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Contemporary Challenges to Liberalism


To What Extent is Modern Liberalism Continuing to Evolve? Contemporary Challenges to Liberalism Analyzing how modern liberalism is challenged by alternative thought – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Contemporary Challenges to Liberalism

Contemporary Challenges to Liberalism
To What Extent is Modern Liberalism Continuing
to Evolve?
  • Analyzing how modern liberalism is challenged by
    alternative thought

What would you write about if you imagined the
world 50 or 100 years from now?
  • Would it be with the pessimism of Orwells
    Nineteen Eighty-Four or Huxleys Brave New World?
  • Would it be like The Little Prince where the
    author, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, creates new
    planets and asteroids to critique the behaviour
    of adults from a childs point of view
  • What about Ray Bradburys Fahrenheit 451, where
    society must gives up literature to suppress any
    ideas that might challenge its happiness?
  • Lowrys The Giver, where individuals give up
    emotion and memories to create a more safe and
    peaceful society?
  • These authors challenge the different
    perspectives about how society should be
  • What would our society be like if our government
    outlawed books, or emotions, or ideas
  • How much individuality would you sacrifice to
    your government in the name of security?
  • How much would you allow government to be
    involved in your lives?

Classical Liberalism and Modern Liberalism
  • How far has liberalism strayed from its roots?
  • Classical liberal principles originated in The
    Enlightenment, particularly with the writings of
    John Locke
  • Natural and inalienable rights
  • Society should be a community of political equals
  • All respecting the rights of one another equally
  • This is the rationale for modern democracy
  • Main function of government
  • Protect individual natural rights the rights to
    life, liberty, and property
  • Laws created by government can be legitimized
    with the consent of the majority
  • Creates a great deal of freedom and ensures less
    control over individuals by the government

Review Of Classical Liberalism
  • 18th and 19th centuries technological advances
    led to the Industrial Revolution in England
  • Members of Parliament put the ideas of classical
    liberalism into practice to take advantage of the
    economic opportunities
  • Industrial productivity and incredible wealth led
    to large disparities between the rich
    entrepreneurs and landowners and those living
    in poverty
  • This disparity led to challenges to classical
  • Classical liberalism evolved and expanded to
    modern liberal ideas such as education, health
    care, etc.

Classical Liberalism
Modern Liberalism
  • contributed to the Great Depression
  • Contributed to the wealth gap between the more
    developed world and the rest of the world, thus
    leading to such things as political instability
    and hyper-consumerism
  • Contributed to the development of
    counter-ideologies, such as communism and
    fascism, and the expansion and revision of
    liberal ideas
  • involves no government
  • interference (hands off)
  • proposes that the sole function of government is
    to protect individuals natural rights to life,
    liberty, and properly
  • emphasizes economic liberalism and promotes the
    freedom of the entrepreneur
  • involves significant government intervention
    (hands on)
  • Proposes that all individuals be valued equally
  • Proposes the development of programs to help
    disadvantaged individuals and eliminate the
    causes of poverty, crime, and abuse
  • Promotes initiatives to share the benefits of
    development and to develop wisely

Classical Liberalism and Negative Freedoms
  • The tragic events of September 11 highlight the
    ethical import of what are sometimes called
    negative freedoms freedom from tyranny,
    freedom from fear, freedom from hunger, and
    freedom from discrimination based upon race,
    color, or creed. A pluralistic and open society
    requires agreements about the worth and dignity
    of citizens in order for those citizens to be
    free from coercions and constraints that would
    prevent their ability to live in sufficient
    safety and freedom to carve out their ability to
    live in sufficient safety and freedom to carve
    out their own lives and the lives of their
    families and communities.
  • Patricia Benner, 2002
  • Principles of classical liberalism centre around
    individuals should be free to make choices
  • Called negative freedom or freedom from

Classical Liberalism and Negative Freedoms
  • In classical liberalism this meant little more
    than freedom from government intervention
  • Liberal democracies, such as Canada, possess
    these negative freedoms fundamental freedoms
  • Freedom of conscience and religion
  • Freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and
    expression, including freedom of the press and
    other communication media
  • Freedom of peaceful assembly
  • Freedom of association
  • Classical Liberalism
  • Each man has equal political power
  • Greater political stability would result from
    greater direct involvement in the political
  • Political stability leads to a society that
    allows individuals to use their freedoms as best
    they can to achieve social and economic
  • Are the negative freedoms outlined previously
    sufficient to ensure the well-being of all
    members of society?

