"In order that the mind may not be taxed, moreover, by the manifold and confused reading of so many such things, and in order to prevent the escape of something valuable that we have read, heard, or discovered through the process of thinking itself, it will be found very useful to entrust to notebooks ... those things which seem noteworthy and striking."

[Commonplace books: Thomas Farnaby, 17th-century]

We think that politics is more than an unfortunate necessity required by our inability to live together without killing each other. We think it is, can be anyway, an arena in which we work out and pursue, sometimes with notable success, large and constructive purposes. When I think about the history of democracy in the past century, and think about its greatest achievements of domestic policy, the areas of real moral progress, I think of civil rights, women’s equality, and the halting fight against a class society. With respect, classical liberals were in the rearguard in every one of these struggles. And for a simple reason: in each case, the struggle depended on a willingness to fight against inequality, subordination, exclusion through political means, through the dread state. And if you mix your classical liberal values with the classically conservative predisposition to think that politics is at best futile, at bad perverse, at worst risks what is most fundamental, then you will always celebrate these gains when the fight is over: always at the after party, inconspicuous at the main event, and never on the planning committee.

[Classical liberals v. mainstream liberals: Joshua Cohen, "Always at the after party", Boston Review, 27 Janunary 2009]

Posted by Alina Stefanescu Coryell on 06.12.2009

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