Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Breaking the orthodoxy

I met a dear old lady in the supermarket today. I overheard her complaining about the difficulty of buying Australian goods, even fruit and vegies. It turned out that she wasn't pleased either at Australia transforming itself through mass immigration. She asked me the obvious question about this: "Why is it happening?"

This was a question I first asked myself more than ten years ago. I wanted to know why no-one in politics had resisted the drift toward cosmopolitanism. And what I discovered was something I hadn't expected, namely that all the main political movements shared the same underlying political principles. That was why they all agreed on the project of multiculturalism.

It seemed audacious to assert this idea - that there has been a longstanding orthodoxy in Western politics which hardly anybody in official politics has thought outside of.

So I'm always grateful when others recognise the same thing. It's especially pleasing when the other person is a political bigwig, such as Richard Blandy, a director of a business centre at the University of South Australia. He wrote an article for today's Australian newspaper in which he notes that,

Until the past quarter of a century, a liberal democratic model, a social democratic model and a communist (Marxist-Leninist) model of how liberty, equality and fraternity should be achieved have each possessed considerable political momentum.

The communist (Marxist-Leninist) model was abandoned by China, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the 1980s.

The democratic socialist model is now under siege in the European Union from the combined impacts of globalisation, European Union enlargement and the evident economic success of "le modele Anglo Saxon" in recent times.

So Blandy recognises that the three main political movements in the West over the last 200 years - classical liberalism, social democracy and communism - have all been attempts to enact the same underlying principles of "liberty, equality and fraternity".

The three models are certainly very different, which gives the appearance of choice in politics. But they all assume the same underlying principles, which is why the Western political class is so united on important issues like multiculturalism, feminism and the like.

It is to try to clarify this situation that I have called the underlying principle that of "liberalism", with the three variants being those supported by right liberals (who Blandy calls liberal democrats but who are often called classical liberals); left liberals (social democrats); and radical left liberals (communists).

If we recognise all three as being variants on the same liberal principles, then the orthodoxy which exists is brought to the surface. It is then easier to challenge people to think outside the existing political framework - something we need members of the political class to do if we are not to continue to follow liberal principles to their self-destructive ends.

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