Wednesday 5 September 2018

The rapid demise of Liberalism

In watching the disgrace that is the demonstrations outside the Labour HQ tomorrow justifying anti-semitism and seeing how the moderate Labour types are doing nothing, I felt sadness.

The same sadness that I feel when I view the Government actions on Brexit where they are unable to follow any road other than the muddle through middle - the road to nowhere.

Why does this tell me that liberalism failed? Well when I was a young man, I studied and believed in neo-liberalism. It had after all just finished off the communist threat without a major world war. Something of a first for the 20th century.

But liberalism was also in the West, a move of the overton window to the centre-right. Left wing Marxism and social democratic ideas were co-opted in small amounts into the State, but Reagan, Thatcher and Kohl were confident to promote free markets and free countries.

In the 1990's in the UK, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton fought back from the left by basically being centre right politicians, but from the centre left and re-infecting the US and UK with a limited amount of Marxist thinking.

Liberalism  - freedom of people to worship, to consume with options generated by markets, freedom to vote, to own property and to speak freely is everywhere imperilled by the spread of Marxist ideology. Marxism denies gods, limits consumption, agitates against property ownership and finally denies free speech if it is critical of Marxist ideology.

In truth, Blair and Clinton were not trying in any way to destroy liberalism - after all much of it appealed to them personally. But what has come since is deeply troubling.

Firstly in 2008 we had a huge recession, caused in the main by untrammelled use of Capital by big banks and weak or complicit Governments (complicit in the UK for tax revenues). here the freedom to consume and the use of markets was challenged - both because incomes fell and because markets could be seen to have failed.

In the UK from 2003 liberalism has been undermined too by mass immigration. Much of what is now the craziness of political correctness is derived from the beginnings of identity politics. Blair was keen on immigration for cultural and political reasons. He decried those opposed as racist - so began in a formal way the launch of identity politics into Western life. Now, the freedom to speak freely was undermined and the freedom to vote was also undermined by a lack of alternatives who opposed immigration. This in turn had been a side effect of the growth of the EU which pushed the mass immigration agenda and itself was totally undemocratic. There was not way to oppose politically the Liberal elite.

Finally, the last shibboleth, the freedom to worship was challenged in the West by the rapid rise of Islam due to immigration and its idiotic Middle Eastern policies which appeased the spread of Wahhabism by Saudi Arabia whilst at the same time attacking secular Iraq and funding radical groups which would become Al-Qaeda and ISIS in later decades. Political Islam cannot work inside a Liberal democracy they are competing not complimentary ideologies, much as Marxism cannot be aligned with Liberalism.

So by the mid-2010's we had reached a point where all the key elements of Liberalism were discredited. So we saw a rejection of the 'liberalist' centre across the West and the rise of two new competing ideologies to replace it. The first a populist explosion, based on trying to redeem the benefits of liberalism from its failure - in the UK, UKIP railed against immigration and restrictions on freedom of speech. In the US, Trump railed against speech restrictions but also the legacy economic damage of 2008. On the Left, Marxism discovered that identity politics was a like for like replacement for the core principle of class warfare. With this update to Leninist thought in place, a new attack from the Left could begin - if by accident with Jeremy Corbyn and by design with Bernie Saunders.

So now, here we are in 2018 and all I read are rubbish hand-wringing stories about the Labour Moderates and Tory remainers and their respective woes. Their day is done, there is nothing to go back to as they betrayed and destroyed their core value proposition. The new right and left will fight it out for the political future - but the idea that stupid people will somehow realise how wrong they are and come home to the 'centre.'

They won't, the centre did not hold and now does not exist - even as the successors thrash out their new positions so inadequately in public.


Bill Quango MP said...

Very Dark CU!

I wouldn't say Liberalism is gone forever. There are numerous long historic, twentieth and twenty first century examples of the unlikely, or impossible occurring.

The original great financial disaster of 1929, appeared to those living through it, and with the fallout from it, as the end of democracy itself. Fascism or communism was the new answer for the world.

Earlier, the American continent separated into civil war.The end of America. It survived. As it did when the social unrest and fallout from Vietnam came along.
In the UK only a lunatic should look at our appalling age of state managed decline of the 1970s and think full on socialism would be a good idea. But it's back in fashion.

Labour, Tories and Liberals were reduced to a single seat each in Scotland. Queen Sturgeon was undisputed ruler of a new, national-socialist Scotland. One parliament later and already she is in decline.

The German empire, defeated terribly, twice is still going strong. While the Austro-Hungarians have gone.
You never know what will happen.
If anything, the blips in recent sociology-economic history, ARE Thatcher and Regan and Trump.
Everyone else at the top table is either a lefty social democrat. A gangster. Or a kleptocratic dictator.

hovis said...

To my eye this is essentially the fruition of at least 40-60 years of post war policy.

I would put the roots much earlier of where we are much earlier. The loss of shared values (let’s call that culture for the moment),the rise of identity politics, large scale immigration, and the rise of consumer culture having its roots in so late. The rise of the cult of “efficiency” (without asking for whom) and no expounded vision of what is desired. We have seen the diabolical pact between State, Corporates and those who now might be referred to SJWs. Not forgetting of course technological change which has supported this and the atomisation.

