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John Bacon (Massachusetts politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Bacon
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1801 – March 4, 1803
Preceded byTheodore Sedgwick
Succeeded byWilliam Eustis
President of the
Massachusetts State Senate
In office
Personal details
Born(1738-04-05)April 5, 1738
Canterbury, Connecticut
DiedOctober 25, 1820(1820-10-25) (aged 82)
Stockbridge, Massachusetts
Resting placeStockbridge Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic-Republican
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Goldthwaite[1]
ChildrenEzekiel Bacon
Alma materPrinceton

John Bacon (April 5, 1738 – October 25, 1820) was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Massachusetts.

John Bacon was born in Canterbury, Connecticut on April 5, 1738. Upon graduating from Princeton College he spent some time preaching in Somerset County, Maryland. On 25 September 1771 he and Mr. John Hunt were appointed as colleague pastors over the Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts.[2] Bacon ran into difficulties with his congregation over doctrinal issues and his preaching style, which was described as "argumentative... approaching the severe."[3] He was dismissed from the Old South Church on 8 February 1775.

Elizabeth Goldthwaite (Mrs. John Bacon), painted by John Singleton Copley, 1771.
Elizabeth Goldthwaite (Mrs. John Bacon), painted by John Singleton Copley, 1771.

After leaving the church Bacon moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts. He was a charter member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[4] He served as a Magistrate, Representative, Associate and Presiding Judge of the Common Pleas, Member and President of the State Senate, and Member of Congress.[3]

Bacon married Elizabeth, the widow of Alexander Cumming and daughter of Ezekiel Goldthwait, Register of the Deeds for Suffolk County, and died in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, October 25, 1820. Bacon is interred in the Stockbridge Cemetery.

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my name is Hank Clark I'm program director of the political economy project and on behalf of the PEP and the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy it's a real pleasure to welcome all of you here today in addition to this those two sponsoring organizations let me also extend a special word of thanks to Joanne Needham the redoubtable coordinator of the rocky center who made this event possible would you put your hands together for Joanne she's just gotta figure thank you so much in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall there were many people who thought that a two generation long struggle against totalizing regimes of the right or the left had finally come to a successful end the major alternatives having been tried many people felt that liberalism had triumphed and that we had reached what Francis Fukuyama of course famously called the end of history what a difference a generation makes today the world is awash in movements that are unabashedly opposed to the liberal consensus that seemed so secure in the immediate aftermath of 1989 election results in places as varied as Britain Hungary the United States Brazil and the Philippines and books with titles like the people against democracy have made many people question the liberal post 1989 consensus our two guests today are well situated to help us through the thicket of complex issues that this turn of events has created Patrick J Dineen holds a chair of constitutional studies at Notre Dame University and has also taught at Princeton and Georgetown his work range is widely in ancient and American political thought he has a highly visible presence in public forums at home and abroad as a speaker and as a writer he is the author or editor of seven books that I've been able to count and numerous articles and reviews covering political philosophy and its relationship to literature and religion and beyond his book why liberalism failed 20:18 flyers available outside which triggered this afternoon's event in a sense has been praised by everyone from David Brooks and Ross Douthat to Cornel West and Barack Obama quiz how many books can you name that have gotten that range of praise it has been called revelatory courageous path-breaking one reviewer calls it the most electrifying book of cultural criticism published in some time aurelion cry u2 also has a very impressive resume aurelion is professor of political science at Indiana University where he has interdisciplinary affiliations with a number of programs including the American Studies Program the Center for East European studies and numerous others he has written widely on the history of liberalism on Tocqueville and on theories of transition to democracy among many other topics his book liberalism under siege was named a choice outstanding academic title when it appeared and his recent book faces of moderation which is one of two that he has written on the subject of moderation as a political virtue has been called superb and timely intellectually moving and lyrically written his recent article which triggered his invitation to this event is entitled the many deaths of liberalism with the suggestive subtitle more than a century of death notices have not diminished the achievements or the necessity of liberalism so it's wonderful to have these two friends with us today I thought what we would do is to give our guests a block of time to sort of present their answers to our question has liberalism failed then afterwards we can give them a chance to trade notes exchange comments and I might pose a question or two from the from the table before opening it up to Q&A so let's begin won't you please join me in welcoming the author of why liberalism failed Patrick J Denis thank you so much Henry and thanks to my dear friend long long long friend old friend aurelion crier - we were just reminiscing I was on his dissertation committee so watch out when you produce a student who will turn around and attack you but I was recalling that we had our photo taken together about 20 years ago right after his dissertation defense and you couldn't tell from that photo who was the student and who was the teacher I was a very young assistant professor and he was a very aged graduate student so but it's wonderful to be with my friend dear friend or alien and it's wonderful to be back at Dartmouth I was here several years ago talking I think it was about liberal education at the invitation of Professor Murphy who I'm told it's not here today I'm sorry to miss him but I flew into Manchester earlier this morning and for me it's like coming home I grew up I grew up in Connecticut outside of Hartford and we spent two weeks out of every summer growing up inside north central New Hampshire where we would go to a to a lake and spend two weeks swimming and frolicking about the woods and so it's really it just makes me happy it feels like home so I'm really delighted to be here we'll see how I feel by the end of our event aurelion has written along with a colleague Daniel Cole has written a very provocative response in part to my book but I think a response more broadly to the conditions that Professor Clarke was just describing the the palpable sense of crisis that we now are living through that is affecting the status and the condition of liberal democracy not only of course in the United States but in countries around the world all more or less almost all of the advanced liberal democracies in the world both in Europe in England and in the United States are going through deep and profound sort of dislocations as as we confront in many ways the the advanced condition of liberalism of neoliberalism of advanced conditions of capitalism and political liberalism in that article aurélien I'll just I'll just say aralia and I'll assume that it also means your colleague or alien makes an empirical claim that I think was just summarized that liberalism has not died although its death has been declared often at least since 1900 if not earlier and the article also makes a normative claim that I think was also implied in the subtitle that we should not wish its death that we should appreciate its many achievements that it is better than all of the known and foreseeable alternatives and that in the introduction at least that it even meets the criteria of what Plato would have regarded as an ideal regime or perhaps even John Rawls would have regarded as an ideal regime that it is the best approximation that we have of a fair and just society that's the the basic claim of the of the article that was written by aralia and his colleague an empirical claim liberalism has not died in spite of frequent claims to the opposite and that that it is in fact something that we should embrace now it's worth debating both of these points and I'll try to lay out some of a response to both of these but I want to begin in part by setting my own argument apart from what I think the argument that aurelion makes in his article in fact I don't claim in my book that liberalism has died in the sense that it has ceased to exist it is lying on the hospital table about to be dissected rather I argue that it is in fact succeeded beyond the wildest imaginings of its architects that it is in fact deeply and profoundly with us that it is deeply and profoundly successful but in its very success it has in fact you know in a kind of ironic and even paradoxical way it has failed because it is both become fully itself what it's set out to do when what it's set out to achieve but in becoming fully itself it is also foster conditions opposite to the ones that it claims it wanted to achieve my argument will be familiar to Iranian certainly and many of you as well it's simply cribbed in fact more or less stolen from Alexis de Tocqueville democracy in America at the conclusion of democracy in America Tocqueville argues and concludes that book with a long discussion of the tendencies of democracy but might say liberal democracy in particular that over time it will become