Political liberalism is becoming a two-sided magnet in the middle of the political realm with each side attracting left and right, growing bigger and more powerful.
Alan Wolfe manipulates the middle, the amorphous combinations which defend against both left and right extremes in an embrace of contradictions. Perhaps it's a good strategy to dismiss both extremes as romantic ideolouges and grow the middle in a supra-ideological consensus. This can assure statism a majority to stay alive, to thrive, rather than depend on the risky radicalism of the left.
This catholic formation of state builds from the moderate and sensible virtues of both sides to soften resistance to intervention as the state becomes an inevitable union of rational, consenting individuals whose reasonable procedures will institute justice and equality. Core beliefs, in Rawlsian style, are transcended by common political purpose, and this explains the basic similarities between the unifying moderates of both parties.
Every objection to the state is met with a nuanced rearrangement of the conflict, pragmatically revealing a more intelligent approach -- liberals don't want to plan the economy, just devise better ways to accomplish shared moral objectives -- liberals aren't attempting to create equality of outcomes, just making it possible for people to make better, freer choices -- liberals aren't romantic, militaristic crusaders using superpower advantage to instill democracy in backward countries, just international players working with other liberal countries to protect vital interests and stop or prevent genocide.
The contemporary liberal uses irony and Kantian dispassion to mend and transcend the ideological dichotomies created by Rousseauian zealots on the right, and even those on the left who value multi-culturalism above any form of national identity. The contemporary liberal is distanced by irony from the over-heated sensibilities, creating an open-ended approach to governance rather than a once-and-for-all pronouncement of the true way.
The evolving liberals are less partisan as divisive ideology is rejected as obstructionist and the "vital center" coalesces in a statist union of common purpose -- reflective, inclusive, suspicious of simple solutions in a complex world, but confident that human purpose and intelligence can achieve common goals and establish the correct procedures for the institution of equality and a government which delivers a fairer existence for those at risk in a world of unregulated capitalism -- it's here, in the embrace of state coercion to provide transformative positive rights, where the ironists fail to use irony to prevent delusion.
The liberal, Kantian dispassion warms with passionate resistance when faced by an offer of private alternatives whereby free people in a free market build the world they choose through voluntary agreements and transactions and solutions. The thoughtful openmindedness and distance from ideology provided by irony is turned to quick dismissal and a haughty wave of the hand when voluntarism and private players say we have a way that is openminded, thoughtful and distanced from political motivations -- and we believe it's efficient and morally sound since it's backed by voluntary action and not the barrel of a gun.
Wolfe writes: Liberalism must stand for something larger than the morally indifferent pursuit of self-interest.
This ignores capitalism's connection with co-operation and the history of private associations in America which have promoted free people helping free people, and it ignores the self-interest of statists who've proven time and again that benevolent government is more myth than reality.
Is anyone beginning to understand Obama through Wolfe and Rawls?