A fashionable liberalism?

Sir, – David McWilliams (Weekend Review, October 27th) incorrectly links our economic success with an increasing tolerance in Irish society which he calls "the liberal dividend".

He comes to a conclusion that our society now embraces “dissent, freedom, and questioning”, features which encourage entrepreneurship and economic dynamism.

He attributes both our economic success and the abortion referendum result to this characteristic.

Quite the opposite is true. The Irish, by and large, continue to be very susceptible to what is currently fashionable.


How many independent thinkers were there in the lead-up to the defining economic event of our time, the great property and banking crash? It is now acknowledged that “groupthink” was the overriding attitude.

It would be wonderful if our economic success was due to a new entrepreneurial attitude. Unfortunately, it has to be acknowledged that most economic progress has resulted from government decisions taken many years ago to base our development on inward foreign investment. We were ahead of other countries in this regard and were thus able to benefit when globalisation started to take off.

A similar lack of questioning and acceptance of a national consensus was evident in the recent abortion referendum. Exit polls indicated that only 13 per cent of younger voters were prepared to vote against the prevailing views of the political and media elites, hardly resounding evidence of independent-thinking youngsters. This level of dissent would have pleased many a dictator!

No, our young continue a tradition of agreeing en masse what is perceived to be fashionable.

Just as very few were prepared to criticise the prevailing Catholic culture in earlier days, very few are prepared to challenge the liberal culture today. Nothing has really changed.

We prefer to support what is fashionable rather than think for ourselves. – Yours, etc,


Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.