Tory Party supports sex quotas for MPs—and what this says about democracy

The joke Leader of the joke Conservative Party of the joke Island Kingdom plans to designate parliamentary seats to which only women may apply. He says he “desperately” wants the Conservative Party to reflect society as a whole, meaning that since half the people in Britain are female, half the conservative MP’s must be female.

Which leads to deeply troubling questions of a general nature. Is it the case that equality of individual rights must lead inexorably to its opposite, the demand for equality of group outcomes? Given the course of the Western world over the last fifty years, there are grounds for answering yes. But if that is true, if constitutional democracy must lead to group-rights socialism, then self-government itself, at least in the American sense, would have to be rejected as a cradle, not of liberty, but of socialism. Which would leave us Americans—where?

No, that can’t be the answer. The answer is what it has always been: the need of constitutional government to balance various tendencies, interests, and forces against each other, so that none of them—such as the demand for equality—goes too far. We have failed to do that, we have failed to check the democratical tendency which must destroy the liberty that gave birth to it. But that doesn’t mean that political liberty in and of itself must ultimately lead to a government of sex quotas. Liberty is fundamental. As an American I cannot conceive of politics without it. But if liberalism, which is the ideology of liberty, is not to turn destructive, it must operate within a social and cultural order that is not itself liberal and that places limits on liberty and equality.

Take the present problem, of sex equality of outcome. It appears to be the case that if a society gives equal political rights to women, then over time there will inevitably be an expectation of equal political outcomes for women. How is this dynamic to be forestalled? By stating up front, by establishing it as a fundamental principle of the society, that the sexes are different, that women naturally have different social functions from men, and that the exercise of political power, including the franchise, is not for women. Only the stoutest bulwarks against women’s procedural equality can stop the ultimate devolution of society into gender socialism and the spiritual death and loss of freedom it brings. If liberty is limited, then liberty can be maintained.

But if I’m wrong,—if it’s not possible to contain liberty and equality within strict bounds where they do not ultimate turn into socialism—then the American experiment in government is a failure, its principle are void, and we must start over again on an entirely new basis.

I don’t believe that to be true. I devoutly hope that it is not true. But I’m saying that it might be true.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 23, 2009 08:10 AM | Send

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