As a preface and justification, let me begin with trivial definitions, because e.g. Google’s explanation of what liberalism is, makes the stage setting of my critique: their definition expresses an opinion on the education platform number one worldwide for the average intellectual, i.e. those who look beyond the level of social media pribble-prabble:
So what is liberalism on Google?
– “Willingness to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one’s own; openness to new ideas”. – Let us test this definition on an example: A right-extremist, a pedophile, a killer of a former muslim writer … Is this really the average opinion of today’s people to respect their opinions and behaviour? The stark contradiction to what “the law” – liberal democracy’s rule of law – has to say about such politically correct allegation of its civil society, puts a merciless end to such phantasies anyway. As an example from the perspective of the political guilde: where is the logic of political parties forbidden due to their “different” opinions, or of speeches in parliaments by extremists with ideas against the common good?
– The further definition: “a political and social philosophy that promotes individual rights, civil liberties, democracy, and free enterprise” remains innocent only, until their repre-sentatives are asked about the responsibility for the consequences of the application of such philosophy, as long as there is no information about the role of social responsi-bility of citizens, of limits to liberties other than what is forbidden by law.
And on Wikipedia: A speciality of one of their definitions, “freedom of speech”, is, that most of their authors do not dare to openly state their opinions, i.e. their opinions are mostly anonymous, hidden behind secret keywords. Thus, we are talking about “free-dom of secrecy”, not of open speech.
Besides “freedom of speech”, they define liberalism by explanations such as “equality before the law”: i.e. people are press-ganged by anonymous public opinion to trust in a system, the truth behind which they only learn in case of direct involvement: have you ever tried to make use of this equality against a powerful commercial or industrial corporation, or – even the State – take a loan of a couple of millions to pay for half a dozen of attorneys, only to learn, that an army of them sits on the other side? – provided you can afford such endeavour, obviously. Because the reality is, that “equality before the law” exists only for those who have the money to afford this liberal kind of “rule of law”.
And “secularism, and freedom of religion”? What is the answer for citizens of a liberal democratic State, who are members of a religion that proclaims democracy to be in-compatible with their religion?
Many questions arise, and answers a missing for use in real life in the real world.
Nevertheless, I am not going to argue and say that liberalism is obsolete, I will not primarily criticise the philosophy of liberalism and new liberalism per se, but the conse-quences that resulted from them, or better to say of the outcome, namely of the present condition of liberal social systems, in order to justify my statement, that liberalism needs a fundamental correction, that it requires something like “an upgrade”, as political scien-tist David Altman proposed for renewal of liberal democracy,[i] as both are inseparably linked together anyway. At a second look, however, from a perspective of ethics or social ethics, this change is not just an upgrade, but a renovation or renaissance, call for a very deep-reaching social change.
Having said this, I will not primarily argue against single proponents in earlier or recent literature. I will only give a few general comments related to all or several of them, and I will point at the deplorable and dangerous consequences of what liberalism finally resulted in.
Finally, I will propose – like a number of today’s authors – a New Enlightenment based on New Ethics, resulting in the development of a New Democracy, all of them based on intelligent upbringing of the human social nature, instead of stigmatization, disapproval and incrimination of some of its antisocial aspects (which are anyway self-destructive, because they act against the primary quality of a human being: lifelong dependencies and interdependencies and connections.
The primary problems with liberalism’s outcome
I will attempt to outline, that liberalism and new liberalism as socio-political systems are intrinsically auto-destructive ideologies because they lead to liberation of people from their own socio-ethical sources, towards liberation from each other, even from the edu-cative ideas of liberalism, and I will demonstrate, that political correctness in liberalistic societies is no less fundamentalist than the fundamentalists they doom, despite their claim to be tolerant. From the beginning, liberalism has been caught in a tolerance-trap:
Radical tolerance – or whatever we might want to call it – leads us into Karl Popper’s – and also Bertrand Russell’s [ii] – discussion of Plato’s paradox of tolerance,ii p.92 where he writes in “The open society and its enemies”: “We should … claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal”.[iii]As an example from our present situation in Europe, I point to what I call the “Islam-Liberalism-trap”: free reli-gious practice in a liberal democratic state, where muslims claim the promised freedom, however, point to fact that religious practice in their case cannot be separated from their cultural practice in daily life, as well as to the fact, that islam does not allow them to accept democracy as their political system. This trap closes from the liberals’ own side, when they come forward with their values and rules, as US-philosopher Tom Christiano stated: “… one does not genuinely treat others as equals if one insists on imposing principles on them that they cannot reasonably accept …”.[iv]
Another example is western democracies’ intolerance towards other political systems: democracy is declared the only acceptable system for civilised people. Islam’s prompt reaction has been their so-called “Cairo declaration”, a counter-declaration of human rights to the one of the UN. This new western universalism, represented by Francis Fukuyama at the end of the Cold War in his book “The end of history”,[v] has been fiercefully criticised by Samuel Huntington in his “Clash of Civilizations” [vi] – the debate has been ongoing until more or less today.