Classical Liberalism and Economics
  • 19th century a period of significant economic
    growth due, in large part, to the Industrial
  • Coincided with the formation of classical liberal
    economic theory laissez-faire economics
  • Supported free markets and individual rights to
    own private property
  • Economic markets with little or no govt
    intervention benefit all members of society
  • Government limited to do what they do best
  • Developing laws to protect freedoms and private
  • Some classical liberals do not trust popular
    democracy fear the majority might not support
    classical liberal principles ie. Possession of
    private property

Classical Liberalism and Equality
  • A certain amount of inequality is a natural
    result of protecting property rights and
    guaranteeing freedoms
  • The equality valued by classical liberals is the
    equality of opportunity
  • State remains impartial, allowing citizens to
    determine their own ideas of good without
    interference or coercion
  • All forms of diversity are accepted
  • Diverse outcomes based on the choices people
    make, as long as those choices do not violate the
    rights of others

  • Enfranchisement Brings Transformation
  • Late 19th century, vote was given to a wider
    group of citizens
  • As more working class citizens got he vote,
    politicians had to promise to introduce policies
    that met the workers needs labour law
    workplace safety labour unions
  • 20th century further evolution
  • Sought to promote equality
  • Greater govt intervention was encouraged by
  • World War I and II
  • The Great Depression
  • Exclusions of minorities from voting and
    positions of power
  • Change from rural, agrarian society to urban,
    manufacturing society
  • Challenges and Change Liberalism Evolves
  • People will make the choices that are best for
    them, when free
  • Free of govt intervention
  • The market would spread wealth to those making
    wise decisions
  • What is prosperity is not fulfilled?
  • Great wealth created during the Industrial
    Revolution transition from mercantilism, a
    system where the state accumulated wealth
  • Wealth concentrated in the hands of a small
    number of societys elite
  • Most people remained poorly fed, poorly housed,
    poorly educated, with a short life expectancy
  • Laissez-faire economics believed problems would
    correct itself without govt interference

Modern Liberalism and Positive Freedoms
Classical Liberalism
Modern Liberalism
  • Progressives (shifting to modern liberal ideas)
    believed certain conditions prevented all members
    from achieving equality
  • Govt intervention was essential for all to
    achieve equality, not just opportunity
  • Taxes for social programs (welfare) for those in
  • Any limit placed on freedoms of an individual is
    justified if it benefited all of society
  • UN Declaration of Human Rights includes positive
    freedoms What limitations to liberty would the
    following rights may impose on some people?

Negative Freedoms Example Freedom from
persecution for following a chosen faith or
Positive Freedoms Example Freedom of Expression
  • Everyone has the right to a standard of living
    adequate for the health and well-being of himself
    and of his family, including food, clothing,
    housing, and medical care and necessary social
    services, and the right to security in the event
    of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood,
    old age or other lack of livelihood in
    circumstances beyond his control.
  • Article 25.1 of the Universal Declaration of
    Human Rights
  • United Nations, 1948

Modern Liberalism and Positive Freedoms
Classical Liberalism
Modern Liberalism
  • Modern liberals argue that the ability to
    exercise ones right to freedom depends on the
    existence of certain conditions
  • You cannot be free if your basic needs are not
    met, if oppressed by unfair practices, or if
    subject to discrimination
  • To ensure freedom govt intervention is
    encouraged, socially and politically
  • Increased govt intervention could result in
    tyranny, modern liberalism calls for broader
    social protection and guarantees of civil
    liberties and equal rights including a more
    open and transparent govt
  • Civil liberties the means by which modern
    liberals seek to maintain dignity and fair
    treatment for all.
  • Seek to ensure greater equality of opportunity
    through positive rights, right to education,
    health care, or legal aid.
  • Everyone has the right to a standard of living
    adequate for the health and well-being of himself
    and of his family, including food, clothing,
    housing, and medical care and necessary social
    services, and the right to security in the event
    of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood,
    old age or other lack of livelihood in
    circumstances beyond his control.
  • Article 25.1 of the Universal Declaration of
    Human Rights
  • United Nations, 1948

