TaraElla Themes 2017-18

A Moral Liberty
Contrary to popular (American) belief, real liberals are not Left (or Right), but pro-liberty.
The Ideas Lab is on a campaign to revive Moral Liberalism.
For more about Moral Liberalism, read TaraElla's book The Moral Libertarian Horizon.

A Liberal and Truly Intersectional Feminism, no GLIF

Only Liberal Feminism is Truly Intersectional Feminism. Learn more here.
Both the Ideas Lab and The TaraElla Show aim to advance liberal intersectional feminism.
To learn more about how other 'intersectional' feminists are doing it wrong, read The Disappointment of G.L.I.F.

More Music
More new work will be added to the catalog of TaraElla's Music.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The TaraElla Show

The new TaraElla show is launching, and the ideas lab is becoming part of the new TaraElla show.

Check it out here!

This means the ideas lab is closed for now. It may reopen in the future, depending on need.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Let's Honour the Tradition of Marriage in Diverse Ways

The tradition of marriage is important, yet simple. It's all about two people vowing to commit exclusively to each other for life, with religion being involved most, but not necessarily all of the time. It was neither a legal contract nor did it need government approval. Of course, there was also no government approval of divorce, as a result.

Things have changed, and not for the better, I believe. Marriage has since been usurped by the government, and any road back to marriage privatization will be long and difficult (although we must not give up). Some celebrities have also, regrettably, trampled on the institution of marriage for their own publicity. Marriage is not always what it was, back then, nowadays.

Hence whilst we have to recognise that those who want to live the original spirit of marriage may now do so in a number of different ways. For example, there are some religious or very libertarian people who may object to the government being their God and ruling over their marriage. Such couples may choose to have a religious ceremony but not be legally married. On the other hand, other couples may choose a form of 'covenant marriage', wanting legally stricter rules for divorce, where it is available. Still other couples feel that, whilst they would vow to do anything to stay together for life, having the government as the agent discouraging divorce is subjugation to authoritarianism, and covenant marriages still have an unacceptably high failure rate (up to 20% from my memory), so they would instead rely on their own self-sufficient ways to keep their marriage intact for life. Some of these choices may take a form of the modern legal-social institution of marriage, some may come under another title, and some may be able to sit side by side with the standard legal marriage contract. What matters is they all honour the tradition of two people vowing to commit exclusively to each other for life, using the method considered most appropriate by the couple themselves.

This diversity also applies in the case of same sex marriages. Society now has to deal with how to include same sex couples in the social fabric, after their unfortunate exclusion for many centuries. Long stading traditions are being called to adapt to this new demand. Whilst I strongly believe in extending the institution of marriage to same sex couples as I believe they too should be benefitted by the tradition, and I also believe that laws everywhere should be changed in line with the principle of equality before the law (the US Supreme Court has recently agreed with me here), I do believe that those who sincerely believe in marriages being only between a man and a woman should be afforded their freedom of conscience. This includes churches and individuals. They should be able to perform, partake in, and recognise marriage only according to their personal beliefs.

Marriage is a long standing tradition, and like any tradition that lives and thrives over countless generations, adaptation to changing circumstances and hence evolution by diversification is inevitable. To say that there is only one way to honour the ancient tradition of marriage is necessarily wrong and maladaptive. What is important is that the original spirit of marriage continues to be honored in modern society, and is not forgotten in future generations.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Commitment in the New Age

Relationships between people have become less permanent over the past few decades, and this has let to a lot of pain and misery for many people. Is life meant to be this way? I don't think so. I think we have lost the culture of commitment, and we need to restore it.

The traditional marriage relationship serves as a good inspiration. Two people make their vows to each other, and commit for life (for the record I don't agree with the government usurption of marriage in the 1700s, turning it into a legal contract)*. When people took this more seriously, relationships often did last for life. On the other hand, many of my friends don't believe in marriage nowadays. That's okay too, each person should be able to find the path of commitment most suitable for them. What's important is that traditional and non-traditional couples alike can take commitment seriously, and try their best to make it life-long.

