Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Can the L-word (and its champion) be saved?

But the l-word in particular isn’t just any old word.  The l-word is America’s word, the word that sums up in a nutshell what this country is all about.  A liberal is someone who seeks ordered liberty in politics: who seeks to reconcile humanity’s need for governance with its drive for freedom in such a way as to give us all the order we need (but no more) with as much liberty as possible.  In this sense liberty isn’t divided into freedoms of speech, religion, economic activity or personal conduct: real liberals care deeply about all of the above, and seek a society in which individuals enjoy increasing liberty in each of these dimensions — while continuing to cultivate the virtues and the institutions that give us the order without which there can be no freedom.
If Americans lose their grip on the meaning of that word, we have a hard time making sense of our politics.  I don’t want to give that up without a fight and, I am not sure that we must.  The l-word has come back from the dead in the past.”
-Walther Russell Mead, “Can the L-word be saved?

Mead just launched a series of posts that will aim to “convince liberals to come back to the future.” The first provides a superb historical over-review: from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 to the managerial state of today. It’s worth reading not only by Americans looking for a new agenda but those elsewhere who still like the l-word and believe that the American Revolution was a good thing.

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