What being liberal truly means

Many often claim, with profuse clarity, “I’m a liberal!”

What does being a liberal mean? It means being open to new, different and sometimes even opposing ideas. It doesn’t matter if those ideas belong to a time 3000 years ago or 3000 years into the future. If those ideas are good, if they are good for the humanity, if they are good for the planet, if they are good for our culture and society, if they’re going to bring a brighter future for our children and future generations, they are to be supported, they are to be propagated and they are to be defended against bigotry, close-mindedness, greed, extreme religious beliefs and cultural backwardness.

Whether you are a liberal or not, if you are a right-thinking person, you can never disagree with a truly liberal person.

So why are liberals suspected and derided these days, all over the civilized world (I’m talking about the regions where you can be limited without being flogged or decapitated)?

The problem is that there are very few individuals who actually understand what being liberal is. Just because you espouse a cause, you begin to think that you are a liberal (I’m not saying you as you the reader, but people who do that). Going against convention is not being liberal. Doing the right thing is. But then again, you may think that you are being right by going against convention. This is totally fine. We all have our own notions of being write and being wrong. This is not the point. Being liberal means being open to the idea that yes, you might be wrong and you need to do some more reading, some more introspection. You need to expose yourself to alternative thoughts. You don’t. In fact, the so-called liberals are the most close-minded and intellectually and ideologically stuck-up people one can come across.

This is one problem with liberalism.

The other problem is that in the name of being liberal, a cultural, intellectual and political racket is being run by a closely connected network of journalists, writers and politicians. In different regions of the world they have different objectives, but their goal is to constantly misinform people and keep them in a state of insecurity, fear and suspicion. For example, the so-called liberals in India are constantly trying to pitch one religious community against the other, one caste against the other and one region against the other. All this is done in the name of supporting causes and particular communities. Do the communities and causes being supported benefit from such support? Who cares? The issue is not about bringing benefits to the “supported” causes and communities. The issue is taking one’s agenda forward.

The largest number of NGOs working for the “downtrodden” in the world are in India and going by the definition of being liberal, we can safely assume that a big majority of people associated with these NGOs are one way or another “liberal”. For more than 50 years a government specifically working for the poor and for religious communities has been in power. This government, despite gargantuan corruption cases, overwhelming incompetence and administrative apathy that can break all world records, has been so far the cynosure of the liberal fraternity. Still, poverty pervades every region of the country. The religious communities, according to the apprehensions raised by the very same liberal fraternity, are in great peril due to the rise of majority-community fundamentalism. All these 50 years of being ruled by a liberal and minority-community-friendly government have yielded no liberal-utopian results. Why so?

Because in the true sense, liberalism has never been there. Opportunism, yes. Intellectual sycophancy, yes. Nepotism, yes. Scavenging on the poverty and backwardness of the country, yes. Communal and casteist politics, yes. Actual pluralism, no. Actual secularism, no. Actual liberalism, no.

I’m not saying there are no true liberals. Of course they are. They have existed since the time immemorial and this is how we have reached from living in the caves to building a structure as tall as Burj Khaleefa. But they have always been in a tiny minority just like they are now. Just because you Tweet in favour of LGBT persons, intellectually try to legitimise extremist tendencies among particular religious groups and ridicule particular religious traditions you don’t become a liberal; you become a nuisance.

A true liberal is interested in change, not in the state of affairs. A true liberal doesn’t just rant, he or she aspires to make a positive change. A true liberal is not interested in “my thinking is better than your thinking”, he or she is interested in what is right.

Leave a Reply