Friday, February 19, 2010

Beyond left and right

Geoffrey Wheatcroft argues in the Guardian that “socialism has been buried.” He points to opinion polls which indicate that while “liberal” attitudes have proliferated in the UK, they don’t seem to have the leftist tinge often associated with them. For example, “the proportion of British people who thought that homosexual relations were wrong had fallen to 36% from 62% in 1983. And yet those who supported redistribution from rich to poor had also fallen, from 51% in 1994 to 38%, and for the first time only a minority even of Labour voters believed in redistribution.” Wheatcroft doesn’t see any common denominator beneath these seemingly disparate attitudinal modifications. How about rampant individualism and the loss of any credible self-transcendent reference points in life? But, hey, look at how much life expectancy has increased with the embrace of such (in Engelhartd’s elegant parlor) “post-material” values.