Does liberty lead to decadence?

As I may have to do some of the judging on this year’s Ross Parish Essay Prize question ‘does liberty lead to decadence?’ I am not going to volunteer a view, but the options seem to be:

1. No
2. Yes
3. I hope so.

I wasn’t sure that this was the right question for an under-30 essay competition. In the contemporary lexicon ‘decadence’ tends to mean a minor self-indulgence like chocolate rather than the moral decline that the question is getting at.

First prize is $1,500, enough to finance a bit of decadence meaning one.

It will go to the best essay, regardless of whether the judges agree with it. Judging is so impartial that the joint winners one year were members of the Greens and Opus Dei respectively.

6 thoughts on “Does liberty lead to decadence?

  1. It will go to the best essay, regardless of whether the judges agree with it.

    I was a bit surprised when the prize went to a very conservative essay last year (or the year before). Whatever happened to promoting classical liberalism?

    I do agree with your doubts about the question. Perhaps it should have been “Is decadence good for liberty?”


  2. Sinc – There has been one very conservative winner, and I think this question will also attract conservatives (indeed, I know of one it has already attracted), since liberals usually don’t care either way. It’s a chance to get stuck into Clive Hamilton though, since Australian conservatives are too mild to make the decadence argument.


  3. “Does liberty lead to decadence?”

    I hope the winning essay has an evidence-based argument, Andrew. It sounds like a lot of empirical testing is going to be required.


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