Daniel Bell, a socialist, a liberal, a conservative

“I believe there are different realms in the society and there are different principles which underlie these realms. That’s why I’ve been called myself a socialist in economics, a liberal in politics, and a conservative in culture. I’m a socialist in economics because I believe that every society has an obligation to give people that degree of decency to allow them to feel that they are citizens in this society. In the realm of economics, the first lien on resources should be that of the community in a redistributive way.

I’m a conservative in culture because I believe in continuity, and I believe in judgment. I don’t believe that all opinions in culture are the same as everybody else’s opinion. I don’t believe that all art is the same. Some things are better than others, and you have to justify why it’s better than others, and you have to understand the grounds of justification.

I’m a liberal in politics but liberalism has no fixed dogmas. It has no fixed points, that you can say, “This is the liberal position.” It changes because it’s an attitude. It’s a skepticism. It’s a pluralism, it’s agnostic.”

— Daniel Bell, Arguing the World: The New York Intellectuals in Their Own Words

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