Either way, the criticism is that I appear to adopt positions that sit well outside of the "moderate" set of ideologies. However, it hasn't always been that way. I drifted towards being a moderate in the period between leaving university and my later radicalisation by the election of a Tory government (sic). The following graphic shows my positions at different times using the Political Compass as a handy way of recording such things:
What's clear is that I started off towards the anarchist corner, drifted towards being centrist, and then swung right back to the anarchist corner again. Fortunately (for me), the amount of time I spend dwelling on political ideas means I can pinpoint exactly where that drift happened, and the point at which I realised that I had been absolutely wrong. Liberals, moderates, whatever you fancy calling them - I'm sure their hearts are in the right place, but if they think their approach will ever lead to left wing progress, they're wrong.
Liberals are basically good for signing petitions, and not a lot else.
What I've noticed in a lot of liberals, and what I felt myself for a time, is that somehow perhaps the machinery of capitalism and neoliberalism can be use to deliver progressive, humanitarian outcomes.
Nick Clegg recently said
"competition is the means to a better NHS, not the ends"And I think for me, that says it all. He imagines that the forces that routinely create societal inequality can be harnessed for good. It's a sad delusion, which I held for a few years, and which he has seemingly made a career out of holding. What will of course happen is that competition will do what competition does - serve markets, serve itself, and do nothing to help people.
I mean, look at the railways. There's meant to be some form of competition there, right? So, say I want to travel from Guildford to London.. Competition means that I can choose between taking the direct route with Southwest Trains (33 minutes), or else with First Great Western (88 minutes - more than twice as long) or else with FGW and Southern (97 minutes - almost three times as long). Is that competition in any practical sense?
"Ah!" say the neoliberals, "that's not how it's meant to work!" Rather, they would argue that the competition element comes when companies bid for the franchises to run the railway lines, at which point they can compete on price and on the services they propose to offer. So we get the best companies, right? Wrong - what we get are the companies who have the best short term policies, with no regard to the long term. What incentive is there to invest in the infrastructure of the line if in ten years, before the investment has paid for itself, the franchise is then awarded to another company? So that doesn't really work either. This is why we're currently overwhelmed with mediocrity in our rail network.
And this is why liberalism needs to be combated at every possible opportunity. It's a mechanism by which good intentions think they can tame a bad system, and in doing so only lend legitimacy to that system, without improving it one iota.
If you think you can tame the system, the system will instead tame you. The Liberal Democrats are an obvious example of this, but there are plenty of others. Do not aspire to tame the system, aspire to smash it. It'll try to smash you back, but better that than be turned into a liberal...