Enlightenment liberalism

enlightenmentAs politics has continued its evolution across time, my position has slowly drifted from what used to be a liberal one to one that seems to have more in common with the #altright. This was somewhat curious to me, as my values and perspectives have not really changed on what I consider the major issues. This is why I decided to write up a post on what being an enlightenment liberal actually entails. I’ve written on the enlightenment before as a part of the social justice chronicles, to give a quick introduction, it was a period where philosophers defined and argued in favor of the values that are the foundation for our modern western nation states. From Hobbes, John Stuart Mill and Thomas Paine on Government, Adam Smith on Economics, Kant on Ethics, Hume, Voltaire and Rousseau on a range of topics.

This created a foundation on which the most successful states of the next 300 – 400 years (depending on what you regard as the start of the enlightenment) were built, and that have made them the most free, and well-functioning states in the world. However, over time the ideals of classical liberalism have become undermined by the group referred to as the “regressive left” and by the conservatives who by now should be seeking to conserve those values. While the literature from the classical liberals and those who followed them, is great and diverse the agreement on Universality and freedom of expression is strong.

Foremost, what serves as the foundation for the philosophy of the enlightenment are the values that came forth in the scientific revolution, namely empiricism and reason.

“To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.” Thomas Paine

Continue reading

On the enlightenment, social justice and the state

paineI suppose we’ll never know for sure who had the radical idea that “people should be free to express their views without fearing reprisal”. I know that it was a somewhat popular idea when Socrates took his final shot of hemlock, and that a lot of was absorbed into the Roman Empire, and the Hellenic empire after that. After all, at that time they were the greatest cultures and empires the world had ever seen, both in terms of social progress. The Ancient Greeks wrote works that are still central to many modern fields of inquiry, such as Plato’s treatise of government, “The Republic“, Aristotle’s work on logic, and ethics, the Pythagorean theorem, and Archimedes’ law.

These were civilizations that showed technological prowess that disappeared after the fall of the Roman empire when Europe descended into what has become known as the dark ages. This is until human beings, strangled by Christianity, and a church that dominated every aspect of life, from your bedroom to the chambers of government. Where God-Kings and God-Emperors feared the excommunication from the Pope of Rome, as their power was considered willed to them by the divine. Started rediscovering the works of Ancient Greece, of Rome, and we got the period known as the Renaissance, a French word that means “Rebirth” or “Revival”. Where philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Protagoras, Marcus Aurelius and artists such as Virgil and Cicero, inspired a new generation of artists such as Leonardo, Michelangelo, scientists such as Galileo. Those works lead to that the Phoenix of ideas and exploration rose from the ashes of the great empires and minds of history and once again brought light to a world that had laid in darkness. It made us strive for enlightenment once more. Continue reading