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My Thoughts on “The Retreat of Western Liberalism”, by Edward Luce

May 22, 2018

Here is some of my stream of thought analysis I had while reading this book. You get an idea how impassioned I get while reading something like this, and why it can be dangerous sometimes for me to read certain things, and yet still at the end of it I can come out with some reasonable conclusions I think.

After reading the introduction…

“I will give this a try, but I am already concerned based on the introduction that this is going to be a naive liberal account, I think I can take a lot from it to learn, but I will just have to avoid getting angry and frustrated at this naive, or disingenuous liberal bias. I say disingenuous, because many of our elites trumpet things they don’t believe themselves just to manipulate us, as treacherous sell outs…”

After 10 pages of the main text…

“My point regarding his naive or disingenuous liberal view is not that he is a “leftist”. He does seem at least not directly guilty of that, though he does show a clear preference for that as a lesser evil than the right wing I think. But regardless the naivety comes in regarding thinking we are going to all get along under the law with shared values…”

“Our multicultural, multi-sexual, multi-ethnic society has been undermining common shared values now for some time. It is inherent in the logic of the direction of “progress” that liberal values took. We had a honeymoon period of thinking, or of being made to think it could work, that honeymoon is now over and reality has set back in…”

After 15 pages…

“So if you naively or disingenuously think more liberal is the answer, you are either a sell out elite who has nothing to lose by trumpeting things that aren’t going to effect you personally, or you are a naive liberal ideologue, who clings to a delusion that multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-sexual societies are going to accept the rational dictates of shared values and reasonable discourse…”

“when most of the “multi” we are talking about have no interest in those values, and in fact demonise them and want to bring them down at every opportunity…”

So you see how resistant I am and ready to pigeonhole his ideas. Not without reason, for he does turn out to be of this liberal frame of mind in some “naive” and “disingenuous” ways, but not in all, as I later find out. An accurate psychological assessment of someones hidden motivations is still no reason to rule out all they have to say, for there can still be some valuable content in there, if you have the patience to filter out the motivational bias of them.

After 45 pages…

 “A lot of accurate assessments of the current problems we are facing in our rising dissatisfaction in the west with our economic stagnation, but then from it he seems to be drawing the wrong conclusions. That more of the same that has got us into this situation will help sort things out.”

After 55 pages…

“”He advised a new ‘responsible nationalism’, which would ‘begin from the idea that the basic responsibility of government is to maximize the welfare of its citizens, not to pursue some abstract concept of the global good’. The global elites, in other words, need to catch up with how most people view the world – not the other way round. I believe what Summers is saying now is closer to the truth.” Nice assessment.”

How things have changed! I am now finding some common ground with his ideas regarding a critique of blindly pursuing abstract concepts of the global good based on what a self appointed moral elite likes to dictate to us. But I will soon find myself levelling vituperative rhetoric at his ideas again…

After 160 pages…

“His status as a partisan hack really came out in this chapter. Very sad really, because he does this great little bit of analysis when he isn’t talking about Trump, but then as soon as he starts talking about Trump he sounds like a dumb 5 year old throwing his toys out of the pram. The level of blame he seems to think is on Trumps shoulders is astounding to the point where he very dangerously talks of Trump as…”

“…an “enemy within”, does he really think provoking a civil war in America, with this kind of talk, would be any good for America? Does he really think all those people who support Trump are just figments of his imagination? Does he honestly not see that this movement is a groundswell against a technocratic elite who were manipulating the narrative..”

“He does the standard democrat move of calling the Russians and Trump exclusively fake news, inverting the truth that we all know which is that it is the mainstream media that has come under attack, rightfully, as fake news, due its forcing of a monolithic agenda and narrative as a voice not of the people, but of the technocratic elites, and their globe trotting agenda that is quite happy to see regular Joes…”

“…community and culture collapse and fall apart, while it quite happily imports millions of economic migrants, that it calls “refugees” telling us to put up and shut up, in the process taking our free speech under the guise of calling anything disagreeing with its technocratic mono narrative, “hate speech”, a now punishable crime.”

“In sum, someone who cannot see the true side of this story regarding the mainstream medias mono narrative, as a spokesperson of elite technocrats, and not of the people, or who is not atleast willing to withhold judgment on this point for now, given there is clearly a genuine clash of narratives currently, thanks to independent outlets like youtube allowing people to voice concerns separate from the mainstream..”

“…medias attempts to force a mononarrative upon us all. If he cannot see any of this then he is clearly just blinded by partisan hackery. This third chapter also somewhat out of date with the China scaremongering, given that since then we have seen recently progress made with North Korea that was unheard of. Flies in the face of Luces analysis of Trump as needing pills to make him as enlightened as wonderful liberals..”

“…like himself. Of couse, he really means the technocratic elite to which he, Luce, belongs, we should all bow down to these elite experts, and let our countries fall apart under mass immigration, um, no thanks Luce. Your narrative is under attack by a counter narrative, you would do well to fight back not try to pretend it doesn’t exist, its just “fake”, it makes you look like an out of touch paranoid person.”

“Luces suggestion of more appeasement of countries like China, and the usual demonisation of Russia is not a good solution. This was tried and failed by Obama, and Luce was an adviser to Obama, and I just don’t think he realises just how badly they failed. Being nice, means being took advantage of. and when taken too far, just looks like plain treachery to other countries interests over your own, this has to change.”

But finally I come round to a more sober final assessment…

After 171 pages…

“This fourth section has gotten a bit more reasonable again. He has cut down the partisan politics and started to as some real questions about what we need to do given our current situation. I think he is in error in thinking we can have an enlightenment style solution that ultimately benefits every group. Western society needs to learn to defend itself, something it didn’t have to do for a long time, from extinction”

And in Conclusion…

So his assessment of Western Liberalism and its collapse, and coming collapse, I feel is largely correct. But who he seems to blame and want to criticise seems more irrelevant. He accuses others of wanting to go back to some golden age. But is he not wanting himself to go back to a golden age of western liberalism implicitly if he is bemoaning and worrying about its retreat? I think more people realise than he thinks how difficult the future is set to be for the western world. We have tried to take on too much. Claiming too grand a moral title for ourselves as saviors of the world, as the height of progress in the world, etc. We are going to need to reassess what we want the Western world to identify as, and I think this is the process that is currently happening. Western liberalism as he sees it, was the golden era of the past. Though he neglects to point just how much that golden era relied on an imperialism that kept the rest of the world down. I feel the Western world deserves to have a place in the world and does have a valid place in the world. But it is going to take some figuring out from its current identity crisis. And the answer is certainly not trying to bring back the golden age of liberalism, for that relied on other aspects such as imperialism that are not a good option for our future.

So there you have it, reading a book can be an emotional roller coaster. For me, it is because there is a feeling of powerlessness sometimes while reading a book.Here is this person, this author, in a privileged person, able to get his ideas out to thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, and my voice in opposition to this has few people to reach out to. So even when and if he is uttering lies or deceptions or just exhibiting ignorance, there is little I can do to put things to right. I guess this is my outlet. But I think the main thing is to try and have some patience and humility. Then you can develop your own reasoned responses over time, and there will always be an audience for reasonable and clear thinking. The clear thought I get from all this is that western society is indeed in some sort of identity crisis primarily and that is where our concern should be directed if we care for its future and continuance.

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