Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Charles Moore: in tune with this blog

Here he is, saying a lot of what this blog has been saying, about the decline of the West, about the meaninglessness of the term 'right-wing' nowadays and so on.

It's easy enough to poke holes in Moore's thoughts, especially given that part of what we might call his evidence base is what Andrew Lloyd Webber has to say about London theatres. But just read this:

"It may sound Marxist to say this, but I do think the elites have constructed a world order which serves their interests, not those of their subject populations."

I am not immediately interested in whether that is a true statement about the world. Rather, I wonder what it says about contemporary political culture that a humane, rational, elite, Establishment (Margaret Thatcher's biographer! a former editor of The Telegraph!) figure can come to such a conclusion. Or, being Charles Moore in the Spectator, if not come to a conclusion, then at least say it out loud and try it out for size. (But don't be concerned about the Marxism - thinking conservatives have more time for Marx than you might imagine: Roger Scruton's sympathetic exposition of Marxist concepts such as alienation in The Meaning of Conservatism is a good example.)

Rod Liddle, always more trenchant, says this: "[Liberalism] has not brought happiness, or wealth, or a better society. It has brought instead a certain, easily won liberation for the wealthiest of us, but down below has effected nothing other than social chaos and poverty. And it might just have had its day." And Rowan Williams, very rarely so direct, says this: "beneath all these continuing states of crisis and contradiction is the metacrisis that shapes them all, the crisis of “liberalism” ... What we are now refusing to grasp is that “liberalism” in fact undermines democracy, ethics, human respect, social justice, scientific creativity and pretty well everything else. ... " (He is, I think, explaining the point of view of the authors of the book he is reviewing, but it is a sympathetic review.)

When it comes to politics, ideas can become self-fulfilling: if everyone thinks that liberalism is an elitist con trick that deserves to die, then die it will. It is not yet impossible to save liberalism: it is clearly preferable to any actually existing alternative, from China to Cuba via Russia or Saudi Arabia. But what I am seeing, on both the Left and the Right, is a lack of interest - a lack of will - in keeping it alive, and a curious appetite to see what might come next.

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