The Euston Manifesto
The Euston Manifesto - Home
We are democrats and progressives. We propose here a fresh political alignment. Many of us belong to the Left, but the principles that we set out are not exclusive. We reach out, rather, beyond the socialist Left towards egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment. Indeed, the reconfiguration of progressive opinion that we aim for involves drawing a line between the forces of the Left that remain true to its authentic values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values.
I've just signed the Euston Manifesto--do thou likewise (if you agree with the version of unrepentant liberalism represented on this blog).
In spite of the incompetence and corruption of the Bush regime, and popular disapproval, it is unlikely that Democrats in the US will benefit unless progressives commit to a reasonable, coherent political agenda and disabuse the American public of popular myths about liberalism.
In the US, the Left's agenda was set during the Vietnam era and remains inextricably linked with the anti-war movement and the cultural revolution of the period. To most Americans, Liberalism means playing Dove rather than Hawk in both foreign and domestic policy, denigrating America, and buying into the romantic cultural relativism that was popular amongst privileged undergraduates during the late '60s.
That is not what Liberalism is all about. The core value of Liberalism is the liberation of individuals from constraints imposed by race, sex, class and all unchosen circumstances that limit their options. I, and many other Liberals believe that, as a matter of empirical fact, the most effective way to achieve these ends is through social engineering, stringent, rigorously enforced government regulations prohibiting discrimination and a big government tax-and-spend welfare state. But whatever works is fine with me.
These ends are however inimical to cultural relativism. Traditional societies are racist, sexist and tribal--they severely restrict individuals' options on the basis of unchosen characteristics and circumstances of their lives. Such cultures are defective and the aim of Liberals should be to liberate individuals from them rather than to preserve them. These ends, moreover, license interference in the affairs of sovereign states. When dictatorial regimes violate the rights of their citizens or conduct genocides, intervention is warranted. War is a last resort but if that is the only way to stop such regimes from beating up on their citizens, so be it.
Some on the Left will take this as compromise, as Centrism, or even crypto-conservatism. Not. The aim of Liberalism is to promote individual wellbeing by eliminating poverty, expanding individual options and liberating individuals from the constraints imposed by defective cultures. If this means dismantling defective cultures and waging war against oppressive regimes then so be it. There is no compromise possible when it comes to individual wellbeing, no compromise or surrender when it comes to the promotion of the welfare state.