Thought for the Day: The Liberal Mind

I know what you’re thinking: the “liberal mind” is an oxymoron. But in this case I’m channeling Kenneth Minogue’s classic 1963 book The Liberal Mind, which holds up especially well just now. I know I’ve shared the opening of this book on Power Line before, but I checked, and I did so 11 years ago. So time to re-up this spot-on diagnosis:

The story of liberalism, as liberals tell it, is rather like the legend of St. George and the dragon.  After many centuries of hopelessness and superstition, St. George, in the guise of Rationality, appeared in the world somewhere about the sixteenth century.  The first dragons upon whom he turned his lance were those of despotic kingship and religious intolerance.  These battles won, he rested for a time, until such questions as slavery, or prison conditions, or the state of the poor, began to command his attention. During the nineteenth century, his lance was never still, prodding this way and that against the inert scaliness of privilege, vested interest, or patrician insolence.  But, unlike St. George, he did not know when to retire.  The more he succeeded, the more he became bewitched with the thought of a world free of dragons, and the less capable he became of ever returning to private life.  He needed his dragons.  He could only live by fighting for causes—the people, the poor, the exploited, the colonially oppressed, the underprivileged and the underdeveloped.  As an ageing warrior, he grew breathless in his pursuit of smaller and smaller dragons—for the big dragons were now harder to come by.

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