Saturday, April 07, 2007

Liberalism in 1984

Recently read Liberals face the future a collection of post-defeat reflections by Liberals and sympathisers published in 1984. Maybe it sheds some light on where the Liberals might go in opposition. Most of the contributors are no longer politically active, although editor George Brandis is of course and so is Louise Asher. Overall it is an attempt to defend what the contributors saw as 'liberalism' against the conservatism that they associated the Fraser years with, although John Hyde and David Kemp (whom the editors criticise) do have contributions. The philosophical essays by Brandis, Tom Harley and Don Markwell criticise economic libertarianism for a focus on absolute economic rights rather than pragmatic balancing of outcomes, which sounds promising, but as we have seen recently this could justify a suppression of human rights. Denis White criticised Snedden-era Liberalism to which this books looks back to for its absense of any political criteria beyond the pragmatic. The chapter on industrial relations by Phil Gude sees the only alternatives as arbitration or collective bargaining. Andrew Peacock's chapter isn't brilliant, or particularly bad, and in its recognition of the need for change in Australia stated what Labor was concluding at the same time. Ian McPhee supports a phased reduction in tariffs. Nothing on national identity or education. Overall the book represents a transitional stage in the migration of Australian liberalism to the left side of politics, a 2008 version would emphasise much more the Liberals as a conservative party.

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At 1:39 AM, Anonymous Auberta said...

Well said.


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