in a sense fully itself it will realize its own inherent logic and in becoming fully itself it it it has the danger of becoming in a sense its opposite and he describes in one of his last chapters of his great book democracy in America how a despot ism might arise from the very heart of democracy what he calls the the possibility of a democratic despotism and it's that paradoxical the sort of movement of a regime both becoming fully itself and in doing so becoming its opposite is really the movement that I was attempting to attract in the course of my book in particular that the achievement especially of the ambition of the architects of liberalism to create a society a world defined by a certain kind of Liberty would actually leave us increasingly in a condition of a kind of powerlessness and even feeling that we lack a certain kind of deep form of Liberty now part of what we might do here today is debate over definitions and there's some of that in the article what did what do we mean by liberalism and aurelion rightly points out this is a multi-faceted word with many different lineages in many different histories many different founders and we could debate probably for the entire hour hour to half two hours and probably for the next several years what we mean by liberalism but let me out stipulate a kind of definition or at least how I think of it and we might want to debate about that definition or at least stipulation but let me at least put on the table what I mean or what I think I understand liberalism to be and the first thing we should recognize is that the word lib Liberty that forms the core of the word liberalism is very old it predates I think we would agree it predates whatever it is this liberalism is the word Liberty predates liberalism it has its origins in Latin in Rome there's a Greek equivalent those of us who go to Liberty fun conferences there's an Aramaic equivalent cuneiform equivalent and so forth it's a very ancient word and it's a very ancient concept it wasn't invented by John Locke or John Stuart Mill or John Rawls the concept of Liberty goes way way back it's a we could say it's built into the human understanding of what freedom is and yet what I think liberalism in essence really is is a transformed definition of Liberty it takes a very ancient word and gave it a new definition the older definition of Liberty and those of you with a familiarity either with the classical tradition or with the biblical tradition Christian tradition broadly and I think other religious traditions as well understood Liberty as the condition of a kind of self-rule kind of self-governance of of one's one's own soul think of Plato's Republic and the way in which Plato describes the free soul the soul that is genuinely free as a soul that is self-governing and as well as society a political order that is also self-governing is understood to be free as opposed to a tyranny which is a which exists in a condition of unfreedom and very concluding books of Plato's Republic Socrates describes how both this the soul and the city that is governed by tyrannical impulses while appearing from the outside to be free doing whatever that person or doing whatever that city wants to do is actually in a condition of profound profound kind of servitude servitude to the passions to the to the base instincts and interests in servitude to desires that can never be satiated and of course this is an understanding that you see expressed over and over again in the Gospels and st. Paul in the broadly and the Christian tradition what what Agustin would call the servitude to the libido doma nandi the desire to dominate the libido the desire to exert domination that can never be satisfied so in a kind of Imperial impulse so this ancient definition and understanding of Liberty is really a kind of cultivation of a form of self discipline and self rule found and based in cultivation of the virtues virtues that are both virtues of individuals as well as political virtues virtues of self governance of rule of law of conformity to some set of standards that govern political decisions and so forth what liberalism it seems to me where liberalism is launched is a transformed definition of Liberty in some ways to the opposite of what was understood in those ancient times to use one author as an example John Locke in his great and justly famous second treatise on government describes human beings in the state of nature as in a condition of liberty of complete liberty and Liberty is defined as the Liberty to do with my person and my property as I wish without any external constraint upon how I dispose of my person and my property Liberty in this sense we might call negative Liberty as it was called by Isaiah Berlin it's Liberty as understood as an absence of external constraint and I would submit that if you were to talk to most of your classmates or friends down the street and ask them what is freedom what is Liberty it's likely that they would give you the definition of Liberty that we have come to understand from this liberal tradition this is a understanding of Liberty that's deeply embedded in our contemporary understanding this Liberty is in some sense is limitless except when it comes into contact and potentially damages another person so you can act as freely as you want until you reach the point where you interfere or harm someone else this is of course the famous harm principle that you find in John Stuart Mill and the purpose and end of government is to establish the boundaries where harm occurs and really only to do that only to establish those boundaries to determine where and when harm is occurring and preventing people from harming others now this understanding of Liberty while it seems in some ways to articulate a very minimalist understanding of what politics is and this is one of the great understandings of what liberalism it proposes a kind of neutral rules of the game in which everyone can pursue their way of life though kind of ends and purposes that one would wish to pursue as long as you're not harming someone else and that this is a highly minimalist understanding of what of what politics and what government is but the two main ways that I suggested in my book that this ambition of achieving this form of Liberty is achieved requires a kind of profound transformation a transformation not only of our politics but more broadly of our society and even of our souls the first way in which this Liberty needs to be achieved is freedom from other people we need to be free especially from any unchosen commitments any on any commitments or relationships to which we have not consented we need to be free to determine our own life path including the kinds of relationships the kinds of associations the kind of memberships that we will agree to enter but we need to be equally free to be able to revise those relationships those commitments and and those memberships so in some ways you could say that not only does it introduced the idea of consent as a social contract politically this idea of consent and the chosen is the legitimacy of all relationships being chosen ends up transforming all dimensions of life thus for example we can think of maybe one of the obvious examples would be the transformation of marriage marriage once once understood as the lifelong right till death do us part is now an infinitely revisable relationship and indeed more often than not as one that one will revise at least once if not several times during the course of one's life now simply a contract that one enters for a distinct period of time until at least one of the parties regards that is no longer advantageous or preferable and then departing that and if you live in Hollywood you do this regularly almost every week but we can think about how this applies to almost every aspect of life one's religion one's place one's community one's friends and even increasingly the choice about what we will have or what kind of children we will have and as science moves forward and technology moves forward even be able to choose the features of the children that we will have whether we will have children at all this is one main area of liberty of this modern liberal understanding of Liberty that ends up transforming the world the seemingly minimalist theory of Liberty ends up having a very thick impact in the way in which we interact with other people in the world the second major component that I think is central to liberalism in this understanding of freedom to do as one wishes has to confront that other great obstacle to that Liberty to do as we wish which isn't just other people it's the world the world presents innumerable obstacles to the fulfillment of our desires as we all are aware this is something you learn very early it's not fair why can't I go out at midnight to be with my friends that's that's Liberty from other people but there's also the desire to be free from sleep as most college students know now in earlier ages this was understood simply to be the the inescapability of necessity or fortune if you read Machiavelli for example you'll see Machiavelli arguing that it would be ideal if human beings could at least control half of fortune half of the sort of serendipitous aspect of the world but one notice is especially in the early modern period leading up to the instantiation of liberalism is that this what seemingly random and somewhat unpredictable aspect of the world now gets defined increasingly as nature and a nature that can be increasingly commanded and governed and mastered especially through the application of a new form of science and new applications of technology and thus accompanying the rise of liberalism as a political project there's liberalism as a kind of technological project the technological project of freeing ourselves from nature and the limitations of nature and these two aspects of this project have been wildly successful and in this sense I think liberalism has has not simply failed it has succeeded it succeeded wild freeing us from other people and from dominating and commanding nature we have made ourselves increasingly into the