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Paul Gottfried

Professor of humanities, Elizabethtown College, Editor in Chief of This World, senior editor of Telos, contributing editor to Chronicles and Humanitas, author of The Conservative Movement, After Liberalism and other works

For almost half a century the defense of liberal democratic pluralism has been tied to therapeutic politics. Having reduced inherited moral truths to individual value-choices, the pluralists are now in a position to proclaim their value preferences in terms of experimental science or as inescapable paths toward modernization - condemning stubborn dissenters as pathological.

Within decades of the time that a universal male franchise was introduced in England, France, Germany, and other industrial nations, voters behaved as some nineteenth-century liberals said they would. They supported socialist parties organized with a democratic franchise and drove older, established parties in the direction of redistributionist policies.

It may ... be made to appear that socialism is vanishing because direct government ownership of the means of production has lost its mantra-like appeal among self-declared socialists. ... But what has taken its place in liberal democracies is a more enduring form of collectivism, the perceived growth of public administration as an instrument of equity.

It is worth the effort to look beyond euphemism to see how political power is exercised. Behind the mission to sensitize and teach 'human rights' lies the largely unacknowledged right to shape and reshape people's lives. Any serious appraisal of the managerial regime must consider first and foremost the extent of its control - and the relative powerlessness of its critics.