Read an interesting interview with Francis Fukuyama about the difference between “negative freedoms” (freedom from) and “positive freedoms” (freedom to), and the challenges faced by modern liberal societies.
The practical problem is whether you can generate a set of values that will politically serve the integrating liberal purposes you want. This is complicated because you want those values to be positive and mean something, but you also can’t use them as the basis for exclusion of certain groups in society.
It is possible that we could succeed at doing one without the other. For example, the grounds of success of the American political experiment is that it has created a set of “positive” values that served as the basis for national identity but were also accessible to people who were not white and Christian or in some way “blood and soil” related to Anglo-Saxon Protestant founders of the country.
These values are the content of the American Creedâ€”belief in individualism, belief in work as a value, belief in the freedom of mobility and popular sovereignty.
Samuel Huntington calls these “Anglo-Protestant values,” but at this point they have become de-racinated from these roots. You can believe them no matter who you are or where you came from.
As kind of a practical solution to the positive value problem, it works pretty well.
As someone “ ‘blood and soil’ related to Anglo-Saxon Protestant founders of the country,” I can’t really comment on whether the values he lists have become de-racinated, but I think he has captured the core “positive freedoms” of America.
(From NPQâ€”New Perspectives Quarterlyâ€”via A&LD)