On the Turin Shroud, 2

Wikipedia is horrible about racial issues and about the Jewish question: true enemy territory. But in neutral articles such as science, engineering, computing and even putting pseudosciences in place, it can be a good resource for consultation. In 2004, the article on the Shroud of Turin became ‘a featured article’ on Wikipedia: the maximum decoration offered to an article in that online encyclopaedia. Over the years, many Christians began to get their hands on it and currently it is not even considered a ‘good article’, the previous step to convert the Wiki article into a featured one by the standards of that encyclopaedia.

Although I cannot recommend the current article as a good introduction to the subject, such an article may still be useful for those who wish to know the latest research that the sindonologists do to the shroud (for example, three days ago they made a modification to the article). In the following posts I will be quoting passages from one of the best books that have been written about the shroud: something much better than even the featured article of the Wiki in 2004.

From the comments of the previous article, I think the concept of ‘falsifiability’ and what pseudosciences really are has not become crystal-clear. Many use the expression ‘it is pseudoscience!’ more as an epithet than to designate a real pseudoscience. For example, a Dr. Morales from Brazil who commented here recently used that word to refer to raciology. Neither Dr. Morales nor many anti-racists seem to have any notion of the litmus tests that distinguish between true and false science: falsifiability and Occam’s razor.

I know them, because before blogging I dedicated myself to question the beliefs of my father, who inculcated in me the Turin shroud thing; and in my struggles against the parental introjects I had to subscribe, for years, to the Skeptical Inquirer; buy dozens of books from Prometheus Books, have correspondence with some sceptics (which I will quote in future instalments of this series) and even attend their conferences. I currently know how to distinguish between true and false science; and I think that WDH visitors could benefit from my knowledge prior to my discovery of white nationalism in 2009.

But let’s go back to the Wikipedia article. Although, as I said, it is no longer a featured article, one of the passages that I would consider good is the lead paragraph with which the article opens:

The Shroud of Turin or Turin Shroud (Italian: Sindone di Torino, Sacra Sindone or Santa Sindone) is a length of linen cloth bearing the negative image of a man who is alleged to be Jesus of Nazareth. It is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, northern Italy. The cloth itself is believed by some to be the burial shroud that Jesus was wrapped in when he was buried after crucifixion. It is first securely attested in 1390, when a local bishop wrote that the shroud was a forgery and that an unnamed artist had confessed. Radiocarbon dating of a sample of the shroud material is consistent with this date.

(Phase contrast microscopic view of image-bearing fibber from the Shroud of Turin during the Carbon 14 test.)

The Catholic Church has neither formally endorsed nor rejected the shroud, but in 1958 Pope Pius XII approved of the image in association with the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. Pope John Paul II called the Shroud “a mirror of the Gospel”. Other Christian denominations, such as Anglicans and Methodists, have also shown devotion to the Shroud of Turin.

Diverse arguments have been made in scientific and popular publications claiming to prove that the cloth is the authentic burial shroud of Jesus, based on disciplines ranging from chemistry to biology and medical forensics to optical image analysis.

In 1988, three radiocarbon dating tests dated a corner piece of the shroud from the Middle Ages,[5] between the years 1260 and 1390. Some shroud researchers have challenged the dating, arguing the results were skewed by the introduction of material from the Middle Ages to the portion of the shroud used for radiocarbon dating. However, all of the scientific hypotheses used to challenge the radiocarbon dating have been scientifically refuted,[1][2][3] including the medieval repair hypothesis [4][5][6], the bio-contamination hypothesis[7] and the carbon monoxide hypothesis.[5]

The image on the shroud is much clearer in black-and-white negative than in its natural sepia color, and this negative image was first observed in 1898 on the reverse photographic plate of amateur photographer Secondo Pia, who was allowed to photograph it while it was being exhibited. A variety of methods have been proposed for the formation of the image, but the actual method used has not yet been conclusively identified. Despite numerous investigations and tests, the status of the Shroud of Turin remains murky, and the nature of the image and how it was fixed on the cloth remain puzzling.

The shroud continues to be both intensely studied and controversial.

Unlike screaming the ‘pseudoscience!’ wolf as irresponsible anti-racists do when they listen to us, sindonology is a true case of a pseudoscientific field of research. I do not mean the laboratories that did the Carbon 14 tests, obviously: but the Christian sindonologists. In popular publications some of them preach, with apologist fervour, that the Turin relic is the shroud that wrapped ‘the Body of Our Lord’ to use their language. And as we saw in the previous instalment, many wield the mystery of the image—that even the lead paragraph of the Wiki article acknowledges—as proof of the most important article of faith in Christendom: the Resurrection.

I hope that when I finish this series on the shroud of Turin, with this paradigm it will become crystal-clear what a pseudoscience really is.

________________

[1] Chivers, Tom (20 December 2011). ‘The Turin Shroud is fake. Get over it’. Daily Telegraph.

[2] Christopher Ramsey, ‘The Shroud of Turin’, Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, March 2008.

[3] Radiocarbon Dating, Second Edition: An Archaeological Perspective, By R.E. Taylor, Ofer Bar-Yosef, Routledge 2016; pg. 167-168.

