Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Demise of Liberalism Revisited

"Liberalism and Western style democracy have not been able to help realize the ideals of humanity. Today these two concepts have failed. Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the liberal democratic systems. We increasingly see that people around the world are flocking towards a main focal point – that is the Almighty God. Undoubtedly through faith in God and the teachings of the prophets, the people will conquer their problems. My question for you is : Do you not want to join them?"

Mahmood Ahmadi-Najad President of the Islamic Republic of Iran (excerpt from his letter to President Bush of the USA, which is in its entirety available here.)

The debate on liberalism, atheism, religion and public reason already figured on the agenda of this blog. Now the Iranian President has tossed the ball again back to us. What is he saying? Is he right? Are his contentions perverse in the light of his actual deeds? How to draw the line between the values of liberty and the abuses committed by those who enjoy this liberty? What about those who do not enjoy the liberty at all? Should the world really adopt a religous discoure? What would that mean?

In our eyes Iranian letter is an extremely well thought tactical move inspired by the very same criticism that is waged against liberalism, human rights etc. by the nihilist western left, with a single exception that Iran is not offering atheism as a model of discourse, but religion. But in essence, there is the same red line combining the two approaches. Both are intolerant: a comprehensive doctrine should trump the public discourse and hence the individuals' liberties, their rights to decide about their life on their own following their religious convictions that they share, whatever might those be, provided that they do not inflict pain on the others and on what is defined as public interest.

This, in my view, unprecedented letter will stir a lot of controversies and rightly so: but my standing is clear: this letter and the ensuing discussion will certainly show that the greatest value we have to defend is the INDIVIDUAL and HIS GENUINE LIBERTY. And this is what I have been defending in my previous posts on liberalism opposing some other contributors whose turn is now to raise their voice.


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