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To what extent do new social movements represent a challenge to established ways of conducting liberal democratic policies?

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Mark McDonald, Tutor: Mr. D. Harrigan College: Van Mildert To what extent do new social movements represent a challenge to established ways of conducting liberal democratic policies? In order to understand the extent of the challenge posed by new social movements to liberal democratic policy and the ways in which they are conducted one must first understand what these policies entail. These policies or principles are listed by Goodwin as: 1. Supremacy of the people. 2. Consent of the governed as the basis of legitimacy. 3. The rule of law: peaceful methods of conflict resolution. 4. The existence of the common good or public interest, 5. The value of the individual as a rational moral active citizen. 6. Equal rights for all individuals.1 The modern day concept of a liberal democracy is based on the liberalist movement of the philosophers of the eighteenth century. However the advent of past social has resulted in challenges to the ways in which liberal democracy has been and is conducted over the intervening years since that time; the suffrage movement and the American civil rights movement against segregation are two such examples. These movements were successful because those in power allowed them to succeed (admittedly with some reluctance). ...read more.


The method has been perceived by those who supported the groups to be ineffectual and so the groups have become more extreme in there methods which has in turn led the liberal governments to remove even more of the liberty of peoples. The reason given for this is that it will protect the majority and prevent the "terrorists" from causing havoc. One must note that it was only through the liberal democratic process that other movements have succeeded in their aims. This suggests that more recent movements will only truly succeed if they to engage in the current systems. However, this could be perceived as a possible paradox: the people are alienated and so they turn to fringe groups in order to vent their frustration, the only groups which succeed are those which engage in the current systems, but people don't vote (due to an alienation with the current system) so the fringe groups find it hard to gain influence in the political system. I feel the only way to solve this threat is to increase the political awareness of the voting public so that they may express their views and engage. ...read more.


Additionally I feel if people were able to realize their true power then they would be able to make a bigger impact upon the governments with which they seem so alienate. The targets of the groups appear to have been capitalist imperialism and injustice (i.e. the pentagon, and the world trade centre, and more recently the HSBC) these targets are not based in countries which actively educate their citizens in the political and philosophical fields such as France and Germany. I feel this shows that with a greater awareness of differing political views people will be more tolerant. The governments of some western nations are planning to introduce such lessons. One might hope that these are successful in order to counter the current situation wherein alienation has led to the support of new movements and it is ignorance of the individuals power which has led to the alienation. 1 Using political ideas, Goodwin, 1997 pp272 2 Political ideologies An introduction, 3rd edition 2003, Andrew Heywood, pp 21-22 3 Michael Moore, Dude where's my country, 1st ed 2003, pp165-167 4 Michael Moore, Dude where's my country? 1st edition 2003, pp95-100 5 Paul Berman, Terror and Liberalism, 1st edition 2003 ...read more.

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