Liberalism’s unsolvable problems – with Dr Graham Oppy
Channel: Abdullah al Andalusi
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To learn more about how to critically engage and understand Western political philosophy, and its attendant political and ethical systems, courses are available by the Quran Institute, which can be accessed via the link. I'd say that Islam actually manages plurality better than liberalism, but those who don't believe in the Islamic purpose of life, Islamic law, while it might underpin the security of the lands and the state, and hence will prevent robbers and invading armies and things like that. It's not there to make Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians, and others better Muslims because they're not Muslim. So in Islam, Christians and Jews could actually have their own law
courts, their own law courts their own, in some cases, even their own police and semi autonomous areas, no one was telling them that they're against the they are not following the values of the state, or they're not integrating it or assimilating into the into the wider society, there was no such challenges in liberal societies. However, the idea of a one law for all sounds very laudable at first, but when you actually think about how you apply this, you're basically saying that one law might be determined by the majority that say, or at least representatives of the majority, will will basically impose one particular law system on everyone, including the minorities that might disagree
with those the law system, and basically that that can involve a form of intolerance, where communities are told that you can't do these certain practices, because it doesn't conform with the law of this country, or you're not allowed to have your own law system, because that is in derogation of the of this one law for all what you find is that Muslims and historically Jews, but as sometimes also Catholics, their own law systems were viewed as active threats to the state right now. It's Muslims, Muslims, a practice of just even voluntary Islamic law courts or more like tribunals are not really slimy. They're not courts, really, they're just tribunals
are viewed as a threat to the state and the state. Now, state must clamp down upon these or regulate it or, or get involved in their religious life and affairs, because it is viewed as a as a fret. So those are the issues that liberalism has a problem with tolerance of multiple ways of life other than its own, I'd say in practice, whereas Islam actually allows separate law systems for Jews and Christians and others, to practice their own laws amongst themselves. Islam kind of offers more tolerance than liberalism only because Islam doesn't view itself. It can't view itself as imposing itself on everybody. Because the purpose in life is to voluntarily choose the to worship the Creator
to recognize his existence, and to follow His commands it must be done voluntarily can't be done by imposition. Whereas liberalism believes that liberalism itself is universal justice for mankind. And so it's universal justice for mankind, and every human on this earth has a right to liberalism, whether they like it or not. And so it means that we're currently be one law for all in every liberal state. But it could also mean that liberal states can exercise colonialism as it's called to export its ideology to the world, because it believes that every human being has a right to what it calls with its own definition of human rights, irrespective of whether those people like it or not,
or agree with it, or accept it, and so on so forth, colonialism was justified from a liberal rubric. I mean, I think that there are a few things to keep separate in the discussion. One thing is about the distinction about the laws that you apply within a state, and what you think governs the behavior of states. And liberalism was a doctrine about what happens within a state. It wasn't a doctrine that spoke to relationships between states. And there's a kind of, and there are kind of very obvious differences here. Because within a state, you've got a government, all the citizens are subject to the government, the nations are not subject to any kind of ruler. And so you shouldn't be
thinking, as you very quickly said, that liberal theory was used to justify colonialism. That's actually I think, not true. He said that liberal theory was never used to justify colonialism, because states in their international relations, were not subject or beholden to laws, whereas domestically, they're beholden to their own laws.
