Afterword. The March of the Zombies

AuthorCraig Jones
The March of the Zombies
ere are many denitions of the word “liberal.” To the extent that the
word is derived from the same root as libra ry, it speaks to a certa in mode
or degree of learning as in the “liberal arts” or a “ liberal education.” To
some it means licentious or permissive, from the Latin liber for free or un-
restricted. is is the characterization of liberal thought that has al lowed
the term to become something of a pejorative in the political lex icon of the
American Right. But I have always preferred t he denition of “liberalism”
of Bertrand Russell, who considered it to be a state free of preconception
and dogma, one willing to learn (I think it is char ming and profound that
the same Latin word, liber, means both “book ” and “free,” don’t you?).
A liberal, according to Russell, must always be prepared to let go of his
dearest truths if the evidence pointed persuasively in the other direction.
is was most famously expressed in a phrase attributed to John Maynard
Keynes, who is reported to have said, “ When my information changes, I
alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?”1 Russell put it somewhat more
comprehensively when he wrote (and we know he really did write it):
e essence of the Liberal out look lies not in what opinions are held,
but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are
held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new e vidence may at any
moment lead to their abandonment.
is view of liberalism, however, is not the modern mainstream, and
liberalism has taken on canonical beliefs of its own. One of these beliefs
that had become dogma among many liberals (and here I include liberals
on the libertarian end of the spectrum, many of whom who would con-
sider themselves conservatives, politically) was the idea that alternative
mating or marriage str uctures were not axiomatically harmful and there-
fore should be a matter of personal choice in which the state could not
legitimately intervene. Taking this to be true in the case of, for instance,

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