Social 30 1, 2, 3
Liberalism Evolves How is modern liberalism
challenged by alternative thought?
  • Environmentalism
  • Neo-Conservatism
  • Religious Perspectives
  • Aboriginal Perspectives
  • All of the above contributed to the evolution of
    modern liberalism and challenged the dominant
    influence of liberal thought on Western society
  • Ideologies differ on
  • Interpretations of history
  • Beliefs about human nature
  • Beliefs about the structure of society
  • Visions for the future
  • You will need to keep the above themes in mind
    when we consider the challenges and contributions
    of the evolution of modern liberal thought

  • Roots in the 1800s
  • As a political/cultural ideology in the 60s,
    Rachel Carsons Silent Spring (1962) pesticides
    entering the food chain, negative effects on
    animals and human beings
  • 1970s Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth,
    pressured govts to enact laws to protect the
  • France and USA ban certain types of nuclear tests
  • 80s 90s UM banned driftnet fishing
  • Countries banned dumping toxic waste into the
  • Computer manufacturers have agreed to stop using
    certain toxic materials in their products
  • Has led to some political bodies to enshrine the
    right to a healthy environment alongside the
    principles of modern liberalism
  • UN Intl Covenant on Economic, Social, and
    Cultural Rights the right to everyone to the
    enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of
    physical and mental health. Improving all
    aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene
  • Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms,
    everyone has the right to live in a healthful
    environment in which biodiversity is preserved,
    to the extent and according to the standards
    provided by law.

  • Today negative impact of human activity
  • Free-market economists and skeptics of global
    warming claim environmental reform of the economy
    will do more harm than good
  • the state of humanity has never been better,
    says Mr. Goklany in his book, published by Cato
    Institute, backing his claims with detailed
    findings that show rapid advancement in hundreds
    of indicators for people all over the world. The
    conditions that created the great improvements
    in health, environment, living standards,
    mortality, disease control, smog reduction, and
    human happiness are the very same conditions
    the Financial Post has typically advocated over a
    century growth, technological change, free trade
    in products and ideas, market forces and personal
  • The carbon and chemical economies that green
    salvationists want to curtail, even eliminate,
    are in fact the very basis for the worlds
    current and improving conditions. The message in
    Mr. Goklanys book is that government policy
    must, above all, preserve the general conditions
    that have brought us to this state of
    achievement, not destroy them.
  • -Terance Corcoran, Good sense to prevail over
    enviro-alarmism, 2007

  • On the other side of the debate Worldwatch
    Institutes 2004 annual report Richer, Fatter,
    and Not Much Happier.
  • Higher levels of obesity and personal debt,
    chronic time shortages, and a degraded
    environment are all signs that excessive
    consumption is diminishing the quality of life
    for many people. The challenge now is to mobilize
    governments, businesses, and citizens to shift
    their focus away from the unrestrained
    accumulation of goods and toward finding ways to
    ensure a better life for all.
  • Worldwatch Institute, Richer, Fatter, and Not
    Much Happier 2004
  • Institute advocates
  • Increasing taxes on on manufacturers,
  • minimizing the impact of production on natural
    resources through government regulation

Canada and Carbon Tax
  • Due to scientific research, extreme weather
    events, increasing global temperatures the
    environment has become an important part of most
    political parties platforms
  • Carbon emissions reduction have become key
    political points
  • How will political parties deal with the
    environment and still have economic growth, and
    have the least effect on the citizens pocketbook
  • 2008 Federal Election
  • Conservative proposed emission reduction targets
    for industry and caps on specific pollutants
  • NDP based on cap and Trade overall pollution
    would be limited by the govt, those industries
    below the target would receive credits they could
    sell to other companies
  • Liberals cap and trade system with a carbon tax
    on each tonne of carbon emissions
  • Greens carbon tax and cap system, and carbon tax

