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jerryking : political_theory   8

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
All he is saying is give war a chance: Democracy and world peace are really not such great ideas. Just ask author Robert Kaplan
11 Mar 2000| National Post pg B5 |Alexander Rose.

Whatever else journalist Robert D. Kaplan picked up during his sojourn in the Great Back of Beyond, it wasn't universal love, touch-feely harmony and a We-Are-The-World attitude. In this newspaper last weekend, reviewing The Coming Anarchy -- a collection of his recent assays he was in Canada to promote this week — Misha Glenny aptly remarked: "If you want to feel uplifted about the human condition, you should steer clear of Kaplan's work as a general rule." An example; The way to make this world a better place Kaplan casually proposes in his new collection of essays (named after his famous 1994 article in The Atlantic Monthly predicting cultural clashes, tribal and widespread environmental meltdown), is for Congress to reauthorize assassination as a political instrument to grasp that democracy is not suitable for everyone; and that world peace would actually make war likelier.

"I've spent a great deal of my life covering wars," he says. Moreover, "unlike a lot of journalists, I read -- I read a lot, a lot of history, a lot of philosophy.

Look at Livy (the ancient Roman historian)...'Drew him to classical philosophy. ''If you read the ancient Chinese, or Cicero, Machiavelli or Herodotus, these a strain running through them - which is that if you always think about might go wrong, things might start going right and you can avoid tragedy.'' Thus, ''tragedy is avoidable if you always maintain a sense of it.''

The problem, however, is that "the times we live in are so prosperous for us that it's hard to think tragically." And, most alarmingly, "Revolutions and upheavals happen when things are getting better, not worse."

...When Mr. Kaplan speaks of "realists" he is describing the Hobbesian view that man has a rapacious, brutal, selfish nature. On the world stage, this translates as furiously competing sovereign states battling over their respective interests, many of which are intractable. Realists therefore believe eternal and armed vigilance, not highfalutin UN declarations, are the key to ensuring "human security". ...Kaplan believes that there are three strands of "realism" battle for supremacy...."You don't have to believe in global warming, but we're entering a world in which there will be six billion of us and you have to realize that there are now enough of us living in urbanized conditions that we're occupying zones which are climatically and tectonically fragile. "Now, we've got 70% of the Chinese population producing two-thirds of the industrial output living in flood zones. Forget about Mozambique -- that's a sideshow."...So what advice would he give our Department of Foreign Affairs so that Canada could punch above its weight in the world?

Says Kaplan, without skipping a beat: "It's hard for a country of 30 million to have a pivotal impact. So the way to do it is to get behind an idea everyone knows is smart but nobody has the time or the inclination to push."

Is Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy's position on human rights and human security one such "smart idea"? Mr. Kaplan gives it short shrift (actually, no shrift at all). "It's far too flaccid and formless to be taken seriously because all he's really stating is a kind of easy truth. Tough truths, on the other hand, are things like when and where you intervene and under what circumstances.

"So, I would say Canada needs to go on fast forward to a Global Constabulary Force. NATO, with all its problems, worked well in Kosovo and Bosnia. So, we [i.e., Canada] will create an out-of-area military branch of NATO with some non-European members -- such as Japan, Australia, India, Brazil -- to form the core of the GCF." Then "we'll have a wider range of options during the next Rwanda, or next time something happens in a place with no strategic interest to anyone but where there's an overwhelming sense that we should 'do something.' But just talking about human security ... The minute you have something that everyone agrees with you know it's useless."

A lesson from the master himself.
floodplains  Greek  hard_choices  hard_power  hard_questions  hard_truths  history  human_rights  human_security  journalists  middle-powers  Niccolò_Machiavelli  political_theory  punch-above-its-weight  rapaciousness  realism  realpolitik  Robert_Kaplan  Romans  thinking_tragically  the_human_condition  world_stage  worst-case 
july 2012 by jerryking
How China Can Defeat America -
November 20, 2011 | NYT| By YAN XUETONG, who is the author of “Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power,” is a professor of political science and dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University....The pre-Qin period of Chinese history-- before China was unified as an empire more than 2,000 years ago — was a world in which small countries were competing ruthlessly for territorial advantage. It was perhaps the greatest period for Chinese thought, and several schools--ancient Chinese political theorists like Guanzi, Confucius, Xunzi and Mencius--competed for ideological supremacy and political influence. They converged on one crucial insight: The key to international influence was political power, and the central attribute of political power was morally informed leadership. Rulers who acted in accordance with moral norms whenever possible tended to win the race for leadership over the long term.
Confucian  Henry_Kissinger  soft_power  alliances  foreign_policy  moral_authority  values  China  China_rising  philosophy  political_theory  power  political_power  leadership  APNSA  political_influence  U.S.-China_relations 
november 2011 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
The Newest Mandarins
Dec. 16, 2007 | NYT | By ANNPING CHIN. Scores of men and women
in China’s business world today are studying their country’s classical
texts, not just “The Art of War,” but also early works from the
Confucian and the Daoist canon. On weekends, they gather at major
universities, @ paying tens of thousands of yuan , to learn from
prominent professors of philosophy and literature, to read and think in
ways they could not when they were students and the classics were the
objects of Maoist harangue. Those inside and outside China say that
these businessmen and -women, like most Chinese right now, have caught
the “fever of national learning”..students studying history and
philosophy seem to ask more questions--. whether there is an appropriate
way to pursue the idea of freedom; whether this chase, which is often
complicated by the tangles of human relationships and life’s unwanted
circumstances, can become a test of one’s interior strength. Learning
the texts, for them, is learning to think.
China  students  Colleges_&_Universities  philosophy  Sun_Tzu  humanities  political_theory  critical_thinking  Confucian 
march 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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