Other examples such as the contradictory development of libertinism versus new puri-tanism (prudishness) seem to be less important at first sight, however, they reflect the deep-reaching confusion and loss of orientation and cultural identity.ii p.183 – The absurdity of societies’ situation in circumstances such as the increase of social divide as a result of liberalism, as well as the absolutism of “the law” in a liberal world, are even more important: “The Law” has already been a sacred entity in ancient Rome, even a separate goddess – however, only one among quite a big family of gods – by contrast to today, where it has remained the only authority. – Finally, the absurdity confronts us, that we claim, in a liberal democratic society, to get our individual freedom protected by the law, while we claim the liberty to refuse to be controlled by the law, whether we ourselves respect the liberal rights of the others – we call this e.g. “data protection”. And as an example of the absurdity of “free speech”, we allow pro-Russian demonstrations while detesting Russia’s war in Ukraine and punishing their people by sanctions – a sad example in present Britain are anti-Monarchy demonstrations during the Queen’s fune-ral ceremonies. Or consider this: on occasion of the riots and islamist attacks in Paris, a group of migrants in Berlin was allowed a demonstration, where a man wearing a mask with the face of Emmanuel Macron was dragged through the streets while protesters shouted „Allahu-Akbar“.
The revolutionisers, from the 16th century on, but finally in the late 18th and 19th century, liberated themselves from religious and aristocratic suppression, but lost orientation. Liberalisation turned away from Kant’s claim for maturity [vii] to unleash our animal creature into individualism, libertinism and hedonism. Liberalism has become the ide-ology of „non-dominance“, a wolf in sheepskin’s clothing with “the rule of law” as the hidden autocratic dominance. It bears the seed of individualism which itself is the seed of self-destruction. Politically correct opinion made liberalism’s justification for being intolerant towards some other opinions turn into their populism. It represents their ill-defined anxiety of a self-devouring power of liberalism in democracy, where it unleashes inimical forces against itself.
Chaos at the end of liberalism and its democracy – or vice versa – is enacted either by uprising (probably ending in autocracy) or luke-warm cultural decline in postmodern-ism:[viii] [ix] [x]
-Ever smaller causes lead to ever more aggressive and fierce battles between groups of those left behind – and police, or groups of contrary beliefs or interests. Just take real note of what happens: think of the protest and actions of opponents against Corona-vaccination. Towards the end, people are becoming each others’ enemies, because they want part of each others’ unlimited freedom, as US-philosopher Jason Brennan also writes: “One of the repugnant features of democracy is that it transfers these people into threats to my well-being. My fellow-citizens exercise power over me in risky and incompe-tent ways. This makes them my civic enemies”.[xi]
-Cultural decline expresses itself in many ways: violence against teachers in schools, not to mention slander in social media, “conscience” becoming a loanword.
-Political liberalism is increasingly unmasked as political weakness and inactivation with politicians on the discrete leading strings of capitalism, and democracy kept as a playground in capitalism’s backyard.ii p.37, p.121 An example from recent news describes today’s reality: Italian politicians did not make their people aware of mid-August 2022 elections, because they did not dare to disturb them in their summer holidays …
-But autocracy may also result from people trying to escape from the liberal chaos: Hungary has recently been declared an “electoral autocracy”.
To avoid definitive chaos and gliding into one of the horror scenarios, the negative conse-quences of liberalism must be identified at their roots, in order to be able to effectively deal with them:
The negative consequences of liberalism
I will therefore summarise the major negativeconsequences of liberalism and new liberalism, in 5 categories, followed by a more detailed discussion of these points, and commence by stating that
1- liberalism is an ideology widely ignoring the real, evolutionary nature of us human social beings – other than that individuals are free to just recklessly and inconside-rately live their creatureness in the sense of “the body needs it”, or “I need it”, irres-pective of possible discomfort caused to, or restriction of the liberty of, others – wich leads to
2- that liberalism consequently became a phenomenon of social hedonism rather than a new stable social system to replace religious states, monarchies and other autocratic governments, and further to
3 – that liberalism not only allowed – but literally invited – antisocial and anti-environ-ment-capitalism in, with capitalism’s goals acting contrary to the ideology of the common good and tending to end in anarcho-capitalism.
4- Equality vs. freedom: the dilemma of liberalism. Freedom and equality are competi-tors, not companions.
5- Liberalism leaves education behind, and thereby civilisation and culture; it prefers laws and other rules to replace education, it mistrusts the capabilities of the human to become civilized, to learn and to live mutual respect, to become themselves repre-sentatives of an ethic of equal rights.
Ad 1: Liberalism ignores to politically consider social human nature other than by creating a behavioural cage of laws:
The problem with John Locke’s “natural right for freedom” was, that natural rights are misinterpreted as a quasi a priori, instead of being defined as part of a social contract, that the only consequence that got through to people was liberation, from suppression by aristocracy and indoctrination by religious power, liberation which was pursued as freedom from social obligations, and finally from dependencies from each other alto-gether, straight into self-actualization and self-fulfillment, uncoupled from any social bindings, ending in the fashion not to become formal couples any longer, and to give same-sex-couples the same formal status as marriage.
Freedom, liberation, however, was defined as freedom limited only by laws, while education into social behaviour as a citizen and understanding of its usefulness for the individual forthcoming is widely ignored, the same as in political ideology, where the biological knowledge about factors like ethnical xenophobia and territorialisation ii p. 56 is ignored and called “racism” in politically correct language. Consequently, from a per-spective of liberalistic ideology, the biological reality of spontaneous human behaviour is not allowed and therefore to be stigmatised and even to be legally persecuted: as an example, any xenophobia is distorted and converted in medially supported funda-mentalism into immoral racism, irrespective of the fact that “racism” has originally been an expression reserved to describe the belief in superiority of one race over another, moreover, irrespective of the fact that xenophobia is instinctive behaviour deeply rooted in evolution. Thus, natural spontaneous human behaviour is turned into an allegation of extremism – a position spontaneously rejected by many citizens of these modern liberal democratic states. Right-oriented political parties could hardly believe the favour, libe-ralism has given them, by chasing people from center-oriented parties into their arms.
