Q. After having completed an extensive program of reading great conservative works, how can you still be a liberal?The negative liberty/positive liberty contrast is as neat a brief definition as one can find. He is also correct that few of us are purists in that, but sit along a continuum.
A. As Isaiah Berlin pointed out, what separates us at the most fundamental level may be our different conceptions of liberty. Conservatives value above all else what Berlin called the negative vision of liberty, namely, freedom from coercion. Liberals are more willing to balance that against the positive vision of liberty — that is, having a reasonable opportunity to realize one’s potential. The negative vision focuses conservatives on restricting the government’s ability to interfere in people’s lives. The positive vision leads liberals to believe that government has a role in guaranteeing baseline minimums in education, medical care, and healthy communities. Most of us probably accept both visions to some extent, but how we balance the two may be built into our DNA...
Monday, July 18, 2011
A Liberal Reads Right
National Review Online has an interview with a liberal, a New England professor even, who wrote a biography of William F Buckley Jr, and in the course of that, read conservative writers extensively. His comments seem just, and it is nice in any event to have a different set of eyes on the same material.