an opportunity to clear the decks and say why I am not a liberal. No, I’m not a conservative either. I’m a communitarian. Blue labour, if you like. But certainly not a liberal. What I take to be the essence of liberalism is a belief that individual freedom and personal autonomy are the fundamental moral goods.
That’s wrong. Individual freedom and personal autonomy are important in liberalism, but they’re not the fundamental moral goods, and in fact they’re not really moral goods either. “Values” would probably be the better word.
Liberalism leaves plenty of room to treat compassion and generosity and kindness as the fundamental moral goods, but it treats individual rights as primary. Human rights do include freedoms of various kinds, but those freedoms don’t exclude concern for others as well as the self, and in fact a concept of rights entails that much better than communitarianism does.
Fraser seems to be unaware of any of this, and to be confusing liberalism with libertarianism. He gets simply vulgar as he goes on.
Choice is the only moral currency they acknowledge. And this is equally true of the neoliberals who want the freedom to make squillions out of the City, as it is of those who believe the freedom to choose is an act of defiance, socking it to the man, so to speak. One of the most insidious effects of Thatcherism is that it co-opted rebellion into its ranks without rebellion even noticing.
From the 80s onwards, popular culture morphed from an angry insistence on a fairer society (the Jam, the Specials etc) into a me-first relativism that is all about sex and shopping. Religion is an affront to liberalism because it dares suggest it’s not all about you. Here atheism lines up with liberalism (at least in their enlightenment varieties). And Christianity lines up with socialism.
That’s not liberalism. The guy is deeply confused. Liberalism doesn’t mean Me First and the hell with everyone else. It does mean you don’t get to treat me (or her or him or them) as a mere instrument for the greater good, which turns out to be the conservative men of the “community.” It means you don’t get to slice a bit off your baby’s penis in order to cement him into The Community.