Liberals, Conservatives, Socialists, Whatever, We Need To Work Together
Today, I want to talk about how we can co-operate to achieve good outcomes, by overcoming the divisions caused by labels and echo chambers. Let’s start here. I have often said that my work is a classical liberal project. How does this label define me, how does it limit me? Does this mean I should only cooperate with people who identify as classical liberals? Of course not. Back in 2019, for example, I provided a positive overview of some of Bernie’s stances, and I said those were good ideas, despite not being a Leftist myself. On the other hand, I have often disagreed with other people who identify as ‘classical liberals’, on numerous things. As you can see, labels don’t mean everything, and we shouldn’t be constrained by preconceptions of labels.
One thing to understand is that, labels are only useful as far as they describe a worldview, values or something similarly concrete. Otherwise it becomes just another form of identity politics. For me, classical liberalism is about sticking to the spirit of liberalism, as it was originally conceived. I believe that liberalism is ultimately rooted in two things that came out of the Enlightenment: freedom of religion, and a commitment to objective scientific truth as demonstrated by empirical evidence. For the purpose of the 21st century, a time where many people are not religious, I believe that freedom of religion needs to be expanded into a more general freedom of moral belief and commitment, which I have formulated as the Moral Libertarian principle of Equal Moral Agency for all individuals. On the other hand, the commitment to scientific truth and empirical evidence has served us well for several centuries, and there is no reason to abandon or change it at all. The reason I call my liberalism ‘classical liberalism’ is because, in contemporary Western politics, ‘liberal’ often means something else, i.e. the political coalition of the mainstream Left, which unfortunately includes elements of postmodernism and critical theory, worldviews that are fundamentally opposed to the twin values of moral freedom and objective truth. My use of ‘classical liberalism’ is therefore necessary to denote my commitment to liberalism as it originally meant, and my opposition to postmodernized so-called liberalism.
As you can see, my identity as a ‘classical liberal’ is clearly tied to two overriding values, and it means something concrete. It is not an identity for identity’s sake. Rather, it is a shorthand for something meaningful. Logically, this would mean that I should be able to find common ground with people who are doing things in line with these two ideals, no matter what label they go by. And over the years, I have been able to find common ground with plenty of such people across the political spectrum.
Right now, there are indeed many things that need attention in Western societies, and we can only resolve them if we try to find common ground with other people, to formulate a consensus approach. Economic changes are leaving many people behind, and I fear the erosion of equal opportunity would have adverse effects on moral freedom for individuals. As corporations gain immense power, they become more and more able to restrict the moral freedom of individuals. Meanwhile, automation threatens to eliminate many existing jobs over the coming years, making the problem much worse. I believe the reason why there still aren’t good solutions to these problems, is because too many people across the political spectrum are still holding tight to economic and political theories developed in the 19th century. We don’t live in an industrial economy anymore, and 19th century dogma isn’t going to save the 21st century West. Instead, we need to come together, and come up with something new.
Another big problem is, even as the War in Afghanistan has just ended, the elites are still trying to drag us into cycles of endless wars and international conflict. They can’t seem to get rid of the pro-war mentality they got addicted to during the Cold War, which actually ended 30 years ago! Wars always mean massive losses in human lives, and it is a moral imperative for many of us to put an end to the forever wars. When we say we want to see world peace in our lifetime, we mean it, and we will do anything necessary to achieve it. I believe we need to come together, regardless of our otherwise philosophical differences, to stare down the elites who want to create global conflict over and over again. Enough is enough. We can never let the elites get away with forgetting the tragic disasters that were the Vietnam war, the Iraq war and now the Afghanistan war. And the only way we can do that is to find common ground, and stand together against the pro-war elites.
TaraElla is a singer-songwriter and author, who recently published her autobiography The TaraElla Story, in which she described the events that inspired her writing.
She is also the author of the Moral Libertarian Horizon books, which argue that liberalism is still the most moral and effective value system for Western democracies in the 21st century.