[4] R.A. Freer-Waters, A.J.T. Jull, ‘Investigating a Dated piece of the Shroud of Turin’, Radiocarbon, 52, 2010, pp. 1521–1527.

[5] Schafersman, Steven D. (14 March 2005). ‘A Skeptical Response to Studies on the Radiocarbon Sample from the Shroud of Turin by Raymond N. Rogers’ (available online: here).

[6] The Shroud, by Ian Wilson; Random House, 2010, pgs. 130-131.

[7] Gove, H. E. (1990). ‘Dating the Turin Shroud: An Assessment’. Radiocarbon. 32 (1): 87–92.

Published in: on May 12, 2018 at 1:36 pm  Comments (35)  
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Day of Wrath, 15

A bitter discussion


A quick way to show the Aristotelian phase where present-day history, anthropology and sociology are stuck is by quoting excerpts from a heated debate about psychohistory. To make the reading easier I will omit the use of ellipsis even between long unquoted paragraphs. The complete debate can be read in the Wikipedia archive of the article “Early infanticidal childrearing.” Since the original text is a raw discussion I slightly corrected the syntax. The following is a 2002 debate that came about the subsequent year when Wikipedia was launched, the multi-language encyclopedia edited by volunteers. To simplify the discussion I will also change the names and pennames used by various academics that discussed with a psychohistorian who edited Wikipedia under the penname of “Ark.” The fascinating polemic initiated with the subject of the tribes of Papua New Guinea.

Academic 1: Does this “model” [psychohistory] reflect actual facts? Increased mortality after weaning is common in non-Neolithic cultures as well; it’s a consequence of inadequate nutrition, not of parental desire.

Ark: You’re wrong there. “Inadequate nutrition” isn’t some random fact of reality. It’s a consequence of feeding pap to children, and not having the empathy necessary to understand that crying means the baby is hungry. These are both psychological problems of the parents, since feeding pap is a response to the fear of breastfeeding.

Academic 1: So PNG [Papua New Guinea] children were better off in the more “primitive” culture, and exposure to an “advanced” society has increased sexual abuse of children.

Notice how this is similar to Miguel León Portilla’s preposterous claim that, by becoming exposed the Mexicas to a more advanced society, they abused their own women.

Ark: Yeah right. The myth of the “noble savage” rears its ugly head again. The reproductive rate is proportional to the ignorance and poverty of the population. So the more ignorant and poor the population, the more they will fuck. What’s generally the case is that birthrate is inversely proportional to female education. The PNG have a very high reproductive rate. The PNG have a very high rate of infanticide, child suicide. So now you know why I think that “noble savage” is just complete bullshit.

There are a bunch of known facts which everyone agrees on. Ninety-nine percent of modern people will put a very specific interpretation on those facts. That interpretation is that primitives are pedophilic, incestuous child molesters. This isn’t something which is cooked up by deMause’s model.

Academic 2: I am unimpressed by your hysterical claim that 99 percent of our society would agree with this. My claim is that people in different cultures describe things differently. The issue for me is, what do Marquesans, or Yolngu, or Gimi, or whomever, think it is? An article that makes claims about a particular society must care what members of that society claim is going on.

Ark: The interpretation of child abuse in the case of infants is acultural. Infants do not have culture so are incapable of “interpreting” anything through a cultural filter. And yet again, you persist in ignoring the child’s point of view, as if the rationalization of the child abuser mattered to them. You’re promoting a very specific POV [point of view], the one of the child molester, and don’t seem to care at all about the POV of the infant. Only anthropologists care about how the members of the primitive culture rationalize their behaviors. Anthropologists are just very bizarre people, and about as relevant to most people’s view of what constitutes child molestation as experts in the paranormal. The relevant experts in the area are developmental psychologists. There is a substantial faction that regards any kind of sexual activity with children to be inherently abusive. They would reject the anthropologists’ claims that cultural attitudes are at all relevant to the matter. They would rather emphasize the universality and uniformity of children’s emotional needs. At the center of this faction are the likes of Alice Miller. There is another faction that traces its lineage all the way to Freud. When possible, it denies that child abuse exists. When it can’t do that it denies that it is traumatic. And when it can’t do that, it denies that it is inherently traumatic.

Academic 3: The purpose of anthropology is to describe culture, not judge it. If an anthropologist judges a culture under study, the ability to describe a culture objectively and explain how it is perceived by its members is lost.

Ark: Anthropologists widely report that primitives do not see their practices as abusive or sexual. I have no hesitation agreeing with that. But then, neither do typical pedophiles see their practices as abusive either. So the basic idea is to completely steal the psychology and child-rearing of non-Western cultures (contemporary and historical) away from anthropologists. If that happens, then theories about these phenomena will be held to different standards than theories in anthropology. Anthropologists are trained to ignore that tool.

Academic 3: Ah, so you’re an opponent of cultural relativism. I don’t consider North European values to be “more advanced,” just different. There’s a difference between considering a set of values to be more amenable to one’s conscience and labeling one set of values as “more advanced” than another. That’s like implying that a Papuan is dumber than a European just because his culture doesn’t use electricity. Anthropologists do regularly debate how much they can or should interfere when they disagree strongly with the values of a culture under study. Ethically, all we can do is present viable options and allow individuals to make their own choices and suffer the consequences of those choices.