individuals that was only imagined by figures like John Locke John Locke suggested that we are by nature free equally free that we are radically free from other people this was of course not the case when Locke was writing he was simply imagining this condition but if we look around the world today and indeed if we god forbid actually talk about social science which I you know occasionally do from time to time one of the remarkable and consistent findings from my my discipline political science and from sociology is how successful we have been in making ourselves into the individuals that was once only imagined as a kind of fanciful possibility we have may it freed ourselves increasingly from place from family from religion from marriage and from children we are increasingly liberated from the kinds of bonds and relationships that once would have been thought as defining what a human being is and when we take on those bonds and relationships one of the findings of social science is how easily and often how quickly we will remain remake or revise or even rethink those sets of relationships now what was imagined as a kind of fanciful possibility in the state of nature in fact can't exist easily in the real world as we know I mean among other things were literally not just created like mushrooms that that blossom up out of nothing as Hobbs Hobbs once described human beings in the state of nature we're not just human beings that pop up as mushrooms do from the lawn after a watering we have we require fairly thick relationships certainly as we grow up hopefully we have good parents if you're students at Dartmouth I assume you had a pretty good upbringing it's not easy to get into a place like this but increasingly what we see is that we require a massive apparatus to create the conditions that allow us to be free from other people it's not easy to do in the world of reality it's not a natural condition bertrand de jouvenel the great french intellectual once said that the the the arguments of the social contract thinker thinkers were clearly arguments by childless men who had forgotten their own childhood what in fact is required to create individuals in this way as an increasingly large centralized and powerful state and an increasingly global and powerful economic order that creates the conditions of our liberation it simply doesn't exist by nature it actually requires an increasingly large and centralized state the thing that we think that liberalism allowed us to get away from the ancient kings would have would have to use a phrase peed in their pants or this be recorded to think about the power that might be available to them that is available today to the leader of the United States or even the leader of most Western Western liberal democracies the kind of centralized power and authority of the ability to have surveillance the ability to accumulate data knowledge about everything in a sense that we do is the kind of power that would have been only dreamed of by ancient tyrants the condition of Liberty requires the growth and extension and expansion of a centralized state that creates the conditions of our freedom everything from the from the international highway system to the airports that allowed me to fly here today to the to the conditions that create the possibility of us traveling and and moving throughout the world with ease and safety requires an increasingly large and robust state and as we become freer as we become more liberated from people we're going to need the state to take care of us I was just listening to reports day that Social Security will be insolvent by the year 2020 good luck those of you who are planning to retire any time after 2020 but increasingly we rely upon the state to take care of us recognizing that we are liberated among other things from our families who might once have had that job and then similarly we need an expansion of an economy that presents to us the possibility of doing anything of living anywhere of being anything and of pursuing any desire and any wish that we might have in a kind of borderless world the globalized economy that we have largely created today and the other part the other prong of the liberal project we could say has also been a wild success the technological project that pushes back all the boundaries and limits that the natural world seems to present to us we have superseded place as I just mentioned air travel we haven't gotten transporters yet but I told I'm told they're working on that but the Internet of course is a version of the transporter allowing us to be anywhere but where we are if you ever watch students walking around campus just try to stay out of their way because they'll just run right over you but think also not only how we've transformed the natural world but how we're increasingly transforming human nature making human nature in some ways subject to the same conquest as we have done to the natural world not only of course the curing of many diseases but the overcoming of increasingly the the scientific capacity to replace natural reproduction with artificial forms of reproduction the possibility of near infinite longevity perhaps even immortality which was one of the visions and dreams of the inventor of modern science Francis Bacon even the possibility of creating a kind of new humanity of splicing in different genetic pieces to make it possible for us to live on the moon on Mars the possibility of really in some ways taking over the project that was once thought to be God's domain now all of these wildly successful aspects of what I'm describing as liberalism as as I as I'm suggesting has been a decided success in making us precisely into the kind of person the kind of human being that was envisioned at the beginning of this project and yet when we think about at least these three areas I've just discussed the state and the economy and technology when we speak of these things today increasingly we talk about them in terms of a kind of powerlessness of not having power to govern them of having created forces that now have their own logic and in which our own individual sense of Liberty of dignity even of what our alien describes as a system that produces justice and fairness seems to be a receding aim a receding sense or consequence of the system the state is regarded by increasing numbers of people as distant and is controlled by a small cadre of people who really aren't really fundamentally responsive to an electorate that's diffuse and largely unable to exercise any real influence over the political process the more protests we have as a society the more protests you see the more powerless that's a sign of how powerless and voiceless we are it's not a sign of our political potency it's actually a sign of our actual ineffectiveness in many ways our voiceless nYSSA's is demonstrated through a kind of mass gathering rather than through processes of politics where you might actually in some ways be able to have a kind of a kind of voice in making policy and and and directing the political project so when we think increasingly of the political crisis of art of our times one of the objects of that is the sense that we the people no longer control the state the state is no longer subject to us and this is certainly it seems to me part of what's been happening in the European Union aurelion and and his colleague mentioned countries like Hungary and Poland as as as grave threats to Liberty but in many ways these countries are reacting to what they see has a kind of totalitarian imposition of rules and governance through a very distant governing structure in the European Union or think how we often talk about the economy this economy that mercilessly sips winners and losers you students know this all too well it has its own internal logic and no matter what you might have come to college thinking you wanted to study if specially if you have how did the druthers to study English or classics or something useless like that you knew that you had to conform yourself to be a useful economic cog when somebody asks you what you're going to do with that degree you know you have the wrong major whereas when somebody says well that's a really good field to be in you know you have the right major whether you're whether in a sense you chose it because of you were passionate about it but we know that we have to conform to the economic logic of this age this economic logic that purportedly is one thing which we are free and yet we understand we have to conform to that logic increasingly the economic order is uncover Noble by political by political structures and political governments we know this how how increasingly multinational corporations exist outside a political authority and indeed seem to operate a kind of shadow government often controlling governments through influence of money and in lobbying so in many ways again when we speak of the economy when we speak of the process of globalization we've unleashed a kind of logic that was supposed to liberate us but in which we feel increasing that we have no control over its ultimate outcome and I hear more often than I can say the same kind of language used to describe technology as if it is a kind of life force that exists separate from human control and human governance it simply has its own internal logic it's almost like an autonomous monster that will gobble up the world we have no choice it will unfold in the way that it does and so when I'm told about things like the development of AI the development of a worker list world of robots that will do all of the jobs there's now done by nine-tenths of the population there's nothing we can do about it this technology the science that was supposed to liberate us now increasingly in some ways makes us its subjects how is this how has this come to pass how is it that we no longer govern the tools of our freedom of our liberation so having said that liberalism has been wildly successful let me also suggest that in a way it has failed because precisely in liberating us creating the tools of our liberation it has left us in this kind of condition of an extreme