The word liberalism means different things to different people in the current world. The meaning of liberalism has changed and morphed over the years. Some people like liberals and some don’t. Many make an opinion of liberalism as good or bad without understanding its meaning and its origins.
Origins of liberalism and the situation of society at that time
Few centuries back the original meaning of liberalism was different from what it means today. At that time the liberalist philosophy was practical, sensible and functional. It was a concept from Europe.
There was no democracy, instead there was absolute power of monarchs who used to make rules at their whims and fancies. Laws at that time were not equal for all. There was no industrialization, neither was knowledge or education widely available for the society. The economy of those days had agriculture as a mainstream along with trading. Few opportunities existed for social and economic growth of a person.
The liberals asked for written laws, democracy, participation in decision making and approval for waging wars by elected representatives. Otherwise, for whims of rulers and their ambitions common people were forced to participate in wars or pay high taxes for supporting the wars. They also sought accountability or performance in governance. While today, a non-performing government faces anti-incumbency in elections.
Goals of liberalism by and large already achieved in India
Today with all these goals of liberalism already achieved in Indian society i.e. democracy, rule of law, religious freedom, regular elections, etc. The original needs of liberalism have been met and India has a functional democracy with regular elections.
Since independence, the farmers have zero taxation. Before independence, not only was there agricultural tax but also non-payment of that tax led to confiscation of farmers land. Today, the lending to farmers and under privileged is considered priority sector which means banks get incentives for lending to such sectors and also penalized if they don’t do enough priority sector lending. With government banks accounting for majority of banking industry in India, under privileged have access of cheap bank funds.
Under guise of liberalism – knowingly or unknowingly pushing for social anarchy and individual irresponsibility
Today, liberalism has moved to the anarchism and some liberals are of anarchist mind set. They falsely think that while the republic has removed the kings, the entire population are now the new kings. Today, liberals think that democracy allows them to do whatever they want to do and constitution will not object or interfere in their actions. By adopting the republican system, kings and their whims have been removed. Unfortunately, the liberals think they are the new kings instead of understanding that everyone has to follow the law.
When the people carry the ideologies of liberalism, sometimes it makes them lazy as they develop “I am the King or Queen” mindset. They want to corner majority of benefits to themselves and treat others negatively to deprive them of their rightful share, because they are not having the same mindset. When people have deep mindsets and attitudes like royalty and seek power or position without performing their duties adequately. They carry casual attitude towards every aspect of life.
Under guise of liberalism – new colonial masters are being created
Another set of liberalists are like the new colonial masters, the foreign rulers and colonial masters have left but these people are behaving like colonial masters or supremacists. They seek different and more convenient set of laws for themselves. They think that they can violate the rules and regulations of the society and will be protected and benefited by their influence. They have the misunderstanding that by supporting some corrupt politician or political party they will be allowed to do anything. And with support of such leaders they can manipulate the system to receive the comfort and convenience for themselves and their families.
Liberalism means populist schemes
The concept of populist schemes works as a predominant way of winning elections in India. Election manifestos are filled with promises of various free things provided and typically the party winning elections promises to implement it within few months of winning elections.
However, there is a growing problem of vast sections of society becoming dependent on government schemes for free or subsidized aid that is impossible to satisfy – this is separate topic that needs to be discussed at length in another article. These attitudes of people are fueled by populist schemes oriented democracy, in which few people are paying direct taxes but vast majority wants to elect the government that provides most free benefits to them.
Liberal society vs functioning society
Liberalism is a combination of different concepts including political, socio-economic and personal ambitions of groups of individuals and their leaders. It is a political philosophy or belief that emphasizes on the freedom of speech, fighting for violation of rights to minorities and under privileged, having equal rights to women and gender equality & equality of income, etc. It also supports the concept that power or influence of the civil society should be significant. Liberalism is frequently associated with polemics, a type of debating wherein something considered very sacrosanct by other group is attacked in aggressively contemptuous or by strong ridicule. As this is done to the vast majority of population in support of minority religions or groups, it creates divisions and animosity in society between both groups.
A functioning society believes in performing work for the benefit of whole society. They serve all sections of society which includes rich class, middle class and poor class. People of functioning society understand their responsibility and provide their contribution for societal welfare. They understand the role of a government law and provide the support equally.
- A functioning society or entity is that part of the society which believes performing the duties or task is necessary to achieve end results. They believe in professionalism and put efforts which bring more benefits for whole society. But the people with overly liberal attitude do not involve themselves much in a task. They aim for the betterment and comfort in every work, and try to escape to live without any concern. They tend to see responsibility as a restraint and want to avoid it.
- Functional people keep on working to bring change in the society. They host the workshops and conduct campaigns on emerging subjects to bring the awareness among people, which help them understand their role and responsibilities. Functional people focus more on educating the society to bring social benefit. But overly liberal individuals care more about their own personal benefit & freedom, rather than thinking about adding value to the society or the organization they are working with.
- When functioning people are grouped, they together form a vision and mission towards the future either for an organization or the society, so that the goal can be achieved and a better future can be made. But overly liberal people take the things for granted and weaken or destroy the society because they do not appreciate its value. They do not care about the society or organizations and focus on the personal convenience.
- Functioning society always tries to create better relation with others and solve their issues amicably. They conduct the meetings to build better relations and sort out the problems with different approach. Without being partial they provide their support on time to create harmony and bring the reality into consideration. However, people having liberal attitude try to influence others and create the wrong picture of the society for their self-benefit. They are not at all connected to the reality of the earth and do interfere in societal issues.
- By nature functioning society works for the social justice and equality, structural and organizational view and issues, etc. Their belief is that law is necessary for the society to provide safety and security of citizens. They also believe that the law is necessary to settle down the disputes and protect citizens from unlawful and evil acts. Conversely, liberal society have the misconception that the law is restricting the freedom of people. They think law should be flexible and can be changed according to personal convenience.
- People of functioning society always look forward and take the responsibility. Before involving in any action they understand the purpose and verify things before implementing. They try to understand everything at wide level and come to decision after considering from all the viewpoints. Whereas the liberal people look at a problem only from one angle, not considering the nuisance a certain action will create when implemented for a variety of situations or people. Viewed from this angle the liberalists are largely irresponsible and shirk from responsibilities. They tend to satisfy their sense of individualism and be seen as non-conformists gives them emotional satisfaction.
- The main motive of functional people is to make the societal structure more functional and strong. Without looking primarily from personal convenience point of view, they serve for others and involve themselves for benefit of society. They know that rules are meant to follow for the benefit of the society and everybody should follow the law. However, liberal people knowingly or unknowingly disable and destroy the structure of the society. They blames others for their own actions and carry a dogmatic nature in their personality. Liberalists want to live on their own terms and to suit their personal convenience. Also they tend to think that they are permitted to do something without following the rules & restrictions of law.
Basic Aspects of a Good and Functioning Society
- Respect and support towards the law and follow its rules and regulations. No unlawful act goes unpunished, equal rights or justice is provided for all.
- Functioning society should be action oriented for the benefits and development of the society.
- Needed efforts to strengthen the organization and society.
- Members of society are expected not to get involved in unlawful and illegal acts with the intention of creating disturbances in the society.
- Every individual is expected to contribute their services on par with others and understand their responsibility to society. So that the structure of the society can function well and systematically.
- Prepare to provide and have the mindset to provide fruitful solutions in unpleasant situations in order to maintain harmony.