The future of “identity liberalism”

Union posterLiberals in politics have traditionally focused on issues of class, economics, and public policy.  But lately, liberalism has become obsessed with identity politics–that is, the interests of distinct groups (blacks, gays, Hispanics, single women, etc.).  Mark Lilla calls this “Identity Liberalism,” arguing in the New York Times that this pre-occupation needs to change if his fellow liberals expect to win elections again.

Predictably, he is being excoriated for his heresy.

Do you think a New Deal kind of liberalism, based on universal principles and addressing the common good, would do better than “Identity Liberalism”?  Or has the one led to the other, so that they can no longer be untangled?  Or are we talking about two distinct and irreconcilable ideologies?

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The inevitable march of History

The “progressive” worldview assumes that society is getting better and better.  That is to say, history is on an inexorable march towards “progress.” Thus, those on the left are fond of saying some one they oppose is “on the wrong side of history.”

This leads to the assumption that progressive gains may never be reversed, that progressive change is inevitable, and that progressives are justified by a power higher than themselves (not God, but History).  Furthermore, we must be open to change as we evolve to a higher and higher level.

For example, the nation state is thought to be rapidly becoming obsolete.  “History” dictates first the rise of globalism, in economics and in free immigration, and then the rise of global government.

Never mind that history is not so linear at all and is full of twists, reversals, and surprises.  But the assumption of inevitable progress–which derives from Hegel, Darwin, and Marx–continues to animate the rhetoric of the left. Rich Lowry discusses this after the jump. [Read more…]

Liberalism of the left & liberalism of the right

The well-regarded ethicist Stanley Hauerwas reviews a new book by John Milibank, of “radical orthodoxy” fame.  Entitled The Politics of Virtue, Milibank argues that both today’s liberals and conservatives are essentially liberals.  Both sides are fixated on “freedom,” whether sexual freedom or economic freedom, to the exclusion of other things needed for a good society (such as virtue).  Milibanks goes on to argue for a “post-liberalism.”

Read Hauerwas’s discussion and interaction with the ideas after the jump. [Read more…]

Which kind of conservatism?

Matthew Continetti has written an essay that is sure to get attention, as the Republican party tries to put itself back together.  Entitled “Crisis of the Conservative Intellectual,” the piece traces the longtime conflict between “conservatism” (that is, the classic version that seeks to preserve institutions and that opposes modernity’s love of change) and “populism” (which opposes existing institutions and wants to change society).

This has come to a head in Donald Trump’s candidacy, which opposes the “establishment,” including the Republican establishment.

Continetti’s essay takes a historical look at this conflict, as well as the times when the two philosophies worked together, for example, to elect Ronald Reagan.  In the course of doing so, he also talks about other competing versions of what conservatism is, such as the New Right, neoconservatives, social conservatives, the the religious right (which, he says, combined populism with the institution-conserving conservatism of the William F. Buckleys).

Excerpted and linked after the jump. [Read more…]

Charles Taylor wins philosophy prize

There is the Nobel Prize for various great achievements, and now there is the Berggruen Prize for philosophy.  The first award, which comes with $1 million, was given to Charles Taylor.

Taylor, a Canadian thinker, is one of the most interesting, helpful, and Christian-friendly of all contemporary philosophers.  (See this Cranach post.) A Catholic, though not of the Reformation-despising kind, Taylor has written provocative and insightful explorations of the self, identity, language, and morality.  One of his biggest subjects, though, is the phenomenon of secularism, which he shows is not as simple as many of its adherents assume and which, far from doing away with religion, may drive people to try to find it again.
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Lennonism

Michael Barone says that many in our cultural and political elite follow the tenets of “Lennonism.”  Not “Leninism,” but the philosophy of John Lennon in his song Imagine:

“Imagine there’s no countries. . . .Nothing to kill or die for. … Imagine all the people living life in peace. … And the world will be as one.”

“And no religion too.”  But Barone defines Lennonism as the desire to eliminate distinct nations.  Thus the impulse for global government, a global economy, unlimited immigration, and multiculturalism. [Read more…]