Review of The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy, by Daniel A. Bell, Asian Journal of Political Science, Vol. 25, Issue 1, 151-154. (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02185377.2016.1256225)
Chinese translation of Dialectics of Human Nature in Marx’s Philosophy, by Mehmet Tabak, Beijing: Beijing Normal University Press, co-translated with Junqiang Xue (forthcoming)
Memorizing the Past: Understanding the Missing Link in Judith Shklar’s “the Liberalism of Fear”
The paper attempts to study Judith Shklar’s famous idea of “the liberalism of fear” in a comparison to anticolonialism. For Shklar, the deepest concern for liberals today is that cruelty is an absolute evil towards humanity. Liberalism of fear maintains its relevance in our society today because for the prevention of cruelty we need punishment backed by political authority. But the existence of the government as a political authority, in turn, signifies an enduring threat of systematic cruelty and totalitarian terror. The fundamental task for modern liberals, thus, is to defend the well-being of the citizenry from cruelty and terror as such.
In the paper I argue that Shklar’s idea of liberalism of fear is unlikely to be a useful foundation for the making of a powerful liberal narrative for liberals in non-liberal societies, especially societies with anticolonial histories. Although fear is still a crucial political emotion in these societies, the target and the content of fear are strikingly different with what Shklar had in mind. Fear in anticolonial narratives is usually a sentiment that targets at the humiliation of collective group. The state does not have to be a source of fear; it can be the protector who frees the people from fear. With the imbalance of power between the state and the liberal intellectuals in terms of political propaganda, the liberalism of fear would find it hard to triumph the anticolonialism of fear in societies with anticolonial histories.
The Dualism of Nationality: Revisiting David Miller’s On Nationality
David Miller’s liberal-nationalist theory of national identity is an influential attempt that aims at reconciling the tension between nationalism and liberalism. In this article, I argue that Miller’s version of liberal nationalism fails to be a qualified version of liberalism due to its internal logical incoherence. I argue that liberalism is beyond, and much more beyond, a sum of liberal values. A political theory that contains some certain elements that usually appear in mainstream liberal theories does not qualify itself as a liberal theory. For a political theory to be a qualified liberal one, it must not only include the “right” elements but also include a philosophical system where these shared liberal values are rightly connected to each other. Miller’s version of liberal nationalism, however, falls into the second category by not only by combining national sentiments with liberal values but also by drawing an arbitrary distinction between nationality and nationalism. He thus creates a volatile amalgam that slides either to the end of pure national sentiments or to the end of pure liberal values.