Societal Freedom

“A free society is a moral achievement. Over the past fifty years in the West this truth has been forgotten, ignored or denied. That is why today liberal democracy is at risk. Societal freedom cannot be sustained by market economics and liberal democratic politics alone. It needs a third element: morality, a concern for the welfare of others, an active commitment to justice and compassion, a willingness to ask not just what is good for me but what is good for all-of-us-together. It is about ‘Us’, not ‘Me’; about ‘We’, not ‘I’. If we focus on the ‘I’ and lose the ‘We’, if we act on self-interest without a commitment to the common good, if we focus on self-esteem and lose our care for others, we will lose much else. Nations will cease to have societies and instead have identity groups. We will lose our feeling of collective responsibility and find in its place a culture of competitive victimhood. In an age of unprecedented possibilities, people will feel vulnerable and alone. The market will be merciless. Politics will be deceiving, divisive, confrontational and extreme. People will feel anxious, uncertain, fearful, aggressive, unstable, unrooted and unloved. They will focus on promoting themselves instead of the one thing that will give them lasting happiness: making life better for others. People will be, by historic standards, financially rich but emotionally poor. Freedom itself will be at risk from the far right and the far left, the far right dreaming of a golden age that never was, the far left dreaming of a utopia that will never be.”

Morality, Introduction, p. 1