I have a quibble about “liberty forged in a painful process,” the passage of civilization. My understanding of liberty is that we drifted into it towards the end of the Middles Ages, and it wasn’t very painful. We just sort of discovered it. The Magna Carta is a response to the fact that a custom of consultation between the barons and the king had grown up, and John wanted to ditch it, so it was defended. People in universities began seeking the coherence of Christian doctrine, and university inquiry developed a certain impetus of its own. Many ups and downs, of course, but these practices could not be put down.

So what led to the emergence of liberty was a set of liberties that just grew up. I was pu ...