To sustain a properly functioning society we need more than just social freedoms and the free marketby Will Self / September 17, 2018 / Leave a comment
Not a day goes by without further frontline despatches from the war between our established liberal ideology and the strange new realities that body-forth from the future. Taking today—the one on which I sat down to write this article—as representative, I found in my morning bulletins a report about how the US Constitution’s vaunted separation of powers—personified by Special Counsel, Robert Mueller—was leading inexorably to the indictment, and hence removal, of “rogue” President Donald Trump. Then there was an item about the minister for women, whose public musings about the rise in the numbers of young people applying for gender-reassignment therapies were being taken as prima facie evidence that she doubted the authenticity of trans people’s claims to be gender dysphoric.
Also trending was an opinion piece bemoaning the fake polarisation of British politics. The writer pointed out that the issues surrounding our imminent departure from the EU are being inadequately debated by our main political parties. Both Labour and the Tories, argued the writer, would prefer to concentrate on internal power struggles as different factions attempt to tar each other with illiberalism, whether that be anti-Semitism or Islamophobia.
As for news of liberalism that could be summarised without the prefix “ill,” there was little that was reassuring. Only an item suggesting that the Liberal Democrats’ revolving-door leader, Vince Cable, would probably exit for good once the UK had left the EU, given that the party’s commitment to remain—its sole raison d’être since the 2016 referendum—will no longer be relevant.
And yet the only terms within which we seem able to discuss all this news are those provided by liberalism itself. The dark vortex of Labour’s stormy political summer has revolved around whether or not it is “racist” to call somebody else’s country “a racist endeavour.” It’s taken as read by both sides that “racist” is the most terrible epithet you can attach to someone or something; and while the combatants seem to be reverting to pre-liberal (as much as illiberal) attitudes, the bricks they sling are still moulded from liberal mud.
Certainly, Francis Fukuyama may have incorrectly predicted, in his 1989 essay “The End of History?” that the fall of the Soviet Union would herald an era of world-girdling liberal democracy, but he…