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Wednesday, February 11, A.D. 2009
Friedman’s Defense of Liberalism

As I file my taxes this morning, and while Congress currently advances socialism in America in ways not seen for half of a century, I am definitely in the mood for some truly liberal sense. The late Milton Friedman simply and succinctly provides it in the following interview with Richard Heffner on The Open Mind:

As I have written elsewhere, I am no longer a liberal, but I harbor many liberal notions and I believe the United States of America to be essentially a liberal regime. Lacking healthier alternatives, I find the liberal constitutional republic the least hideous of modernity’s political spawn. As such, I consider myself a practical though not theoretical ally to liberalism, at least in our current world. My argument for liberalism basically consists in noting that societies wherein individuals largely pursue their own flawed conceptions of the human good are preferable to ones that are controlled by an elite with just as flawed convictions. In the former, there is a lot of breathing room for sanity, whereas the latter condemns everyone to the faddish idiocy of a select few.

Friedman reflects this understanding in the interview, and he correctly argues that we must react to the world as it is and not as we wish it to be. Were only folks as easily convinced by a realistic assessment of the world as they are enticed by utopian visions of political perfection—but that is my own fantasy. Heffner is a remarkable host. I did not know about The Open Mind before I followed a link to this interview from Ann Coulter’s site. It has been on the air since A.D. 1956—an extraordinary run. I do not know how popular it ever was or is currently, but if all the shows are as well managed as the interview with Friedman, it deserves to be known. Almost all television shows that concern important issues are venues for sound bites rather than arguments. Heffner allows Friedman to make his argument, but he also follows the argument and even asks relevant questions. The only major interviewing journalist today who allows his guests to speak rather than cough out a few lines is Charlie Rose, but he does not seem to engage people at a high level. Anyway, I recommend this video, and I expect that I shall look into other episodes of The Open Mind.

As a side note, I hate the theme music. I wonder why cacophonous music features so prominently in television programs from the 1960’s and 1970’s. I do not know what to make of the modernist movement in highbrow tunes, but it disturbs me. In architecture, in music, and in ideas, the era truly embodies a culture of ugliness.

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, February 11, Anno Domini 2009
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