Western Liberalism At Twilight (?)
The chorus of doubts concerning the continued viability of the Western liberal tradition itself, in both ideational and institutional aspects, has grown much louder over the past several years. Can this tradition be said to be in a time of twilight – that time that falls? It is this question that would be explored in this paper. While searching the confirmation of the position, indicated in the title of the paper, author turns to contemporary ideological sources of Western liberalism. Such concepts as capitalism, socialism, justice, democracy are considered in this context based on the works of two thinkers, John Rawls and Fred Dallmayr. By stressing ideal justice and ignoring concrete injustice, Rawls’ ideas seem strange even apart from the present crisis. The subsequent evolution of his thoughts is estimated by the author as the transition from daylight to twilight. It has manifested in Rawls’ refusal to apply his principles of justice to the international arena, his condescending attitude toward underdeveloped countries. The atmosphere of The Law of Peoples is still redolent of the assumption of American hegemony. The author wishes to extract from Dallmayr’s book for present purposes is above all his commitment to a version of socialism. But what neither Dallmayr nor Rawls and other liberal thinkers will gainsay is that central to the twilight zone in which we are wandering is the heavy hand of global capitalism. The next problem is that the modern liberal democratic theory has always professed to make the assumption of equality, but it has never fully embraced it. The most important conceptual element in accounting for this failure is the notion of majority rule. The author mentions three difficulties with the idea of majority rule: the problem of time and the problem of the identity of the human units who compose the majority, and the problem of information. He analyzes the recent political evolutions of both the United Kingdom and the United States, and France as well, which have certainly given Western liberalism a badname in many quarters.
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