The behavioural cage of laws and opinions
Liberalism has become the ideology of „Non-dominance“, a wolf in sheepskin’s clothing with “the rule of law” as the hidden autocratic dominance. “The law” is the placeholder for social behaviour due to education, replacing moral rules taught by the behated religion, left behind in freedom.
Freedom of opinion turns out as an illusion of the masses in a western liberal democracy, in which “liberalism” is defined as „the freedom to believe what the majority believes, what public opinion allows”,* xi p.77 as Jason Brennan put it. The power of dominating beliefs and rumours of crowds has always dominated in history, irrespective of e.g. the various attempts of emperors and kings to introduce some level of tolerance between ethnic groups, attempts which resulted in even more brutal pogroms. ii p.365 [N153]
Today’s people are thus disoriented, torn between two worlds by living their liberalism if not libertinism, theoretically controlled by law and order as a tamer on the one side, and at the same time living their life in a society of archaic structures of social behaviour, with opinion leaders, underdogs, silent slavery, and of course xenophobia as well as territorialisation.
This schizoid situation has driven liberal societies to the brink. Jason Brennan argues that human societies are more complex than simplistic theories could manage, because societies are dominated by irrational beliefs etc.; xi p.48 economist Brian Caplan goes on to call this “rational irrationality”,[xii] a criticism which sounds more than rational conside-ration of the madness of serious politics regarding nuclear overkill and environmental crisis.
The world has changed too fundamentally thanks to technologies to allow to seek any more support from the founder of liberalism, John Locke. Considering the fact that a human does not even become a human without others, the claim for “natural freedom” needs a considerable amount of explanation and relativisation, ending in the question, to whom the individual actually belongs: to itself or to the society that made it a human.
In any case, enlightenment and its liberalism did not make people free in the sense of Kant’s maturity. Instead, it made them ever more slaves of individual wishes and desires . At best – and this leads us to point two:
Ad 2. Liberalism creates social hedonism: At best, liberalism has led societies into “social hedonism”, where groups of similar individual interests find and fight together –
against other such groups, however, this is more or less exactly the development, the fathers of the US-system tried to avoid. Thus, as “ … Alexander Hamilton and James Madison made clear in Federalist No.63, the essence of the American Republic would consist in the total exclusion of the people, in their collective capacity, from any share” in the government”.[xiii] The federalists had no sympathy for democracy and people getting engaged with political interest groups, but factions within the federalists became fractions and parties anyway, finally today’s cold war of political parties. The political philosophy of the Federalists, was to control the consequences of human social – or better to say anti-social – behaviour rather than the causes: “The Law” became the only limitation of personal freedom, and punishment was supposed to be a threat for non-compliance. Socialization/education was not part of the plan. Through their decision, Federalists, the fathers of the US constitution, gave up on man, and his “animal nature” – one needs to be fair, however, and say, that knowledge about our psychic nature from an evolutionary point of view were unknown at that time. Today’s “Western” movies show the consequences: a world of archaic hierarchies, brachial force replaced by firearms, “The Law” all too often violated by adaptation to the old rules.ii p.393 [N204B] Robespierre – misunderstanding Rousseau’s claim of the individual to himself up to society, announced on the occasion of a speech to the National Convention in 1794: ”nous voulons substituer … la morale a l’égoisme … “[we want to replace … egoism by moral].13 But, instead of having children socialized into understanding the meaning, moral was made the brutal law of the “Terreur”, the terror regime of the revolution [xiv] – this “terreur” has been detested and rejected by all European nations. Instead, they took over the system exported by the US back into Europe: Thus, liberalism has been working against the common good since the start of revolutions, by turning a confused idea of freedom into social hedonism; here and now, we can see the final stage of this development: nations divided into polarised groups in a cold war of political parties against each other and demonstrating that there is no such thing as a conscious, socially responsive “will of the people”. The latter only comes forward as a cruel biest representing unleashed collective human instinct, expressed as lynch justice and the like, as long as people have not been civilized to a stage of Kantian maturity.
