Saturday, August 02, 2014

Liberals and conservatives

Every day Facebook provides me with a stream of vehement denunciations of Republicans and conservatives in general. I basically agree with these critiques, yet they make no dent on the mindset of the 40% or so of the population that clings to these beliefs. As a rule, the critiques fail to address the concerns, real or not, that conservatives have about liberal social engineering, the debt, immigration, gun control, and so forth. I certainly do not endorse Margaret Thatcher's apparent conviction that reality itself is conservative. Still, these liberal excoriations reveal a basic unwillingness even to try to understand. And that is not helpful.

Now that I have turned off just about everyone, let me proffer a view that is even more controversial. That is, that the incoherence of today's liberalism makes it difficult, perhaps impossible to counter the appeal of conservatism among its remaining adherents. Perhaps incoherence is the wrong word: better might be pluralism - a pluralism that accords, or may accord with today's complex society. 

Let us step back a bit, to the Fabian program of 100 years ago, which postulated that society can and should take a series of incremental steps towards greater fairness, equality, and compassion. And indeed it has taken these steps, to our universal benefit - no doubt about that. Yet the task of reform is almost done. In my view the ACA was an advance of this kind, but it needs to be replaced with single-payer. 

After that, though, what? The liberal establishment will have to attend to two things: defending the gains that have been won (not always an easy task); and arbitrating between the competing claims of the various interest groups that make up the Democratic Party (that is what pluralism means). Both of these challenges can probably be managed, but the task is not very inspiring.


Post a Comment

<< Home