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By David Selbourne

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It is as if the disputants over these and related matters had all dispersed or died out, and the debate was over; or as if it had been entirely subsumed for the left within the argument about 'exterminism' and nuclear weapons. But in fact, moral debate about means and ends, even ifsometimes conducted in a new conceptual language, rages on as ever, but decreasingly on the ground of the left's own choosing. The failure in the West of socialism's ideological reach in matters of peace and war, shadowed as it is by the militarism of the Soviet Union, has been such that the left's moral politics of nuclear disarmament has made relatively little practical progress, in the thirty years of development of the capacity for universal destruction, even against the barbarism of arguments for a mutual 'balance of terror'.

In the meantime, both socialist utopianism and socialist utilitarianism are in the course of being historically overtaken not simply by transient party regroupings of the right and centre, but by new constellations of political and moral notions which old labels do not fit. It is precisely because socialists have been so slow to grasp these and other related truths that the current Tory version of the 'market philosophy' has been able to proceed so far, despite continuing economic failure, against its more bewildered opponents.

Thus, what the left sees as the licensing of individuals to think only of themselves and the accomplishment of their private purposes is alleged not to be the right's mode offreedom. Likewise, says Hayek in The Road To Serfdom, 'nothing has done so much harm to the liberal cause as the modern insistence ... 46 Thus, though the left may insist that the individualism of the right seeks merely to legitimate the 'entirely selfish actions of individuals', 47 the right itself insists, as Milton Friedman puts it, that 'self-interest is not myopic selfishness'.

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