviathan.

Sindhyar: He forms state as a Leviathan – a huge monster that is made up of all entities one can think of, most importantly the people as a whole – This is surely more than just the bureaucracy

Red Ink: He narrows it down to the author in effect, does he not? My copy of the book is in another country. I’ll have to borrow one.

Red Ink: I meant sovereign. He only recognizes the people as authorizing the state, not as the state.

Sindhyar: if you remember the picture on the cover – of leviathan – he is of
course made up of people http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/leviathan.jpg

Sovereign exercises the power through which state is to be governed – and sovereign (according to Hobbes) then has this power given to him by the people, in exchange for ensuring order and ending of perpetual war that remained in jungle of nature. Sovereign then has all the powers of state – and thus this can only mean state is more than just bureaucrats. In Hobbes case, of course, this Sovereign was the King – who used to have unlimited power (though Kings were restrained in common law by certain judicial decrees but these are mere technicalities of interest only to legal jurists)

Red Ink: There are in fact to covers, you are referring to the second one. The first only had the king. Thats besides the point though. Hobbes referred to the “people” only for authorization of state.  The leviathan was also something above the people, separate from them. I would still say the apparatus its self.

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Sindhyar Talpur

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  • via Twitter:

    Beena Sarwar’s ‘bundle’ of links compiling the #TNSsecularismDebate articles so far

    http://bit.ly/ff9IhD

    http://fb.me/H3rXmB4l

    http://bit.ly/bundles/beenasarwar/3?preview=1

    ……..

    SecularismPakistan

    TNS Saqlain Imam – A fallacious binary
    http://jang.com.pk/thenews/oct2010-weekly/nos-03-10-2010/dia.htm#1

    TNS Ejaz Haider – Reconciling the binaries
    http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/nov2010-weekly/nos-14-11-2010/dia.htm#1

    TNS Khaled Ahmed – Why do we hate secularism?
    http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/nov2010-weekly/nos-21-11-2010/dia.htm#1

    TNS Ayesha Siddiqa – Pragmatic politics & the Pakistan state

    Pragmatic politics and the Islamic stateIslam can only grow in a secular state because, historically, Muslim rulers have damaged rather than benefited the expansion of faith by using religion to their imperialist advantage. The debate on secularism and Pakistan goes on… By Ayesha SiddiqaIs Pakistan a conservative Islamic state like Saudi Arabia or a religious-secular country is a question which seems to have struck the imagination of our liberal elite in the past couple of decades. The echo of Taliban marching on to Islamabad and other places has made some people nervous. The degeneration of a talented politician into a…

    http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/sep2010-weekly/nos-26-09-2010/dia.htm

    TNS Kamila Hyat – Disorder of identity
    http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/oct2010-weekly/nos-10-10-2010/dia.htm#1

    TNS IARehman – Case for SECULAR Pakistan
    http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/aug2010-weekly/nos-29-08-2010/spr.htm#2

    TNS Case for Secular Pakistan – TNS Special Report

    “Should we accept if tomorrow parliament declares secularism, and not Islam, as the state polity?” Clearly the remarks of the chief justice during the course of hearings on petitions challenging the eighteenth amendment raised more than one concern. One, whether it is the job of the Supreme Court to tell the parliament what it could do? Two, what to make of the tone of disdain reserved for secularism as an ideal? The price paid by Pakistan for rejecting secularism By I. A. RehmanPerhaps the greatest injustice done to the Quaid-e-Azam in the state founded under his leadership is that his…
    http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/aug2010-weekly/nos-29-08-2010/spr.htm

    TNS Adnan Adil – A faulty conception
    The debate of a secular Pakistani state generates a needless controversy and wastes the energies of people who sincerely want to see their country move forward on the path of representative rule, human rights, modernisation and egalitarianism. Secularism serves to create a gulf between its proponents and ordinary Muslims, thus rendering them ineffective, marginalised and incapable of making any tangible impact on society. It militates against the strong desire of Muslims to have their distinct Islamic identity and negates the history of political struggle for Pakistan based on the ideals of a modern Islamic state and society. Scheduled caste Hindus…

    http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/sep2010-weekly/nos-19-09-2010/dia.htm

    TNS Adnan Rehmat – two orthodoxies
    http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/oct2010-weekly/nos-17-10-2010/dia.htm#1

    TNS Mahir Ali – Take it or leave it
    http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/oct2010-weekly/nos-24-10-2010/dia.htm#1

    TNS Moonis Ahmar – The only way forward
    http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/oct2010-weekly/nos-31-10-2010/dia.htm#1

  • First i wanna ask everyone here what is liberalism.Not A single party from BOTH india and pakistan registered as liberal political parties.
    In pakistan classical definition of liberal is who supports western views, lifestyle and call himself as secular.

    You can not become liberal unless you follow its manifesto
    freedom of speech,press,expression,religion.equal rights for all, no concentration of power or money to elites,multi parties political system,right from same sex ppl including marriage rights and abortion rights for women.

