Adam Bellow’s compilation New Threats to Freedom brings diverse writers together to discuss the issues that pose the greatest danger to liberty today. Among others, these issues include the emergence of progressivism, the resurfacing of the Fairness Doctrine, sharia law in the West, intolerance on college campuses, and the drag of the regulatory state on free markets.
When the conservative movement is criticized as being monolithic, it is often juxtaposed with statist and progressive positions of government intervention and limited freedoms. While the diversity of views within conservatism is apparent to those in the movement, the differences are often lost to those on the left. As a result, efforts to find a common ground for discussing our most pressing issues can be difficult.
However, within conservatism and the liberty movement writ large, there is an opportunity not only to discuss issues, but also to test many of our presuppositions since we share the unifying first principle of liberty. It is within this larger context of liberty that we can best determine the role of government and if there are any boundaries to liberty that are merited in order for a free society to prosper.
Bellow’s compilation represents such a diversity of views from liberty-minded thinkers. Many of these issues are framed in unique ways, causing us to re-examine how our concept of freedom varies from others. Jessica Gavora, writer and former speechwriter to John Ashcroft, claims that there are gender differences in terms of what freedom means; generally speaking, men tend to want to live their own lives, while women want the security to feel free. Daniel Hannan, member of the European Parliament, explains that the framers of the European Union have a different concept of freedom than the framers of the United States, and this difference, in part, explains the divergent paths of the EU and US since their beginnings, “Europe tends to favor stability over democracy, America democracy over stability.”
Perhaps most alarming is Greg Lukianoff’s description of the changing culture on our university campuses. A generation of students is being educated by a system that values political correctness over freedom of speech. As he shares, “Because language restricting free expression is often embedded in university ‘diversity’ and ‘harassment’ policies, students are being systematically taught that such suppression is not just okay; it is a moral and legal imperative.”
Bellow compiled this collection in order to show that there is hope; there are voices on the side of freedom who provide the intellectual framework needed for a principled defense of liberty. For those of us in the United States, we have inherited the blessing of liberty and are duty bound to protect it for future generations.
Defending liberty requires combining forces with those who share the same concerns about the role of government and the breath of freedom. The diversity of views within the liberty movement is a testament to the tolerance and freedom shared when we participate in a principled debate. As Bellow explains, ”Resistance doesn’t come out of nowhere; it has to be fostered the old-fashioned way, word by word, through magazines and books, think-tank panels, conferences, and seminars. …We owe it to the next generation to provide a model of how to be serious about ultimate questions. This collection is the first step in that direction.”
Original CBC review by Jason Isaacs.
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