Canada and Carbon Tax
  • Sept 2008, Sierra Club of Canada volunteer
    environmental org. graded the political parties
  • Greens A-
  • Liberals B
  • NDP B
  • Conservatives F
  • To what extent should the Canadian government
    implement policies based on citizens concerns
    about the environment?
  • July 1, 2008 BC began to phase in a provincial
    carbon tax
  • Designed to discourage the use of fossil fuels
    and thereby reduce carbon emissions
  • 72 of Canadians felt BCs carbon tax was a
    positive step

Balancing Environmentalism and Economics
  • A discussion about the welcoming development of
    India. The Centre of Excellence for Sustainable
    Development, describes itself as an institution
    that creates a conducive, enabling climate for
    Indian businesses to pursue sustainability
  • Indias new trajectory of high economic growth is
    a welcome development, providing the wherewithal
    to secure progressively higher standards of
    living. For such rapid growth to be sustainable
    it is imperative to include those living at the
    margin as meaningful participants in the economic
    process and preserve the capacity of the natural
    ecosystem to support growth aspirations. I
    believe that Indian Business needs to enlarge its
    contribution beyond its primary role of enhancing
    economic capital, towards also enhancing social
    capital and natural capital.
  • Y.C. Deveshwar, Chairman,
  1. Does Deveshwars point of view reflect classical
    liberal or modern liberal ideology?
  2. What might be the consequences of adopting
    Deveshwars point of view? What might be the
    consequences of rejecting his point of view?
  3. Should governments limit our individual freedom
    as consumers in society?

  • When two neo-conservatives meet they are more
    likely to argue with one another than to confer
    or conspire. Irving Kristol, 2003
  • Many are former liberals where liberal policies
    have failed
  • Some aspects of neo-conservatism challenge modern
    liberal principles and favour a return to
    classical liberalism
  • Other neo-conservatives challenge both classical
    and modern liberalism

  • Emerged in the US during the 50s 60s against
    modern liberal principles that had gone too far
  • Civil Rights Movement
  • Affirmative action (ideals of equality and
  • Détente between the USSR and USA (60s 70s) seen
    as a period of weak foreign policy Neo-Cons
    rallied against diplomacy in favour of actively
    promoting capitalism and democracy abroad and
    fighting against the spread of communism
  • Grew in popularity in the 1980s reflected in
    the economic, social, and foreign policies of the
    US with Ronald Reagan and British PM Margaret
  • Cold War heated up massive military spending
    around the world
  • With the collapse of the USSR in the 1980s,
    Neo-Cons felt that they had won the Cold War
  • Support began to fall during the 90s with George
    H W Bush and Bill Clintons reduction in military

  • 1997, Project for the New American Century (PNAC)
  • To advocate increasing defense spending
  • Promoting democracy and capitalism abroad
  • Strengthening Americas ties to democratic allies
  • Challenging other governments that are hostile
    to American interests and values
  • http//
  • Many of George W Bushs administration were PNAC
  • After 911 the policy of promoting democracy
    abroad was adopted by the White House

Neo-Conservatism Economic Policy
  • Economic growth stimulated by cutting taxes
  • Government involvement in economic markets should
    be limited
  • Lower taxes in a free market to create conditions
    that resemble classical liberal economic policy
  • Evidence of Intl influence
  • WTO World Trade organization
  • IMF International Monetary Fund
  • Promote free trade, reducing tariffs,
    concessions, regulations regarding government
  • Milton Friedman promoted classical liberal
    policies minimizing govt involvement in the
    economy and reducing govt regulation of all
  • Opposed govt programs public education, public
    health, public housing

Neo-Conservatism and the Role of Government
  • Not comfortable with large amount of services
    provided by modern govt prefer alternative
    ways of providing services they do believe in
  • Modern liberals generally believe the govt
    should provide most essential services, health
    care and education
  • Neo-conservative private schools, free from
    many of the rules, regulations and govt controls
  • US 23 schools are private, 4 in Alberta, 10
    in Quebec
  • For more than three decades, Friedman and his
    powerful followers had been perfecting this very
    strategy waiting for a major crisis, then
    selling off pieces of the state to private
    players while citizens were still reeling from
    the shock.
  • Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine, 2007

