August 03, 2006

Aug. 3, 2006: #8 Christianity and Liberalism ...

Two Alternative Religious Approaches

Christianity and Liberalism: Two Alternative Religious Approaches by David T. Koyzis, The new Pantagruel

At the very end of the twentieth century, Hilton Kramer and Roger Kimball published a collection of essays titled, The Betrayal of Liberalism : How the Disciples of Freedom and Equality Helped Foster the Illiberal Politics of Coercion and Control.1 [Chicago: Ivan R Dee, 1999] This title is characteristic of one school of analysis of contemporary liberalism, represented by what Alasdair MacIntyre has labelled “conservative liberals.” The gist of the argument is as follows: liberalism is a philosophy of freedom which had made huge strides in liberating humanity from a variety of oppressive institutions, including chattel slavery, feudalism, hereditary monarchy and other forms of ascriptive social patterns. Liberalism’s beginnings in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were on solid foundations, as articulated by the likes of John Locke, Adam Smith, the American founders and (perhaps) John Stuart Mill. Modern constitutional democracy, including that of Canada and the United States, would be all but impossible without the groundwork laid by this early liberalism.

However, the story continues, over slightly less than the last hundred years, the original liberal impulse has been betrayed by those falsely claiming the liberal label. These include the likes of US Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and, especially, a series of Supreme Court justices (in both countries) whose decisions have imposed an undemocratic rights-oriented regime on a recalcitrant public deemed to have retained “unconstitutionally” atavistic attitudes towards abortion, homosexuality, marriage and a number of similar issues. Furthermore, the very institution of the welfare state is leading us down what the classical liberal economic philosopher, Friedrich von Hayek, was calling as early as 1944, “the road to serfdom.” This more recent liberalism is thus eroding representative government, personal freedom and even equality, insofar as it champions race- and gender-based affirmative action. The net result is a society which is anything but liberal in the traditional sense. When a human rights tribunal is able to force a private printer to accept business effectively advancing a cause with which he disagrees, then liberalism has become most illiberal indeed.

This “betrayal of liberalism” thesis is advanced primarily by those who would call themselves liberal in the older sense. They retain a commitment to the principles championed by Locke, Smith and Mill. [....]

There is much more on that website -- worth checking.


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