The biologist and social activist Eibl-Eibesfeldt wrote in 1994 in a book entitled “Against a society of mistrust”, that liberalism as the driving force brought democratic societies into “exaggerated individualism and hedonism, embellished as self-realisation”, [xv] political scientist Ulrich Menzel tried to explain this contradiction as “failed rational cartesian logic”,.[xvi]
Over time, and thanks to the industrial revolution, aristocracy was quickly replaced by a new ruling party: Capitalism. Which leads to point 3:
Ad 3. Liberalism invited free – ruthless – capitalism in: A collusive system of individual-ism, solipsism down to egocentric hedonism and ruthless capitalism resulted from
the credo of maximal individual freedom – Ruthless exploitation of possibilities, be it environment or other humans, is typical of liberal democratic systems, with a minimum of control of individuals and enterprises, because “freedom” is the primary dogma, or, in other words: in liberalism, we all are now kings! – or at least believe we are. Here, Grayling’s argumentation does not convince me where he supports the opinion of Benjamin Constant with the words: “Freedom means the right to accept only the law and its no longer arbitrary application “. [xvii] In reality, much of what we see in today’s real world comes down to silent, hidden anarcho-capitalism, a system, in which politicians of liberal democracies are held captives by capitalism or are such capitalists themselves, who apply populist strategies to seduce and misguide the masses. Mostly, however, it’s the super-rich with politicians on the leading strings, which points into the direction of anarcho-capitalism: Thus, politics in liberal democratic systems, held captive by capi-talist market economy from the one side, and by the socalled people’s will from the other side, widely held to inactivity, are unable to manage even a certain level of equality, and above all unable to prevent maximal incomes from going through the roof and resulting in a system of capitalistic autocracy or – frankly speaking, oligarchy discretely acting in anonymity – as “anarcho-capitalism”. Individuals and their global enterprises start to grow beyond jurisdiction and towards a take-over of whole states. Look at what happened to space-aviation as one example: half a century ago, a president Kennedy could stimulate his nation’s pride by calling out a run to the moon – today, space flight is in the hands of two private economic giants in the west and of autocratic political systems in the east. Another example: A few years after the Moon-Landing, Aurelio Peccei founded the Club of Rome and brought the start of an environmental crisis to our attention. An industrial giant, EXXON,[xviii] decided to invest in the denial of this environmental crisis and thereby managed to keep the world moving on cars, fuelled by their petrol – what did politics do against this fatal onset of our path towards a global ecological crisis? – Capitalist giants meanwhile moved into a number of agenda actually to be controlled by society: they decide which diseases are to be attacked globally, they decide which development countries are to be supported – guess in whose interest.xviii p.89
Towards the final stage of a liberal society, we start to face anarchy caused by private financial giants who interfere with the state’s social systems and activities, acting in a parallel, private government and slowly undermining the state’s subsidiary activity.[xix]
Capitalism thus becomes the gateway for liberal democracy’s way into autocracy or oligarchy: The US recently started to demonstrate, how it works – and this story is ongoing, as we all know.
This is liberalism’s deadly risk, but only the one from above: there is an equal risk from below, initiated by “the people”, those, who do not understand the consequences of what they believe freedom to be: every strike, every demonstration is a little sign, a little exodus of a group of socalled free citizens, away from their society, their state, into the outside: one of the most significative events of the recent past was the French yellow-vest movement: people vandalised across their country and destroyed many public objects which they had paid with their tax money.ii p.429 [N273] Their goal was more money, their result was destruction of their own resources.
Slogans like “productivity” and “cost-effectiveness” are among the paving stones on liberal democracy’s way to the gulag of capitalism’s global dominance, there, where reality is muffled and hidden by hazy explanations like “quantitave ease” and “neo-classical economy”. This kind of capitalism, unleashed by liberalism, eats the world up together with liberal democracy, first employs politicians for its purposes, then wears and incorporates the state, and finally takes possession of it,[xx] ends up as a despotism of the peoples’ belly, while they might slowly start to realise that they are no longer autonomous, no longer free to choose. Similar dangers pop through from “free press”: look at the Murdoch-empire or Berlusconi. – Taken together, we are confronted with open games like the Donald Trump-Story.
Neo-liberalism with a last dream of a possible future pleads to ask people as the “choosers of aims”, what it is that they actual want – in view of divided states with parties in a cold war – and who is going to express which questions anyway, and who is not concerned about the fact that the methodology will again be dealt with by experts? [xxi] Not even mentioning the fact that a collusion of market-advertising and not quite exactly free press /media make sure people are indoctrinated in what their masters want them to want – what else can we all want anyway than things reported and advertised as “sought after”? – Why do they not see that they are back at the beginning of enlightenment, or at least to the moment when Kant expressed his call for maturity … immediately followed by concerns about the dangers brought about by the “masters” of public opinion?
Neo-liberalism, the protagonist of free capitalism, free multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society, and of the privatization of State-institutions, has allowed the democratic State to be degraded to the level of a business, whereby the rule of capitalism dominates modern democratic politics. Politicians have become businessmen, or employers, or the hidden employees of businessmen (as German politicians were repeatedly blamed for being, in respect to their car industry). Colin Crouch, post-democracy protagonist, criticizes: „As much as economy depends … on the State, it may equally influence politics on the other side. In a democracy, wealth can hardly be prevented from having an influence on politics. … The ideological victory of neo-liberalism resulted in us being by far too dependent on an eco-nomy which is itself only in part dictated by the market, however, much more by corpo-rations. …. These developments become a problem not only for democracy, but also for the market economy.” [xxii]
Liberalists like US-political scientist Yasha Mounk remain neo-liberalists as long as they do not decidedly propose measures against social divide. What, otherwise, should be the meaning of e.g. “The first lesson is the great importance of unity”.[xxiii] I agree, but unity never comes at the beginning, unity is a final achievement. Modern democracy, even during its best days, has never been a unity of “the people”, but a conflict of classes, carried out in a cold war of parties – not to speak of the conflicts between people of different cultural backgrounds or ethnicities.[xxiv] p.189, [xxv]
Meanwhile, unregulated capitalism starts to be criticised, e.g. by economist and Nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz (*1943) ,A263 and called “market-fundamentalism”, even by billionairs like George Soros – its back to John Maynard Keynes’ control of the all too free markets.ii p.398 [N214] – New liberalism now stands exposed as an ideology of supporting brutal capitalism and of the naïve belief in globalisation and eternal economic growth. Neo-liberal politics started flighting the elite-theory as a danger similar to oligarchy and autocracy; meanwhile, it is confronted with failed liberal strategies like privatisation and the “slim state” – they are no longer “the right thing to do”: think of the Carillion-affair in Britain as an example, and of the call for re-nationalisation of enterprises of public inter-est like railways, mail service, water- and energy supply, aviation-control etc.ii p.215 Theo-retically, thus, its back from Milton Friedman to a neo- Keynes-ianism of state control of market economy, away from post-war free market economy.
