04 July 2007

Independence Day - Barzun on Freedom

“The very point of emancipation … is not to give power to those who have earned the right to it, but to lift the helpless to a level where they are free to learn how to use the right.
“Those who oppose freedom argue that as illiterates, as slaves, as children, they cannot manage the household, which is true though illiberal. The political history of the West has been a running battle between the ‘realistic’ deniers of one freedom after another and the generous ones who gambled on another truth, that capacity is native to all and depends only on fair conditions for its development. ”

Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present (New York: HarperCollins, 2000) 534.

Happy Independence Day.

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