Ay, liberalism – the verbal contrivance most abused by socialists, occupant despots, crony-capitalists, and pseudo-intellectuals in academia. The definition of “liberal“, as perceived today, has more in common with Marxian ideology or even moral relativist streak of State theory and it is today as much distorted and cheapened as Marxian ideals.
Harking back to the original tradition of liberalism, “Liberalism” is a doctrine directed towards the conduct of men and his “pursuit of happiness”. Liberalism is not just about “private property” and “private riches”, rather, it extends much beyond – to a perfect conception of human action. The term ‘liberal’ was hijacked by people who were social democrats. The word “liberal“, decades after being hijacked by socialists and State-nationalists, has come to denote a set of ideas and political postulates that in every regard are the opposite of all that liberalism meant to the preceding generations. This much abused tradition of “left-liberalism” aimed to establish big government, create a chain of regulations to take away liberty of free-enterprise of men and establish an “equal” society for which it vehemently chases the mirage of “social-justice“. This tumultuous clan is entertained by reactionary politicians who are branded as messiah of poor by these “left-liberals“. While “classical liberalism” talked about creating a better and richer world, “left-liberal” camp classified rich as “public-enemies” and indulged in vain experiment of creating an “equal society” – painfully, at the cost of millions of lives.
Is the label relevant? Is it worth it for “classical liberals” to claim the term “liberal” from crypto-socialists and pseudo-liberals? Yes. Certainly. The word “liberal” has clear and pertinent etymological roots grounded in ideal of individual liberty. The theory of liberalism developed with time – as we discovered insights on the nature of man and his actions – but the fundamental principles – of peace and liberty – remained unchanged. This tradition has evolved over time (or to be more accurate, “classical liberalism”) – from times of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Locke, Jeremy Bentham to where it is today. It is not a metaphysical dogma but a living and evolving discipline.
For all its rationality and application, the idea of liberalism has not been germane to Indian “political sprinters“. Perhaps the diminishing returns of chasing a better world dissuaded power-hungry and control-freak zombie politicians of India. The objectives were raised with some small but historical experiments on liberty in India. These exponents laid the ground-work for liberty in India but also characteristically demonstrated that why such ideas find less mass-appeal – especially in a country like India – where tradition of superstition, dogma, and hero-worship of socialist politicians has no parallel. Individual liberty is not an offshoot of liberalism but an enduring commitment of it. There are many reasons, unexplained, as to why liberalism did not gain as much traction in India and why, to this day, there is only one political party which stands for liberty of India. Perhaps it can only be answered a posteriori.
The reason why India remains poor and stagnated on this 71st year of Independence is not a half-conjecture. A number of factors are adduced to explain the dire straits India is in – with its extreme poverty and illiteracy. The sinking reflection that India today ranks poorer than some sub-Saharan countries in HDI and individual liberty is reason enough for Indians to move away from anti-liberal “left-liberals” ideologues and advance the idea of liberty.
World over, we have seen the consequences of socialist policies. The leaders, however revelatory and messianic their promises sounded to the poor, the end-result was invariably that their anti-liberal policies, big-government regulations and protectionist measures ended up hurting poor the most.
There is hope, however less, that India will move from self-sabotage to its own uncharted path of Renaissance and the neurotic Indian mindset that today romanticizes its oppressors, will accept the rational principle of liberty.