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Postliberalism: The New Centre Ground of British Politics

Pabst, Adrian (2017) Postliberalism: The New Centre Ground of British Politics. The Political Quarterly, 88 (2). ISSN 1467-923X. (doi:10.1111/1467-923X.12363)

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Brexit and support for anti-establishment insurgencies suggest that British politics is moving away from the old left-right opposition towards a new divide between the defenders and detractors of progressive liberalism. As the essay suggests, progressive liberalism differs significantly from both classical and new liberalism. It fuses free-market economics with social egalitarianism and identity politics. Both the hard left and the radical right reject this combination and want to undo a number of liberal achievements. British politics is also moving in a post-liberal direction. In the economy, post-liberalism signals a shift from rampant market capitalism to economic justice and reciprocity. In society, it signals a shift from individualism and egalitarianism to social solidarity and fraternal relations. And politically, it signals a shift from the minority politics of vested interests and group identity to a majority politics based on a balance of interests, shared identity and the embedding of state and market in the intermediary institutions of civil society. This essay argues that post-liberalism is redefining Britain’s political centre-ground in an age where neither progressive liberalism nor reactionary anti-liberalism commands majority support. First, it charts the ascendancy of progressive liberalism over the past quarter-century. Second, it contrasts anti-liberal reactions with post-liberal alternatives before exploring why earlier iterations of post-liberalism failed to gain traction with the political mainstream. Third, it provides a discussion and critique of Theresa May’s post-liberal conservatism, notably the tension between free-market globalisation and free trade on the one hand, and the support for national industry and the indigenous working class, on the other hand.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/1467-923X.12363
Uncontrolled keywords: progressive liberalism; individualism; egalitarianism; post-liberalism; economic justice; social solidarity; centre-ground; majority politics
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Adrian Pabst
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2017 07:38 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 18:46 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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