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.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Why a Truly Intersectional Feminism must be Liberal

What is intersectional feminism, really? Many feminists seem to be using it as a buzzword, a fashion of the day statement. Many think that, as long as their feminism is inclusive of women of colour and LGBT women, they are practising intersectional feminism. But intersectional feminism is more than a mere gesture of inclusion. Intersectional feminism is actually about emphasizing the fact that all women are not the same, and do not have the same experiences and aspirations in life, because their experience as a woman also intersects and is modified by their other identities. In addition, it demands that mainstream feminism does not ignore or belittle these other identities, or forcibly assimilate women with non-mainstream experiences and aspirations into mainstream feminism’s often narrow focus.

Therefore, the proper practice of intersectional feminism requires us to listen to, understand, and be inclusive of perspectives that can be very different from the expectations of mainstream feminism. There is also no limit to the number of such perspectives that need to be included: while so-called intersectional feminists often pay lip service to including women of colour, they often fail to remember that the experiences of black, Latino, Arab and Asian women could be very different from each other, due to cultural differences. They also fail to remember that the experiences of people cannot even be fully understood and accepted simply by lumping them into groups: for example, a more religious woman and a less religious woman of the same ethnic group may have very different experiences and expectations. To be a true intersectional feminist, one needs to respect and be inclusive of all these different, and often contradictory, perspectives.

Read full article on Medium

The Case for Libertarian Gradualism

The recent interest in libertarianism stems from a desire to reform society to provide more liberty for everyone. However, libertarianism’s critics say that libertarian policies, as they are articulated in the platform of mainstream libertarian parties around the world, will result in less freedom for many people if literally implemeted right now. Those without a job and without any means of production would be forced to take any job available, including sex work, for example. Many also extrapolate the effects of libertarian policies from their hypothetical application to our current society, and conclude that such policies will lead to rampant corporate capitalism with a large slave-like underclass. Some even conclude that libertarianism allows for the effective reinvention of slavery, or would otherwise lead to neoreactionary societies.

Would a pro-liberty policy platform potentially lead to such illiberal effects? Libertarians themselves generally say no. They say that the current rampant corporate capitalism and economic inequality is a result of centuries of past government action, and that by removing government intervention things will somehow automatically return to their normal functioning within a reasonable timeframe. In an ideal libertarian society, the kind of capitalism that will prevail will be small business entrepreneurship, and the American Dream would be in reach for the average person again.

So which camp is right?

Read full article on Newslogue

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Make Liberalism Great Again: a 6 Step Plan

This is going to be tough, but now that Donald Trump is president, there is no time to waste.

Following the publication of my previous article Donald Trump’s Victory is a Failure of Liberalism, I have been asking for and receiving responses. One of the most common problems I found with the reception of my argument was that there was much confusion about what liberalism was. Furthermore, a common response was simply that the word ‘liberalism’ means nothing these days. How sad. If we don’t have a good understanding of liberalism, liberty will never prevail. We would be doomed to an eternity of different Donald Trumps, some of the Right, some of the Left.
We need to start fixing things NOW.

Liberalism simply means for liberty. Anyone or anything that is for liberty is liberal. Anyone or anything that is against liberty is illiberal. It’s as simple as that. Liberalism is a very powerful ideology, because liberty is a powerful force.

It’s time to Make Liberalism Great Again. It’s time to Put Liberty First again. It’s humanity’s only hope now.

So how do we do that, exactly? Here are some suggestions. Note that most are not politically correct: you have been warned.

Read full article on Newslogue

Why (and How) Real Intersectional Feminism Must Challenge the Overton Window

The recent rise of intersectional feminism is indeed encouraging, both from a whole of humanity perspective and from a personal perspective, as an Asian woman. But there are a few questions I must ask. Firstly, is intersectional feminism as practiced right now truly intersectional enough? Secondly, why wasn’t feminism intersectional from the beginning? Thirdly, will feminism continue to be more and more intersectional with time, or is it all just a passing fad?

I have been thinking about these questions. And I realized that they all have a common theme: the Overton Window.