Ark: But Papuans are dumber than Europeans because they don’t use electricity.☺ You just have to ask “why do we use electricity?” We use it because we have a high population density and a high technological level. Why is that? Because we are culturally evolved. Why is that? Because at some point a couple of millennia ago, our ancestors decided to stop murdering their children and start evolving culturally. Of course, that only proves the Papuans are dumb, not that we’re smart; we’re just the product of a long line of smarter mothers.

Academic 3: What you are proposing is a form of genocide: systematically destroying a culture simply because you consider that culture to be primitive and immoral. If lip piercing, or trauma to the brain leads to successful adult lives, is that not sufficient justification for continuing the practice? You sound to me as if you are a “moral absolutist.” I’d hazard a guess that you believe everyone should live under the same moral code.

Ark: Just because I’m a moral absolutist doesn’t mean I think I have a perfect access to moral truth. It does mean that I have a far, far better understanding of basic moral truths than people who beat or sexually abuse kids. We could emphasize that anthropologists don’t really try to understand their subjects’ psyche. It’s not moral assumptions which differ between societies. It’s the capacity for empathy and rationality.

Academic 3: The anthropologist in me, on the other hand, still bemoans yet another drop added to the overflowing bucket of human cultures is forever lost.

Ark: The primitive cultures are a failure. We should let them die.

Academic 4: Good—as long as we all understand that psychohistory has nothing to do with history and is not even accepted by all schools of psychology. I think that there’s a real problem here in that the entire concept as titled [“Early infanticidal childrearing”] makes no sense. The title implies that these cultures intentionally endanger and kill their children: something that makes no sense for peoples who want to survive and which, if these cultures still exist after thousands of years, is clearly misleading.

Ark: I’ve chosen to take extreme offense at what you’ve said, e.g., “psychohistory has nothing to do with history,” and will treat you like a hostile. I really wish I didn’t have to deal with people who say stupid things. For example, things that amount to “every human being is rational and since it’s not rational to kill children…” This negates the overwhelming evidence that infanticide occurs. Never mind such truly stupid statements like “preliterate hunter-gatherer tribes are those most concerned with basic survival.” Oh really, I guess that explains why they never developed any technology in order to guarantee their survival (never mind such annoying facts like beliefs in reincarnation, animism and ancestor-worship).

Academic 5: Ark, play nice. Julie Hofmann Kemp [Academic 4] is many things, can even be abrasive sometimes, but acting “stupid” (I see you modified the “idiot” statement)? That’s over the top. She is one of the smartest people contributing to Wikipedia. This is an encyclopedia, not a soap box for new ideas. Sorry, but regurgitation of the canon of human knowledge is what we do here.

Academic 6: I disagree, Maveric [Academic 5]. One of the things that makes Wikipedia different from a standard encyclopedia is our ability to reflect new thinking. Now, the whole that deMause put together and Ark is advertising here is striking, but I think that you will find most of the individual points are not nearly as radical or contrary to current understanding as you seem to present. To begin with, there are many people who would reject cultural relativism. The first example that comes to mind are the women’s historians which have become increasingly common, but a proper search shouldn’t have trouble coming up with others. Further, the idea of the noble savage is very controversial, and one should hardly consider it some sort of canon.

With regards to infanticide per se, I personally have very little knowledge about the Paleolithic, but that deliberate murder or abandonment of infants was common among ancient civilizations like Carthage, Greece, and Rome is well-known, and I can remember a mainstream text mentioning Mohammed’s prohibitions against the then-widespread killing of children without any implication that might be controversial. In absence of further data, a backwards trendline would be all it takes to suggest that Paleolithic infanticide was very common indeed. And I can recall articles suggesting that tribal cannibalism, to take the most headline-grabbing example, was far more common than previously thought. In short, I think this position is not nearly outlandish enough to deserve such curt rejection. An informative and lasting page on this would be valuable enough.

Academic 7: Note that the definition of rape and molestation vary among cultures.

Ark: Rape and molestation do vary among cultures. This is bad. Cultural relativism is crap, believed only by idiots, ignoramuses, anthropologists and historians. The Convention on the Rights of the Child explicitly rejects cultural relativism. Cultural relativists are merely denying human rights. (On a moral level, they are still violating human rights.) Anthropology and history have achieved nothing, or close to nothing. The reason anthropology and history are fucked is because they reject psychology and that is the only possible explanation for both culture and history.

For psychological reasons, anthropologists have been butchering psych-heavy data; on the whole, the data is irretrievably corrupt and needs to be junked. Psychohistory is independent of both history and psychology and is at war with both. As the new kid on the bloc it’s going to get attacked as “simply not recognized by most historians and psychologists.” But psychohistory actually gets results. There is no rational argument against psychohistory’s methods. Conservatism is not a rational argument. And as noted above, there are plenty of arguments against both history and anthropology (i.e., they deny psychology’s influence even in psychological phenomena). Like cartography or natural history, anthropology and history aren’t sciences per se. Cartography was never anything more than an engineering enterprise (though it did give rise to plate tectonics) and when the time came, natural history gave way to evolutionary biology. Similarly, anthropology and history should give way to psychohistory wherever the latter is interested in taking over.

