The Meaning of a Liberal Education

By Everett Dean Martin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
THE FREE SPIRIT

Freedom is not as precious to the members of this postwar generation as it was to some of their ancestors. The nation which once followed the leadership of Mazzini and Garibaldi now suffers a dictatorship with apparently little protest. In England, the stronghold of liberalism, a conservative government places a censorship upon the words of the man who is probably that country's best-known writer. Socialism has its beginnings in that passion for freedom and humanity which inspired the youth of the early nineteenth century and ends at Moscow with a constitution from which even a Bill of Rights is omitted. In America we now see that democracy does not guarantee liberty. The government shows decreasing respect for the immunities of the individual. Crowd movements spread intolerance and are ever demanding more strict regulation in matters of personal conduct and private judgment. One frequently hears the remark, "The talk about personal liberty is disgusting nonsense."

There are various reasons for this change of spirit. The individual rather willingly permits himself to be transformed from a private person to a numerical unit in his group or mass because as part of a public he gains power through the force of numbers. Individualism in a society in which every one is chiefly interested in industrial competition

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