‘A new order of liberty’
Freedom, democracy and liberalism
in This is your hour
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The Oldham group sought to defend ‘freedom’ by avoiding either what it saw as the ‘atomistic’ forms of individualism encouraged by liberal capitalism or the violent Gleichschaltung of political totalitarianism: their middle way was a ‘true’, ‘Christian’ freedom based upon a holistic, organic and community-oriented ‘personalism’. It shared a broader intellectual scepticism about whether the freedoms of laissez-faire ‘liberalism’ could survive in the conditions of ‘mass’ society; however, despite some claims that Oldham and his companions advocated ‘Christian totalitarianism’, the group clearly rejected this option at an early stage in its discussions and remained committed to maintaining (and even strengthening) ‘liberal’ civil rights and parliamentary government. Despite stressing political decentralisation and active citizenship, however, the group members’ vision of freedom assumed that democracy would take a more constrained form that was not untypical in post-war political reconstruction across Western Europe.

This is your hour

Christian intellectuals in Britain and the crisis of Europe, 1937–1949


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