Liberal Value Course
Workshop on 'Finding Freedom’, 2023
United by their passion for knowledge and a thirst for understanding the essence of freedom, participants, hailing from diverse backgrounds such as students, working professionals, and homemakers, delved into an intensive online course called ‘Finding Freedom’. The course, designed around liberal ideals, laid the groundwork for a profound exploration of the varied dimensions of freedom. The course, developed by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF), was conducted in association with the Blue Ribbon Movement and Wisdom Tree.
Following the online course, participants gathered in Mumbai for a two-day in-person workshop that promised to elevate their understanding of liberalism. The workshop became a melting pot of ideas, where concepts like positive and negative freedom, spontaneous order, and the harm principle were dissected and discussed with fervor. Through engaging PowerPoint presentations, the participants not only showcased their newfound knowledge but also encouraged thoughtful discussions and answered questions raised by their peers.
Venturing beyond the traditional realms of learning, the participants were led to the G5A warehouse in Mahalaxmi West, an aesthetic place that would serve as the backdrop for a profound discourse. Renowned experts from diverse fields – journalism, social work, theater, human rights activism, and entrepreneurship – graced the occasion. They shared their perspectives of an ideal city, emphasizing the significance of freedom and virtue. Encouraging audience participation, attendees were not mere spectators but active contributors. Through voting and interactive sessions, they voiced their thoughts and posed questions. An innovative twist was introduced to this dialogue – an AI chatbot, programmed to correlate conversations with liberal values and diverse forms of freedom, mediated the discussions.
The workshop also witnessed participants presenting thought-provoking ideas related to liberalism. Themes like cronyism, social contract, capability approach, and the distinction between the rule of law and rule by law were explored. Lastly, Samruddha Surana, a distinguished student from Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune, was asked to give a presentation on 'A humble case for liberty' to clear any doubts that participants could have had. Surana's eloquent discourse untangled the complexities of liberty, drawing insights from the profound philosophies of Friedrich Hayek, and Ludwig von Mises.
In essence, this workshop was not just an intellectual gathering but a celebration of emancipated minds. By amalgamating traditional wisdom with contemporary technology, the event not only educated but also empowered the participants. It reinforced the idea that the pursuit of knowledge and the understanding of liberal principles are not confined to classrooms but can flourish in unconventional settings, inspiring individuals to become champions of freedom in their own right.
Learnings story of Gargi
I learnt that modern nation-states usually have a mixture of liberal and socialist school of thought, as it allows for healthy competition and promotes meritocracy and innovation, while government intervention in the form of monetary and fiscal policy (increasing and decreasing interest rates and taxation) ensures equitable distribution of wealth. It was also interesting to learn that many governments provide free education and some money through social security schemes to enlarge individuals' 'positive liberty’ and enable them to develop capabilities. The same idea is also captured in Amartya Sen's capability approach.
Similarly, the insights from the workshop helped me to exercise our individual rights responsibly and become a better law-abiding citizen. I also learnt that the social contract between individuals and the state obliges individual citizens to pay their taxes and enjoy rights such as right to speech, association, religion, among others, in return.
The concepts of 'positive rights' and 'individual responsibility' intrigued me. They underscore a fundamental belief in the potential for human growth and transformation. These notions emphasize that individuals possess the capacity to evolve and overcome their limitations. In essence, they bestow upon human beings a profound sense of responsibility for the choices they make in life. At its core, this perspective revolves around the idea that individuals are not passive subjects of circumstance but active architects of their destinies. Overall the workshop expanded my horizon of liberal knowledge to not only uphold the principles of justice and equity but also serve as a responsible and law-abiding individual.