For me 2008 was merely the reveal, showing the result of a direction of travel.

So Liberalism dead – in the main, yes. It requires a common world view that no longer exists in a wide enough or robust enough fashion.

Finally O/T I am always disappointed that the long tradition of English Radicalism from the Lollards, John Lillburne, Tom Paine and William Cobbett has been eviserated in the modern day including by those that might pretend to be its inheritors.

Nick Drew said...

I don't have a particularly neat thesis on this, but

(a) it's noteworthy that the start of serious immigration ("Commonwealth immigration" as opposed to episodic waves of huguenots etc) was in the 1950s, basically with the aim of keeping wages down in the teeth of pretty well-entrenched, I'm-all-right-jack, none-too-doctrinaire unions

(b) it would probably be usual to see enlightenment-style rationality as part & parcel of most strains of Liberalism. But rationality is seriously in decline in the US further education system (signs of this here also, but nothing like as bad); and such enclaves of proper scholarship as exist are clearly on the defensive. The legal system is evidently being lined up for elimination of rationality, too (my note on the Law of Natural Justice the other day)

We know where this can end (even if, per BQ, it's not inevitable)

Anonymous said...

Hovis said: " I am always disappointed that the long tradition of English Radicalism from the Lollards, John Lillburne, Tom Paine and William Cobbett has been eviscerated in the modern day including by those that might pretend to be its inheritors."

The English socialist tradition is very different from Marxism. In particular, it emphasises liberty and free speech, which Marxists abhor (as do the faithful of other religions). I think Orwell was well aware of this.

We have relaxed our vigilance.

Don Cox

dearieme said...

"The English socialist tradition... emphasises liberty and free speech": when was that? Not in my lifetime that I ever noticed. Maybe it died with Orwell.

Anonymous said...

"(a) it's noteworthy that the start of serious immigration ("Commonwealth immigration" as opposed to episodic waves of huguenots etc) was in the 1950s, basically with the aim of keeping wages down in the teeth of pretty well-entrenched, I'm-all-right-jack, none-too-doctrinaire unions"

I wish my parents had emigrated.

The response to the unions was to destroy our civilisation, in particular England's. A complete and utter over reaction but indicative of the spiteful nature of our class divide, which does not seem to operate in Australia, New Zealand nor Canada.

The greatest reason for leaving England in Wanted Down Under is "I'll actually get to see my kids !"

Only in Britain is it a crime to get paid a decent wage.

If my grandparents could see this country today they would agree with me and we're only part way down the slippery slope. If this really is the best Tory party we can get then I can see nothing that's going to stop it.

hovis said...

@ND - Funny you mentioned the Huguenots, they were on my mind as the standard false we've always had immigration meme. As you said never the numbers. However to go there would have taken me off for hours into related and tangential topics.

@Don Cox - Yes I'd agree. Personally I view the Radical tradition as Social but not the Socialism as we see it today after the term has been captured and twisted by Marxists and related hangers on.

Raedwald said...

The roots go back to the stsrt of the 20th century. An east-end Jewish immigrant orphan, Margolis, who became Arthur Seldon, co-founder with Ralph Harris of the IEA, saw how poor people maintained their precious independence. Sixpence a week on funeral insurance, a shoe box of policies, Friendly societies, mutuals, co-operatives and above all a strong sense of self-and mutual responsibility for all those in the same boat. Sterling qualities that were the spine of the nation. What happened?

Socialism and war.

Socialism that feared a bloody minded and independent working class and sought to ensnare it in Welfare slavery, in bondage to a munificent State; Harris wrote

"Collectivists (we didn't always say socialists; there are collectivists from all parties) are people who believe in free-range chickens but not in free-range people. There is this underlying contempt for other people and this assumption of superiority by the collectivist individual, who thinks that liberty is too good for ordinary people to use or misuse."

And then of course Whitehall. Two wars and the most radical centralising legislation the nation had known in a thousand years put Whitehall in charge - and when peace came, they couldn't bear to give up power. We still have Great War laws on the ststute books, hidden in subsequent Acts. Even now they seek to increase central command and control, at great inefficiency and hugs public cost.

An alliance between a ruthless and grasping Whitehall, the collectivist corpus and a media that by its nature supported and encouraged both effectively killed the benign influence of classic Liberalism. Burke, Smith and the giants of the first and second enlightenments ditched in favour of Gramsci, moral relativity and multiculti.

And yes - would that John Lilburne were alive today. It really does feel like the 17th century, with a rise in 'populist' consciousness and awareness against a remote, wealthy and powerful Carlist elite.

Anonymous said...

Well said Raedweld - lets bring back the poor and their shoebox of policies.

That's what this country needs - more poor

Raedwald said...

Anon 7.21 - Thanks for the attempted irony, but you've missed the point - it's Welfarism that traps people in poverty, not Liberalism. Margolis and Harris didn't describe themselves as poor so much as being without much money but fearful of the State alternative to not being able to care for oneself - the workhouse. A culture of self-help, mutual aid and self improvement, had it been allowed to flourish, together with Grammar Schools and laissez-faire capitalism, would have given us an empowered people and a saving of hundreds of billions on the tax bill.

