Here's the latest pamphlet that I'm distributing in my local area. It's not meant to appeal to the masses, rather it's aimed at those with a genuine interest in politics:
It isn’t publicised much, but all Western societies are run along the lines of just one ideology, namely liberalism. Both sides of politics are committed to this ideology, even if they differ a little on how best to implement it.
So what is liberalism? It’s the idea that the overriding good in society is the autonomy of the individual. That’s a nice sounding principle, but it is important to think about what it commits people, as a matter of logic, to believe about society.
Autonomy is the idea that what matters is a freedom of the individual to define themselves according to their own choices. It often goes along with the idea that there is nothing that is objectively good outside the individual, but that value is created in the act of choosing, no matter what that choice is.
So what’s wrong this this? Well, if what matters is that there is nothing to limit how I self-determine or self-define, then the things that I cannot self-determine must be oppressions that I must abandon in order to be free. To be more exact, the things that I cannot self-determine must be made not to matter.
What is not allowed to matter in a society based on a liberal ideology? First, it will be thought wrong for a person’s ethnicity to matter, as that is something they don’t get to choose for themselves. In a non-liberal society, a person’s ethnicity matters a great deal, as it is part of what defines an individual (it is a significant part of their identity) and as it forms the communal tradition that individuals feel a close sense of belonging to. Therefore, people in a non-liberal community will, logically, work to preserve their own ethnic tradition.
Liberals, on the other hand, focus on the idea that they should demonstrate that their own ethnicity does not matter and does not influence their preferences or loyalties. Some liberals openly state that they identify only with themselves as individuals rather than with any community sharing a common language, history, culture and so on.
Nor do we get to determine our own sex, i.e. the fact of being a man or a woman. Therefore, this too has to be made not to matter in a liberal society. So, rather than celebrating the differences between men and women, and encouraging men to cultivate their better masculine qualities and women their better feminine qualities, a liberal society will be focused on ensuring that our sex has no bearing on what we choose to do. Most societies are not fussed, for instance, if more women than men choose to be nurses, or more men than women choose to be tradies, but this is something that those committed to liberalism see as a flaw in society to be overcome – otherwise our sex still continues to matter.
Liberalism also generates its own moral outlook. Liberals can’t easily accept the idea that there are standards of character for individuals to try and live up to. This would be limiting to an individual’s freedom to self-determine. So in this sense liberalism is libertine – there is nothing that is objectively right or wrong.
However, for liberalism to work as a system, what one person chooses can’t restrict what another person chooses. This means, first, that there is pressure to limit the range of choices to purely individual matters (e.g. career, holidays etc.). Second, it means that liberals emphasise a morality of non-interference, so that we end up being judged as good or bad people by a limited set of qualities, such as how tolerant, open, inclusive, non-discriminatory and non-judgemental we are. This morality of non-interference is sometimes policed to the point that it becomes absurdly intrusive.
If you are not committed to a liberal ideology, then you are likely to be dismayed at the way that Western societies are developing. Things that matter a great deal to the individual are being made not to matter – they are being, in liberal terms, gradually “deconstructed”. So what then are we to do? The first thing is to reject liberalism outright, at the level of first principle, as this is the source of liberal moral claims. The second thing is to recognise that, for the time being, the institutions of society are liberal, including the major political parties, and that it is a waste of time to passively expect help from that direction. Third, we need to continue to build up resources of our own so that we can assert an alternative to liberalism.