form of unfreedom and in doing so it has generated a powerful reaction what we talk about today is populism in the US and around the world in Eastern Europe in Britain in Western Europe especially in Italy and now growing movements in France and Germany and so forth we see movements that are aimed both at the liberal settlement of both government and economics aimed at the liberal logic of a borderless and culturalist world aimed at the condition that mercilessly sifts economic winners from economic losers this is the order that again are alien described as creating justice and fairness the reaction of liberals is increasingly totalitarian I would submit any objection to liberalism is illegitimate and if you watch broadcast news if you attend most universities today you will have encountered this form of totalitarianism in which objections to this order are not simply political arguments they are whatever pick your word bigoted or racist or whatever is whatever makes it out of bounds but increasingly certain kinds of arguments can no longer be made precisely because they run against the deepest commitments of the regime and that's when you know the regime is you know in a sense locked in a death battle with what it sees as a as a as an opponent that is a prodigious and threatening but I would argue that that opponent is not actually the populist the opponent are the conditions that liberalism itself has generated and it is unwilling to come to grips with unwilling to recognize that it has created the conditions that is now creating and generating this counter reaction and if it generally wants to confront this counter reaction and your best your best tactic isn't to seek to suppress it because believe me we'll come back in a much more harsh and much more determined form and much less a much a much less attractive form than even we see today believe it or not but rather to confront the conditions that have generated this counter reaction that we're seeing today indeed I would suggest that for the foreseeable future this is our politics in the West we've come to believe that politics is between left and right between some recognizable form of red and blue and maybe that's the way we still think of it but it seems to me that the politics today is increasingly between claims about the logic of a regime needing to continue to flow out in their inexorable form and those who want to those inexorable logical extensions of liberalism subject them to some form of a kind of political control a call for a kind of common good that has largely been lost in a liberal polity that's that's my claim and now I'm very happy to turn turn turn the floor over to my friend or alien cry you too thank you very much realism a rallying cry to I'm very honored and delighted to be here with you to discuss an important topic tonight which is the crisis of liberalism this topic would have been hardly conceivable three decades ago as Professor Clark pointed out when the Berlin Wall was falling the first post communist government was formed in Poland in August 1989 and the students revolt in in the Tiananmen Square in early June of 1989 then we all celebrated the end of totalitarianism and the triumph of liberal democracy around the world in that miraculous year 1989 think accelerated beyond control there is a joke that says that it took 10 years for communism to fall in Poland 10 months to fall in Hungary 10 weeks in East Germany 10 days in Czechoslovakia and 10 hours in Romania at the end of 1989 the world looked entirely different so when the Berlin Wall came down those were the conscious of the shipwreck from the other side the wrong side of the Iron Curtain believed strongly in the principles of liberal democracy I was one of them because I was on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain today things seems to be different on both sides of the curtain around the world liberal democracy is indeed in crisis so says a most recent report of the Freedom House liberal liberal democracy is in retreat around the world so says our distinguished speaker too professor Dineen liberals around the world are treated with utter contempt along with freemasons Jews they are derided as paid supporters of George Soros who has become in Europe as well as North America the scapegoat of populist government's given this disturbing state of affairs I think it's vitally important for us to examine why so many intellectuals left and right are obsessed with the retreat of liberal democracies they are certainly not the first ones to do so and the death of liberalism is not a new topic to be sure but the intensity with which it is pursued seems surprising and concerning seven and a half decades ago two German exhales Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno while living in sunkissed exile California and drinking fresh orange juice from the trees in their backyard far from the war front wrote about the dialectic of the Enlightenment they claimed that for all the enlightened ideas of the Enlightenment its instrumental rationality had produced triumphant calamities today many political philosophers again on both sides of the political spectrum some of them living in Sankey's California some in the Midwest follow in the footsteps of Horkheimer and Adorno they repeat that the liberal project is ultimately self contradictory culminating in the twin Dipesh depletions of moral and material reservoirs upon which it has relied even without replenishing them our distinguished guest and my friend this evening Patrick Dineen has eloquently defended the cities in his widely acclaimed book he writes a political philosophy that was launched to foster greater equity defended defend a tapestry of different cultures and beliefs protect human dignity and of course expand human dignity in practice generates titanic inequality enforces uniformity and homogeneity forces material and spiritual degradation and undermines freedom the conclusion is that liberalism endgame is unsustainable in every respect and we must reject the belief give up the belief that our ailments can be fixed by lysing liberalism so the solution is not more but less no liberal therapy is on this reading advisable or possible now Patrick Deline writes from the center right of the political spectrum but in this regard he is he joins the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm who put it just before his death in 2012 as he mentioned in his article in 2012 that none of the major problem facing humanity in the 21st century can be solved by the principle that still dominate the West's unlimited economic growth technical progress the ideal it if individual freedom of choice individual autonomy and electoral democracies so the alarm that is sounded by this serious scholars is is something that we cannot ignore they claim that the real and serious problems of Western democracies exist not despite liberalism but because of it not because liberalism has failed but because to use Patrick Dineen sketchy and paradoxical formulation it it has triumphed now I'm fascinated by the literature of Doom I've been an avid reader of of us ask both Spangler's Viraj Spengler's the decline of the Western world when when when I had the chance to read it many times ago I've always been fascinated by those who participate in this vast literature industry of Doom and I think that it's interesting that this industry here produces so many casandra's that we cannot dismiss because they tell us a little bit of some of our war is something that we need to to express publicly but the current pessimism is I think not only to be expected but also surprising at the same time now it is hard on the one hand not to be distressed by the external shocks from violent Islamism the injury to liberal values by state surveillance war-making and torture it's hard not to be distressed by global banking collapse and it's costly rescues and prolonged economic harm that was widespread in the aftermath of the crisis of 2008 but there is also I think and this is something that I like to propose to the audience there is also a little bit of good news we should not ignore the good news either let me give you some good news here global life expectancy in the past 175 years this is during the period when liberalism has failed because it has triumphed has risen from 30 to 70 the share of people living below the threshold of extreme poverty has fallen from 80 percent to 8 percent and the absolute number has halved the literacy rates are up more than fivefold to over 80 percent civil rights and the rule of law are more robust and there were only a decade ago I think these are important numbers that we should not ignore but we should realize that the topic of the death of liberalism is not a new trope as I tried to describe it in article that I co-authored with my colleague Dan Cole this has been announced for a long time scholar and statesmen have been declaring liberalism dead or in deep crisis for at least a century and a half let me give you a few examples here an article in the February 1900 issue of the Blackwood's Edinburgh magazine declared liberalism is dead referring not just to the UK Liberal Party but liberalism as a political theory in general the anonymous author labor liberalism a bastard philosophy and a superfluous one upon the whole he concluded it's good to know that liberalism is dead that was in 1900 that same year across the Atlantic Edwin Godkin founder and editor of the nation wrote despairingly of the eclipse of liberalism in the year's cost at the time by new nationalism of greed the Declaration of Independence he wrote no longer this enthusiasm it is an embarrassing instrument which requires to be explained away he thought that the US Constitution was out of step with the new anti liberal site-geist even after the defeat of Nazism in the world war 2 a victory for liberalism in the West I should remind you but a triumph for communism in his Central Europe obituaries for liberalism continued to be written with surprising regularity now frankly I have to confess that it's hard to know what to make of all these pronouncements