INDIA: One of the most commonly held feeling in the current social structure is the dissent towards the long-held tenets of liberalism. As a society, we have become more vocal and distant from the values that liberalism has enshrined into the system. To an extent, being liberal is now seen as a problem rather than a virtue by many. But, how did we reach here? Is there a real reason to despise liberals or it’s just about going with the trend? What is liberalism actually and what it stands for today? These questions need a harder look at, because, truth be told, we have never seen this kind of hostility towards liberals by a large segment of the society.
A person is liberal if he or she is willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one’s own and is open to new ideas. In political domain, it is about promoting individual rights, civil liberties, democracy, and free enterprise. Open to new ideas, accepting differences in opinion and free enterprise are the key words here. Liberal society is one that accepts and assimilates, it is a society that evolves and democratizes. Over years however, we have seen that these virtues have not been fully adopted. Liberals vs Conservatives has been a long lasting debate. While conservatives have been about holding on to their beliefs and resenting changes, Liberals have resented the unwillingness to change of Conservatives. This in very first place defies the basic philosophy of being liberal. At some point, we as liberal society forgot to accept and started imposing. We started creating us vs them and right vs wrong. And, of course, that’s a problem when you start defining right with yourself and wrong on the other side.
Firstly, liberals had a very hard time accepting the fact that conservatives are gaining dominance in the major democracies of the world. The acceptance was missing, and the projection of right vs wrong took precedence. This was a major falling of liberals. The ones who professed to be democratic, became biased and the ones who believed in free enterprise believed that the enterprises can be cajoled to establish a narrative. They missed the plot by falling into the trap of power, money and privileges. Liberal society is not about these, it is about empowerment, prosperity for all and rights to everyone alike. The fallacy in the philosophy vs the practice was for all to see, and that’s where the decline started. Being liberal in your thought process has become a matter of jest for many and the responsibility of this lies with a few vested souls who preferred using it as a tool for establishing supremacy.
To be honest, we don’t want conventional liberalism in the new world order; the word itself is losing its resonating effect. What we need in the society is Enterprising Individualism. The more we can be individually enterprising, the more we will be free from biases. It also connects with my previous assertion about establishing an environment of Progressive Nationalism. Enterprising Individualism can be a catalyst towards rising above the conventional thoughts, Liberal or Conservative, and will pave way towards contributing towards the nation with the best foot forward by each and every individual. Enterprising Individualism can be a catalyst towards creating an environment where we do not seek to derive from the eco-system, but we seek to drive the eco-system towards a better future.
We are currently in an age where the lines between need and desire are blurring very fast. And, this applies to the political or societal alignments too. We need to create an environment where individuals can step up their drive towards personal excellence, find synergies between their needs and desires and be a source of progression for the country. Being a liberal or a conservative can be at the backdrop, but being an Enterprising Individual, we can focus on Progressive Nationalism which will definitely be for the common good.
As we see, there is no right or wrong in a losing cause. When there is a structural failure, there can never be quick fixes. We as a society need to rethink the way we approach our daily lives on individual and collective levels. Each person needs to think, irrespective of which religion, political alignment, social structure, he or she comes from. Unless we are self critical, we will not be able to find the faults. If we are only there to convince, we will only end up being more averse to other’s thoughts. If we do not accept our problems, we will not be able to find solution. It is time to reflect rather than deflect, it is the time that will determine the future of our society at large and we need to be wiser in how we would like to shape it as.
Vishwa Deepak Dikshit, Founder of UnMitigated and MusiCulture, is a Media Entrepreneur and a Logistics professional. He is an alumnus of MDI, Gurugram and has been an active political commentator. He tweets at @vishwadikshit. The views expressed are personal.