Breaking with liberalism is hard. Motivating others into breaking with liberalism is harder. but ways can be found.
You stated that,
The only contact I have with Jim is when I phone him, and when I do, he talks about himself, never asks about me or the rest of us here, as if his distancing himself from us all is quite normal, even though we haven’t done him any harm. What I want to know from you is whether there is anything I can do to break him from this mould, instilled in him by his mother, that this is no proper way to treat me and the rest of his paternal family. I have suggested to him on many occasions to have a get-together, but he always makes excuses…open to suggestions!
You should not attempt to break him out of that mould and perhaps cannot even do that, at least not without years of work and frequent contact. It is not just your ex that constructed the mould that formed him. As I mentioned before, other important sources of input are the media, the education system and his peers.
Picture this. In your son’s mind, he is perfect and he sees very little wrong with himself. He is a perfect product of our brave new world.
Don’t blame your ex for the way your son is, blame “the system”. Your problem is caused by that you distanced yourself all along from the system, but nothing is wrong with that.
There are no longer any universal moral standards according to which anyone can be measured.
You have a conservative bent if you think that there are universal moral standards by which we all should live. Such standards set limits to acceptable behaviour. They also set goals and objectives that we should strive to achieve. Failure to achieve them does not prove the standards to be wrong, but the extent of success and failure in meeting them establishes the worth of anyone in relation to everyone else. Saints and criminals are two outcomes at the two extreme ends of the range of possible outcomes.
In the liberal moral universe there are no criminals (criminals are victims and should therefore not be punished) and no saints (except for those whom it is politically correct to have). There is unlimited space, no walls, no objectives, no duties, no obligations and no goals beyond attempts to make everyone feel good. Self-esteem, self-fulfillment, self-centeredness and instant gratification are the things that people your son’s age live by, so intensively that they are addicted to them and crave them; in the process of which most rack up massive debts that for many exceed their ability to pay them off to such an extent that eventually they have to “refinance” or even declare bankruptcy, but breaking with liberalism is the very last thing they consider.
The liberals’ search for Paradise on Earth produced the brave new world that is being imposed by force upon us, a world in which everyone is at the centre of his own universe, free to become blessedly blissful in his very own fashion, accountable to no one and not to be judged by anyone.
However, as they become older, people are not breaking with liberalism. They gradually wean themselves. Most people convert slowly from liberalism to conservatism. Someone (it was not Churchill) said that anyone who has not become conservative by the time he is in his mid-forties is a liberal who never smartened up.
There is another statement that you should consider in connection with that:
A society that puts equality–in the sense of equality of outcome–ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.
Milton and Rose Friedman
in Free to Choose: A Personal Statement
To convert your son requires of him to become older and to get him to see your view of life as being more attractive than what he became indoctrinated with. For that to happen, you need to prove that you and the quality of your life are more attractive than what he is trying to achieve for himself. That has to happen out of his own free will. You will make him your enemy if you try to impose that upon him, even if you do nothing more than to keep harping that what you do is better than what he does.
You have to lead by example, not by lecturing.