Academic 2: To those who promote the myth of the brutal savage, I point out that westerners have often characterized non-Western practices as stupid, unhealthy, or wrong in part out of their own ignorance, and in part to justify colonial oppression.

Ark: The brutal savage isn’t a myth. I do not mean by it that we aren’t savages. That is a notion you rightly reject because any article attacking modern people as savages will be destroyed. What I do claim is that modern societies are less savage than societies in the past. That’s most certainly not a myth. And to argue otherwise is to promote the noble savage myth. If you have an absolute standard of morality, there is no choice other than the brutal savage or the noble savage (as long as you don’t redefine rape and murder as non-violent behaviors, which by now I don’t trust you not to do). Whether deliberately or unwittingly, you have been promoting the noble savage myth. To recap: Primitives, in relation to modern people can be either: 1. equally savage (obviously untrue) 2. differently savage (cultural relativism) 3. less savage (noble savage) 4. more savage (brutal savage). So rejecting options #2 and #3 leaves one only with #4. There is no maneuvering room for anyone to weasel around.

Academic 3: And this is where you and I differ. I generally contend that all present-day cultures are essentially “differently savage.”

It is unnecessary to cite Ark’s long response. It is already answered in the previous chapter. But I would like to mention a newspaper note about an atrocity in Kismayo, at the south of Somalia. On October 27 of 2008 Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, a thirteen-year-old girl that had been raped, was accused of premarital sex by militant Islamists and condemned to die by stoning on the head. (Although hard to believe, there are people who punish the victim of rape, not the rapist: the hypothetical nightmare of my second book turned reality.) Most disturbing in the press release is that dozens of men stoned Aisha in a stadium with a thousand spectators! What better example to clear away any doubts about the relevancy of the concept of a manifestly inferior psychoclass to ours.

Academic 3: Hum, as I understand it, most casual murders recognize that their actions are considered morally “wrong.” They just don’t care.

Ark: Morality is a psychological phenomenon. It refers to a person’s capacity for empathy. It’s difficult to describe empathy since nobody has a good grip on what it means. But of course, that’s the point: if a person has no morality then they don’t have any of these emotions. Keep in mind that our very ability to accept social and technological progress at the rate we’re going is something which primitives lack. And we’ve yet to annihilate a foreign nation (as the Assyrians did) to pay for that progress. This too is a genuine advance.

Academic 4: Ark: in the interests of fairness, I went ahead and looked at the deMause article. Basically, it can be digested into one Philip Larkin poem. Big Whoop. Parents fuck up their kids. We know that. There is absolutely nothing there besides that fact that is provable. It is a mass of huge generalizations predicated on two simple ideas: violence begets violence (duh) and everything that happens is down to psychology. Yes, there are references to acts of violence by parents (particularly mothers) against children, but we don’t get to see the breadth of the studies to show what kind of population was used, etc. I stand by my statement that most historians reject psychohistory not because we feel threatened by it, but because most historians believe that human society is complex and filled with individuals who may act in particular ways for any number of reasons. Generally reductionism is not provable—merely a simplistic way for the insecure to find meaning.

Ark: You dismiss the article I cited because it doesn’t provide concrete proof against history’s “no explanations” stance. Well so fucking what? I never claimed it did. I merely claimed it crucified history as a scientific field and historians as scientists by showing that the theories historians entertain are all unbelievably idiotic. If you wanted a detailed theory and the evidence to back it up, you’d have to read half a dozen of deMause’s books on the subject. You haven’t provided a single remotely intelligent argument, satisfying yourself with irrelevancies and vague aspersions. (This is what you call “fair”?) If you stand by your statement on that basis, it just proves you’re an idiot. I dismiss you from my consideration.

Anonymous: Will someone please ban Ark? His non-stop slander, personal attacks, and foul language are damaging the Wikipedia community.

Academic 4: I would happily do so, but being a ranting troll who supports crank theories in an anti-social way isn’t enough for a ban. He is correct in his assertion that deMause’s theories deserve their own article—even if he’s amazingly rude in the way he treats others, and his insults towards me.

To that end, Ark, You haven’t convinced anyone that you’re anything but a crank who thinks he’s far more intelligent than he’s demonstrated so far.

Ark: I have a pretty good grasp on what history is and what it is not. As for psychology, you’re wrong about its scientific basis. Overall, it’s a fucked field but it’s one that has always aspired to be scientific.

As for psychohistory, it is not a fucked field. These two facts (history not being science and psychohistory being science) explain why I’m so eager to dismiss history. Why should scientists be subjected to the authority of non-scientists? The same arguments apply to anthropology, and doubly so when the psyches of primitives are concerned. Convincing people was never my goal, I’m too lazy and people are too bigoted for that. As for people thinking I’m a crank, I’m a power unto myself and I haven’t need for their approval nor favour. I’m just not interested in being the whipping boy on this subject. Fuck you all.

