Saturday 7 August 2021

Is liberalism as bad as socialism or worse?

This sentence is from what, on the whole, is a fairly reasonable article in the Daily Telegraph about how children from normal backgrounds in England and America have fewer opportunities than a generation or two ago, by Adrian Woodridge, who writes in the Economist as 'Bagehot'.

"There is clearly something wrong with a system that means that more than 30% of places at Oxbridge go to students who attend private schools that cater for just 7% of the population, and that America’s thirty-eight elite colleges have more students from the top 1% of the population than from the bottom 60%."

In this sentence, Adrian Wooldridge is completely wrong. 

Societies are always hierarchical, even - or rather especially - Communist ones.

Societies should grow organically, most education takes place in the family, not at school, and intelligence is to a large degree genetic.

I once sat next to Adrian Wooldridge at lunch at, appropriately, the Reform Club in London and was very impressed by him, but his old-fashioned Liberal politics, appropriate to the club, are very far from mine or, in other words, are very misguided.

A professor of ancient history once said to me that socialism is a terrible system of ideas but the worst thing about socialists is that they are liberals too. 

I have come to see that he is right.

Yet even though the real Bagehot, who described himself as a Liberal-Conservative, was often attacked by the High Tory poet CH Sisson in The Spectator in the 1980s, he is or was one of my favourite writers. Perhaps I'd better reread CH Sisson.

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