Friday, 23 December 2011

on conservatism, socialism and liberalism

This has been posted several places before, but I know I will want this for future reference. Nick Clegg delivered the annual Demos lecture earlier this week, setting out his vision of the 'open society'. You can read the full speech here.

The bit that really struck me, which many of my non-Lib Dem readers may find interesting is this neat summary of political ideology:
It is clear that one of the most important differences between the three traditions is in our attitudes towards change. Open society liberals are progressives: we believe that the future can and ought to be better than the past.

Conservatives, by definition, tend to defend the status quo, embracing change reluctantly and often after the event.

Socialists see themselves as progressives, with a vision for a better future. The problem is: they have a fixed blueprint for what that better society looks like. Like the conservative right, the socialist or left-wing social democrat view is that “we – either the elite or the state – know what is good for you”. Liberals pay people the compliment that they know what is good for them, without ideological instruction.

So liberals are optimistic about the potential of people, collectively and individually, to lead good lives and shape good communities. And we value diversity, as societies experiment their way forward. Open societies are raucous, noisy, and sometimes unpredictable – but that is a price eminently worth paying for our freedom. The open society is not for those who want a quiet life.


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