Classical Liberalism Now Looks Conservative

Silber was often labeled “conservative.” In fact, and as he always insisted, he was a liberal of the old school. He believed in advancement according to merit, not quotas; colorblind justice; the disinterested pursuit of truth; and open debate, not ideological conformity. This commitment to what we might call classical liberalism — the liberalism of an Edmund Burke or John Stuart Mill — forms an important leitmotif of “Seeking the North Star.” It also explains why Silber was from the beginning on a collision course with the faux-liberalism, the illiberal liberalism, of contemporary academic culture. “No institution,” he writes sadly, “has contributed so extensively to the deracination and diminishment of our humanity as university faculties.”

— Roger Kimball, “John Silber on Modern Academe

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. I hadn’t heard of him. But I’ve got a lot of time for a guy who comes down like a ton of bricks on a “Gay Rights” organization when his own son has died of AIDS.

  2. The fact of the matter is that the term “liberal” has become a cover for “radical”–either Marxist such as Howard Zinn (with whom Silber was in constant conflict), or one of its spinoffs such as feminism, “multiculturalism”, and perversionism (the LGBT agenda).

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