some more rhetorical than others at least to us they bring to mind a related drop the Jeopardy thesis coined by economist Albert Hirschman in the rhetoric of reaction Hirshman analyzed the claim that many government enacted reforms tend to jeopardize liberal institutions and individual liberty he suggested that there must be some inherent intellectual attraction and I should add some benefit in advancing various version of the Jeopardy thesis the attraction of the cities must be great indeed because liberalism has been declared dead so often then call and I conducted conducted a Google Brooke books and gram analysis which graphs the number of books containing a certain word or a phrase as a percentage of all the books in the Google collection and we found out that liberalism first died in late 1870s but according to here's man it was already declared as dying as early as 1830 so we have here a patient that has been ill for a long time but still kicking today and then died more at the turn of the 20th century and has been dying almost continuously since 1920 so how can we account for all that might it be time to acknowledge that the meaning of liberalism has always been ambiguous I think so in fact few words have received more different meanings and has struck mines in so many ways as liberalism it does not describe a unified coherent political theory as Professor Denning pointed out but serves as an umbrella for a large family of theories philosophical anthropological sociological and political created over the course of several centuries by a diverse array of authors with disparate notions of what it means to be a liberal and with different intentions so I think that until we see better what liberalism is it is hard to know what we are worrying about the name liberalism just to remind you can be used to describe systems of governance as distinctives as the French physiocrats les affair the Libertarians Nightwatchman state FDR New Deal the law ordered state of the German order liberals in the aftermath of World War two or Lyndon Johnson's Great Society all these were called and are being called liberals today new liberals criticize neoliberalism which is another catchy and imprecise world every time I was I hear someone talk about neoliberalism I turned off and your liberalism has seen as a cause of increasing inequality and declining social mobility at the same time classical liberals denounced the excesses of social welfare state for its encroachment on individual liberty and the state dependency that it creates liberalism is decried in some circles as adopting him based by an amoral and a callous elite the blind apology of market greed and low taxes a Western Way of life mired in materialism individualism and consumerism yet I think as a dad Edmund faucet shot in an excellent book called liberalism the life of an idea published by Princeton University Press in 2014 at the heart of liberalism one finds four broad clusters of ideas that distinguish liberals from both conservatives and socialists liberalism affirmed one the need to accept that we are bound to live with the ethical and material conflict in society conflict is in in eradicable in society and we need to learn how to live with it to regulate it to moderate it number two power must be distrusted and resisted number three faith in human progress and reason and number four respect for people's thoughts and individual dignity a non exclusion civic respect and yes toleration of minorities now liberals insisted on pursuing all these four ideas at the same time Edmund Fawcett writes and I think he's right but liberalism critics often saw in this a form of incoherence but they may have missed something important in this regard liberalism's attempt to pursue all four ideas again conflict need to resist and distress power faith in human progress and reason and respect for equal dignity of individuals liberalism attempt to pursue all of this for may be seen as a form of courage and strength a work in progress a sign of endurance vigor and life not only of weakness and incoherence it should remind us that liberalism is a fluid and capacious story even if it's not indiscriminate not everyone is liberal but it's a big tent a big family that displays a recognizable degree of unity and continuty and also it should remind us that liberalism presupposes of series of Moral Sentiments and a distinctive political temperament liberals recognize the value of free and open societies predicated upon separation of powers toleration pluralism and the infinite value of individual personalities the liberal program is this toleration freedom of thought freedom of opinion fair play discussion and debate in lieu of violence and the fist trial by jury publicity of proceedings no arbitrary power opposition to fanaticism of all sorts the existence of criminal laws and the right of legal action against the ages of the state who must be held responsible economic Liberty and yes private property and there is also the liberal idea of Reason which is linked to the absolute pursuit of truth the rejection of every form of obscurantism myth and bias the list could go on and I think that it's important to acknowledge that liberalism is a big tent and it's a tent that is capacious and sometimes incoherent but not always so the question is what are we to do with this conceptual fluidity once we acknowledge it I forgot to mention that in another book that we cite in our article which I recommend to those of you are interested in the history of liberalism by a Brazilian diplomat called JG Mercure called liberalism all the new he identified about 30 types 3-0 of liberalism so what do we do with so many liberalism's a few conclusions spring to mind what distinguishes liberalism from other doctors is that no one version of the Liebherr outlook ever became canonical not Locke not Montesquieu and not medicines liberalism unlike socialism or communism has no accredited church no doctrine airs no Communist Manifesto no Marx and Engels no Standard Bible it has always been loose-fitting open to interpretation and argument and liable to being misinterpreted or simplified and it has always shown a notable degree of continuity as outlook philosophical outlook as practice and philosophy so I do think and I speak here as a historian of political thought we need to take this conceptual 3dt ambiguity seriously when it is accompanied by some form of ambiguity at the verbal level as it's the case with the complex concepts such as liberalism and capitalism we need to distinguish between serious debate and intellectual frauds that work with the proximate definition in a coherent manner this happens with in my view with all of those denunciation of neoliberalism when this happens everything is pressed into the mold of the neoliberalism crisis of capitalism sometimes with an odd sense of schadenfreude in a surprising self-assurance what all these approaches have in common is the use of a simplistic black-and-white approach and false dichotomies accompanied by verbal pomposity this is why I think it's very important to engage in this debate and always revisit the essence of liberalism something that Professor Dan indos very thoughtfully in his book but I do think that what does not transpire his book and we should discuss further is the in reality liberalism creates a big tent for many different conception of the good life in accordance with yes I agree with the commitment to individual choice and legitimacy some have seen this as a weakness of liberalism yet drawing on the work of Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset I like to define liberalism as the supreme form of generosity in liberal regimes Ortega wrote the majority which has power on its side concedes to weaker minority the right to live on their own terms thus announcing the determination to share existence with and respect those who have a different view of the good society that was Ortega y Gasset definition of liberalism in the la rebellion the last masses the revolt of the masses published in 1929 so there are many liberal languages that emphasize different things human capacity enlarging human capacity privacy individual responsibility toleration cultivation of individuality limited power pursuit of greatness and excellence equality could respect dignity social justice so I don't think we should simplify liberalism by defining it as a single-minded campaign for liberty or small government less effort capitalism we must remind that even when liberals spoke or speak for liberty they are not standing up all for the same thing the same goes for those who defend the individual and the market now I will not hide the fact that I'm concerned about the state of liberalism today in our society today but if liberalism has failed as Professor Devine so eloquently pointed out I would also want to state that it's virtually impossible to imagine the world without it one way or another so I think despair itself can generate mostly forces of destruction not of reconstruction the opponents of liberalism forget to furnish any proof - we shall do better with the their brand of economy or social arrangements assuming they have one we're entitled to ask for a counterproposal and a program of action alas most critics tend to leave us in the dark regarding their positive program all we get is a false impression that were faced with the crisis not me laughs economy but of the whole system of faith as it were to which we must blindly bow so I think we should be concerned and resist this whole pie and resist this wholesale rejection of all those values that we subsume under the word liberalism it is our duty I think it is the duty of any serious critic of liberalism and in a defender of liberalism to examine very carefully what are the defects and imperfections what are those that can be imputed to liberal economic systems rather than to other historically more or less incidental circumstances appending to liberalism so the decisive point in judging liberalism or capitalism is that precisely in our days when the system is being attacked it is disfigured and