With this insult the psychohistorian who signed his posts under the penname of Ark left the discussion page. Perhaps with the exception of Academic 6, his opponents did not want to see that western childrearing has been less barbarous than in the rest of the world.

It was not always so. Both whites and Semites began as the others. Let us remember the sacrifice of Iphigenia by her father Agamemnon, and a similar sacrifice in the Bible: after victory over the Ammonites, according to the Book of Judges, Jephthah makes a vow to sacrifice whoever came out of the doors of his house to meet him. The one who met him on his return was his only daughter…

What remained in Europe was a mere metaphor of such sacrifice. Robert Godwin hit the nail when stating that Christianity’s unconscious message is that when we murder our innocent child we murder God. “The crucifixion of Jesus is meant to be the last human sacrifice, with Jesus standing in for our own murdered innocence.”
 
___________

The objective of Day of Wrath is to present to the racialist community my philosophy of The Four Words on how to eliminate all unnecessary suffering. If life allows, next month I will reproduce another chapter. Day of Wrath is available: here.

Ex Libris

parrish_0

The Wikipedia article on liberalism that I edited for this site can now be read from the beginning at Ex Libris: here.

Yes: Wikipedia is a liberal, anti-white online encyclopedia. I reproduced it because it shows that liberalism has old, native roots in our Neo-Christian, ethno-suicidal culture and modern zeitgeist.

Published in: on September 13, 2015 at 10:49 pm  Comments (2)  
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Liberalism, 21

Other regions

In Australia, liberalism is primarily championed by the centre-right Liberal Party. The Liberals are a fusion of classical liberal and conservative forces and are affiliated with the conservative International Democrat Union.

 

Impact and influence

The fundamental elements of contemporary society have liberal roots. The early waves of liberalism popularized economic individualism while expanding constitutional government and parliamentary authority. One of the liberal triumphs involved replacing the capricious nature of royalist and absolutist rule with a decision-making process encoded in written law. Liberals sought and established a constitutional order that prized important individual freedoms, such as the freedom of speech and of association, an independent judiciary and public trial by jury, and the abolition of aristocratic privileges.

These sweeping changes in political authority marked the modern transition from absolutism to constitutional rule. The expansion and promotion of free markets was another major liberal achievement. Before they could establish markets, however, liberals had to destroy the old economic structures of the world. In that vein, liberals ended mercantilist policies, royal monopolies, and various other restraints on economic activities. They also sought to abolish internal barriers to trade—eliminating guilds, local tariffs, the Commons and prohibitions on the sale of land along the way.

Later waves of modern liberal thought and struggle were strongly influenced by the need to expand civil rights. In the 1960s and 1970s, the cause of Second Wave feminism in the United States was advanced in large part by liberal feminist organizations such as the National Organization for Women. In addition to supporting gender equality, liberals also have advocated for racial equality in their drive to promote civil rights, and a global civil rights movement in the 20th century achieved several objectives towards both goals.

Among the various regional and national movements, the civil rights movement in the United States during the 1960s strongly highlighted the liberal efforts for equal rights. Describing the political efforts of the period, some historians have asserted that “the voting rights campaign marked…the convergence of two political forces at their zenith: the black campaign for equality and the movement for liberal reform,” further remarking about how “the struggle to assure blacks the ballot coincided with the liberal call for expanded federal action to protect the rights of all citizens”.

Lyndon-B-Johnson

The Great Society project launched by President Lyndon B. Johnson oversaw the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, the establishment of Head Start and the Job Corps as part of the War on Poverty, and the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964—an altogether rapid series of events that some historians have dubbed the Liberal Hour.

Another major liberal accomplishment includes the rise of liberal internationalism, which has been credited with the establishment of global organizations such as the League of Nations and, after World War II, the United Nations. The idea of exporting liberalism worldwide and constructing a harmonious and liberal internationalist order has dominated the thinking of liberals since the 18th century. “Wherever liberalism has flourished domestically, it has been accompanied by visions of liberal internationalism,” one historian wrote.

Liberalism, 20

Americas

In North America, unlike in Europe, the word liberalism almost exclusively refers to social liberalism in contemporary politics. The dominant Canadian and American parties, the Liberal Party and the Democratic Party, are frequently identified as being modern liberal or centre-left organizations in the academic literature.

In Canada, the long-dominant Liberal Party, colloquially known as the Grits, ruled the country for nearly seventy years during the 20th century. The party produced some of the most influential prime ministers in Canadian history, including Pierre Trudeau, Lester B. Pearson and Jean Chrétien, and has been primarily responsible for the development of the Canadian welfare state. The enormous success of the Liberals—virtually unmatched in any other liberal democracy—has prompted many political commentators over time to identify them as the nation’s natural governing party. However, in recent elections the party has been performing poorly, eclipsed federally by both the Conservative Party and the social democratic New Democratic Party.