Instead we've got a system that Hayek described as the Road to Serfdom.

Tony Harrison said...

"..the idea that stupid people will somehow realise how wrong they are and come home to the 'centre."
I've come across this personally: I stopped voting Tory years ago, sometime in the early to mid '90s, from disgust at that Party's incompetence, loss of nerve, cowardly flight toward soggy social democracy, really bad leaders, etc... I've had Tories bemoan my having voted UKIP (or not at all, when there was no worthwhile candidate) and insist that if only I stayed true blue things would get better. They didn't, of course, despite all those Tory loyalists. In 2010 I engaged in argument with Tories who insisted that although Cameron did seem a bit iffy, remarkably reluctant to come up with solid Conservative policies, he'd "come good" as PM. He didn't, of course.
What is this "centre" anyway? The Tories claim to be "centre right" - a phrase that curdles the coffee in my stomach with its queasy self-assurance of innate decency and being above all that nasty foreign extremism... The quisling-right website ConHome describes its alignment as "centre right", which is sufficiently damning in itself.
There is no "centre", properly speaking, for me to come home to. I've felt alienated from my country's politics for a long time, now more than ever: the choice between a May-led Tory Party and Corbyn's crazed Marx Bros is so grotesque it's best considered as unreal, not worth paying attention to. Pass me a G&T.

Anonymous said...

I will not vote for May.
I will not vote for someone who talks tough on Brexit whilst actively undermining her own self.
Her words are as empty as Cameron's when he said he would not pay the additional EU bill for doing well. Billions of Euros. And he said, he will not pay this bill.
Then paid it just long enough later for the headline fury to have died down.

May is the same. But worse.

Thud said...

I would I imagine be considered by many to be 'hard right' but have always and still am, willing to accept a govt of the centre, surely I'm not alone in this?

Anon 7:21 said...


Whilst I may agree with the thrust of your argument, it would be a better argument if it were front facing rather than a rear view version. The policies of previous generations may have fitted the circumstances then but are no solution to the workless future that beckons.

We've reached peak work and no amount of rearranging legislation or bandying outdated theories with address globalisation and the growth of IA.

There is a signlictant amount of self-help / self-organisation going on using the internet and social media. It is no longer parachoical or race-specific. We are all members of virtual self-help groups in one way or another.

Throw away the Industrial Age theories and assess the effects of a tilt towards the growing SE Asian influence - and how to deal with that. The West and its political/economics IA theories are all but dead

CityUnslicker said...

Great comments all.

I did miss the effect of social media having a strongly centrifugal force on politics - forcing by its toxic nature people to seek out the extremes and revel in them.

As to whether liberalism can recover, I don't see it myself at the moment. Perhaps in 10-15 years it will change, perhaps the high-risk chancers who think a Corbyn Government will be so bad as to revive centre politics again could be right...maybe, or, um maybe not (on that argument, Stalin would have been followed by a Ghandi figure.

For me personally, Liberalism does not provide the answers to the questions posed today. Free market and free movement of people, EU style is an unmitigated disaster. Free speech has a long war ahead of it against identity politics. Free trade, up against mercantilist china, and gloablisation is, it turns out, pretty shit for a Western economy over the decades.

For validation of this currently - what are the 'centre' policies of Labour that a new party could create that voters would flock to? Where and what are they? Answer there is none, because the soft left liberal solutions do not provide meaningful answers to the questions facing the country and culture currently.

Adam from Barnsley said...

I believe in a free market economy where there is competition and monopolies are prevented.
The reason why I hate the Tories is because they don't believe in this and want to make the rich richer.
Shutting profitable coal mines and creating privatised monopolies e. g. water boards, national grid, public transport.
Admitted, everyone except the poor could buy shares in BA, BG, BT. This is the not the case for most UK privatisations, where public assets are sold for half it's value, where the public could not buy, then asset stripped and prices set sky high.
The reason Corbyn is so 'antisemitic' is due to the press not being Liberal i. e. nearly all right wing.

Anonymous said...

"the freedom to speak freely was undermined and the freedom to vote was also undermined by a lack of alternatives who opposed immigration"

There were alternatives who opposed immigration. That's why our elites gave them as hard a time as possible, including things like denying them bank accounts. The definition of a "Nazi" has moved in 55 years from Colin Jordan (who probably qualified) to Nigel Farage.

Anonymous said...

Adam - Corbyn's not antisemitic (lots of Jews incl Orthodox were out supporting him last week), he's just agnostic/neutral in the Israel/Palestine conflict.

That alone, that above all, that all the time.

Anonymous said...

"(on that argument, Stalin would have been followed by a Ghandi figure."

It's spelt "Gandhi", which means "grocer" in Hindi. Also, you need to close brackets at the end of your analogy.

Gandhi himself was a Hindu nationalist, whose "peaceful" agitation caused severe inter-communal violence, and eventually led to the partition of India, with over a million deaths. Not to mention successive wars between the component parts of the sub-continent.

Stalin was quite a fan of his methods.