Illiberal Means for Liberal Ends: Low-Road Challenge to Liberal Public Discourse and International Relations

09 September 2020, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


An influential strain of liberal thought demonizes certain groups and viewpoints as enemies of liberty, and supports restrictions on individual rights to further liberal ends. The use of illiberal and authoritarian means for ostensibly liberal ends, what Michael Doyle terms ‘low road’ liberalism, is embraced by self-described rights proponents in both the political right and left, and among key democratic states in Europe, North America and East Asia. Low-road ideology justifies, and habituates the public to, an ever-expanding set of illiberal practices that undermine open, rational public discourse. Our essay shall analyze low-road politics and practices in various contexts (especially in US and South Korea) and how they can be countered. We focus on two, transnational human rights campaigns: the mostly right-liberal (rightist), US-led campaign against North Korea, and the left-liberal, South Korean-led campaign against Japan.


Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.