My argument was that the moderates should really be termed the "radicals" or the "purists" because they want a pure form of liberalism rather than one fused with anything conservative.
They reject pluralism. They do not want to balance a range of goods together within a coherent framework. Instead, they insist that there is one overriding good, that of individual autonomy.
This makes them the more ideological wing of the Liberal Party and it means that their social policy will have more radical effects on society, as it means that society has to be reshaped to fit just one primary good.
I quoted one of the leading "moderates" (i.e. purists) Senator George Brandis, in support of my argument. Brandis identifies the one goal as "individual freedom" but he makes it clear that he means "freedom as individual autonomy":
the sovereign idea which inspires our side of politics has always been the same: our belief that the paramount public value is the freedom of the individual ...
the most important single thing we must do is renew our commitment to the freedom of the individual, and restore that commitment to the very centre of our political value system: not one among several competing values, but the core value, from which our world view ultimately derives.
in qualifying the Liberal Party's commitment to the freedom of the individual as its core value, and weighing it against what he often called social cohesion, Howard made a profound departure from the tradition of Deakin and Menzies.
Liberalism ... has such a central guiding principle - respect for the freedom of the individual, his dignity and his autonomy; his right ... to be the architect of his own life [i.e. to be a self-determining, self-creating autonomous individual]
Every one of those reforms extended the bounds of human freedom, gave individual men and women greater autonomy ...
Brandis does not allow for competing values. He is not a fusionist but a liberal purist. As such he is not a moderate liberal but a radical one.
But they like to think of themselves as moderates, and as the "compassionate" liberals, and are treated as such in the media. For instance, when one of the leading "moderates" in the Liberal Party, Petro Georgiou, retired last year, we had letters of praise in the papers such as this:
Farewell Petro, your honesty and compassion to all humans will surely be missed. Here passes the last great 'liberal' leaving the party...
Compassion to all humans? Well, he didn't extend much compassion to the majority of the population when he wrote back in the 1970s:
We as Liberals are committed to encouraging and supporting diversity in our multicultural society. We reject the sterile Anglo-conformity of past days.
Sterile Anglo-conformity of past days? So we are to treat the culture that came before 1970s style multiculturalism as sterile?
That is not a moderate or a compassionate view. It is a radical recasting of society and one which is cold to the consequences for those belonging to the Anglo tradition.
The quote comes from an Andrew Bolt column in today's Herald Sun. Bolt does a good job attacking the claims that Australia was always multicultural, but he himself only puts forward assimilation as an alternative.
Neither option is appealing or coherent. The multiculturalists believe you can have open borders and that the immigrants can all live harmoniously in their own cultural groups. It doesn't work out well. If you put 140 ethnic groups into Melbourne and Sydney, it becomes difficult for a traditional culture to maintain itself. People tend to become deracinated and end up adopting a pop culture lifestyle based on entertainment and consumerism. 140 cultures stuck together effectively means no culture, just shopping malls. You need a bit of distance and continuity to maintain a real cultural tradition.
In Europe the outcome has been even more problematic. There you have Muslim immigrants in large numbers, some of whom express non-liberal values. So the liberals in power decide the solution is to pull the plug on multiculturalism in favour of assimilation.
But can assimilation work? Maybe if numbers were small. But the liberal commitment to open borders means that numbers are constantly growing. So how then is it assumed that there will always be a confident Anglo majority culture for the immigrants to assimilate into? The Anglo population will necessarily lose its confidence as its numbers and its sense of place recedes. As it declines, the newer immigrant groups will lose their desire to assimilate into a culture which is in retreat.
It hasn't been thought through. It's not enough for Bolt to call for assimilation. He needs to rethink the whole liberal framework which has brought about such unworkable options. In particular, he needs to consider why liberals are so ideologically committed to open borders.