'No one cares what we think': Stephen Fry declares classical liberalism dead

'So here we are, blind as moles, engaged in ugly, unappealing struggles of identity politics, nationhood and other such fatuous, outmoded notions, while the planet on which we depend for life is gasping for air and a technological tsunami threatens to engulf us and redefine us without our consent'

Peter Stubley
Monday 05 November 2018 16:04
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Stephen Fry describes being liberal as 'flabby and weak'

Stephen Fry has called on people to stop “behaving like a*******s” after declaring classical liberalism and social democracy are dead.

The writer, actor and comedian made his plea for kindness and understanding in a speech at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney, Australia.

“Classical liberalism and its post-war ideology of social democracy are dead,” he told the audience. “It’s over, it’s had its day. We’ve woken up to find ourselves uprooted and displaced.

“We are the ones cowering down in the ravine while the armies clash above. No one cares what we think.”

Fry described how he felt like an irrelevant bystander as left and right used social media to wage a culture war.

“A grand canyon has opened up in our world and the crack grows wider every day,” he said.

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“As it widens, the armies on each side shriek more and more incontinently at their perceived enemies across the divide, their gestures and insults growing ever huger, cruder and louder.”

Meanwhile the threats of climate change and disruptive technology are hovering over humanity, he added

“So here we are, blind as moles, engaged in ugly, unappealing struggles of identity politics, nationhood and other such fatuous, outmoded notions, while the planet on which we depend for life is gasping for air and a technological tsunami threatens to engulf us and redefine us without our consent,” said Fry.

“It’s not dangerous ideas, it’s dangerous realities that should concern us.”

His remarks, as reported in The Australian, were delivered as part of the inaugural keynote address “The Hitch”, named after the late Christopher Hitchens.

Fry, who admitted he tended to give his opinions in a “handwringing, cardigany kind of way”, said Htichens’ perspective on events in the era of Donald Trump were needed more than ever.

He ended by appealing for an end to “the shouting, the kicking, the name-calling, spitting hatred, the dogmatic distrust.”

“If someone is behaving like an a*******, it isn’t cancelled out by you behaving like an a*******, “ said Fry.

“Be better. Not better than they are. But better than you are.

“And each one of you who can hear me is the only person alive who can stop and thereby save the world.”

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