On the author’s worldview (from pages 15–16 and page 179):

 

.... As will become clear, in writing this book I align much more with the culture-war writers, than with the liberal reformists who only want more and better of the same, or with the radical leftists who focus on class conflict and exploitation to the exclusion of all else, or with the antiliberal philosophers and theologians whose abstractions lose touch with reality.  But for all their strengths, I differ with the culture-war writers in one important respect.  They are too place-bound.  However rich their accounts may be, they usually speak of and to only one setting: to the Islamic world, or China, or America, and so on.  They rarely tie local trends into anything more universal, even though most of what is happening is universal.  To inspire and sustain a challenge to global liberal culture, we need to address more universal concerns.  We might well lose the global culture war in several theaters separately, but we surely can win it only everywhere at once....

.... For good or ill, this book’s critique of global liberal culture comes from a standpoint rarely seen today.  My position contains many paradoxes that will be resolved only as the chapters unfold.  I oppose most of what goes under the heading of globalization, yet am a cosmopolitan.  I speak for neither left nor right.  I talk about history a lot, yet see no real boundary between the ethical questions of the past and those of the present.  I am troubled by huge economic inequalities, yet reject Marxism and believe that a better world starts more with ideas than with structures.  I am hostile to global liberalism, yet unmoved by today’s nationalisms and religious fundamentalisms.  I want to give more space to the values of plain folk, yet also lament the decline of old high-culture elites and suggest the latter have a crucial role to play in any society.  And not least, I have a distaste for much of modern life, yet think that nostalgia only distracts us from seizing the future to put things right....  Concretely, this book reaches out to all those who oppose global liberalism fervently enough to want it displaced.  The question to ask now is how we might displace it, and what might come after it.  The answers I shall offer are not “moderate” enough to endear me to liberals or other atomists.  Rather, I want to pursue this line of thinking to its logical end.  We have our backs to the wall, so to speak, at a point in world history when the cultural raw material for the best human aspirations fades by the day....

.... The questions of breadth and depth are crucial.  Breadth means thinking about how to challenge atomism on its own global scale.  Not only is a cosmopolitan antiliberalism possible, contrary to what many now take for granted.  It is also the only way forward.  Whatever cannot appeal to people in all civilizations will neither inspire nor win.  Depth means grounding both the vision and the energy for realizing it in a real shift of self-understanding.  Tinkering with how institutions are set up will not be enough.  The world needs more than “globalization from below,” or other projects that would only soften edges and reduce inequality.  Addressing deprivation is a worthy aim, and one I share.  But our proper starting point should be within rather than without.  Remaking the world is a question of character, not policy.  We must imagine another globalization, in touch with the permanent truths that earlier societies knew well and tried to live out....

 

 

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