In the United States, modern liberalism traces its history to the popular presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who initiated the New Deal in response to the Great Depression and won an unprecedented four elections. kennedyThe New Deal coalition established by Franklin Roosevelt left a decisive legacy and influenced many future American presidents, including John F. Kennedy, a self-described liberal who defined a liberal as “someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions… someone who cares about the welfare of the people.”

In Latin America, liberal unrest dates back to the 19th century, when liberal groups frequently fought against and violently overthrew conservative regimes in several countries across the region. Liberal revolutions in countries such as Mexico and Ecuador ushered in the modern world for much of Latin America. Latin American liberals generally emphasized free trade, private property, and anti-clericalism. Today, market liberals in Latin America are organized in the Red Liberal de América Latina (RELIAL), a centre-right network that brings together dozens of liberal parties and organizations.

Liberalism, 19

Europe

In Europe, liberalism has a long tradition dating back to 17th century. Scholars often split those traditions into English and French versions, with the former version of liberalism emphasizing the expansion of democratic values and constitutional reform and the latter rejecting authoritarian political and economic structures, as well as being involved with nation-building.

The continental French version was deeply divided between moderates and progressives, with the moderates tending to elitism and the progressives supporting the universalization of fundamental institutions, such as universal suffrage, universal education, and the expansion of property rights. Over time, the moderates displaced the progressives as the main guardians of continental European liberalism. A prominent example of these divisions is the German Free Democratic Party, which was historically divided between national liberal and social liberal factions.

Before World War I, liberal parties dominated the European political scene, but they were gradually displaced by socialists and social democrats in the early 20th century. The fortunes of liberal parties since World War II have been mixed, with some gaining strength while others suffered from continuous declines. The fall of the Soviet Union and the breakup of Yugoslavia at the end of the 20th century, however, allowed the formation of many liberal parties throughout Eastern Europe.

Leo_belgicusBoth in Britain and elsewhere in Western Europe, liberal parties have often cooperated with socialist and social democratic parties, as evidenced by the Purple Coalition in the Netherlands during the late 1990s and into the 21st century. The Purple Coalition, one of the most consequential in Dutch history, brought together the progressive left-liberal, the market liberal, centre-right and the social democratic Labour Party: an unusual combination that ultimately legalized same-sex marriage, euthanasia, and prostitution while also instituting a non-enforcement policy on marijuana.

Published in: on September 12, 2015 at 11:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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Liberalism, 18

 

Worldwide

“Liberals are committed to build and safeguard free, fair and open societies, in which they seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one is enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity… Liberalism aims to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity.”

Liberal International

 
Liberalism is frequently cited as the dominant ideology of modern times. Politically, liberals have organized extensively throughout the world. Liberal parties, think tanks, and other institutions are common in many nations, although they advocate for different causes based on their ideological orientation. Liberal parties can be center-left, centrist, or center-right depending on their location.

They can further be divided based on their adherence to social liberalism or classical liberalism, although all liberal parties and individuals share basic similarities, including the support for civil rights and democratic institutions. On a global level, liberals are united in the Liberal International, which contains over 100 influential liberal parties and organizations from across the ideological spectrum.

Some parties in Liberal International are among the most famous in the world, such as the Liberal Party of Canada, while others are among the smallest, such as the Gibraltar Liberal Party. Regionally, liberals are organized through various institutions depending on the prevailing geopolitical context. The European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party, for example, represents the interests of liberals in Europe while the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe is the predominant liberal group in the European Parliament.

Published in: on September 10, 2015 at 2:10 pm  Comments (1)  
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Liberalism, 17

agisbert

Execution of Torrijos and his men in 1831 by Antonio Gisbert. Spanish King Ferdinand VII took repressive measures
against the liberal forces in his country.

 

Criticism and support

Liberalism has drawn both criticism and support in its history from various ideological groups. For example, some scholars suggest that liberalism gave rise to feminism, although others maintain that liberal democracy is inadequate for the realization of feminist objectives.

Liberal feminism, the dominant tradition in feminist history, hopes to eradicate all barriers to gender equality—claiming that the continued existence of such barriers eviscerates the individual rights and freedoms ostensibly guaranteed by a liberal social order. British philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft is widely regarded as the pioneer of liberal feminism, with A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) expanding the boundaries of liberalism to include women in the political structure of liberal society.

Less friendly to the goals of liberalism has been conservatism. Edmund Burke, considered by some to be the first major proponent of modern conservative thought, offered a blistering critique of the French Revolution by assailing the liberal pretensions to the power of rationality and to the natural equality of all humans. Conservatives have also attacked what they perceive to be the reckless liberal pursuit of progress and material gains, arguing that such preoccupations undermine traditional social values rooted in community and continuity. However, a few variations of conservatism, like liberal conservatism, expound some of the same ideas and principles championed by classical liberalism, including “small government and thriving capitalism.”

Some confusion remains about the relationship between social liberalism and socialism, despite the fact that many variants of socialism distinguish themselves markedly from liberalism by opposing capitalism, hierarchy, and private property. Socialism formed as a group of related yet divergent ideologies in the 19th century such as Christian socialism, Communism (with the writings of Karl Marx), and Social Anarchism (with the writings of Mikhail Bakunin), the latter two influenced by the Paris Commune. These ideologies, as with liberalism and conservatism, fractured into several major and minor movements in the following decades.

