Culturalism, the Euthanasia of Liberalism

Culturalism, the Euthanasia of Liberalism

Hume said that absolute monarchy was “the easiest death, the true Euthanasia, of the British constitution.” I offer some notes and questions about a line of political apologetics that if pursued far would lead to the euthanasia of liberal society. In the past five years, an argument first ventured in academic circles, which associates human dignity with cultural identity, has made deep inroads toward acceptance by liberal theorists. The theorists assent to the culturalist argument from a belief that we ought, as a matter of democratic duty or international realism, to widen our support for acts of membership in identity-cultures. It is understood that in the course of doing so we shall have to modify our idea of the proper duties of the liberal state in keeping with the demands of two constituencies: the speculative thinkers who “construct” the individual to accord with the supposed priority of the group in the making of identity; and the various sects, clans, and dormant nations that serve as bearers of the revived racial and religious enthusiasms clamoring for recognition and for authority throughout the world today. The call is loudest in states without a tradition of liberal government. It would be a good thing, we are asked to agree, for liberal states to answer the call early, and as fully as possible when they feel it close to home.

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Lima