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John Stuart Mill Showed Democracy as a Way of Life - The New York Times
David Brooks JAN. 15, 2018

John Stuart Mill demonstrated that democratic citizenship is a way of life, a moral stance and a humanistic adventure.....Mill is famous for his celebration of individual liberty. But he was not an “anything goes” nihilist. He was not a mellow “You do you and I’ll be me” relativist.

In the first place, he demanded constant arduous self-improvement. In his outstanding biography, Richard Reeves points out that in “On Liberty,” Mill used the words “energy,” “active” and “vital” nearly as many times as he used the word “freedom.” Freedom for him was a means, not an end. The end is moral excellence. Mill believed that all of us “are under a moral obligation to seek the improvement of our moral character.”

“At the heart of his liberalism,” Reeves writes, “was a clearly and repeatedly articulated vision of a flourishing human life — self-improving, passionate, truth-seeking, engaged and colorful.”.... staged a lifelong gentle revolt against his father’s shallow intellectual utilitarianism.

Having been raised in this way and, as an adult, living in Victorian England, what he hated most was narrowness, conformity, the crushing of individuals under the weight of peer pressure, government power or public opinion.....Mill cures us from the weakness of our age — the belief that we can achieve democracy on the cheap; the belief that all we have to do to fulfill our democratic duties is be nice, vote occasionally and have opinions. Mill showed that real citizenship is a life-transforming vocation. It involves, at base, cultivating the ability to discern good from evil, developing the intellectual virtues required to separate the rigorous from the sloppy, living an adventurous life so that you are rooting yourself among and serving those who are completely unlike yourself.

The demands of democracy are clear — the elevation and transformation of your very self. If you are not transformed, you’re just skating by.
David_Brooks  democracy  Victorian  values  engaged_citizenry  arduous  critical_thinking  tough-mindedness  rigour  discomforts  struggles  history  op-ed  profile  philosophy  utilitarianism  liberal  political_theory  John_Stuart_Mill  self-improvement  19th_century  liberalism  indivualized  self-actualization  individual_choice  autonomy  intellectually_rigorous 
january 2018 by jerryking
Six Victorian inheritances we should cherish -
May. 22, 2011 | The Globe and Mail | Editorial.

Science: The adoption and regularization of the scientific method and the emergence of Darwinism - especially as promoted to the general public by Thomas Huxley.

Humanitarianism: Emergence of internationalism, growing partly from the anti-slavery movement and later energized by the statesman William Ewart Gladstone's articulation of the need to recognize the rights of many small nations. As Gladstone said of the downtrodden: "The sanctity of life in the hill villages of Afghanistan among the winter snows, is as inviolable in the eyes of Almighty God as can be your own." Closer to home, Charles Dickens was a powerful advocate for the poor and for factory workers.

Feminism: The roots of the modern women's movement are to be found, in part, in the establishment of women's colleges at Oxford and Cambridge in the last third of the 19th century - and in J.S. Mill's book The Subjection of Women.

Free trade: International trade networks were given impetus by the liberals of "the Manchester school," imperial collaboration and colonial development; the result of all these was a form of what is now called globalization.

Progress: The Victorians, arguably more than any other series of generations, demonstrated their commitment to the idea of progress; the Great Exhibition of 1851, held in the Crystal Palace in London, probably stands as the most conspicuous expression of industrial progress. Prince Albert was an enthusiastic backer, as was his wife Queen Victoria.

Democracy: The electoral franchise was expanded successively in 1832, 1867 and 1885.
19th_century  Charles_Darwin  Charles_Dickens  democracy  feminism  free-trade  history  imperialism  inheritances  John_Stuart_Mill  liberal  op-ed  philosophy  political_theory  utilitarianism  values  Victorian  William_Gladstone  women's_movement 
may 2011 by jerryking
Frank: The Economic Crisis: Lessons Unlearned - WSJ.com
AUGUST 11, 2010 | Wall Street Journal | By THOMAS FRANK.
That Republicans have succeeded in blaming government is testimony to
their political brilliance.
Thomas_Frank  lessons_learned  liberal  commentators  dissension  WSJ 
august 2010 by jerryking
ON LIBERTY: Thoroughly Modern Mill
Friday, May 19, 2006 12:01 A.M. EDT WSJ op-ed by ROGER SCRUTON. Op-ed profiles
John Stuart Mill as the 200th anniversary of his brith approaches.
A utilitarian who became a liberal--but never understood the limits of reason.
history  op-ed  profile  philosophy  utilitarianism  liberal  political_theory  John_Stuart_Mill 
march 2009 by jerryking

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