Carey attacks 'privatisation of morality'

THE Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, yesterday launched a swingeing attack on the social liberalism of the Sixties and the economic liberalism of the Eighties. Morality that is not founded on a firm religious faith will not endure, he said.

'The privatisation of morality threatens to undermine a sense of social cohesion as society itself is broken down into a multiplicity of individual atoms,' Dr Carey told an audience at Toynbee Hall, an Anglican centre for the theory and practice of social work in the East End of London where the former Conservative War Minister John Profumo went to rehabilitate himself after resigning in 1962.

'The pendulum . . . swung too far towards unbridled individualism in the 1980s. Our commitment to each other and to community, our faith in what we can build together as a society, was dangerously weakened.

'Once the pursuit of individual gain becomes disconnected from a wider sense of moral purpose - or a substitute for thinking about a shared sense of purpose at all - then we are in deep trouble,' Dr Carey said.

The archbishop painted a picture of a society that had steadily disintegrated since his working- class childhood in the East End to the point where citizenship meant nothing to many British people. Many unemployed people, and others afflicted by poverty or discrimination, now felt they have no stake in society at all, he said.

Further anxiety was caused by the 'increasing power of faceless people in Whitehall, the EC, in international business cartels and bureaucracies . . . there are also fears about the radical weakening of local government . . . despite all the talk of subsidiarity in the European context, I do not myself discern many signs of it within the United Kingdom itself.'

Society could not endure without strong shared beliefs about the communal aims of human life, and about the absolute nature of right and wrong, Dr Carey said. 'We have witnessed a powerful ideological attack during the 1980s on the value of public goods, together with a strong affirmation of private values and individual choice.'

In the central argument of his lecture, Dr Carey said: 'The doctrine that each person may do whatever they like so long as they do not positively harm or hurt others leads to a society without any sense of shared values. It gives our children and young people no guidance as to what in the view of society is good, moral behaviour. Individualism then triumphs over community and we are left with a moral void in which everything is relative and nothing is absolutely good.'

Christians should not be certain about the details of policy, but they had a duty to keep in mind a long-term perspective in their political engagement, he said. As an example, he said it was absolutely necessary that the Government not cut its spending on aid to poorer countries. 'I do not underestimate the financial difficulties and political pain which the Government faces. But if we think the going is rough here, let us remember the calamities unfolding in other parts of the world.'

Leading article, page 18

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering