And it's a good attack. But the problem is that the author, Lyle H. Rossiter, hasn't broken cleanly with liberalism himself. He stands by principles that are clearly classically liberal (right-liberal), even if he stretches them a little in a conservative direction. So we are left stuck with the choice between a right and a left liberalism.
This is how Rossiter outlines his right-liberal political convictions:
Of special interest, however, are the many values about which the modern liberal mind is not passionate: his agenda does not insist that the individual is the ultimate economic, social and political unit; it does not idealize individual liberty and the structure of law and order essential to it; it does not defend the basic rights of property and contract; it does not aspire to ideals of authentic autonomy and mutuality; it does not preach an ethic of self-reliance and self-determination; it does not praise courage, forbearance or resilience; it does not celebrate the ethics of consent or the blessings of voluntary cooperation. It does not advocate moral rectitude or understand the critical role of morality in human relating. The liberal agenda does not comprehend an identity of competence, appreciate its importance, or analyze the developmental conditions and social institutions that promote its achievement. The liberal agenda does not understand or recognize personal sovereignty or impose strict limits on coercion by the state. It does not celebrate the genuine altruism of private charity. It does not learn history’s lessons on the evils of collectivism.
There's a good side to this. Rossiter's right liberalism aims at a rugged individualism which encourages personal responsibility.
But it is inadequate to hold a society together and it's closer to left-liberalism than Rossiter realises. It's also a difficult combination of propositions to hold together. After all, if the stress is on the idea of the sovereign, self-determining individual, then what binds that individual to an external standard of morality? Why wouldn't a sovereign, autonomous individual say to himself "I'll choose to do what I want to do or what I think is right for me as an individual"? And what would bind that individual to tradition, which in its very nature is the creation of a collective that predates the individual? And if there is only the individual, bound to law and to contract and to voluntary cooperation, but not to collective forms of identity such as ethnies or nations, then on what principled basis can the influx of individuals from diverse sources be opposed? And if that is not opposed, then what is to prevent the eventual domination of politics by those arriving to take advantage of Rossiter's ordered liberty and who are willing to act as a collective to achieve their aims?
As you would expect from a right-liberal, Rossiter criticises the left-liberal preference of relying on the state to regulate society and to redistribute resources in the name of equality. He does score quite a few hits in his criticism of the left-liberal mentality:
What the liberal mind is passionate about is a world filled with pity, sorrow, neediness, misfortune, poverty, suspicion, mistrust, anger, exploitation, discrimination, victimization, alienation and injustice. Those who occupy this world are “workers,” “minorities,” “the little guy,” “women,” and the “unemployed.” They are poor, weak, sick, wronged, cheated, oppressed, disenfranchised, exploited and victimized. They bear no responsibility for their problems. None of their agonies are attributable to faults or failings of their own: not to poor choices, bad habits, faulty judgment, wishful thinking, lack of ambition, low frustration tolerance, mental illness or defects in character. None of the victims’ plight is caused by failure to plan for the future or learn from experience. Instead, the “root causes” of all this pain lie in faulty social conditions: poverty, disease, war, ignorance, unemployment, racial prejudice, ethnic and gender discrimination, modern technology, capitalism, globalization and imperialism. In the radical liberal mind, this suffering is inflicted on the innocent by various predators and persecutors: “Big Business,” “Big Corporations,” “greedy capitalists,” U.S. Imperialists,” “the oppressors,” “the rich,” “the wealthy,” “the powerful” and “the selfish.”
The liberal cure for this endless malaise is a very large authoritarian government that regulates and manages society through a cradle to grave agenda of redistributive caretaking. It is a government everywhere doing everything for everyone. The liberal motto is “In Government We Trust.” To rescue the people from their troubled lives, the agenda recommends denial of personal responsibility, encourages self-pity and other-pity, fosters government dependency, promotes sexual indulgence, rationalizes violence, excuses financial obligation, justifies theft, ignores rudeness, prescribes complaining and blaming, denigrates marriage and the family, legalizes all abortion, defies religious and social tradition, declares inequality unjust, and rebels against the duties of citizenship. Through multiple entitlements to unearned goods, services and social status, the liberal politician promises to ensure everyone’s material welfare, provide for everyone’s healthcare, protect everyone’s self-esteem, correct everyone’s social and political disadvantage, educate every citizen, and eliminate all class distinctions. With liberal intellectuals sharing the glory, the liberal politician is the hero in this melodrama. He takes credit for providing his constituents with whatever they want or need even though he has not produced by his own effort any of the goods, services or status transferred to them but has instead taken them from others by force.
That's some slapdown. But Rossiter leaves out the intellectual underpinnings of all this. Left-liberalism begins with the same kind of assumptions that Rossiter's right liberalism does: that individual autonomy is what matters. The left-liberal assumption is that it is the capacity for an autonomously self-created life that makes us distinctly human. Therefore, if some people are born with an advantage in pursuit of such a life, then we have a literal case of human inequality: some are being treated as more human than others due to an unearned privilege.
That seems unjust to left-liberals and so they look to the state to create conditions of equality, in particular by attacking whatever "ism" is held to be sustaining the privilege of some over the disadvantage of others. Left-liberals become committed to the view that equality is the natural condition of humanity and that inequality has been socially constructed. Inequality is not the result of different capabilities or interests or natures but of a system, i.e. of systemic discrimination or prejudice or exploitation. And so the left-liberal state does embark on a radically intrusive programme of remaking society.
There are considerable differences between right and left liberalism, but they share a great deal when it comes to first principles and both are suicidal to the societies which adopt them. So the aim should be a clean break from both and the opening up of politics to other approaches - and for this reason I can't feel enthusiastic about Lyle H. Rossiter's attacks on the liberal mind.