Liberally Squeamish

Are you really a liberal?  It’s the question of the future, the question that will divide humanity in half, and produce vigorous debate, the throwing of verbal salvoes, and perhaps war.  The old terminology of left/right has died, words without referents, hopeless concepts that tied onto the bipolar word of communism and capitalism.  We need a new divide, we need a new moral battle, and the battle lines are already being drawn around liberalism.  Do you support my unfettered right to designer babies, abortion if they don’t turn out correct, transsexuality and my unabated consumption of noxious substances?  Welcome to the division of the future, take your seats please.

The House of Commons has been swarmed by accountants, yesterday’s ideologues banished to the asylums.

The current malaise of politics can be summed up in one word:  accountants.  The division of the Commons reflects nothing more than a division on how best to do the sums.  Both parties have the same thwarted ideas of public service, it’s just a question of delivery, of getting the right sums to the right places.  The House of Commons has been swarmed by accountants, yesterday’s ideologues banished to the asylums.  The victory of the capitalist system over non-functional communism has been resounding; only a loon would attempt to resurrect the traces of this bitter divide in the bright new ‘cappuccino’ age.

For the shiny traces of the new divide, it’s enough to look over at America to see a nation that has descended into an abyss of liberalism, become terrified and called for a Christian vicar to throw down a rope and pull them out.  The movement is spearheaded by an ex-alcoholic Cowboy.  There is a cry for some moral brakes to be applied, for an end to the sunny climate of ‘anything goes’ humanity towards the religious order of ‘nothing goes’. 

Against these neo-moralists, the opposition decry the values of religion, a deeply floored doctrine, the second and third-order evils of which are only now being comprehended.  Anyone who signs up to religion also signs up to ‘evil’, ‘witches’, ‘sin’, ‘guilt’, ‘infidels’.  These are powerful words, and can justify war.  Those who have wild religious eyes will always tend to see witches and evil everywhere, and the glint turns into a desire to eradicate rather than comprehend.  It was the medieval ducking stool which found the witch:  if she lived she was a witch and would be burned, if she died then it was an unavoidable loss in the quest against witches.  Was the war against Saddam Hussein not a ducking stool?  If weapons of mass destruction were found he was a witch, if not, draw attention to his past chemical evils.  Whichever way, a witch.

The killers of liberalism are as much within our society as they are outside:  the jaunt, that is war in the name of democracy, is a distraction from the profound moral tectonic plate that is opening up under our feet.  In the United States, transsexuals are killed and burned (a witch within) instead of being recognised as new forms of being.  The Supreme Court is being carefully stacked to protect the new ‘found’ sanctity of life:  no abortion, no design in babies.  Everywhere religious values are in the ascendancy and the despairing liberal is taking a last look at that bottle of absinthe and considering one last slug of freedom.  Hordes of people are signing pledges of virginity, and “abstentionism” is everywhere.  The religious wild eye tends to see witches everywhere, fear feeds morality, and a desire to purge.

The neocons in America have legitimated the use of religio-politico-ex-alcho morality in domestic politics and abroad.

So why are liberals becoming queasy?  The liberal consensus grew up in the Enlightenment, creating a fundamental shift in power.  The church was thrown out of politics, and politics became the unfettered zone of reasoning (not pen-pushing or accountants).  Power was not to be exercised for moral reasons, but for the greater good.  In fact, there were no moral values:  the liberal consensus merely allows the individual to pick and choose.

Then suddenly, the desire to row back surged from deep, a new-found longing for moral certitude.  The ‘liberal’, in a drugged-out relativist state, needed a moral pillar to lean on and catch his breath.  Are we really supporters of the freedom for Booze Britain?  Or is Britain’s drinking culture just one powerful dress rehearsal for a career in alcoholism?

This is a battle within ourselves.  The neocons in America have legitimated the use of religio-politico-ex-alcho morality in domestic politics and abroad.  They have sold freedom to the Iraqis, and freedom to Africa (which in the case of Africa means an aid budget, no condoms, and plentiful lectures on the evils of sex).

The interval is over, and it’s time to choose.  Are you a liberal or a neo-moralist?  Do your instincts yearn for liberalism?  Or do you need a moral rock to stand on and inspect those around you?  If you do, you better get used to ‘sin’, ‘witches’, ‘infidels’, ‘evil’, and probably ‘democracy’.



































Neocon or Liberal:
Which side are you on?