Tag Archives: liberalism

5. In Search of a Just Political Economy: The Radical Liberal Frame

A significant section of the constituency of contemporary contention is connected with neither the traditional organisations of the far left, nor with small groups intent on carrying out direct action for immediate change. The radical liberal frame is one apparently utilised by many in the movements who are more likely to be supportive of a range of well-known non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Greenpeace, Oxfam or War on Want. While these organisations’ primary operations are not directed at mobilizing a membership to take part in street demonstrations, they nevertheless often provide an urgent desire for social change.

Increasingly, over the past few decades, such NGOs have developed a set of intellectual tools that provides an understanding of western governments as culpable for social and environmental injustice, and the potential efficacy of massed populations in changing their governments’ behaviour. On this basis, the radical liberal frame emerges from a wide range of particular issue-focused critiques rather than either a body of theory or a particular approach to social change.

The radical liberal frame expresses the way that certain core beliefs appear to come together to justify an increasingly radical approach to holding governments to account, while seeking to achieve concrete gains in the immediate future. Some core ingredients of the frame include:

  • A strong moral position centred on a (broadly egalitarian) understanding of justice.
  • Critique of those in power focused on the abuse of that power.
  • A positive evaluation of empirically grounded understanding and subsequent critique of any belief system that appears to be dogmatic.
  • A belief in the potential of social change activities that work with, rather than against, current institutions of power.
  • A strong belief democracy, justified on the basis of sharing relevant knowledge.

C5: Seeking a Just Political Economy

6. Conflict and Convergence Between the Three Frames

Despite their different political flavours, the three frames set out above deal with a number of very similar issues. This is hardly surprising given that each worldview developed over the same period, within the same political and social context and in relation to the same emerging problems and opportunities. So, we find that each frame addresses themes such as democracy, power, economic and political institutions and the appropriate methods for social change.

This chapter outlines some of the points at which each frame, or a particular combination of them, find agreement on certain points. However, I stress more explicitly those places where sharp divergence in understanding is evident, since these points help to draw the boundaries around each frame, aiding understanding of their contents and extents. The chapter also stresses the tactical and strategic differences, more often than the philosophical. The strategic and the philosophic aspects are completely intertwined, since to provide a plausible strategy for social change one must base it on a plausible understanding of the social structure that is the target of that change. However, since proponents of the different frames mostly come into contact in the planning and carrying out of political action – it is in the realm of strategy that their divisions are most easily perceived.

In exploring the points of agreement and disagreement we find out, among other things, what exactly is meant by radicalism or reformism (depending on who is using the word), why the united front tactic of trotskyist organisations is so divisive, and how the notion of direct action has come to be applied in apprently inappropriate situations.

Download C6: Conflict and Convergence

Free Trade War

“What we see today – continual warfare and persistent authoritarianism in the post-colonial world and explosive terrorism spreading its horrors – are dark streaks across the vision of peace seen by the free-trader…
A nation-state system based on furthering material interests is incapable of curbing violence. It is only by relentlessly pursuing the deepening of the democratic revolution – at home and abroad – that we can hope to respond to the multifaceted injustice that defines our age.”

One of the most appealing arguments for an international economic regime of free and frequent trade is that it will – through nations’ own self interest – lead to peaceful international relations. Continue reading Free Trade War

Liberals for National Service

This election is really dull – the main parties are once again conducting a marketing strategy aimed almost entirely at a very small number of floating voters in swing seats. Yawn. Polly Toynbee hit the nail on the head.

So, here, instead, is something out of leftfield, it turns out that lots of my liberal mates are quite into the idea of national service, here’s (more or less) how the conversation went:

Here’s a taster of what the BNP are up to in Barking… here are some pledges which may (or may not) convince you to vote for them..!! Look at number 4!!!

BNP pledges:

  1. Complete halt to all immigration and “voluntary resettlement” of ethnic minority Britons to their “lands of ethnic origin”
  2. Redeployment of British troops from Iraq to secure Channel tunnel and Kent ports against illegal immigration
  3. Reintroduction of compulsory military service
  4. All adults who have completed military service required to keep a military assault rifle in their home
  5. Corporal punishment for petty criminals and the death penalty for paedophiles, terrorists, murderers and drug dealers or importers.

Jaysus!!! They are completely whacko aren’t they?

this is going to be unpopular but I actually think that introducing national service is not a bad idea

Me and my boss were just agreeing too…not sure about the assault rifle part though!!

Not unpopular here, I wouldn’t disagree at all…

There are loads of options we could offer consciptees to choose from, many of which could benefit from low cost, enthusiastic labour, and which could undoubtedly benefit those taking part:

  • Environmental Management such as natural habitat restoration
  • Community Work
  • Social Work
  • Peacekeeping with the military
  • Overseas Development
  • Corralling Immigrants at riflepoint into prison ships for sending back to Bongobongoland ;-p
  • Other works of a charitable nature

And additionally, it could delay the starting age for University which I reckon would cut down on course drop out rates and wasted first years; simply by giving everyone a year out of taught education in which to clarify what they wanted from life.

Wow, lots of votes in national service eh? Although from that list the primary purpose of the military seems a little obscured. Still, with enough rebranding maybe the army would soon be so full of hippies that its brutal bullying discipline will be undermined by a major culture shift. Without that though we’d probably be forcing a generation of youth into a training regime that has been consciously designed to stifle the imagination and create absolute, unquestioning obedience to authority.

There’s definitely something positive about people learning to manage and direct their agression, only from the little I know about squaddies on the piss the army doesn’t actually do that very well.

So national service, great idea, but lets have it managed by someone other than the military, with the added bonus that if your government gets a taste for a bit of old fashioned imperialism you won’t get pulled from your vital dreamcatcher recycling workshops in order to shoot someone and nick their country.

Maybe we could have national civic service instead: This would be compulsary as well, but you wouldn’t go into the army necessarily but do the kinda stuff suggested (maybe without the forcible deportations to Bongobongoland) under a civic authority instead. Just think of all those fresh faced 18 year olds being forced to make the country a nicer place to be and hating every minute of it!!!

“One volunteer is better than ten pressed men.”

So I read, anyway. Not entirely sure what it means… pressed men? Is it like pressed olives? This implies there’s such a thing as extra virgin man oil, which is frankly just a little bit wierd, and ever so slightly seedy. Wierd, seedy – but logically, true! Wow.

What we need to do is get rid of the nuclear deterrent. It’s only coz of dem pesky nukes that the military got cut back in the first place. (That’s actually true! No, really actually. Which kinda makes me go “er… nukes: great! Less national service and less army! Cool! Oh, hang on – potential Armageddon destroying all life as we know it! Bad thing! Er… confused! Bugger!”)

p.s. *Did you know* that the total number of olive presses in the Palestinian Territory is 285, of which 242 are operating, while 43 are temporarily closed? I bet you didn’t, did you?

Okay, so it got a bit surreal towards the end.