Read full article on Newslogue

Saturday, May 13, 2017

In defense of Choice Feminism

Recently, it seems that it has become fashionable to attack “choice feminism,” i.e. the kind of feminism that is about empowering women to make choices. “Choice feminism” is variously described as having a focus on the middle class — a product that is by and for white women only, and so on. The kind of choices that “choice feminism” has given women has also been trivialized, along the lines of what to have for lunch and what brand of cosmetics to use. Reading all this has made me really concerned, because it is unfair, ahistorical, and indeed, dangerous.

“Choice feminism,” or liberal feminism as it should properly be called, is all about striving for any woman to have the same rights, same opportunities and same respect as any man.

Historically, it has also been the most successful branch of feminism. Liberal feminism was largely responsible for many gains of the last century, including voting rights, education rights and more equal pay at work. This success was due to several reasons.

Read full article on The Hit Job

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Identity politics can make us a more liberal or less liberal society. It’s our choice.

Identity politics has traditionally been associated with left wing politics. However, recently some have observed that a new, right wing type of identity politics has emerged, around the identities of conservative white, heterosexual men. This kind of identity politics has been fuelling nationalist movements around the Western world. As a result, many feel that this kind of identity politics is working to make our societies more authoritarian, and less liberal. This has made many on the left re-evaluate the usefulness of identity politics.

In truth, nationalism is actually the earliest form of identity politics. There is indeed nothing new about an identity politics based in shared ethnicity and traditional culture. And nationalism has seldomly been liberal. Nationalist movements, by definition, are at least partially about exclusion. Nationalist movements throughout history have often had a racist undertone to them, and sexism and homophobia were often fellow travellers too.

On the other hand, history has also shown us that identity politics is not always exclusionary. Liberal feminism is perhaps the best example of an identity politics movement that has not been exclusionary. Although women have been the main beneficiaries of this women, men have also been lifted out of their rigid gender roles and expectations. Liberal feminism has also given society many great voices, great minds, and great ideas, through the increasing participation of women in the public sphere.

So what’s so different between xenophobic nationalism and liberal feminism?

Read full article on The Hit Job

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Exclusionary Identity Politics Poses a Danger to us all. And yes, Feminism is At Risk too.

Feminism has often been upheld as a successful identity politics movement, in the ongoing debate about the constructiveness or otherwise of identity politics. After all, feminism is a successful identity politics movement that has changed the world for the better, and not just for women. Although women have been the main beneficiaries of this women, men have also been lifted out of their rigid gender roles and expectations. Liberal feminism has also given society many great voices, great minds, and great ideas, through the increasing participation of women in the public sphere. Mainstream, liberal feminism is also generally agreed to be not too divisive, and has not threatened the cohesiveness of society while successfully delivering much needed social change.

Feminism and other identity politics movements have traditionally been associated with liberal or left-wing politics. However, recently some have observed that a new, right wing type of identity politics has emerged, around the identities of conservative white, heterosexual men. This kind of identity politics has been fuelling nationalist movements around the Western world. Nationalist movements, by definition, are at least partially about exclusion. Nationalist movements throughout history have often had a racist undertone to them, and sexism and homophobia were often fellow travellers too. As a result, many feel that this kind of identity politics is working to make our societies more authoritarian, and less liberal. This has made many on the left re-evaluate the usefulness of identity politics.

In any re-evaluation of identity politics in the era of the rising alt-right, the most important (and most feared) question would naturally be, are all identity politics movements capable of turning over to the 'dark side', i.e. becoming illiberal and exclusionary like the alt-right? And I am afraid that the answer is yes. There is no logical reason why the exclusionary attitudes of the identity politics of white, heterosexual men cannot also apply to the identity politics of any other group, given the right circumstances. And yes, feminism is potentially vulnerable too.

Read full article on Newslogue

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Donald Trump's Victory is a Failure of Liberalism: Longer Article

I have written a longer version of my February article, Donald Trump's Victory is a Failure of Liberalism.

It is available in these places:

On NewsLogue
On Medium

Saturday, April 8, 2017

It would be Very Dangerous to Trivialize Religious Freedom

Religious freedom has recently become the favourite cause of those opposed to LGBT rights, in the US and other Western countries. Many commentators have highlighted this tactic's potentially devastating effect on LGBT lives, and unsurprisingly, these 'religious freedom' efforts are generally opposed by those supportive of LGBT lives (including myself). However, I am also equally concerned that this whole exercise may lead to the trivialization of religious freedom, with dangerous consequences for all.