I think I would disagree. John Stuart Mill of you with many wrote many, many tracks about how colonialism can be justified and why and why it's a good thing and what should be the policy of liberal states and concerning foreign relations with quote unquote, barbaric nations, eventually they will have to be subdued, and they will have to be controlled with an iron fist until they are able they adopt liberalism, then they they can be independent and autonomous and they've reached much maturity. Now, the thing is this that when any state goes to war, the state has to explain to me
As people why it's going to war, it can't just say, Hey, we're going for money, we're going for well for fame that people just wouldn't accept specially, in, in representative systems whereby, you know, political parties want to get reelected. So they make excuses like, or that they have to give some justification that the people will accept the very least. Whether it be civilizing the natives, we're doing it for their own good, we're educating them for their own good, we have to go over there and give them superior enlightened values. So, liberal theory has been used justified colonialism very much. So
Tocqueville mentioned discusses this, as well as many others. So I would, I would very much disagree. That liberal theory has not been used to justify cronyism, indeed, it was centrally located in justifying colonialism, because the people wouldn't accept any other any other reason why you going around the world and sending British troops to die. For what purpose? Graham, what do you make of it? I, one thing is to distinguish between liberal theory, what the theory says, and what liberal theorists have said, when they're speaking about other matters. And when it comes to the question. I mean, when when I said, Look, liberal theory is a theory about the state. It's not a
theory about international affairs. And you started talking about what some liberal theorists said about international affairs, that doesn't mean that what they were giving you was some consequences of liberal theory, they were just giving their independent views about how they thought international affairs should go. And it's that's just got no consequences for liberal theory as a theory of the running of the state. There's another thing is that
liberalism, like Islam has a very long history. And I
you have to draw a distinction. One distinction is between theory and practice, what the theory tells you another thing is, this is another point about history, that, certainly with liberalism, there's a development over time. And the theory improves, and their ideas that were had by the founding fathers, people like Hume, and Locke, and can that have been disavowed by subsequent generations of liberals, and you can't prove anything by appealing to things that they said that the professor says quite, quite
aptly that there is liberal theory and as liberal theorists, and so just because one of the founding fathers of America might have slaves, it doesn't mean that that liberalism believes in slavery, which I totally would concur with him on that. But then this brings us to the fundamental problem of actual liberalism itself. What is the holy book of liberalism, the texts that we can refer to the limits of the amount of interpretation that can come from, from liberalism, a set A parameters to it? Well, there isn't any. So then what then makes something liberal what so what is liberal theory? It's not a platonic form that floats around that we can access and refer to but liberal theory is,
is anything that liberals say it is, is my point. And when I was talking about John, we're not talking about sorry, people, liberal theorists advocating colonialism or what have you. It wasn't perhaps them just saying, I think colonial colonialism is a good idea. They wrote detailed tracks, relating their own thinking, the thinking there on the books, and in fact, on liberty, the classical book by John Stuart Mill talks about imperialism and colonialism and justifies it in his own book on liberty, which is viewed as a great reference for for classical liberals. But for social liberals, mostly, I say, we under Social liberalism today, as the most dominant form of liberalism. Today, we
know this as liberal interventionism of a different kind. So be spreading democracy is also a key argument or spreading freedom was also used to justify the war in Afghanistan. You could also want to read other books by John Stuart Mill like on the treatment of barbarous nations. He discussed that in bit more depth, but you can see his justification for colonialism and imperialism in his book on liberty, which is a very seminal book of political philosophy by John Stuart Mill you if ever you're going to study the political philosophy John Stuart Mill, upon which much of the current game modern liberalism or social liberalism is at least from the Anglo Saxon perspective is
certainly based upon on liberty is the most preeminent book of his there is no separation between liberal theory and liberal theorists, if the liberal theorist is using is making a philosophical or politically political argument about something related to their their other ideas, then it's part of liberal theory, I would say, there is no set there's no holy book of liberalism, which is why you'd probably get more diversity in interpretation.
and hence more lack of clarity in political philosophy than one where you have a holy book which at least limits the amount of possible interpretations that one can can produce as to the practice of the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu wasallam sayings to the actions of Muslims. We can make a quite definitive border between those two things we concern circumscribe that the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Sallam is, as we believe is a prophet, and his sayings are the basis of our ethics of our law. But Muslims activities or actions are not and can never be. And so if the prophet muhammad sallallahu sallam said if the Quran says something, it has absolute authority, from our perspective
and, and overrides anything else that we might want to bring later on. And I think that is a good thing. Having laws and ideas founded upon immovable and immutable bases prevents people from abrogating these ideas later in, in in a civilization.
I guess Bella's making the claim that there's a sensuality that the Islamic tradition has that we can sort of put a discreet boundary around, right. So this is within the tradition, this is not. This is history, history is not legal precedents. This is legal precedents, legal precedents is in, let's say, the form of their heads, or whatever jurisprudence that we have. And that perhaps liberalism and this is one of the questions that was asked
is it true then that liberalism fails to have this first principles approach of creating a boundary by which it defines what is and isn't liberalism, and in failing to do so, carves open the space for, I guess, projects like the colonial project, which was to enlighten the rest of the world with a very Eurocentric vision of what it means to be the good Okay, so there's a few things I wanted to respond to and if I.
To learn more about how to critically engage and understand Western political philosophy, and its attendant political and ethical systems. Courses are available by the Khan Institute, which can be accessed via the link