distorted beyond recognition by elements that are alien to its initial essence mostly interventions with a complex economic structure tariffs regulations premiums and subventions all these interventions have lowered the efficiency of liberalism as an economic doctrine but it is important to resist the temptation of succumbing to escapism and anti-liberal solutions it was liberal themselves actually as such as my favorite of them William Rebka one of the founding fathers of older ordoliberalism in Germany who did not shy away from denouncing while Rebecca called liberal Eman imminent ISM that is the belief that the market and the competition can generate their own moral prerequisites autonomously in reality raqi announced in a wonderful book which is called beyond supply and demand miss translated into English as humane economy in reality these elements can come from outside that is and the ultimate moral support for market economy always lies outside of the market this is the liberal it presupposes a set of what economists like Deirdre McCloskey called bourgeois virtues such as prudence saving a sense of tradition courage a sense of duty civic mindedness and honestly to name only a few in reality as Rebka himself put it man simply does not live by radio or automobiles and refrigerators alone but by the whole unpurchased abel world beyond the market and turn over figures the world of dignity beauty poetry grace chivalry love and friendship the world of community a variety of life freedom and fullness of personality these are at the end of the day the values for which Professor Dineen fights in his valiant work perhaps sometimes unbeknownst to him so I would like to point out in conclusion that I began by reminding of the great transformation that occurred in that great year 1989 at first sight it appeared to be a boon for liberalism in reality the fall of communism left liberalism without the global rival against which it could compete and define itself and renew itself conceptually while as dark as our situation is today and I will not deny many of the points made by Professor Dineen it has not or at least not yet sank to the depth of Europe of the 1930s but one has a similar impression to this as again Rebka when he observed the intellectuals in his own Germany of 1983 1933 and this is what he said in a speech given on February 8th of 1933 eight days after Hitler came to power as Chancellor of Germany rarely in history has a group of people been so busy helping to solve the branch on which they sit he was referring to the German academics of his times liberal democracy has created the free and open society that most of us in the West take for granted today it has brought us without with it a level of freedom and prosperity unparalleled in in history to reject liberal democracy especially in our hour of crisis as an alarming number of academics on both sides of the political spectrum tend to do would be again to sawed off the branch upon which we all sit so comfortably so proudly in the end liberalism neither promises nor delivers ready-made panacea solutions to our problem it should it is and should never be it's not a shorthand for universal bliss nor a synonym for utopia more modestly liberals and liberalism seeks to limit political power and enable individuals alone or in voluntary association to experiment freely in various spheres of life it emphasizes how power ought to be used rather than who should use power how power is used rather than who should power that's for the Socialists for the Communists not for the Liberals liberal democracy creates in other words a safety valve that makes revolutions redundant and seeks to solve these agreements in a civil manner in a structured framework Parliament's courts sometimes universities negotiations discussion civil standards of behavior court to see compromise justice reason reliance on facts and yes moderation a virtue for courageous minds this is the essence of liberal civilization so liberalism as you probably realize by now is inseparable from the doubts that we feel about it those doubts should not cause us to fall into despair they should encourage us to heat even celebrate liberalism critics such as professor Dineen for pointing out its real flaws and helping us find the best means of maintaining and improving our open society all this I'm sure you'll agree with me is a work in progress liberalism is itself is a work in progress it cannot fail because it is something that is unfolding that is why I like to end with you by reminding Gandhi's apocryphal response to a question of what he thought about Western civilization Ghandi said after reflecting for a moment it would be a good idea this time let's apply this world's slightly amended to liberalism itself it would be a great idea thank you very much the two of you like to respond to anything the other has said in their remarks Patrick let's take some questions from the floor I would only ask two things if you one please make your question a question and please make your question one question if at all possible thank you very much what do you see the road can you hear me what do you see the role of religion in a liberal democracy you've asked the most most vexed question the two things you're not supposed to talk about our politics and religion I'm told well you know there's there's a there's the story of liberalism and I'm gonna call it a story the story of liberalism is that liberalism arose out of the Wars of Religion in order to provide what I described earlier as the the neutral territory in which people of varying beliefs could in a sense bracket their beliefs for public purposes and live their lives as they saw fit especially under the protection of that that first freedom the the freedom freedom of religion freedom to practice ones religion and you enshrined in our First Amendment there's a reason it's in the First Amendment was precisely that there would be the protection of religious liberty but the the that story contains another element as well which was a deep concern I think especially among the more let's say forward minded enlightened figures who themselves were skeptical of religion if not outright unbelievers that religion religions role was largely one of danger of provoking and providing division within society of obscuring the possibility of enlightenment of presenting a kind of danger to society so you had a kind of dual founding within liberalism a the belief that that should be protected as a kind of a practice that could be pursued by either individuals or groups of people as they saw fit and a deep suspicion that religion was actually baleful that it was suspect and these are both parts I mean alien speaks of the complicate a tradition of religion and this is certainly one of the complicated traditions of religion so you have on the one hand figures like James Madison articulating a strong belief in the need for religious liberty at the same time you had Thomas Jefferson articulating aTTRA TKE of monkish superstition and desire or ultimately to eliminate religion I or at least to make it let's say largely a matter of back to regard it as backward opinion and ultimately to replace it with science and and a kind of true belief i am i think this tension within liberalism had we've seen it being played out over centuries it's clear that this is a tension within liberalism itself and we can see sort of two sides of liberalism in regard to religion the belief that there's a place for religious belief and you mentioned role that there's even a beneficial place for religion this is a long tradition figures my Tocqueville is certainly one of them who regard religion is a necessary boon to upholding certain kinds of norms and standards and morality of society and liberals like more contemporary like Richard Rorty who regarded religion as essentially an irrational belief system that had no place in in the public sphere and wanted it to to largely go away I would say within within the liberal world the second of these liberal isms has become ascendant that increasingly what you see is religious believers claiming the rights of religious freedom the rights enshrined in the First Amendment to defend themselves against an increasingly hostile secular liberalism that regards those beliefs as backwards as a recidivist as present preventing enlightenment as the sort of a collection of views that would be better to be eliminated and to be done away with and what we're seeing is an increasingly effort increasing effort to use the power of the state to restrain restrict and even control religion we saw this under the Obama administration with the HHS mandate we see it in various ways and guys as the effort to increasingly put adoption services Catholic adoption services out of business and so I see this is a great threat to religious liberty in coming from one strand of liberalism that is ascendant today in the in the liberal world my deeper suspicion and it would take us longer much longer than I think we have to talk about this my deepest suspicion is that this was in a sense built into the liberal project that that the ultimate move toward a kind of secular society in an aggressively secular society was really built into the view and the assumption that religion had to be regarded as an official matter as a matter of opinion not containing anything that could be thought of as truth and as soon as that sort of epistemological belief becomes widespread it renders religion as no more a legitimate kind of form of you could say morality or public discourse or norms then what is it the Flying Spaghetti Monster or you know whatever whatever odd belief system one might have it turns it into a kind of peculiarities I think that those sort of the long history of liberalism broadly speaking in America was a bit of an outlier for a long time has been an increasingly aggressive form of a kind of alternative kind of religion if I could put it that way one that's been hostile to more traditional forms of religion again I would need more time to really lay this out but I think that the question really goes to the heart