In today’s real life, the situation is unchanged: As a consequence of the rise of liberated economy and its powerful repercussion on democratic politics, equal access to education and quality of life are similarly distorted as are equal rights in jurisdiction, and politics themselves became kidnapped and captives of a corporatocracy.
Ad 4. Equality vs. freedom: the dilemma of liberalism.
Equality was proclaimed in revolutions together with freedom, however not effec-tively included in a new social order: What means freedom in the light of equality, or in
other words, how much freedom is there, if one takes equality into consideration? The problem resulting from an attitude of maximal possible freedom, at the core of liberal-ism, is, that it comes without a real so to say social contract with “equality”: freedom and equality, are competitors, not companions. As a consequence, in an unregulated system, the more freedom an individual takes, the more it takes away from the others and thereby reduces equality.
We will have to see and understand, that Rousseau’s expectation will not come true, by which “ … instead of destroying natural inequalities, the fundamental compact substitutes, for such physical inequality as nature may have set up between men, an equality that is moral and legitimate, and that men, who may be unequal in strength or intelligence, become every one equal by convention and legal right …” [xxvi] – it will not come true other than by education into the comprehension and insight, that freedom and equality are constantly not quite yet at war with each other, as Kant expressed it (as “the state of peace between men, who are living side by side, is not a natural state”, however, “not quite yet at war with each other”, [xxvii] K17; thus, education into comprehension / insight and lenience would be required. By contrast, today, “The law” is the placeholder for social behaviour due to education, replacing moral rules taught by the behated religion, left behind on the way into freedom. – Instead of the allowance to do whatever is not forbidden, “freedom” could be defined as freeing from political suppression, however, not from social depen-dencies and obligations.
The understanding of this essential circumstance ist not only not part of education, it is also not part of social practice in daily life – this brings us to point five about education into understanding anti-social effects in order to be able to control them:
Ad 5- Liberalism leaves education behind: Children are today guided into a self-destructive system in three ways: 1- left alone with their instinctive egocentric
nature, 2- habituated into the life and culture of their parent generation, people, who are also not educated nor practicing a culture of equal freedoms, which would be a behaviour of individual self-restriction in the interest of the freedoms of the others,xxiv p.160 and 3- exposed to ruthless commercial advertising:
US-writer Neil Postman reports .[xxviii] p.47 that „in 1995, american children spent 5000 hours in front of TV, before even their first year in school, and 19000 hours at the end of high school, and that they have seen 600 000 advertisement spots by the age of 20“.*xxviii p.63 Postman also confirms my critique of product advertising as a prime modern educational tool:ii p.238 „Beyond the goal, to make them consumers, there is only very little, that this civilization is willing to do for children “. xxviii p.158
Undoubtedly, education is one of the most dangerous corners of modern liberal society, where education has literally become an imposition, where adults follow their dream of self-realisation while putting their offsprings into all-day-care – a behaviour which reminds of the reports of Claude Lévi- Strauss [xxix] from his experience with people in the Amazone.
In summary, liberalists seem to believe that it is worth to defend and to uphold liberal democracy despite all criticism and concerns, in a battle against corruption and popul-ism, blinded and deaf against their own populism, social divide and anti-social behaviour towards the environment and nations they exploit in neo-colonialism. – Where is liberal society with improved vertical mobility in a world where the rich support universities with multi-millions and have their children enter the most prestigious universities through a side door?
I called the liberal kind of radical freedom and individualism the “terminator of liberal democracy”.[xxx] Similarly, David Cameron had called this kind of British society a “broken society”.[xxxi] Billionaires therein are not getting saturated, but neurotically anxious if they loose one of their billions; but they strive for global dominance in the sense of Elias Canetti’s vision and comparison between paranoid world leaders and patients with paranoia.[xxxii] On the other side of society, underprivileged young people, who fall criminal, have not been and are not properly brought up and educated, but further incriminated, publicly insulted as sleaze of society to make sure they will never come back intosociety. The 10 percent or so of people left behind by society, are securely left there – that nobody will be left behind, is a political lie.
The state, the political country, grows increasingly lonely, an undefended, open space. The tragedy for liberals in this development seems to be, that they are not aware of the fact, that states only exist, as long as they are populated by a human culture, a society held together by a feeling of common identity, the individuals of which understand that their “common good” is, what they themselves contribute. Individualism draws into the opposite direction, it represents a society breaking apart due to their lack of binding capacity [xxxiii], xxxi p.243  However, there is no human life without society- Claude Lévi-Strauss described the scenario in “Tristes Tropiques“:[xxxiv] The individual emigrating from society into individual hedonism leaves offsprings behind without orientation – the dramatic increase in psychic problems – not only since or due to Corona – is a shrill war-ning signal in modern western societies, which remains overheard, just like the hazy clouding from environmental neglect is hardly noticed.
