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英文解釈の思考プロセス 第215回 


今回の題材は、2018年1月25日付の The Economist 紙に掲載されたブックレヴュー、Liberalism is the most successful idea of the past 400 years ”リベラリズムは過去の400年間に渡り最も有力でした。”  しかしサブタイトルに、But its best times are behind it, according to a new book ”しかし、ある新刊書によると、それは最盛期を終えてしまいました”、とある様に、リベラリズムの盛衰について書かれた本の書評です。全文の和訳はオリジナルの次にあります。

A call to arms

Liberalism is the most successful idea of the past 400 years

But its best years are behind it, according to a new book


Print edition | Books and arts

Jan 25th 2018

Why Liberalism Failed. By Patrick Deneen. Yale University Press; 248 pages; $30 and £30.

OVER the past four centuries liberalism has been so successful that it has driven all its opponents off the battlefield. Now it is disintegrating, destroyed by a mix of hubris and internal contradictions, according to Patrick Deneen, a professor of politics at the University of Notre Dame.

The gathering wreckage of liberalism’s twilight years can be seen all around, especially in America, Mr Deneen’s main focus. The founding tenets of the faith have been shattered. Equality of opportunity has produced a new meritocratic aristocracy that has all the aloofness of the old aristocracy with none of its sense of noblesse oblige. Democracy has degenerated into a theatre of the absurd. And technological advances are reducing ever more areas of work into meaningless drudgery. “The gap between liberalism’s claims about itself and the lived reality of the citizenry” is now so wide that “the lie can no longer be accepted,” Mr Deneen writes. What better proof of this than the vision of 1,000 private planes whisking their occupants to Davos to discuss the question of “creating a shared future in a fragmented world”?

Mr Deneen uses the term “liberalism” in its philosophical rather than its popular sense. He is describing the great tradition of political theory that is commonly traced to Thomas Hobbes and John Locke rather than the set of vaguely leftish attitudes that Americans now associate with the word. But this is no work of philosophical cud-chewing. Most political theorists argue that liberalism has divided into two independent streams: classical liberalism, which celebrates the free market, and left-liberalism which celebrates civil rights. For Mr Deneen they have an underlying unity. Most political observers think that the debate about the state of liberalism has nothing to do with them. Mr Deneen argues that liberalism is a ruling philosophy, dictating everything from court decisions to corporate behaviour. Theory is practice.

The underlying unity lies in individual self-expression. Both classical and left liberals conceive of humans as rights-bearing individuals who should be given as much space as possible to fulfil their dreams. The aim of government is to secure rights. The legitimacy of the system is based on a shared belief in a “social contract” between consenting adults. But this produces a paradox. Because the liberal spirit mechanically destroys inherited customs and local traditions, sometimes in the name of market efficiency and sometimes in the name of individual rights, it creates more room for the expansion of the state, as marketmaker and law-enforcer. The perfect expression of modern liberalism is provided by the frontispiece of Hobbes’s “Leviathan” (detail pictured), with its sketch of thousands of atomised individuals confronted by an all-powerful sovereign.

Mr Deneen makes his case well, though he sometimes mistakes repetition for persuasion. He reminds the reader that, before the advent of modern liberalism, philosophers identified liberty with self-mastery rather than self-expression, with the conquest of hedonistic desires rather than their indulgence. He does an impressive job of capturing the current mood of disillusionment, echoing left-wing complaints about rampant commercialism, right-wing complaints about narcissistic and bullying students, and general worries about atomisation and selfishness. But when he concludes that all this adds up to a failure of liberalism, is his argument convincing?

His book has two fatal flaws. The first lies in his definition of liberalism. J.H. Hexter, an American academic, believed his fellow historians could be divided into two camps: “splitters” (who were forever making distinctions) and “lumpers” (who make sweeping generalisations by lumping things together). Mr Deneen is an extreme lumper. He argues that the essence of liberalism lies in freeing individuals from constraints.

In fact, liberalism contains a wide range of intellectual traditions which provide different answers to the question of how to trade off the relative claims of rights and responsibilities, individual expression and social ties. Even classical liberals who were most insistent on removing constraints on individual freedom agonised about atomisation. The mid-Victorians were great institution-builders, creating everything from voluntary organisations to joint-stock companies (“little republics” in the phrase of Robert Lowe, a 19th-century British statesman) that were designed to fill the space between the state and society. Later liberals experimented with a range of ideas from devolving power from the centre to creating national education systems.

