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Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Sage Bassett has made an all-too-common misapplication of fact in his June 16 letter, “Conservatives are implacable foes.” John Stuart Mill did, indeed, write that “Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.” However, since the early 19th century, the terms “conservative” and “liberal” have switched definitions.
I think it fair to say that to historians and authorities on English literature, Mill was 19th century England’s most outspoken and fierce defender of civil rights, free trade and private property rights.
This makes all the sense in the world, because “liberal thought” in his day was a reaction to centralized governmental control, which was associated with political conservatives.
Without meaning to, I’m afraid Bassett simply burnished the credentials of those he apparently despises. But, thanks anyway, Mr. Bassett.
BILL VAN VELZER
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