Restoring commitment culture is essential for the future survival of our communities. It should be a high priority in today's world, and it's also something we can work together towards.

*Whilst I totally believe in marriage, my strong view is that the vows to keep each other for life is what makes a marriage. Therefore, I see 'private marriages' as equally dignified and meaningful, and I believe anyone who isn't a fascist should also do so. Google 'marriage privatization' to learn more.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A New Liberal Consensus

What does the word 'liberal' mean nowadays? It's a question worth asking. In North America, there has long been a distortion of the word to just mean big government and leftism, whilst in Australia, it is the name of what has become the major conservative party, a party that does not even support the freedom to marry for gay couples. Neither definition seems very 'liberal' to me.

In fact, the word 'liberal' has an inherent meaning, much like conservative or socialist. It means to support freedom. Of course, how this freedom is interpreted differs amongst individuals, but surely it doesn't mean taxation without representation or opposing the freedom to marry. We need to reclaim this word by strengthening awareness about what liberalism is (and what it is not).

All liberals should support freedom above any other ideology. A liberal may be conservative, progressive, pro-business, pro-environment, religious or atheist, or everything in between, but they must respect liberty above all else. Whilst they may have their own beliefs, they must not force it onto others. In politics, liberty must be their main game, and in upholding this liberty, they must not use the power of the state to force their beliefs onto others. For example, a liberal is free to not approve of same sex marriages personally, but should still vote for the freedom to marry. On the other hand, a liberal may be personally angry about climate sceptics not supporting more climate action, but has to fully understand that the mutual respect of each individual's personal conscience and the upholding of the principle of governments only levying taxes when there is a mandate to do so are too important to sacrifice in any case, and therefore will not use the climate emergency to justify distorting these principles.

Liberals may otherwise still have disagreements on policy and ideology. For example, some liberals believe that lower taxation and freer markets are always the key to freedom, whilst others believe that freedom would only equally be available to the poor and disadvantaged if a strong welfare safety net is available. Some liberals believe in gun control, citing that it is a right for citizens to be able to roam the streets without fear, whilst others believe that the right to bear arms is more important. Either way, these are all valid disagreements for liberals to have, because they are all about how freedom is to be maintained. Therefore, liberalism should be a broad church. I believe the consensus should be that everyone who truly believes in liberty for all should be allowed in, even though this welcome should not extend to encompass those who seek to take away others' liberty for any other ideological agenda (whether it is religious values, environmentalism, upholding tradition, or feminism).

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Rehabilitating Traditional Values

I believe that some traditional values, like a lifelong commitment to one's partner and family, public modesty, and modesty in the entertainment sphere, and associated lifestyle habits, like saying no to 'recreational' drugs, are conducive to living a great life. As much as I know that these are great values to have, however, I do know that just this preceding sentence will have made some readers uncomfortable. As a result, this is a topic we don't often get to talk about in public. And it is something we need to address.

I believe the reason why certain traditional values have almost become a taboo topic is because some of the people that have been proponents of these values in the past few decades have been judgemental. We need to change this image. For example, whilst I may be a proponent of the 'just say no to drugs' movement, I am also not going to be judgemental towards any drug user. In fact, I am of the opinion that what they do should not come under legal punishment, although I know that too may be controversial in some circles. In other words, although I live by this 'just say no' principle and I am proud to promote it from time to time, unlike many other people I don't feel that I am morally superior to drug users because of their lifestyle choice. It's just that I propose and promote what I believe to be a better lifestyle choice. The same principle can be applied to many other things in life.

The traditional values movement has a right to promote its values. However, it really doesn't have a right to treat those who don't follow as inferior or less moral in any way. Like any other movement, we need to attract followers by standing on our own merits. And being judgmental is never going to be viewed nicely.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Libertarian Vision: Better Achieved Gradually

The libertarian cause, i.e. to reduce government intervention in every area of life and to give people more flexibility and 'freedom to do the right thing', is a very noble cause. However, I believe that it must be achieved gradually, perhaps over decades. Let me explain.

