Liberalism Essay, Research Paper
Article Response With Annotated Bibliography
Ronald Beiner, Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto
investigates liberalism by considering the communitarian critics of it and different opinions of
liberalists. He describes the critics of liberalism of Michael Sandel, Charles Taylor, Michael
Walzer, and Alasdair MacIntyre. These community defenders think that all experiences of
communtiy aren’t so morally desirable, but if people are looking at the world only in an
individualistic way, they find themselves on a narrow horizon of experiences. Beiner also
makes us understand the difference between left and right liberalists. Beiner is against the
opinon that the liberalism refers to a particular relation between the state and the individual
and he thinks that it’s a view of human life, which leaves people alone to do what they want
freely, and in that sense the one in which society doesn’t guide people to give meaning to
their life. He gives the painting example stating ‘the world without furniture’ as the main
point. I believe that Beiner’s understanding of liberalism is wrong and I will tell you what a
liberal is, what liberals want and what they expect from the government.
Liberal means ‘favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual
freedom possible, especially as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of
civil liberties’ (Kennedy, pars. 3-4). John F. Kennedy states that “liberal is not someone
against the government and who is uncorned with the taxpayer’s dollar. It means someone
who looks ahead not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions,
someone who cares about the welfare of people” (pars. 1-2).
Liberals want to change things to increase personal freedom and tolerance, and
are willing to empower government to the extent necessary to achieve those ends. This is
against the idea of Beiner about what liberalism is. They want to help individuals to take
more control over their own lives. This requires environment where choices are not
arbitrarily removed. Also enough information should be offered so that choices can be
understood and made intelligently. Alan Brinkley states that “this also requires giving
people responsibility and encouraging self-reliance within a social framework” (par. 8).
Liberals see the role of government as providing a framework within which
individuals can develop their lives and contribute to society. Harold Meyerson states that
“regulation of private industry is needed to ensure integrity and safety, with respect to
customers and workers” (pars. 15-16). According to Beiner liberals don’t want any state
power, but it’s not that way. Left-liberalists are “realistic or sensible liberals who take
account of the failures and excesses of earlier liberalism” according to Walter Williams (pars.
1-2). Liberals want the equal opportunity should be a goal of government, they want health
care and education to be universally available. Liberals do not want government to protect
people from themselves, or interfere in individual interaction.
Liberalism is an optimistic philosophy. Beiner is right to think that we should not
limit ourselves in certain ways like only believing in liberalism or another ideology, but I
don’t agree with his understanding of liberalism. For me the true liberals are the sensible
ones, left-liberals and to generalize the liberalism in the way Beiner does is an injustice to true
liberals, because what they want is freedom with considerable state intervention.