Mr Deneen’s fixation on the essence of liberalism leads to the second big problem of his book: his failure to recognise liberalism’s ability to reform itself and address its internal problems. The late 19th century saw America suffering from many of the problems that are reappearing today, including the creation of a business aristocracy, the rise of vast companies, the corruption of politics and the sense that society was dividing into winners and losers. But a wide variety of reformers, working within the liberal tradition, tackled these problems head on. Theodore Roosevelt took on the trusts. Progressives cleaned up government corruption. University reformers modernised academic syllabuses and built ladders of opportunity. Rather than dying, liberalism reformed itself.

Mr Deneen is right to point out that the record of liberalism in recent years has been dismal. He is also right to assert that the world has much to learn from the premodern notions of liberty as self-mastery and self-denial. The biggest enemy of liberalism is not so much atomisation but old-fashioned greed, as members of the Davos elite pile their plates ever higher with perks and share options. But he is wrong to argue that the only way for people to liberate themselves from the contradictions of liberalism is “liberation from liberalism itself”. The best way to read “Why Liberalism Failed” is not as a funeral oration but as a call to action: up your game, or else.

This article appeared in the Books and arts section of the print edition under the headline “The problem with liberalism”

< 全文和訳例 >


リベラリズムが黄昏を迎えたことを示す多種多様な残照は、至る処で目にすることが可能です。とりわけ、ディニーン教授が主として取り上げたアメリカにおいて。リベラリズムを信奉する基礎となる教義は、粉砕されました。機会の平等という概念は、能力第一主義の新たな貴族階級を生み出し、彼らは、恵まれた地位に伴う義務の意識など全く持ち合わせず、旧来の貴族の属性だった無関心さを受け継いでいます。民主主義は、愚か者による見世物へと退化してしまいました。そして技術の進歩は、これまで以上の規模で、多くの仕事を無意味な苦役へと格下げしました。”リベラリズムの主張と、現実の一般市民社会とのギャップは”あまりに大きいので、”最早その嘘は通用しなくなっています。”、とディニーンは記しています。”分断された世界において、誰もが分かち合える未来”  というテーマについて議論する為に、各国、そして各界のエリートをダヴォスへ速やかに送り込む1000機のプライヴェート・ジェットの壮観さを目の当たりにすることこそが、ディニーンの見解を説得的にしている何よりの証拠なのです。


ディニーン氏によるリベラリズムにおける二つの潮流に共通する基本的部分は、個人の自己表現にあります。古典的、そして左翼的リベラリズムは共に、人間を自己実現に向けて可能な限り大きな自由を与えられるべき人権の享有主体として捉えています。政府の目的とは、人権の保障なのです。政治システムの正当性は、成人による合意に裏付けられた ”社会契約” に対する共通の信念に基づいています。しかし、これはパラドックスを内包しています。何故なら、リベラルな精神は慣習や地方の伝統を無意識の内に破壊してしまい、時にはそれが市場の効率化そして個人の人権の名の下に行われ、結果的に市場の創設者であり法の実施者としての国家を拡張させる口実を与えてしまうのです。現代のリベラリズムの完璧な表現が、ホッブスの “リヴァイアザン” の最初のページに登場します。そこでは、社会において細分化、孤立化した数千人の個人が、全能の君主と対峙しています。


彼の本には、二つの致命的欠陥があります。その最初のものは、リベラリズムの定義に関するものです。アメリカ人の学者であるJ.H.ヘクスターは、歴史家は二つの陣営に分類可能であると考えています:即ち、”分類派(splitters、これまで常に分類に専念してきた)”、と”統合派(lumpers、様々な事象を統合することで徹底的に一般化する)” の両者に。ディニーン氏は、極端な統合派であり、リベラリズムの本質は、個人を束縛から解放することにあると主張しています。



ディニーン氏が、リベラリズムが近年低調であると指摘している点は、正鵠を射ています。又、彼が、世界は現代以前の自己修練、自制としての自由の概念から多くのことを学ぶ余地があると断言していることも適切です。リベラリズムの最大の敵は、社会が細分化し個人が孤立化することではなく、古来からある人間の貪欲さです。そのことは、ダヴォスでの世界経済フォーラムに出席したビジネスエリートが特権とストック・オプションによって更に富を拡大していることからも明らかです。しかし、彼が、一般大衆がリベラリズムの矛盾から解放される唯一の途は、”リベラリズムそれ自体の束縛から自由になる” ことであると主張している点は誤っています。”Why Liberalism Failed” から得られる最も素晴らしい教訓とは、リベラリズムの追悼ではなく、我々に行動を促していることです:即ち、直ちに何とかしないと明日はないのです。

To be continued.