The liberal perspective assumes that the primary actors in a society are individuals, and thus there are politics designed to appeal to individuals. Two of these kinds of politics are symbolic and informational politics, and I find that I have been influenced by these aspects: the recent flotilla controversy with Israel has been an examples of symbolic politics that has moved me, and informational politics regarding whaling in the Pacific Ocean has caused me to pay more attention to that issue.
The Israeli blockade preventing the movement of supplies into the Gaza became the center of controversy last may when video footage of a raid on a group of a flotilla seeking to bring aid to Palestinians was raided (Haaretz 2010). The people in the boats broadcast to news outlets nearly as the raid was happening. The raid itself was a small example of the steps that Israel has taken to blockade the Gaza Strip, but I was so struck by the brutality of the images that I have become a greater supporter of the Palistinian state and am skeptical that the Israeli government is working for peace. This is an excellent example of symbolic politics at work.
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An example of informational politics at work is Greenpeace’s work to protect whales from Japanese and Norwegian whalers. Many people think that whaling no longer takes place, but Greenpeace has worked hard to keep this issue in the minds of people through blogs like the Defending Whales Blog (http://weblog.greenpeace.org/whales/) and other outreach. From this kind of politics I’ve learned that the Japanese government is allowing commercial whaling at a scale that hasn’t been seen in years (Greenpeace 2006). Because of this outreach I will pay more attention to the whaling issue in the future, and I will possibly make a contribution to Greenpeace.
Symbolic and informational politics are important tools for liberal politics to sway the opinions of individuals. These two examples are ways in which these types of politics swayed me.
Greenpeace (2006). “Greenpeace Tells Companies Behind Whale Hunt That Whaling is Bad for Business.” European Cetean Bycatch Campaign. Retrieved from: http://www.eurocbc.org/whaling_bad_for_company_business_03feb2006page1850.html
Haaretz Service (2010). “Video: Israel Navy Troops Storming Gaza Flotilla.” Haaretz. Retrieved from: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/video-israel-navy-troops-storming-gaza-flotilla-1.293380