Shifts

When I studied at the London School of Economics, I was definitely pulled away from my political and theoretical comfort zone and toward poststructuralism and other anti-foundationalist ideas. I wrote my dissertation on Foucault and Nietzsche. All in all, it was a nice thought experiment, and I'm glad I had a chance to explore those areas, but I now find myself allied with Western liberalism more than ever before. I'm sure there are many reasons for that, but one of the reasons is exactly what my former professor states in response to a question posed in this interview:

Q. How has the way you understand the world changed over time, and what (or who) prompted the most significant shifts in your thinking?
A. I think the biggest shift that has taken place in my thinking over the past 30 years is that I’m a lot less tolerant of relativist ideas, and multiculturalist ideas than I used to be. And that’s something that when you say it, it induces shock and horror sometimes. 25 years ago, I was writing material that, if it wasn’t poststructuralist, was at least ‘fellow traveling’ with the poststructuralists, arguing essentially anti-foundationalist ideas, arguing that the Western liberal tradition was just one tradition among other traditions, and so on. In a way, I think I was in bad faith over a lot of that. I believed that liberalism would always be there, and so one can afford to attack it. The events of the last 20 years have shown that that’s really not the case, that a lot of the traditional liberal values of freedom and tolerance are seriously under attack and need to be defended. So I’ve become a defender of the Enlightenment project in a way that I wasn’t maybe 30 years ago- that’s a big shift. I’m not sure that any one particular individual has been significant in the process though- lots of individuals have been.