Marx rejected the foundational aspects of liberal theory, hoping to destroy both the state and the liberal distinction between society and the individual while fusing the two into a collective whole designed to overthrow the developing capitalist order of the 19th century. Today, socialist parties and ideas remain a political force with varying degrees of power and influence in all continents leading national governments in many countries. Liberal socialism is a socialist political philosophy that includes liberal principles within it. Liberal socialism does not have the goal of abolishing capitalism with a socialist economy; instead, it supports a mixed economy that includes both public and private property in capital goods. Principles that can be described as “liberal socialist” have been based upon or developed by the following philosophers: John Stuart Mill, Eduard Bernstein, John Dewey, Carlo Rosselli, Norberto Bobbio and Chantal Mouffe. Other important liberal socialist figures include Guido Calogero, Piero Gobetti, Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse, and R. H. Tawney. Liberal socialism has been particularly prominent in British and Italian politics.

Social democracy, an ideology advocating progressive modification of capitalism, emerged in the 20th century and was influenced by socialism. Yet unlike socialism, it was not collectivist nor anti-capitalist. Broadly defined as a project that aims to correct, through government reformism, what it regards as the intrinsic defects of capitalism by reducing inequalities, social democracy was also not against the state.

Several commentators have noted strong similarities between social liberalism and social democracy, with one political scientist even calling American liberalism “bootleg social democracy” due to the absence of a significant social democratic tradition in the United States that liberals have tried to rectify. Another movement associated with modern democracy, Christian democracy, hopes to spread Catholic social ideas and has gained a large following in some European nations. The early roots of Christian democracy developed as a reaction against the industrialization and urbanization associated with laissez-faire liberalism in the 19th century.

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Classical and modern

Enlightenment philosophers are given credit for shaping liberal ideas. Thomas Hobbes attempted to determine the purpose and the justification of governing authority in a post-civil war England. Employing the idea of a state of nature—a hypothetical war-like scenario prior to the State—he constructed the idea of a social contract which individuals enter into to guarantee their security and in so doing form the State, concluding that only an absolute sovereign would be fully able to sustain such a peace.

John Locke, while adopting Hobbes’s idea of a state of nature and social contract, nevertheless argued that when the monarch becomes a tyrant, that constituted a violation of the social contract, which bestows life, liberty, and property as a natural right. He concluded that the people have a right to overthrow a tyrant. By placing life, liberty and property as the supreme value of law and authority, Locke formulated the basis of liberalism based on social contract theory.

To these early enlightenment thinkers securing the most essential amenities of life—liberty and private property among them—required the formation of a “sovereign” authority with universal jurisdiction. In a natural state of affairs, liberals argued, humans were driven by the instincts of survival and self-preservation, and the only way to escape from such a dangerous existence was to form a common and supreme power capable of arbitrating between competing human desires. This power could be formed in the framework of a civil society that allows individuals to make a voluntary social contract with the sovereign authority, transferring their natural rights to that authority in return for the protection of life, liberty, and property.

These early liberals often disagreed about the most appropriate form of government, but they all shared the belief that liberty was natural and that its restriction needed strong justification. Liberals generally believed in limited government, although several liberal philosophers decried government outright, with Thomas Paine writing that “government even in its best state is a necessary evil”.

As part of the project to limit the powers of government, various liberal theorists such as James Madison and the Baron de Montesquieu conceived the notion of separation of powers, a system designed to equally distribute governmental authority among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Governments had to realize, liberals maintained, that poor and improper governance gave the people authority to overthrow the ruling order through any and all possible means, even through outright violence and revolution, if needed.

Contemporary liberals, heavily influenced by social liberalism, have continued to support limited constitutional government while also advocating for state services and provisions to ensure equal rights. Modern liberals claim that formal or official guarantees of individual rights are irrelevant when individuals lack the material means to benefit from those rights and call for a greater role for government in the administration of economic affairs.

Early liberals also laid the groundwork for the separation of church and state. As heirs of the Enlightenment, liberals believed that any given social and political order emanated from human interactions, not from divine will. Many liberals were openly hostile to religious belief itself, but most concentrated their opposition to the union of religious and political authority, arguing that faith could prosper on its own, without official sponsorship or administration by the state.

Beyond identifying a clear role for government in modern society, liberals also have obsessed over the meaning and nature of the most important principle in liberal philosophy: liberty. From the 17th century until the 19th century, liberals—from Adam Smith to John Stuart Mill—conceptualized liberty as the absence of interference from government and from other individuals, claiming that all people should have the freedom to develop their own unique abilities and capacities without being sabotaged by others. Mill’s On Liberty (1859), one of the classic texts in liberal philosophy, proclaimed that “the only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way”. Support for laissez-faire capitalism is often associated with this principle, with Friedrich Hayek arguing in The Road to Serfdom (1944) that reliance on free markets would preclude totalitarian control by the state.

tom green

Beginning in the late 19th century, however, a new conception of liberty entered the liberal intellectual arena. This new kind of liberty became known as positive liberty to distinguish it from the prior negative version, and it was first developed by British philosopher Thomas Hill Green. Green rejected the idea that humans were driven solely by self-interest, emphasizing instead the complex circumstances that are involved in the evolution of our moral character. In a very profound step for the future of modern liberalism, he also tasked society and political institutions with the enhancement of individual freedom and identity and the development of moral character, will and reason and the state to create the conditions that allow for the above, giving the opportunity for genuine choice. Foreshadowing the new liberty as the freedom to act rather than to avoid suffering from the acts of others, Green wrote the following:

If it were ever reasonable to wish that the usage of words had been other than it has been… one might be inclined to wish that the term “freedom” had been confined to the… power to do what one wills.

