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This essay will deal mainly with the origins of Liberal Democracy and will say only a little about its current prospects I turn to the history however because I believe we can learn from it a great deal about the strengths and weaknesses of liberal democray and therefore its prospects Indeed what I wish to sress is a certain source of strength that has helped free governement survive in the long competition with ungree government in modern times That source of strength is free speech I want to emphasize the roleof free speech as an instrument of self-government Free speech has other aspects- for instance its function in promoting the private concerns or personal growth of the individal In this present inquiry however I am thinking of its public function as the way in which liberal democracy enlists the intelligence of its citizens in solving common problems I am concerned in short not with the moral value of liberal democracy nor with the individuals right of free expression but rather with the utility to the modern democratic state of government by discussion In modern political thought this public function of free speech and free discussion has been perceived and appraised with favour by men of many different schools All share in some degree the great tradition of modern rationalism I can suggest the thrust of the basic analysis and the spread of its advocacy over time by mentioning the work of a few of the more notable This body of though includes- indeed I should say it starts with- John Miltons immortal rhetoric in defense of freedom of the press in Areopagitica 1644 It includes Burkes portrait of the eighteenth century Parliament as a deliberate assembly guided by the general reason of the whole and Walter Bagehots analysis a hundred years later of the long-run survival value of what he first termed government by discussion On the American side the case was made by
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