Sarah has blogged about this at Harry's Place, but I'll add my tuppence-worth to what she says. Giles Fraser is playing the political philosopher today. He explains why he isn't a liberal. First thus:
What I take to be the essence of liberalism is a belief that individual freedom and personal autonomy are the fundamental moral goods. But I don't buy this. What we need is a much more robust commitment to the common good, to the priority of community. It is intellectual laziness and a form of cheating to think we can always have both.
And then thus:
For socialists, Christians and other religious denominations, the community precedes the individual in so far as the individual is shaped by and responsible to something wider than itself.
Note that in the first passage Fraser speaks of a priority of community (under the heading of the 'common good') over individual, insists that the demands of the common good must be given their place. In the second passage, he again makes community primary, as shaping the individual and his or her responsibilities.
He either doesn't know what he's saying or else he's underwriting a sinister form of precedence that could be used to justify any form of trampling on the interests of human individuals. For, unless one recognizes that individual freedom, personal autonomy, more generally, the fundamental needs and interests of individual persons, are themselves the proper and original source for conceiving any type of 'common good', one leaves no restraints upon what the common good may be said to be. There have always been plenty of people in positions of power, or aspirants to power, ready to lay this down as they define it. But what else can a common good consist of than the component goods of the individuals belonging to the community to which Fraser wants to give precedence? A fundamental moral good that seeks to bypass these should be treated with suspicion.
And if Fraser meant only to argue for some balance between individual and collective interests, then he should have expressed himself more carefully. Making light of individual freedom and personal autonomy should by now have had its day, even among socialists, even among those who want to emphasize the value of community.