Firstly, whilst libertarian policies as we commonly understand them are ultimately what we should strive for, in some cases their immediate implementation would cause some people to lose freedom. For example, the withdrawal of anti-discrimination laws would mean ethnic minorities and LGBT people have less freedom to access opportunities in life, the withdrawal of government welfare would mean those living in poverty have less freedom to negotiate their working conditions, and the complete and immediate withdrawal of gun control may mean those who cannot afford to buy a gun or learn to use one feel unsafe and therefore effectively lose their freedom of movement. Whilst all these policies may eventually be able to be implemented in a society that is mature enough for them, in the 2010s we are simply not there yet.

Let me take this from another angle. Whilst those of us familiar with libertarianism find libertarian policies logical, whether we agree with their (immediate) implementation or not, the wider world really doesn't understand them at all. The Libertarian Party may be the third largest party in the USA, but stereotypes about libertarians being conspiracy theorists or even anti-social remain strong in some circles. In Australia, where a senator representing a libertarian party was elected recently (something US libertarians can probably only dream of right now), many people across the political spectrum, from the environmentalist left to the religious right, still appear to completely misunderstand the new senator's positions on various matters. All this just shows that libertarianism continues to have a communication problem worldwide, and many non-libertarians continue to view it as, to put it mildly, eccentric.

In a society that measures policies and ideologies by their results more than anything else, libertarianism cannot exist in a bubble. It must generate acceptable results regarding its stated goal: to maximize freedom for everyone. And if it is to do so, then libertarian policies must be rolled out gradually, and only when they do increase freedom in the current society. If we can consistently stick to this plan, libertarianism will become better understood by society, and will be seen as practical and the right thing to do.

Marriage Has Changed, and it's Too Late to Go Back

Once upon a time, marriage always represented a lifelong union. Well, there were exceptions, for example regarding domestic violence, but in more than 95% of cases it lasted for life. Like most pro-marriage people, I have long lamented the change away from this concept in the wider society in the past five or so decades. In the past, I have tried to support everything from divorce reform to denouncing Hollywood celebrities who don't take marriage 'seriously', by our standards. I have even tried to tie my support for marriage equality to a demand that gay and lesbian couples who do marry take marriage 'seriously'. Guess what? None of that worked at all, and all of that was seen as offensive by significant numbers of people.

And I probably should not have expected any differently. Marriage may traditionally have been what we believed it to be, and it may have been that way during our own upbringing because our families were more traditional than many others out there, but for many people the marriage they buy into does come with the option of walking away when they don't like how things turn out. And when we try to uphold 'traditional marriage' by criticising those who have opted into 'modern marriage', we only end up offending many people.

Whilst we may not like how marriage evolved into 'modern marriage', it is a fact of history, and it is something that has already become fact (perhaps even before our generation was born). Whilst we may not like 'modern marriage' very much, it is now a legitimate option, and one that is chosen by many people. We just have to accept it for what it is. To many people out there, 'modern marriage' was always available, and those seeing marriage this way right now effectively just opted into what was already available. They are not responsible for 'cheapening marriage' (that occured long ago), and any movement suggesting that would rightly be seen as offensive.

I guess those wanting to support traditional marriage as it existed before the 1960s should find another term. Some have suggested 'covenant', whilst others have suggested something along the lines of 'lifelong partnership' or 'lifelong marriage'. Whatever we end up choosing, however, we should not aim to expand the new description beyond those who really believe in lifelong commitment, 'for better or for worse'. I believe one reason why marriage became 'modern marriage' was that there was great pressure on couples to get married back in the 1970s and 1980s, when many couples just weren't ready for that commitment, due to the temporary influence of various 'liberation movements' back then. If we let these couples just cohabitate without social pressure, we would have been able to retain the traditional spirit of marriage, ready to become mainstream again perhaps in the more family friendly 1990s. Belief in commitment, like all other traditional values, must never be forced onto an unwilling majority. Otherwise, it will be the traditional value that ends up being subverted, because the majority always wins.