Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center

Os Guinness Speaks at Baylor About the Sustainability of American Freedom

Feb. 13, 2014

Os Guinness, social critic and author of more than 30 books, discussed the sustainability of freedom in the U.S. with a broad audience at the Hankamer School of Business on Wednesday, February 12. Drawing from historical examples in the U.S. and antiquity, Guinness made the case that freedom never stands alone, but is part of a "golden triangle" that requires virtue which requires a form of faith which then requires freedom. The topic is the subject of his recent book, "A Free People's Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future."

Steve Bradley, Faculty Director of Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center and host for the Distinguished Lecture, connected the lecture theme to the Center's broader goals noting, "Economic freedom depends on a broader free marketplace of ideas where views can be debated in a vigorous and civil manner."

Dr. Guinness's views aligned with Lord Acton, whom he quoted, "Freedom is not the permission to do what one wants, but the power to do what one ought." Guinness argues for realignment with the framers of the Constitution where sustainable institutions require not only freedom "from" but also freedom "for." He noted that the political right emphasizes freedom from government while the political left emphasizes freedom from social constraints. This increased political polarization in U.S. places an imbalanced emphasis on "pluribus," or diversity, and a neglect of emphasis on "unum" or what makes us one as a nation.

The question and answer period centered on how this divide might be restored in an increasingly plural society. Dr. Guinness explained that increased civic education is needed. Historically, this civic education has occurred through families, schools and faith institutions. Guinness was optimistic that a focused education effort can be established in a relatively short time, but its effects may not be immediate as changes in culture are slow and often generational.

Baylor University's Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise seeks to (1) aid in the preservation of the competitive free enterprise system, including the vital small business sector of the economy and (2) promote entrepreneurial activity among individuals and organizations that stimulate economic development through the formation of new business ventures.

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