Provocateur of the Right: The End of Liberalism?

January 17, 2013

The fiscal danger is now obvious: We can’t afford all the promises the welfare state has already made, much less the ones it will add in coming years. It’s almost impossible for liberals to limit spending because every promise becomes a program, and every program stands for a new right to health care, child care, and so forth. You can’t put a price on human rights! The result is that the federal government, driven by what is candidly called “uncontrollable” spending, is bankrupt or soon will be. Liberalism can’t go on very much longer without unleashing its socialist id and imposing, among other things, a comprehensive and oppressive new regime of middle-class taxation. Faced with that illiberal future, many liberals may balk.

And philosophically, American liberals are coming to the end of their rope. Though President Obama likes to be called a Progressive, he doesn’t believe in progress in the way, say, Woodrow Wilson did as something scientifically and rationally certain, benign, and steerable. For Obama, strains of multiculturalism, postmodernism, and relativism have crept in. Progress, as to both means and ends, is in this view more a matter of will than of reason. It’s not a question anymore of following or finding history’s meaning but of creating it. In its purest and most academic form, this revelation has pulled the philosophical rug out from under liberalism, exposing it as neither true nor just, because neither Truth nor Justice exists (ask any postmodernist).

Charles Kesler, Author of  I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism (2013)

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