Religious freedom by definition requires allowing religious freedom to follow the religious doctrine of their belief, to share that belief where they see fit, and to live their lives according to that belief. Anything less would not be true religious freedom. Therefore, I believe few would argue against the idea that religious freedom would mean a freedom to continue to subscribe to and promote the ideal of 'traditional marriage', even where marriage equality is legal. Even somebody as staunchly pro marriage equality as myself can support this point.

However, many recent 'religious freedom' initiatives are about entirely different things. For example, what does making life hard for trans people via bathroom bills have to do with religious freedom at all? What kind of religious freedom does deliberately putting statist barriers in front of gay couples wishing to adopt promote? (I'm not talking about exempting churches from gay adoption here.) And how exactly do anti-discrimination laws requiring equality in employment hurt religious freedoms? I'm not aware that religious doctrine demands gay employees be fired from secular jobs, after all. These initiatives, all of which are clearly not required for religious freedom but definitely make life hard for LGBT people, have served to trivialize or even demonize religious freedom in the eyes of many people.

And what happens when religious freedom is no longer held in high regard? We are already seeing it in some parts of the world, where certain religious dress or even the construction of certain religious building have been banned. Or where health care workers are forced to take part in abortions they do not believe in. And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Donald Trump Victory Lesson: Solidarity

This is a series of articles about learning lessons from Donald Trump's victory, and how to re-invigorate liberalism in the current situation.

While I am a liberal and this is a liberal blog, in this entry we will examine the leftist idea of solidarity, because I believe it holds one of the keys to Donald Trump's victory.

The left has traditionally valued, as one of its highest goals, solidarity. The term originated in workers' socialist circles, where it referred to the solidarity of workers over their economic conditions. These were one group of people with a simple, common goal. Of course there could be some solidarity, agree with them or not.

Yet the new left we have today is a different animal. It staunchly supports many non-economic goals, sometimes even taking precedence over their economic goals. Their agenda includes environmentalism, refugee rights, marriage equality, perhaps abolishing marriage altogether, some form of feminism (but it surely isn't liberal feminism), support for Palestine, affirmative action, abortion rights, animal rights, and more. I personally support some of these and oppose some of these, and I guess it's the same for most people. How can there be solidarity on all these issues, anyway? Environmentalists will find solidarity amongst environmentalists, but supporters of marriage equality do not always find solidarity with environmentalists, and vice versa, for example.

Rather than creating solidarity, the new left's demand that people support all their agenda, no ifs ands or buts, has destroyed solidarity and caused division in society. And while solidarity originated in socialist circles, you don't have to be left wing to realise that society does need a bit of solidarity around the idea that we are all in this together, to solve our common problems and crises. However, with the new left insisting on their program and for it to be implemented by government force, politicians and political parties have been divided along lines of social issues, making this solidarity impossible. So, in 2016, some people trusted Clinton, some trusted Trump, and some trusted Sanders, despite having similar concerns. And in the end, those who trusted Trump simply had the numbers, even though Trump was probably the most divisive of all. This is a climate that rewards those who can exploit the division.

So what will restore the solidarity society once had? Liberty for all is the answer. Just like in my Princess's Spirit novels, people can agree to disagree, but still come together to defend liberty and solve common problems. In the modern day and age, there may not be able to be a unity around a common culture or common views, and any attempt to do so, like the new-left is trying, will only create even more division. However, there can certainly be a unity in liberty. And it's our only hope.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Donald Trump Victory Lesson: The Emerging Liberal Majority: Will It Happen After All?

This is a series of articles about learning lessons from Donald Trump's victory, and how to re-invigorate liberalism in the current situation.

In the later Obama years, many American progressives were optimistic that a permanent Democratic majority, made up of young people and minorities, was emerging. They believed they owned the future, because the demographics favor them. In fact, they expected the Republicans to start having difficulty winning elections starting from 2016.

Ever since Donald Trump's win, this theory has been questioned. Perhaps that is due to most people being short-sighted to the point of thinking that the present is always predictive of the future. For example, while in Obama's America dreams of a permanent progressive majority were being made, during the same period in Australia under the conservative Tony Abbott, no progressive commentator thought something like that may happen in Australia too. Perhaps now America is in the position Australia was in three years ago, at least psychologically.