Thus, we have to admit in view of this last dream of the French revolution: we are not free. The dream is over. We urgently need to wake up into a new era of enlightenment. I will address it in third part of this essay:
A New Enlightenment
If “Enlightenment” has been awareness, i.e. becoming aware of what exists and happens around us beyond dreams, illusions and epiphany, the New Enlightenment should be to see reason, to draw the consequences of our observations and discoveries, to take on and really execute the necessary actions for the sake of survival. There are, however, not only the entities discussed 250 years or so ago, not only to overcome “immaturity”. New challenges have arisen since, of which mankind got aware, however, we are allowed to mention as an initial excuse and exoneration, that they occurred only during our lifetime – the four major issues in my view are:
-the environmental damages we are inducing into the biosphere and earth as a whole: it was around 1960 that Aurelio Peccei from Rome start his initiative called the “Club of Rome”, which elicited the discoveries of the Meadows’ couple and of further research-ers. Instead of immediate amendment of our technologies, however, the data were denied and ignored, and Capra’s “New Age” [xxxv] provoked more superstition than reason.xxiv p.151 The New Enlightenment therefore needs us to step down from the pedestal of the masters of the world and get back in file amidst the other creatures of the biosphere, considering the fact that we are part of, and dependent on, the socalled environment (where all the other humans are part of for any individual). Despite the fact that decades have been lost for timely preventive measures, we must acknow-ledge how short the time distance is between our getting aware of the problem – and today, for immediate adequate behavioural adjustments. The second, and equally important issue has made a similar time-course:
-It is the awareness of our actual nature, I am talking about, of us being conscious, potent-ially self-aware creatures, yet creatures derived from the evolution of animals. It took some 100 years from Charles Darwin’s publication, until the awareness that we are somehow descendents of apes has arrived in the last corners even of Europe. And it is just about 50 years ago that Sigmund Freud’s so to say discovery of our “unconscious” provoked this fashion of having oneself analysed by a psychologist or psychiatric physician. And ever more detailed knowledge about the nature of our self-aware ego keeps accumulating in our present time – about 100 years ago, people in academia ridiculed Freud for his allegations, and chased him from his “Alma Mater”, the university of Vienna.
The deficient awareness of our true nature and origin – not as children of God and creatures by mere immediate creation -, but by evolution through all the living beings on earth, has seduced us over and again to develop ideologies widely ignoring and stigmatising our animal nature, the physiological evolution of which has made us into creatures mostly living spontaneously, which means instinctively, automatically, based on, or better to say effectuated by, our socalled vegetative nervous and hor-monal systems, not to speak of the time lag between our brain’s initiation of activity and our becoming aware of it (see Benjamin Libet’s experiments ii p.89 and the culmination of this post-modern movement in Sternberg’s “My brain made me do it” [xxxvi]). There, the New Enlightenment’s goal will have to be to re-invent education of descendents into society, considering the introduction of strategies to trick out anti-social behavioural patterns, and to make them understand the meaning and even opportunistic usefulness, not to say profitableness, of the New-Old-Ethics of the “Golden rule”:
– The deficient awareness of the conflict between freedom and equality, which needs to be solved by education into a deeper insight of our interdependencies as social beings, to make them understand the meaning and even opportunistic usefulness, not to say profitableness, of the New-Old-Ethics of all world religions and ethical systems such as the “Golden rule”, the Christian altruism, i.e. reciprocal altruism as a common ethos: We need to finally consider the fact that there is a consequence to be taken from the awareness that it is necessary – especially in the long run – to leave the “Others” the same freedoms and accesses to options we demand for ourselves, if we want to get them realised in peace for ourselves, – to keep peace, we need to leave each other equal dignity, freedom and access to goods. Reciprocally altruistic citizens as a result of this fundamental change will result in themselves being representatives of these ethical principles, by having understood that their freedom is halved by their aware-ness of equal freedom, rights and dignity of all the others, as an incarnation of equal rights for the reason of self-interest, i.e. self-defense of their equal rights. Reciprocally altruistic citizens, as a result of this fundamental change, will thus result in themselves becoming an incarnation of these ethical principles, by having understood that their freedom is halved by their awareness of equal freedom, rights and dignity of all the others.
– From a global perspective, New Enlightenment’s goal will have to be the insight, that the same ethical principles hold for inter-national as for inter-individual behaviour. This insight includes to admit, that not only belief in eternal economic growth is fatally illusionary, but also that any economic growth represents two challenges: a) competition is an expression of a cold war between groups of interest, and b) above all, it represents an attempt to hold developing countries on a sufficiently low level to keep them dependent on the growing western markets. One indirect sign of this modern version of slavery in neo-colonialism is the auto-destructive fashion of making countries like China and India the dirty production sites for cheap goods thanks to low-wage production. Billionaires in India and Chinese state-capitalism do not annihilate the fact that billions of people live in poverty there, with the liberal West administering their poverty.
External causes – not internal change – are now starting to reflect the West’s fatal illusionary path towards the abyss. However, this development also points to possibilities, how to turn away from self-destruction in the last minute: war and pandemic demonstrate the downside of capitalist globalisation, provoking first calls for self-reliance of production (re-autarchy xxiv); shortages force people to reduce consumption, to step down from thoughtless consumerism and waste of energy and resources. Thus, the liberal West will have to learn to take itself back as consumers, as neo-colonialists, to finally accept its former colonies, and any different civilisation /different cultural basis as equal, with all the ethical principles being applicable from the inter-individual level.