    Liberalism also support minimum govt control and free market policy.If you support and struggle for all these
    rights then you can claim to liberal

  • More from Amit Verma

    To begin with, what is ‘Indian liberalism’? The term ‘liberal’ has been so debased and so variedly used as to have practically no meaning left in it. I consider myself a classical liberal, believing in individual freedom, negative rights and a free society, which is how liberals in continental Europe would see themselves. Yet, in the US, the term means practically the opposite, as American liberals, from the Left, are opposed to free markets, which makes their appropriation of the term oxymoronic. (Some of my friends would remove the ‘oxy’ from that judgment.)

    In India, the term is used in a woolly way, and one can never quite be sure what it’s meant to mean. Ramachandra Guha, in his essay ‘The Absent Liberal’, referred to PC Mahalanobis as a liberal, and in a talk he gave us before the conference, to Jawaharlal Nehru as one. Labelling people is a complex matter, especially when they are politicians and contain multitudes of multitudes, and such a label is often both true and false, depending on perspective, as with Nehru. (His institution building and commitment to democracy and secularism mark him out as a great liberal; his economic policies, which so ravaged India, do not.)

    Almost all of us at the conference were classical liberals, at siege in a world where the values we believe in have either not been accepted or are being questioned. The broad theme of the conference was how to spread liberal ideas, and the task seems hard for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the classic truths of liberalism are all counter-intuitive, such as the non-zero-sumness involved in progress, the concept of spontaneous order, and the fallibility of all human beings—the last especially important in the context of the blind faith we have in government, which is always a collection of flawed human beings, often with perverse incentives.

    Secondly, economic liberalism is under increasing attack from people who point to the economic crisis in the US as a failure of free markets, or wonder why India has so many inequalities despite being supposedly liberalized. These kind of attacks deserve a serious and respectful response, but I don’t see much of that in the media around me. In next week’s column, I will attempt a partial response, and share my views on why neither the financial crisis nor India’s inequalities represent a failure of free markets. But for now, let’s get back to the subject of the colloquium, and this column: how can we spread classical liberal ideas in India?

    Some of my fellow participants referred to the Swatantra Party, and were exploring whether a classical liberal party of that sort could build a following in the politics. More power to those who try, though I believe that such a political party is a pipe dream, and a waste of time. (I didn’t always hold this view.) A political party might start out liberal, but the many necessary compromises of politics will soon dilute any ideological stance it takes, till it ends up indistinguishable from the parties around it, slave to the imperatives of the political marketplace, where niches are formed more on the basis of identity than ideology.

    Instead, I think classical liberals need to ask themselves the question, Why are we liberals? For me, the answer is not just that liberalism gives me an intellectual framework with which I can make sense of the world, but also that I believe that it has solutions to most of the political and economic problems that the world, and modern India, faces: from farmer suicides in Vidarbha to rising prices to deepening inequality. If this is the case, and my liberalism follows from the practical utility that it provides, then what I need to promote is not liberalism itself, but these immediate solutions to the urgent, pressing problems of our times, whose merit lies not in their being liberal but in their being both right and practical. Then I can avoid labels and focus purely on solving real-world problems with all the real-world constraints that a utopian vision of the world does not always taking into account.

    This being the case, we do not need a separate liberal political party to spread liberal ideas. Instead, if we offer practical ways to make the world a better place, our ideas can spread through osmosis into every political party. Liberalism can then triumph in the political battlefield by winning in the marketplace of ideas—perhaps without the label attached, for ideological labels often hinder the spread of good ideas.

  • Galileo was condemned by the churches and he was put in solitary confinement where he died miserably. His only fault was that he forwarded Helio-centeric theory which, according to churches, was against the teaching of Bible.

    It took quite a while in realizing by Western think tank that the dominance of churches was hinderance in the progress of the society. They restricted faith for only worshipping and every individual had a right to live their chosen way/style of life. All the faculties of knowledge were made free to propagate their theories especially that of science. Religion was no more dominating factor in knowledge and invention. They progressed in the new set up and the new set up got cemented every passing day. If at all there is a reality of Liberalism, in all fairness, this is liberalism. Liberalism makes an overhead bridge when it apprehends a clash with faith.

    Riba in all its different forms is prohibited in its entirety in Islam and so had been pronounced by Supreme Islamic body and if I am not wrong since last 20 years or so. Yet payment instruments, deposits, drafts and overdrafts, Bills of entry, credit and advances, in nut shell, the whole money flow in the country is based on interest. I can safely say, though we claim to be a country based on Islamic Idealogy, we are practising Liberalism. There is no way out – we are in a global village. More than a quarter of our budget is eaten up by debt servicing and that too with interest.

  • Another take on liberalism! As per Charter of Human Rights of United Nations, every person has a right to express their views written or verbatim, but there is a big big proviso attached to it:

    “….as long as it does not inflict injury on the sentiments, belief or faith of a group of a society”.