A balanced prediction of the future should not be influenced by psychological factors like who is in government right now. Rather, it should be based on real, long-term evidence. And right now, the evidence seems to be mixed. A recent analysis showed that, while the proportion of young, presumably liberal-minded voters and minority voters is ever increasing, there have also been trends towards a slightly increasing share of these voters going Republican in each mid-term election since 2006. Overall, it appears that while the Democrats may have a future demographic advantage, it doesn't look as assured as some people may think.

Knowing the statistics outlining trends is one thing, but we also have to know the reasons behind these trends. Right now, I would say we need further research to determine those reasons precisely. But from my own experience, I believe one important factor is that American liberals have become less liberal in recent years. Under the influence of the social justice warrior mindset, American progressives have increasingly embraced restrictions on free speech and freedom of conscience, and many young people and minority voters have simply had enough. In last year's election, some young adults said they would vote for Trump just to combat political correctness, with many of these voters previously voting Democratic or Libertarian.

It is perhaps still too early to say whether the emerging liberal majority will happen or not. But I believe this is actually in the hands of liberals. The age of statist conservatism is over, in any case. People no longer want government social engineering, and will support whichever side that offers the least. If liberals go back to their roots and embrace liberty and equality, the support will come. If, however, so-called liberal progressives show that they are just as authoritarian as Donald Trump but only in the opposite direction, then more and more people will become fed up.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Challenge on Trump Travel Bans shows State Rights are actually Liberal too

It has long been said that state rights are a bastion of conservatism, something that liberals and progressives don't believe in. While states' rights have favored conservative policies in some instances, I have never understood why this should be a general rule. After all, libertarianism, a branch of liberalism, also supports state rights.

The Trump administration's travel bans have served to highlight this. When the federal government overreaches, in any given direction, it's better for the states to be able to challenge them. State rights are ultimately a protector of liberty, when the federal government does not take liberty seriously. Centralization, on the other hand, has always been among the favorite tools of authoritarians.

Of course, state rights have been invoked against marriage equality and anti-segregation laws too. But that's the fault of authoritarianism, not the fault of states' rights itself. For example, in Australia, marriage laws can only be changed by the federal government, resulting in exactly zero states having marriage equality at the moment. In a truly liberal society, individual rights should trump collectivist designs, whether state or federal. But that's another issue altogether.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Donald Trump's Victory is a Failure of Liberalism

Ever since Donald Trump's victory last year, there have been many theories flying around: that people don't take feminism seriously, that people actually want some protectionism, that Hillary Clinton was seen as too establishment, that many voters are racist and would therefore love to see mass deportations, etc. While I won't go into the individual merits of these arguments, I think they all miss the central point.

Donald Trump won because liberalism failed.

Liberalism has been forgetting its roots for many years now, and ever since the advent of the religious right vs the social justice warriorism this has only accelerated. So-called liberal progressives have begun embracing things like limiting people's freedom of speech and conscience, in the name of social justice. While traditional liberalism has sought to end racism, sexism and homophobia via civil rights, anti-discrimination laws and rational discourse, social justice warriors have embraced more coercive and social engineering methods, like enforcing a level of political correctness similar to that found in 1984. Meanwhile, ever since the Bush era, the traditionally small-government right wing, under the increasing influence of religious right, have increasingly favoured an intrusive Christian state over a libertarian state.

The sensible center of liberty and mutual respect, freedom of conscience, limitation on government intrusion and rational discourse has been abandoned. The political field has become more and more like a choice between different tribes of authoritarians. Against this backdrop, Donald Trump's authoritarianism has become nothing unusual, and is simply another choice. If the other versions of authoritarianism have failed, why not give Trump's version a go?

Right now, many liberals and progressives are fearing that Trump will use his authority to roll back women's rights and LGBT rights and initiate mass deportations. And their fears do have plenty of ground. But just one year ago, many of the same people, perhaps believing that the Democrats will be forever in government, thought that the government was their friend and one of the most important weapons in their fight to change the world.

The lesson? Authoritarianism is only good until you are the one being oppressed. Liberty is the only reliable friend.