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At the first brush, the liberal thought is extremely attractive.

Reader comment on item: The Demon in Liberalism

Submitted by Prashant (United States), Feb 9, 2020 at 16:48

Dear Dr Pipes, I was intrigued by your reference to Ryszard Legutko where he implies that while liberalism is democratic communism brutally tyrannical. On the surface, liberalism and communism are indeed a world apart but, due to an inherent flaw in democracy, liberals are able to prevent democratic societies from availing maximum benefits of democracy.

For democracy to function properly it is required that each of its constituents votes their opinion as honestly as possible after judging the issue at hand purely on its own merit. The democratic hope is that if the issues are voted thusly, societies will be able to find the best possible solutions to problems based on people's collective opinions. This is a very noble hope. However, it is hampered by an inherent (and probably incurable) flaw in democracy: People often times do not vote objectively based on their honest judgments. They vote collectively and, often times, they vote on one issue while selfishly trying to maximize their benefits on some unrelated issue. The irony is that if a democratic vote requires 50+ percent majority to win and if even 20% of the voters starts to vote selfishly on the wrong side, the right side will need almost two-third majority of the remaining votes to win. This ironical situation significantly incentivizes democratic politicians to cater to special interest groups and to create as many such groups as possible. This situation also incentivizes voting blocks to keep thinking selfishly. This is the reason why so many democratic elections in the USA, Europe and the other democratic societies have fallen into the liberal hands. Conservatives who have a tendency to stick to the core, win only when major social movements and very charismatic/strong leaders (like Modi in India, Trump and Reagan in the USA, and Boris Johnson and Margaret Thatcher in the UK) are able to unite a significant portion of the majority votes. And even then their wins are not sustainable.

Liberal politicians --who, like all politicians, can be dishonest-- know it too well. They use this flaw of democracy to win elections and stay in power. On the surface, the liberal style is very attractive. It is easy for example, to forget that while freedom of thought requires that all thoughts should have the freedom to be expressed, it says no where that all thoughts are equally good and thoughts should not be evaluated for their merit. Similarly, democracy allows that people should have a right to protest but it is easy to forget that not all protests are identical to each other.

This flaw of democracy that this a direct consequence of human nature and can never be eradicated ever. But we can educate each other. When we find politicians promising universal health care without simultaneously talking about maximum available benefits, we need to question and reprimand them. Similarly, when we see Islamists marching with feminists, we need to question and reprimand both.


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