Worsthorne on Liberalism
From a year or so back, but I missed it the first time: the text, courtesy of the Guardian, of Peregrine Worsthorne’s talk on liberalism at the Athenaeum club. A snippet:
Today, however, liberalism is the only ism in a position not only to dream of world hegemony but to try to make that dream come true – a case of absolute power tending to corrupt absolutely, if ever there was one. Onward liberal soldiers marching as to war. Not so much Pax Americana as Bellum Americanum.
In other words, the Iraq war is only the first move in a liberal jihad aimed at spreading to all mankind a secular and materialist religion, the central tenet of which – free thought – can be relied upon to dissolve people’s faith in any transcendental religion far more certainly than could communist repression. So it is no wonder that Islamic fundamentalists are reacting so fiercely. They have seen what liberalism has done for Christianity in the western world and quite understandably don’t want the Muslim faith to suffer the same fate.
Nor is this new overweening form of liberalism to be found only in foreign affairs. It is also pretty rampant on the domestic front, at least in Britain, where the two restraining isms of socialism and high Toryism have been ground into the dust by the Thatcherite revolution. Politicians of all parties, including the Conservatives, are liberal now. But theirs is a novel and almost unbelievably power-dependent form of liberalism. It starts from the assumption that, with the old dragons of despotic kingship, religious intolerance, patrician insolence and, finally, totalitarianism successfully dispatched, another window of opportunity has opened for liberalism to declare war on human, and even eventually animal, pain and suffering – regardless of the fact that this limitlessly ambitious new war must assuredly involve a vast extension of governmental power to enforce political correctness.
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In an ideal world, all the young, poor as well as rich, should be equally free to sow their wild oats – to drug, drink and fornicate, break up the furniture, etc – to their hearts’ content.
The trouble, however, is that whereas rich parents can afford to save their children from the consequences of youthful irresponsibility – by repaying debts, taking care of illegitimate children, subsidising single mothers and rehabilitating addicts – the parents of the poor can’t.