The Post-Liberal Imagination

pp 1-24


  • Bruce Baum


If we begin with the view that politics concerns the “authoritative allocation of values” in a society, we can also say that all politics is inb a basic way cultural politics. Politics is concerned with how we collectively determine what we consider to be just; with how we prioritize and interpret key norms and values, such as justice, freedom, equality, and democracy; and with how we struggle to envision and to achieve a “good society.”1 This is as true for libertarianism, which envisions a minimal role for state action in a “good society,” as it is for democratic socialists, who advocate positive action by government in society and cooperative, democratic control of social property to secure freedom and justice for all: each political program envisions an authoritative allocation of basic political values, including the determination of who would become free (or unfree) to do or be what and how different members of society would be made equal or unequal. A corollary of this view of politics is that culture—in the sense of artistic expression and popular culture as well as religious beliefs and cultural traditions—is deeply political: it informs how members of a society choose, interpret, and struggle over authoritative norms and values; it shapes what we imagine to be desirable and what we conceive to be possible.