Letters to the Editor

The limits of liberty 

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Dear Editor,

I am neither academic nor really that clever, but I have a good sense of what’s right. The idea that liberty is a universal moral seems very modern and very, very Western.

As noted in the RSA Daily recently, Asian countries, and indeed any now Western European or anglophonic cultures, have a different take on liberty as far as society goes. And this is for the purpose of maintaining a solid society.

The liberty principle is brought from the French and the American revolutions, and has little to do with the rest of the world.

Indeed, if one bothered to observe – which I note few Western-inclined thinkers are willing to do – you would notice the cohesiveness of older, pre-industrialised societies that did not have the stupidity to throw away all the old ways in a fit of self-indulgence. 

You’d also notice that the idea of liberty – manifested in the West as “I do what I want and justify it after” – does not exist as each person understands it. They are part of a whole, not just an individual.

The so-called Western enlightenment project, while in many ways a good way to move forward, has created a false ideology of liberty that is anti-social. And this has hamstrung society.

We need to relearn cooperation over selfishness.

James Faulkner


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