Sara Horowitz, founder of the Freelancers Union (my union!), published an edited conversation she had with Gar Alperovitz, professor of political economy at the University of Maryland. Horovitz is one of the more interesting people out there trying to make the world more humane for workers, so it’s an interesting, albeit short, conversation. Here’s one interesting comment by Alperovitz from this conversation:
“I come out of liberalism. That whole movement is largely over — and that needs to be said. I say that with one caution: they’re holding the line in certain areas, importantly, against a lot of pain. But it’s not the way of the future. It’s a decaying and dying system of politics. It needs to be said.”
This is an important critique for religious liberals to think about, because (for better or worse) religious liberalism has tied its wagon to the horse of political liberalism. Like political liberals, religious liberals favor social tolerance (not a bad thing) coupled with a highly regulated form of consumer capitalism. But liberalism, whether religious or political, seems unable to move forward in the face of global climate change and an increasingly exploitative economic system. This is not to diminish the efforts of political liberalism or religious liberalism, for both forms of liberalism are striving mightily to keep us from moving backwards into worse exploitation, and moving backwards into global climate disaster. But we’re in a place in history where just holding steady is not going to be good enough.
Speaking of political liberalism, Alperovitz says, “A whole new direction needs to grow” — a new direction that is not conservatism, nor that offshoot of conservatism, libertarianism. But neither Alperovitz nor Horowitz can yet say what that new direction will be. I think this is true for religious liberalism as well — what we’re doing now isn’t moving us forward, we don’t want to go back to dogmatic religion, nor do we want that offshoot of dogmatic religion, individualistic religion. But what our new direction will be is not clear to me.
One thought on “Finding a new direction”
I guess I fouind Alperovitz’s interview fairly vague, both on what he felt was wrong with liberalism and why he thought it was dominated by a better alternative.
If the complaint is that liberalism is having trouble dealing with economic inequality or climate change, it strikes me that the most straightforward solution is not to abandon the goals of liberalism, but to consider what would support more effective political organizing. Lack of political power, it seems to me, does not imply that the goals are wrong, but that the means of attaining those goals are inadequate.