of where we see some of the deepest contestation today in our country and around the world and it is on this question is in exactly the ways that are alien described can liberalism be liberal when it comes to belief systems that it may not ultimately see eye-to-eye with and be able to embrace is it truly liberal or is it really and hasn't all along been something actually really quite different wait for the mic that uncomfortable pause so I think you declared a bunch of times how previously in history libera uh which I think both of you guys mentioned this that liberalism has been declared dead or dying kind of as it has been in the current cultural moment would you say that there is a like Morse would you say that this particular instance of it is particularly different and it seems just if we look at like previous moments like like 1920s Gilded Age like that kind of moment like liberalism has to a certain extent reset in those kind of under a new equilibrium do you see that happening in this current era and if so how do you think that that will manifest itself so I cannot answer the question correctly but I would say that liberalism this is a moment for liberal reinvention liberals need to take seriously into account what their critics are suggesting and they should focus on fixing what's wrong with our world and there are many things that that do not work well the true spirit of liberalism isn't shouldn't be self congratulatory and that's what we have in academia today but one that is changing ever changing this likes and welcomes disruption and I think that historically speaking liberal liberals have showed that they are pragmatic spirits they can come up with new solutions to to constantly evolving crisis and I think that that that will should happen again but there are three things that liberals need to do they need to tackle the issue of inequalities in our society our society is out of whack in that regard the second issue is liberals need to take to take religion seriously and nationalism seriously I would say that in this regard liberals have done a little bit better than Marxist because according to Marx religion and nationalism was were supposed to disappear some people say Marx was a good that well marx was a very bad prophet because we are you know again faced with nationalism religion we need to take this seriously so liberals need to take religion and nationalism seriously number two number three we need to acknowledge that we need to reform liberals need to reform the current system of education and I think that that is a big challenge ahead of us so it's possible to to do small changes but I think that what is required today to overcome the crisis is bold action in a way that liberals have been able to do in the past here I would like to say one other thing about about liberalism after the war the best times of liberalism or 1945 1989 this is one liberals liberals defeated Nazism or fighting against communism were defining themselves they came up with with solutions that's when they invented a compromise called social democracy in Western Europe there were good days and bad days of social democracy but there was a consensus there and it was also made possible by the what is today known as the European Union which started as as a much modest proposal between France Germany and Italy so I think that that it shows all this shows that it has been done in the past and can of course be done in the future hi good evening thank you for the talk so I'm from Brazil and historically where I come from and today as well often times economically Libre or neoliberal practices come together with authoritarianism from the state so and also in the post area a post-war era was also like in the global south or like places like Latin America rise in like regimes totalitarian regimes with certain like at least economically since some sort of like liberal trades so my question is what is the role of like historically and today what is the role of the global South in this conversation thank you hi I suspect that neither of us can necessarily speak with expertise about the global South although I I'm fascinated by well I'm fascinated by the interest in my book and in books like my book not only in the global south where there's an interest but around the world this book is being translated it's a 14 language including Brazilian Portuguese edition I'll be traveling to Chile in about four weeks just do a series of talks down there I wrote this book really thinking it was for Americans and what has really surprised me is the kind of global interest in the subject and I'm not sure how literally it's going to translate but I expect to learn a lot in the course of talking to people in these different settings you know let me I think what I suspect and then I'm sure there are particular cultural circumstances that we really need to take account of but I suspect part of what one is experiencing in places like Brazil I think what one experienced what was experienced in a place like Chile was the experience of the creation of a liberal political and economic order which it turns out is not the mythic beginning that we all learn it's not the condition in the in the state of nature where people come together and rationally decide this is how we want to order our political order in our economic order in fact if you look back historically what you actually find is that there were exercises of profound forms of authority and authoritarian imposition of certain kinds of economic and political structures one good source to look at this is Karl Karl Polanyi who wrote a book called the great transformation who writes about the creation of what we now think about is the capitalist political order and what he what he really shows is how a series of elites in that time hundreds you know several centuries ago created the conditions and including the enclosure movement in England including the effort of large landowners to begin to assert a kind of authority over market forces to create the conditions for the market often against the wishes and the will of the lower classes so this wasn't a kind of consensual project per se there's a great line in polanyi's book in which he says lays a fair was planned it had to be created in some senses and you could say the same thing was true to some degree or another degree about liberalism in many different settings and I think you can't understand the project of American liberalism without understanding the way in which the Native Americans were treated in this country they were non persons because they weren't productive they weren't productive members of a productive economy so they were non persons in the way that African American slaves were non persons they weren't productive they didn't they didn't contribute to society and we're able to see that now but in that moment it it served our view the view that the only real human beings were highly productive people who were engaged with a with an economic activities that would increase gross national product and so forth and I'll be really controversial I'll predict that in 50 200 years we'll have the same view about abortion because those are the non persons for us today these are the people who limit our freedom today in the same ways that Indian limited the freedom of the expansion of the continent and so forth liberalism has been very good about about determining who are non-persons for the purpose of our Liberty so I think I suspect that at least in part what's being experienced by the authoritative imposition of liberal structures and political and economic structures is very much a retelling of that story we had one thing to your question I think your competitors would say to the question it would be a good idea it would be a good idea to have a rule of law to have free competition for power the possibility to remove from power without violence without electoral fraud leaders that have betrayed the trust of the participants it would be a good idea to allow people to associate voluntarily to pursue things and hold accountable those do not do their job it would be a great idea hi I'm trying to track yeah hi Patrick how are you I'm trying to track Patrick whether your argument is made on behalf of liberalism against a certain kind of liberal culture but on behalf of a more invigorated liberal polity or whether it's really a criticism of liberalism so and I hear you talk about religion I hear you describe a situation in which religions aren't being tolerated in which the state is persecuting the free extras or limiting the free exercise of religion and the defense of religious liberty sounds to me like a liberal purpose so I could go on but I mean it sounds like you want a free and prosperous and fair and respectful Society in open society and and that sounds like an improved but very liberal Society or is it that you want a really fundamentally different kind of society than the one we have grown-up customer calling the liberal yeah no in fact I think again this would be a longer really long answer on the question of religion obviously is very complicated I actually think this is where sort of liberalism sort of plays itself out in other words I actually think that religious liberty ultimately is not going to be respected in a liberal society that men and that you know I could I could give you the book-length version of that argument which I'll bring out some day but but essentially that things like think about what we're debating today religious liberty academic freedom freedom of speech all these great liberal virtues who is it that's denying these great liberal virtues and practices today it's the so-called liberals why is that it's because they are in a sense at the end station of the process that I described in my introductory remarks the creation of these radically individual autonomous selves in a technological society and any points of resistance to that vision of what our society should look like increasingly will become under hostile fire and claims of from old-fashioned liberal virtues will become increasingly disregarded as no longer