Andrew Humphries gave a presentation titled “The History of Liberalism”, at the World Conference on Market Liberalization in Bali, 2015. ¬†His thesis was that almost all great things today are a result of the advancement of liberty throughout the past 250 years. ¬†“What’s great today that was not great 250 years ago?” ask Andrew Humphries.
Audience answers ranged from electricity, to the internet, to longer life spans, and even to the paper clip.
It was obvious that in the past 250 years, life has gotten better. ¬†Andrew Humphries said, “I just want to give an idea of the seed that led to the fruits. ¬†So I argued earlier that I think you’d be hard pressed to find something that you think is great to day that wasn’t great 250 years ago, that is not a fruit of liberty. ¬†And I want to talk about what the seeds of that fruit — what is the seed of that tree of liberty?”
Andrew painted a picture of the Reformation as a very bloody time. ¬†“If you were a protestant, and someone else was a catholic, you thought your duty was to lock that person up. ¬†Perhaps behead them, take away their property. ¬†If you’re on the winning side of the battle, it’s pretty good for you too, because you get to take their stuff. ¬†And so you had kings and princes fighting to establish their religion as the true religion, and there are two consequences of this:”screenshot-www.youtube.com 2015-09-20 12-47-20
“One was that people got really sick and tired of the uncertainty and the fear that they might be killed and their goods might be taken away. ¬†What was difficult about the reformation is that there wasn’t a clear winner. ¬†It kept going back and forth, especially in England. ¬†To have a protestant king, and then you have someone who threatened to be a Catholic. ¬†And then a Catholic queen, a catholic king, who knows?”
“And at some people people said, ‘If we kill the people who are under us, they might get in charge next time, and they’ll kill us. ¬†So let’s establish a principle that maybe we should tolerate one another.'”
Andrew explained¬†a bit about a new group emerging at the time — the dissenters. ¬†“The Dissenters were protestants, but who didn’t follow the Church of England. ¬†But they were still told by the church, ‘You have to do this, and that, and the other, according to the precepts of the Church of England.'”
“And those people said, ‘We disagree with the Church of England.'”
“But they did something else. ¬†They said, ‘The Church of England is stealing from us a God given right to make decisions and understand the world. ¬†And it’s actually our freedom of conscience and of choice that is given to us so that we can be pious and moral. ¬†And because we want everyone to be pious and moral, everyone should have the freedom of choice and of conscience. ¬†Not because the choices that they make will be moral or good or correct, but because freedom of conscience and of choice is a necessary condition of being moral and of being good.'”
“So one of the first dissenters, kind of a hero, he migrated to America, his name was Roger Williams, he was the founder of Rhode Island. ¬†And this quote is probably the best quote. ¬†It’s wonderful because it’s so pithy and so short. ¬†He said, ‘Forced worship stinks in God’s nostrils'”.
“So what is his conception of God? ¬†His conception of God is an all-knowing being. ¬†Now let’s say this lady in the front here is not a believer, but I say, ‘If you don’t go to church, I’ll take your things, beat you, throw you in prison, perhaps decapitate you.’ ¬†I’m bringing her into the place of worship, and she may say things out loud and do things externally.
And the rest of us might say, ‘Oh, how lovely. ¬†How pious she is!’ But God knows inside, she’s resentful. ¬†She doesn’t believe, she doesn’t agree. ¬†So He knows, so that worship like an incense is going up and it’s stinking.”
Andrew Humphries went on to describe the contributions of John Locke and John Stewart Mill who expanded on this theme of liberty of the mind, morality, and progress.
For the full video, click here:

 
Andrew Humphries is a Socratic educator.¬†He graduated from the Great Books, Liberal Arts program at¬†St. John‚Äôs College, Santa Fe,¬†and has his Masters in Education from Endicott College. ¬†Andrew has been a Program Associate and is visiting¬†faculty with Centre for Civil Society in India, as part of¬†the Academy Team, where he facilitates short courses in political economy for college students. He has taught in private Montessori and charter schools in the United States, and¬†as a facilitator of liberal arts and Socratic Practice at Michael Polanyi College at Universidad Francisco Marroquin, Guatemala.¬†¬†He has also¬†been a longtime¬†Socratic Practice facilitator at the¬†Reason, Individualism, Freedom Institute¬†summer seminars in Chicago.¬†Andrew is a passionate amateur of political philosophy, the history and philosophy of math and science, and the ‚ÄúAustrian‚ÄĚ tradition of economics and social science.

Leave a Reply