Attempt of a summary of my critique
Even if I give you now the impression of putting the cart before the horse, I want to end by going back to the beginning to give you a definitive reason for a “New Enlightenment”: An expression is a description of a relation between an observation and a thinker’s mind, i.e. a construct. Natural rights such as freedom as defined by John Locke represent the assumption of an a priori, i.e. the assumption of rights to exist before life exists, not to speak of man. One could, in Locke’s work, replace „natural“ by „equal“, i.e. his right for life is „natural“, because it is equally given to everyone, which means that no one can take it away from the other without introducing inequality. I understand their work as an expression of the courage to state that all men, irrespective of their background, in a society should have an equal right for life, and an equal amount of freedom. The latter is to be understood as a liberation from suppression of one social class by another, not primarily to describe the liberation of individuals from each other within one class. I consider this the core issue and problem of a misunderstanding which has been transported by the 18th and 19th century revolutions up until our era and now presents itself as the downside of liberalism. The reason for this development in my under-standing is, that the mass of people, liberated from suppression by revolution, did not develop a new social order, which would from then on follow the principle of equality. The only entity developed and praised was freedom, i.e. liberty, developed into a new social ideology: liberalism. In this process, the entity of equality has been widely ignored, although it was clear, that freedoms of individuals would start to limit each other, in a chaotic manner ending every individuals becoming every other‘ enemy in their attempt to maximise freedom in „self-realisation“. The end of liberalism must therefore stand at the beginning of a New Enlightenment, the goal of which will have to be every citizen’s awareness of equal fundamental rights limiting individual freedom. It is this awareness, which will enable societies to turn upside down by making citizens themselves the representatives of their equal rights: their understanding of the fact, that equal right can only become reality by every individual limiting its freedom by half, giving the other half away to the others, in order to guarantee equality of rights. Citizens turn into the epitomi-sation/ incarnation of equal rights for the reason of self-interest, i.e. self-defense of their equal rights. Consequently, citizens may turn into reciprocally altruistic individuals even for opportunistic reasons. This process my result in a new social order, which would, however, depend on a forgotten precondition of civilization: education, or upbringing as a citizen, i.e. of a social being. The mind-body „problem“ is the core challenge of this introduction into society or “social education”: „Individualism“, the other extreme, is the end-result of the development of an instinct-driven creature which instrumentalises the conscious human mind. Liberalism empowers anti-social egocentric behaviour. “Social education” aims at teaching young humans the understanding of the self-harming consequences of egocentricity and anti-social behaviour altogether, because it comes back as the freedom of others to do the same to oneself. The insight and understanding of this potentially self-harming process is the beginning of the readiness to learn strategies to outsmart anti-social, egocentric behaviour as a guarantee for the own safety in society. Obviously, such overturn of society from one of mistrust into one of trust as a prerequisite may depend either on efforts over generations, or on an elementary event such as an outside inimical power uniting people in trust.
Democracy is the dishonest product of liberalism: it was introduced in the USA starting with a republic which tried to prevent democracy, however, was unable to hold the dam against the development of factions, resulting in fractions, ending in rivalry between gangs fighting for their understanding of freedom, often cheating because of the lack of an ideology of equality. The endpoint of this development is liberal democracy, where contradictions and absurdities of the construct of democracy are arriving at their peak, and towards the end of democracy altogether.
With the previous opinion in mind, it becomes clear that Rawles‘ experiment had to fail in absence of an ideology of equality realised in education.
Seen from a general perspective of the biosphere, there is no such thing as a right; there are only interdependencies, actions causing consequences depending on the interconn-ections. Our developing awareness of food-chains is the explanatory. Liberalism, guiding people into individualism, away from society and social responsibilities, is also the driving force away from considering man’s integration into, and dependency from, the interconnection of the complex meshwork of the biosphere. A New Enlightenment therefore aims at developing the awareness of dependencies not only from each other but from the environment as a whole.
And here are some of my ideas for an amendment of liberalism, summarised in 5 points:
1- To state that any “right” is part of a social contract. New Enlightenment needs to convey the insight that the limit to liberty is the equal right and dignity of the others. Equality thus defines the limitations of liberty; and, equal rights halve individual liberty.
2- One could, in Locke’s work, replace „natural rights“ +as a quasi a priori – by „equal rights“ as a social contract.
3-Liberty as a right is therefore one, but not the fundamental principle to order social life besides the law; freedom comes at an equal rank with social responsibility, obli-gations and equality.
4- Equal rights can only become reality by every individual limiting its freedom by half, giving the other half away to the others – by contrast to Rousseau, in order to guarantee equality of rights.
5- A New Enlightenment therefore aims at developing the awareness of dependencies not only from each other but from the environment as a whole. A New Enlightenment is needed to amend present liberalism by this new understanding of “freedom”.
 an expression which does not really cover the meaning of the German “Unmündigkeit” in Kant’s call for “Aufklärung”- Enlightenment: instead, it means a kind of dependency on others, like little children, or nonage at the other end of life, when our children think that we are no longer masters of our senses, not certifiably sane, “non compos mentis”, i.e. unable to take respon-sibility for one’s own actions.
 A “right” is a human intellectual entity, it is a definition in a relation between people; therefore, there can be no right without such relation; consequently, a right can only be a social convention / contract such as Rousseau’s social contract, not a “natural” phenomenon or even an a priori.
