Chapter 4: Politics: Beyond Liberalism and Socialism
4. Politics: beyond liberalism and socialism The true socialism of the future will emerge, I think, from an endless variety of experiments directed towards discovering the respective appropriate spheres of the individual and of the social, and the terms of fruitful alliance between these sister instincts. ‘Does unemployment need a drastic remedy?’ (1924-14, p. 222) I am sure that I am less conservative in my inclinations than the average Labour voter; I fancy that I have played in my mind with the possibilities of greater social changes than come within the present philosophies of, let us say, Mr Sidney Webb, Mr Thomas, or Mr Wheatley. The republic of my imagination lies on the extreme left of celestial space. ‘Liberalism and labour’ (1926-8, pp. 308–9) The question is whether we are prepared to move out of the nineteenth-century laissez-faire state into an era of liberal socialism, by which I mean a system where we can act as an organised community for common purposes and to promote social and economic justice, whilst respecting and protecting the individual – his freedom of choice, his faith, his mind and its expression, his enterprise and this property. ‘Democracy and efficiency’ (1939-1, p. 500) Ethics is primarily concerned with individual behaviour and considers the nature of good and appropriate rules of conduct. For G.E. Moore and the Bloomsbury Group, ethics is a question of attaining good states of consciousness through friendship, intimate relationships, the contemplation of beauty, and the quest for truth. Of course, life...
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