applicable because the substance of liberalism no longer needs the mechanisms or tools that led to the creation of those conditions and in other words what Iranian regards is the essence of liberalism I regard as the tools that led us from one kind of society to the society that we have now I think he's mistaken that we can sort of get those back if we just invoke good old-fashioned liberalism I think we are now in essentially a different substantive order that those tools are no longer in a sense those tools are going to be thrown aside as no longer relevant or useful and they're gonna be picked up by people are gonna say what about free speech and what about freedom of religion and guess what you're not going to get that because it no longer conforms to the substance of what liberalism is so we have we differ in some sense that I actually think that there's no getting it back I might be wrong about that time will tell but I think it's no mistake so in some senses I guess what I'm what I'm saying is that in in theory I guess yes but in fact I think the long term trajectory of liberalism was always in a sense to hollow out those non liberal practices and institutions and when it became necessary to attack them head-on it's a very tempting story the one that Patrick de niñas is telling and it is it is a warning one at least for me and for for you to probably but I'm reminded that most liberals such as Benjamin constant for example Madame de Stael Tocqueville took in her Madame de saucé father Jacques Necker took religion very seriously so I have reasons of hope when I look back and they were living during the ages of the Enlightenment and in the aftermath of the indictment German constant wrote a great book called on religion that he considered to be the masterpiece of his if his entire life is true that in that book he only mentioned the name Jesus once in a in a five volume book or religion but it was something about religion after all he also was a great liberal so in a way for me the the reasons for hope come from the history of liberalism rather than looking today I think Patrick is right to point out that there is a dialectic at work there that seems to erode the attractiveness of religion thank you for your remarks I'm Daniel bring I'm a sophomore at the college so in contrast with this narrative of the death of liberalism I've encountered as well this very historic sister sort of triumphal argument in favor of liberalism based on the assertions you know that liberalism has continually provided an increasing standard of living and has you know triumphed over communism and fascism in chaos of the 20th century and will continue to triumph over these populist to reactive forces now and I my question is do you think that there is something inherent about liberalism which lends itself to this view that human societies over time trend towards liberty and human and human advancement and that there is this progressive essence of liberalism that leads to this historical view well so I hear often one of the questions I get regularly is well what about prosperity and longevity and all that all the good things that we have today and I'm not going to deny that I appreciate longevity and modern dentistry and you know penicillin and so forth and yet I think we we are all aware whenever I hear these statistics we're all aware that while these are necessary they're not sufficient conditions for human happiness right you just read Aristotle and you get that right Aristotle figure this out they're necessary conditions a certain form of health and material satisfaction is a necessary condition for human flourishing but it's not the essence of human flourishing right it's not the it's not the sum of human flourishing this the the the material conditions of life provide among other things the possibility of flourishing with friendship right what is what is the height of Aristotle's argument for the best life it's not having you know for flat-screen TVs it's having deep and good and profound friendships friendships that reinforce you in a life of virtue and excellence virtuosity being a really excellent human being and whatever your capacities and gifts are one of the statistics I sometimes play the social science well it's just statistics that strikes me the most about these you know increasing levels of isolation and atomization is the decrease in the number of close friends that people self-report in the mid-1980s people would report they had three close friends and today they report they have one close friend sort of on on average that means that all of the the you know 3:00 a.m. calls when you know your boyfriend girlfriend whatever breaks up with you the the the you know the the sessions over bourbon which you pour out your soul all that gets put on one person that person is not going to be your friend very long if you can spread it out a little bit your likelihood of you know keeping three friends is much much more likely than keeping one friend I find it to be one of the saddest statistics so we have lots of TVs and lots of cell phones we have lots of technology and health and so forth but we have decreasing capacity to form deep profound friendships which Aristotle would say is one of the sums of the pinnacles of an excellent life I would say if we begin to put those statistics into the equation the capacity to form families to raise a generation with confidence that they will in the end be the embodiment of certain kinds of virtues rather than fears that they'll be corrupted by an increasingly corrupting world the the likelihood or possibility that you'll be remembered when you die how often do we think of that that your life will have meant something and people will say your name long after you die because you contributed something to the world rather than just an ephemeral just breeze the pass through and consumed a lot of stuff i I think that these statistics are absolutely important and we should celebrate them but let's face facts it's not it's not the essence of what the good life is it's a necessary condition of life and we have to face something else as well that we tend to praise these statistics while we also you know in the same way that we do this in economics we tend to externalize the costs of those things right that if the entire world is supposed to live according to the American standard of living we know that that is literally unsustainable how is it that we're going to achieve a global standard of living along the lines of what we enjoy in the United States and still have breathable air and drinkable water and non polluted sees we know it's not possible so at some point we're gonna have to exercise either dominion to maintain our standard of living at the expense of everyone else which is a real possibility or we're gonna have to exercise moderation and that's something that liberal societies have proven not to be very good at right moderation there's your theme that's right moderation among other things in material terms not just in political terms so it seems to me that one of the great challenges we face is amid all these statistics of our great prosperity and wealth are we going to be able to live in a way on this planet with eight nine billion people and growing are we gonna be able to live in a way in which we are able to live good lives with material conditions that or the possibility of a good life but also to sustain ourselves in ways that I think are deeper in terms of flourishing and human happiness let me give you the optimistic take because this is the pessimistic look as John Maynard Keynes said in the long and we are all dead that's a good news because because we don't have to think about the hat there is I know I know it's the optimum it only optimism we can master today there is a story of perfect ability building tradition of liberalism that starts with the Enlightenment view but perfect ability doesn't mean absolute faith in progress it means the idea that that we can through brush on the pace of progress through discussion we can remove some barriers fight against tolerate intolerance and obscurantism a fourth sort so there is that now having said that I have to say that I'm fascinated by by Patrick story because it's a story that has obsessed me ever since I've read the French novelist by the name Michelle well back Welbeck wrote a terrifying book called the elementary particles which is a science fiction book the particular element air which was translated into English but it's a book that described precisely the world that patrick has referred to it's a world of atomized individuals with hookups brief hookups not real connection people who no longer know the meaning of what friend friendship or love and it's just it's a story that has haunted me ever since I read it I read it during my honeymoon I should add and that that has been a challenge ever since the the the view not not the marriage and and I should say that I'm concerned about that so when the one hand I do believe that there is something to the story of perfectibility that appears in country Madame de starting constant and others in his or by the way I think that you need to acknowledge very seriously the the ills that Patrick refers to in his book so when I gave you that phrase from from case I want to just to be provocative I I hope we can do something in the short run you've come we've come to the end of our time won't you join me in thanking our two speakers for a wonderful


  1. ^ a b New England Historic Genealogical Society (1905), Memorial biographies of the New England Historic Genealogical Society Vol. 6, Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, p. 401.
  2. ^ Bridgeman, Thomas (1856), The Pilgrims of Boston and their Descendants, New York: D. Appleton and Company, p. 60, retrieved 29 April 2009
  3. ^ a b Bridgeman p. 60
  4. ^ "Charter of Incorporation". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Theodore Sedgwick
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
William Eustis

This page was last edited on 11 October 2019, at 18:13
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