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Tuesday, July 7, A.D. 2009
Burnham’s Liberalism Test: Questions 25-31

(This is a continuation of my posts on Jame Burnham’s liberalism test from A.D. 1964. You may access the related posts at the bottom of this entry.)

26. Qualified teachers, at least at the university level, are entitled to academic freedom: that is, the right to express their own beliefs and opinions, in or out of the classroom, without interference from administrators, trustees, parents or public bodies.

In the answers to questions 2, 12, 17, and 23, I acknowledge the importance of free inquiry. As with the Laws’ “Nocturnal Council,” there are matters ultimately more important to a society than its own stability. Truth is more important than convention on the final scale. Still, a society must regulate free inquiry so that it does not unravel the society by its transgression of convention. Perhaps I am naive, but I think that a regime may accommodate the philosopher, as long as the philosopher values social stability and realizes that his goal is not to transform the regime. As the pursuit of truth progresses, a society may slowly assimilate enlightenment into its conventions.

As such, I agree that academic freedom has a place, but such a place is limited. Unregulated social subversion “out of the classroom” is not a recipe for a healthy society, though a society respectful of the pursuit of truth must recognize the classroom itself.

27. In determining who is to be admitted to schools and universities, quota systems based on color, religion, family or similar factors are wrong.

I think that institutions, including schools, should be allowed to create the sort of atmosphere that they wish, as different demographics result in different atmospheres. As in my answer to question 15, my inner liberal does not want the state to interfere with people’s freedom in peaceful association. As in my answer to question 1, I do not think that discrimination is wrong in itself, though it can be at times irrational, harmful, and thus wrong in certain circumstances.

28. The national government should guarantee that all adult citizens, except for criminals and the insane, should have the right to vote.

This proposition triggers the most antiliberal response from me. Democracy is an idiotic system that puts power in the hands of the stupid, the ignorant, and the vicious, all of whom are utterly unfit to lead themselves, much less their betters. Unlike Churchill, I hold that most any other regime harms its people less than democracy. It is and always has been the rule of the mob, and it cannot be otherwise, given human nature.

29. Joseph McCarthy was probably the most dangerous man in American public life during the fifteen years following the Second World War.

If only the time frame were extended a bit, I could readily offer a substitute—Edward Kennedy, who unfortunately remains in the Senate. No other politician has done more to destroy our society than he.

30. There are no significant differences in intellectual, moral or civilizing capacity among human races and ethnic types.

I disagree completely. As men vary considerably one from another, so do groups of men in their families, tribes, and nations. It requires a massive amount of self-deception to come to a different conclusion. The Jared Diamonds of the world enrich themselves by telling soothing lies to egalitarian consumers.

31. Steps toward world disarmament would be a good thing.

If we could rid the entire world of nuclear weapons permanently, then such would be a good and advantageous boon for mankind. However, disarmament would be counterproductive for any armed state unless the disarmament were universal. The question, then, becomes how the international community could enforce universal disarmament without a real global government—an option that I find both unrealistic and horrifying. I have no answers. Men ought not to have such power. They will not use it wisely.

Links to this series of posts:

“Are You a Liberal?”
“Burnham’s Liberalism Test: Prelude”
“Burnham’s Liberalism Test: Questions 1-6”
“Burnham’s Liberalism Test: Questions 7-12”
“Burnham’s Liberalism Test: Questions 13-18”
“Burnham’s Liberalism Test: Questions 19-24”
“Burnham’s Liberalism Test: Questions 25-31”
“Burnham’s Liberalism Test: Questions 32-39”

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, July 7, Anno Domini 2009
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