By Desmond King
This publication investigates examples of social coverage in Britain and the USA that clash with liberal democratic beliefs. It examines using eugenic arguments within the Twenties and Thirties, using paintings camps within the Thirties, and the advent of work-for-welfare courses because the Eighties. the writer argues that govt lodging of intolerant regulations are a paradox of a liberal democratic framework.
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Additional info for In the name of liberalism: illiberal social policy in the USA and Britain
The example examined in this study is the use of work camps in the 1930s to alleviate unemployment (though clearly other social policies would have some of this type’s characteristics). The collectivism necessitated by a work camp strategy conflicts with the liberal principles of self-sufficiency and individualism; it had therefore to be rendered acceptable politically, as a pragmatic measure which would not undercut market activity. State-fostered improvement within the constraints of individualism was formulated as a response.
Intellectual support for such progressivist reform came from the American thinker, John Dewey, who advocated a ‘positive state’: ‘the majority who call themselves liberals today are committed to the principle that organized society must use its powers to establish the conditions under which the mass of individuals can possess actual as distinct from merely legal liberty. ’ Dewey dismissed the opponents of such intervention as anachronistic, unwilling to recognize 42 Brogan (1985: 455). 43 Tanner (1996: 37).
3 As Brian Barry summarizes: ‘the basic idea of liberalism is to create a set of rights under which people are treated equally in certain respects, and then to leave them to deploy these rights (alone or in association with others) in pursuit of their own ends. 5 Liberal democracy imputes a set of rights to citizens as the basis for autonomous action;6 unreasonable or 1 Freeden (1996: 141). 2 See inter alia, Kymlicka (1990), Bellamy (1992), Freeden (1996), Waldron (1993), Raz (1986), Powell (1992), and Holmes (1995).
In the name of liberalism: illiberal social policy in the USA and Britain by Desmond King