Why I Am A Liberal

I don't think my liberal credentials are in any doubt. I do, however, devote far too much time and energy to criticising my own side. I find this problematic for three reasons:

1) I really shouldn't feel the need to criticise them in the first place
2) It makes it very easy for other people to accuse me of Not Being A True Liberal
3) I should be focusing on rebutting conservative viewpoints rather than liberal ones

Putting all that aside, I'd like to focus on why exactly I chose liberalism - and then try and apply that to why I keep criticising other liberals.

If I'm absolutely honest with myself, I chose liberalism because I love freedom. I love freedom because of an emotional response to my lack of freedom - that's right, an emotional response, not based on logic at all. Since then I've been looking at everything from an unashamedly liberal and egalitarian viewpoint, based purely on my emotional responses to oppression and inequality, and a distinct feeling that something is very wrong about them.

However, that's only one strand of my liberalism, and only one strand of my identity. Another strand is scepticism, or free-thinking: having read far too many books, I picked what agreed with my (originally emotional) love of all things academic and decided that the way forward is to question everything. My love of science didn't hurt either, since you can't just take things on faith there. And so I became willing to weigh each statement on its own merits and make my own decisions. This free-thinking is what I consider a tenet of liberalism.

Apparently not, since I've seen liberals and leftists follow vocal members without so much as a hint of questioning. I've heard them decry all questioning as evil. I've read sickening amounts of dogma and observed disgusting amounts of blind submission to authority, any authority, just as long as it's not the State or the bankers. Moderates are decried as weak: there can be no grey area anywhere, ever, because it's a fight between ultimate good and ultimate evil, not between a bunch of organisations all desperately pursuing their own selfish agendas.

I don't want to paint all leftists and liberals as this, because a lot of them aren't. Besides, conservatism is still worse. But I am truly disgusted at some members of the "smart" side wilfully ignoring anything which doesn't fit their agenda, while congratulating themselves on their open-mindedness and willingness to look at all the facts. That small-mindedness, that refusal to listen to anything they don't agree with, is not why I stick staunchly to my liberal guns. That dogmatic hatred of anything not revolutionary and anti-capitalist is not why I became a leftist. That lack of healthy doubt and debate goes against everything a sceptic like me stands for.

Liberals and leftists, get your act together. Ask yourself why you're doing this. Ask yourself whose authority, if anyone's, you should submit to, and check what you're doing. Ask yourself why you get those little niggling doubts when someone tells lies or lashes out at sceptics. Ask yourself where these facts come from and if you've got all of them. Ask yourself if this is really the solution. Ask yourself if you have a plan. Ask yourself who you want to be and what the world should be like. Ask yourself if there are any holes in your vision. Ask yourself these and a million other questions.

Don't ever stop asking them.