  • Neo-Conservatism and Foreign Policy
  • Neo-Conservatism and Morality
  • Foreign Policy common area for neo-conservatives
  • Includes
  • Patriotism is good and should be encouraged
  • World govt not a good idea, it will lead to
  • A large countrys interests extend beyond borders
    requires a strong military
  • Democratic capitalism is the preferable system
    and should be promoted internationally
  • One aspect of the decision to invade Iraq in 2003
  • Have traditional views about social issues
  • Concerned about the demise of the traditional
    moral culture
  • Tend to be suspicious of counter-culture
  • Influenced by the Christian Right
  • Curtailing abortion
  • Allowing prayer is school
  • Teaching creationism in science

State of the Union Address, 2002
  • Speech after 9/11
  • The men and women of our Armed Forces have
    delivered a message now clear to every enemy of
    the United States Even 7000 miles away, across
    oceans and continents, on mountaintops and in
    caves you will not escape the justice of this
  • States like these (Iraq), and their terrorist
    allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to
    threaten the peace of the world. By seeking
    weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a
    grave and growing danger. They could provide
    these arms to terrorists, giving them the means
    to match their hatred. They could provide these
    arms to terrorists, giving them the means to
    match their hatred. They could attack our allies
    or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any
    of these cases, the price of indifference would
    be catastrophic
  • My budget includes the largest increase in
    defense spending in two decades because while
    the price of freedom and security I high, it is
    never too high. Whatever it costs to defend our
    country, we will pay.
  • George W. Bush. January 29, 2002
  • What ideas from this speech reflect
    neo-conservatives ideas related to foreign
  • How do these ideas relate to classical and modern

Placing the Community Above the Individual
  • Doukhobors immigrated to Canada from Russia
    in19th century
  • Believed in communitarianism owned and worked
    the land together
  • Did not recognize the authority of the secular
    (non-religious) govt, would not swear an oath to
    the Cdn govt
  • Homestead land grants were taken away
  • Hutterites also practice communal land ownership
  • The emphasis such religious communities place on
    the community differs from the classical liberal
    concept of the individual as the basis of law and
  1. Can you imagine a situation in which the
    practices of communitarian groups such as the
    Doukhobors might conflict with the rights of an
    individual in one of these communities?
  2. Can you imagine a situation in which these
    practices might conflict with the values of the
    larger community?

Government Limitations on Religious Practices
  • Frank McKenna , former NB premier and ambassador
    to the US, stated, Canada is truly a secular
    state. Religion and politics do not mix in this
    country. Canwest News Service June 1, 2007
  • Freedom of religion a central value of liberalism
  • Govt sometimes puts limits on religious
    practices to prevent them from conflicting with
    the rights of the individual members of a
    religious community

  • Toronto 2005 Protests against Sharia law
    (Islamic law) being contemplated to settle family
  • Critics argue sharia law is incompatible with the
    Canadian legal system
  • Doesnt treat men and women equally when it
    comes to marriage, divorce, and inheritance
  • Ontario had allowed faith-based arbitration by
    other religious communities
  • Ontario has allowed Catholic and Jewish
    faith-based tribunals to settle family law
    matters on a voluntary basis since 1991, but the
    practice got little attention until Muslim
    leaders demanded the same rights. CBC 2005
  • There will be no religious arbitration in
    Ontario. There will be one law for all Ontarians.
    CTV, 2005
  • To what extent should a government impose liberal
    principles on religious minority groups?

  • Christian Right members generally
  • Modern Liberals generally
  • Support the rights of the unborn
  • Believe families with heterosexual, married
    parents create the best environment for children
  • Support legislation against the use of overt
    sexual or violent content in television, movies,
    the Internet, and music
  • Believe that religion has a place in publicly
    funded institutions, for example, that prayer
    should be allowed in public schools
  • Focus on the need for individuals to take
    responsibility for their own actions and fulfill
    their responsibilities as community members
  • Supports a womans right to choose to have an
    abortion as protected by existing abortion laws
  • Favour equal rights for people of al sexual
    orientations, including their right to marry, and
    believe that all people equally have the right to
  • Support the freedom to create and distribute any
    material that does not infringe on the rights of
    others and the others and the right for adults to
    choose the content to which they are exposed
  • Support secular (non-faith-based) policies and
    practices in publicly funded institutions
  • Focus on the need for unequal opportunities in
    society to be balanced through government
    intervention, such as affirmative action programs
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