Neal Lawson

He lays out his stall and reminds me why I am a classical liberal, not a centre left one (as he desscribes himself).

The condition of Britain demands not more individualism but greater collective identity and action. From Northern Rock and the credit crunch to the anxiety and insecurity of failing markets in housing, pensions and labour supply, the challenge of the modern democratic left is to devise the architecture that will enable democracy to flourish and the people to take back control of both the economy and the state. Our need to belong, to share, to cooperate, is an inextinguishable flame in all of us and it is the abiding purpose of the centre-left to modernise the form it takes.

Fashioning a new form of collectivism for the centre-left provides not just a practical programme for government but crucially a moral compass. It is the progressive belief that given the chance, the resources and space, people can take proper and full control of their lives. Ultimately the centre-left is driven by the belief that the accident of birth – whether good or bad – should not determine the quality of our lives. Instead we pool some of our liberty in an act of enlightened self-interest to ensure we all reach our full potential. Democracy is the means by which this cooperative deal is struck between us. But in making it we discover not just instrumental benefit but intrinsic satisfaction.

All that talk of democracy, of collective action. Smacks to me very much of the tyranny of the majority.

No, no thanks.


8 thoughts on “Neal Lawson”

  1. The trouble is that Lawson makes it sound so sweetly reasonable; all this talk of “pooling” our selfish desires into some fuzzy, cuddly collective whole. Well, previous experience does not suggest that works very well if it is created by coercion.

    There is a good, reputable tradition of voluntary “socialism”: the old mutualist, co-operative societies, the friendly societies, etc. But the key point that statists like Lawson miss is that no-one was forced to pay for these organisations and members could not be prevented from leaving. Not quite the same as a welfare state with heavy taxes and the rest, is it?

  2. “The condition of Britain demands not more individualism but greater collective identity and action.” Then could he tell us why The Left has spent 50 years undermining any notion of “collective identity”?

  3. Will socialists quit using the word “progressive”, as though more socialism is the progressive route?

    Going back and trying the same policies that failed for 80 years isn’t progressive.

  4. Tim (Almond),

    Can we have a moratorium on the use of progressive as a synonym for better, improvement, heading towards the bright shining sunlit uplands, etc., etc.?

    We can progress towards disaster, the worse, and deep dark depths of despair as well. And we are all steadily progressing towards our deaths.

  5. Neal Lawson is one of the more fatuous excrescences on the face of Left-liberal punditry. I could never watch more than about five minutes of his dreadful late night gab-fest without wishing to slap his silly face (and kneecap Tom Paulin, but that goes without saying).

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