Rather than previous liberal conceptions viewing society as populated by selfish individuals, Green viewed society as an organic whole in which all individuals have a duty to promote the common good. His ideas spread rapidly and were developed by other thinkers such as L.T. Hobhouse and John Hobson.

In a few years, this New Liberalism had become the essential social and political program of the Liberal Party in Britain, and it would encircle much of the world in the 20th century. In addition to examining negative and positive liberty, liberals have tried to understand the proper relationship between liberty and democracy. As they struggled to expand suffrage rights, liberals increasingly understood that people left out of the democratic decision-making process were liable to the tyranny of the majority, a concept explained in Mill’s On Liberty and in Democracy in America (1835) by Alexis de Tocqueville. As a response, liberals began demanding proper safeguards to thwart majorities in their attempts at suppressing the rights of minorities.

Besides liberty, liberals have developed several other principles important to the construction of their philosophical structure, such as equality, pluralism, and toleration. Highlighting the confusion over the first principle, Voltaire commented that “equality is at once the most natural and at times the most chimeral of things”. All forms of liberalism assume, in some basic sense, that individuals are equal.

In maintaining that people are naturally equal, liberals assume that they all possess the same right to liberty. In other words, no one is inherently entitled to enjoy the benefits of liberal society more than anyone else, and all people are equal subjects before the law.

Beyond this basic conception, liberal theorists diverge on their understanding of equality. American philosopher John Rawls emphasized the need to ensure not only equality under the law, but also the equal distribution of material resources that individuals required to develop their aspirations in life. Libertarian thinker Robert Nozick disagreed with Rawls, championing the former version of Lockean equality instead.

To contribute to the development of liberty, liberals also have promoted concepts like pluralism and toleration. By pluralism, liberals refer to the proliferation of opinions and beliefs that characterize a stable social order. Unlike many of their competitors and predecessors, liberals do not seek conformity and homogeneity in the way that people think; in fact, their efforts have been geared towards establishing a governing framework that harmonizes and minimizes conflicting views, but still allows those views to exist and flourish.

For liberal philosophy, pluralism leads easily to toleration. Since individuals will hold diverging viewpoints, liberals argue, they ought to uphold and respect the right of one another to disagree. From the liberal perspective, toleration was initially connected to religious toleration, with Spinoza condemning “the stupidity of religious persecution and ideological wars”. Toleration also played a central role in the ideas of Kant and John Stuart Mill. Both thinkers believed that society will contain different conceptions of a good ethical life and that people should be allowed to make their own choices without interference from the state or other individuals.

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Major themes

The objectives of liberal theorists and philosophers have differed across various times, cultures, and continents. The diversity of liberalism can be gleaned from the numerous adjectives that liberal thinkers and movements have attached to the very term liberalism, including classical, egalitarian, economic, social, welfare-state, ethical, humanist, deontological, perfectionist, democratic, and institutional, to name a few.

Despite these variations, liberal thought does exhibit a few definite and fundamental conceptions. At its very root, liberalism is a philosophy about the meaning of humanity and society. Political philosopher John Gray identified the common strands in liberal thought as being individualist, egalitarian, meliorist, and universalist. The individualist element avers the ethical primacy of the human being against the pressures of social collectivism; the egalitarian element assigns the same moral worth and status to all individuals; the meliorist element asserts that successive generations can improve their sociopolitical arrangements, and the universalist element affirms the moral unity of the human species and marginalizes local cultural differences.

The meliorist element has been the subject of much controversy, defended by thinkers such as Immanuel Kant, who believed in human progress, while suffering from attacks by thinkers such as Rousseau, who believed that human attempts to improve themselves through social cooperation would fail. Describing the liberal temperament, Gray claimed that it “has been inspired by skepticism and by a fideistic certainty of divine revelation… it has exalted the power of reason even as, in other contexts, it has sought to humble reason’s claims.”

The liberal philosophical tradition has searched for validation and justification through several intellectual projects. The moral and political suppositions of liberalism have been based on traditions such as natural rights and utilitarian theory, although sometimes liberals even requested support from scientific and religious circles. Through all these strands and traditions, scholars have identified the following major common facets of liberal thought: believing in equality and individual liberty, supporting private property and individual rights, supporting the idea of limited constitutional government, and recognizing the importance of related values such as pluralism, toleration, autonomy, bodily integrity, and consent.

Published in: on September 9, 2015 at 3:35 pm  Leave a Comment