 The limit to liberty is the equal right and dignity of the others. Equality thus defines the limitations of liberty; and, equal rights halve liberty
 Justice is a means of social order, e.g. to guarantee equal rights; therefore, rights are administered by justice, not by nature
[i] D. Altman, Citizenship and Contemporary Direct Democracy, Cambridge Univ. Press 2019, p. 212.
[ii] Ref. in L.M. Auer, Human Nature vs. Democracy, BoD 2019, p. 37
[iii] K. Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies, Routledge 2011 (1945), p. 581.
[iv] Tom Christiano, Democracy, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/democracy/ retrieved on 09/15/2017
[v] F. Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man, Free Press 2006.
[vi] S.P. Huntington, The clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, The Free Press 2002 (Simon & Schuster 1997)
[vii] I. Kant, Was ist Aufklärung, Berlinische Monatsschrift. Dezember-Heft 1784.
[viii] H.A. Meynell, Postmodernism and the New Enlightenment, Catholic University of America Press 1999 (orig. partly 1995).
[ix] A.Landwehr, S.Stockhorst, Einführung in die Europäische Kulturgeschichte, UTB, Verlag Schöningh 2004, p. 74.
[x] LM Auer, Kommentare zu Europa. Wunsch, Wahn und Wirklichkeit, Eine Trilogie, vol. III, BoD 2022, p. 82 (K22b)
[xi] J. Brennan, Against democracy, Princeton Univ.Press 2017, p. 245.
[xii] B. Caplan, The myth of the rational voter: why democracies choose bad policies. Princeton Univ. Press 2007.
[xiii] Y. Mounk, The People vs. Democracy. Why our freedom is in danger, and how to save it. Harvard Univ. Press 2018, ref. to in LM Auer, Human Nature vs. Democracy, BoD 2019, p.317 (N36)
[xiv] H. Vorländer, Demokratie, Verlag Beck 2010 (orig. 2003)
[xv] I. Eibl-Eibesfeldt, Wider die Misstrauensgesellschaft. Streitschrift für eine bessere Zukunft. Piper 1994, p. 17.
[xvi] U. Menzel, Globalisierung versus Fragmentierung, Suhrkamp 2002, p. 25.
[xvii] A.C. Grayling, Democracy and its crisis, Oneworld 2017, p. 90.
[xviii] LM Auer, Europa, Wunsch, Wahn und Wirklichkeit, Eine Trilogie, vol. III, LIT 2022, p.228
[xix] L.M. Auer, Subsidiarität, in Kommentare zu Mensch und Demokratie, 2020, E31, and Human Nature vs. Democracy, BoD 2019, p.394 [N204D]
[xx] D. Dettling, Neo-Politik: die Neu-Erfindung der Demokratie, , article by Zukunftsinstitut 2017, https://www.zukunftsinstitut.de/
[xxi] T. Christiano, The Rule of the Many: Fundamental Issues in Democratic Theory, Westview Press 1996.
[xxii] C. Crouch, The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism, Polity 2011, Das befremdliche Überleben des Neoliberalismus, Postdemokratie II, transl. by F. Jakubzik, Suhrkamp 2011, p. 74 ff. and p. 227 f, ref., in H. Vorländer, Demokratie. Informationen zur Politischen Bildung 284, Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung 2013, http://www.bpb_izpb_284_demokratie_
[xxiii] Y. Mounk, The People vs. Democracy. Harvard Univ. Press 2018, p. 190.
[xxiv] LM Auer, Europa, Wunsch, Wahn und Wirklichkeit, Eine Trilogie, vol. III, LIT 2022.
[xxv] LM Auer, Europa, Wunsch, Wahn und Wirklichkeit, Eine Trilogie, vol. II, chapter 6, LIT 2021.
[xxvi] Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract. Digireads 2005, p. 12.
[xxvii] I. Kant, Zum ewigen Frieden. Ein philosophischer Entwurf, 1795. Kant Werke Bd 11, p. 204, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/46873/46873-h/46873-h.htm.
[xxviii] N. Postman, Eine zweite Aufklärung, Berlin Verlag 2000.
[xxix] Claude Lévi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques, Plon 1955
[xxx] LM Auer, Mensch und Demokratie, LIT 2021, p.116
[xxxi] K. Davidson, Education: from meritocracy to mediocracy: Progress since 1945. Kindle edition 2016
[xxxii] LM Auer, Canetti, Masse, Macht und Paranoia, in: Kommentare zu Mensch und Demokratie, BoD 2021, p. 27(E10).
[xxxiii] L.M. Auer, Ur-Vertrauen und soziale Bindungen, in Kommentare zu Mensch und Demokratie, BoD 2020, p. 36 (E12).
[xxxiv] Claude Lévi-Strauss, Traurige Tropen, Kiepenheuer & Wiltsch 1982 ( Tristes Tropiques, Plon 1955).
[xxxv] F. Capra, e.g. Wendezeit, Bausteine für ein neues Weltbild, Knaur 1999
[xxxvi] E.J. Sternberg, My Brain made me do it, Prometheus 2010.
Part of this text was used for a presentation to PhilSoc-Oxford on 17 September 2022, entitled “Liberalism is Enlightenment misunderstood”, and for the respective short written contribution.
Single parts of text are taken from my books as referred to in the list of references.