Libertarians and Liberals

The difference between Liberals and Libertarians is that Liberals position liberty within community: the limits on individual freedom are set by consideration for others.  (In this Liberals follow J. S. Mill, Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments, and many others.)  Libertarians reject the idea that individuals are rooted in communities.  They are for individual freedom without qualification.  For them the pursuit of individual self-interest provides the dynamic for economic growth and personal freedom; state interference only limits both.

Reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic have brought out these differences in British politics.  Liberals have regretted the emergency powers that government has resorted to, but recognised that the situation required extraordinary measures.  We have focussed on accountability for measures imposed, limits on how long they would last for, and a preference for voluntary compliance where possible.  Libertarians, inside the government, writing for the Telegraph and sitting on the Conservative back-benches, have resisted lockdown when the evidence strongly supported it, have refused to wear masks whenever and wherever they can, and have urged the government to put the economy first and social considerations last.  The exaggerated rhetoric from the Tory right has touched hysteria.   William Wragg, currently Conservative MP for Hazel Grove, recently declared that the restrictions of lockdown were an “abomination” that “you’d expect in a Communist country.”  (I hope the Hazel Grove Liberal Democrats will keep that quotation for future use.)

Boris Johnson, you may remember, was heard to have claimed that the success of the Oxford team that developed the Astra Zeneca vaccine was driven by ‘greed’.  He thus swept away the possibility that scientists and doctors might be driven by concepts of public service rather than a simple desire to get rich.  It’s notable that so many of those who dominate the Conservative Party have made their careers in high finance: a world in which large egos make for success and considerations of social responsibility are secondary at best.  Saj Javid, one of the most successful self-made men in the Conservative Party, spent several years working for Chase Manhattan in New York, before becoming a director of Deutsche Bank International.  He has spoken of his agreement with the philosophy of Ayn Rand, whose influence on libertarian Republicans rested on her celebration of the selfish individualism of dynamic men.

Mark Carney’s new book, Values, is a powerful defence of liberalism against libertarianism by the former Bank of England governor.  He argues that our market economy should not be allowed to extend into becoming also a market society, in which the only values that matter are monetary.  His seven ‘key values’ are solidarity, fairness, responsibility, resilience, sustainability, dynamism and humility – and he talks about compassion as a necessary ingredient in all of these.  Minouche Shafik, his former deputy governor, now Director of the London School of Economics, makes a similar case in What We Owe each Other: a New Social Contract.  Both of these are worth reading over the summer, to quote against right-wing Tories.

Liberals face delicate decisions in balancing the competing principles of liberty and community, of individual choice and social solidarity. An emergency on the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic has posed difficult choices, on vaccination, lockdowns, and masks as well as spending priorities.  Libertarians on the right have wanted to deny the issue of solidarity; there were demonstrations in Whitehall in July against any continuing restrictions, as infections were rising again.  Their prejudice against the concept of ‘public service’ and the public sector is so strong that they would rather spend £37bn on outsourcing companies and consultants than turn to the on-the-ground expertise of local authorities, and instinctively hold down NHS and state teacher salaries even as they pay high fees themselves for private providers.

We need to spell out these differences to the activists we try to recruit and the voters we want to win over.  Britain is a generous society; most of its people are motivated by better values than naked self-interest.  Liberalism is a generous philosophy, committed to promote the well-being of all our citizens.  Libertarianism is a philosophy of selfishness which denies social constraints and obligations.

* Lord Wallace of Saltaire is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords. He has taught at Manchester and Oxford Universities and at the LSE.

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40 Comments

  • Chris Platts 5th Aug '21 - 1:10pm

    I think that the current policy as agreed at conference is the right one,though as soon as possible a return to the Single Market and Customs Union would be a good thing,or consideration for joining EFTA. But first we have to get rid of this government and that is going take a major effort,unfortunately the Conservatives have a monopoly on the media which means that can manipulate and control the information that is broadcast.We have to do more to undermine their influence and encourage people to think about who they want to run the country.

  • Jack Nicholls 5th Aug '21 - 1:49pm

    My respect for Lord Wallace is considerable, but I must take issue with his terminology here. There are libertarians who root their beliefs entirety in self-interest, and there are liberals – particularly classical liberals – who do the same, but to define libertarianism purely in those terms is unfair. There is an anti-state tradition in libertarianism that venerates the community and one’s obligations to it. There is a radical tradition in libertarianism that supports a universal basic income, not because it is practical (though it is) but from a first principles human rights position. A principled libertarian – even a right-libertarian – would never have supported the bedroom tax. My own libertarianism – call it left-libertarianism for short-hand – is based on suspicion of the power to limit the freedom of others on an arbitrary basis. That includes the power of the state of course, but also corporate power and the power of controlling interests in a community of any size. Self-described libertarian conservatives err greatly when they conflate libertarianism with rampant corporate capitalism – all they are endorsing is the power of the state being moved, conditionally, to huge private bodies, often with internal economies bigger that some states. These conservatives are not consistently libertarian about policing, about lgbtq+ rights or (with the honourable exception of David Davis) about counter-terrorism justifying the erosion of civil liberties – they don’t deserve the label. There are libertarians in the Liberal Democrats, the Labour Party and the Green Party who understand that a virulent virus is a considerable a risk to individual liberty and accept, however ruefully, the necessity of recent measures. I ask the noble lord, in all genuineness, to reconsider or clarify his labels.

  • David Warren 5th Aug '21 - 3:16pm

    What Jack Nicholls said!

  • Peter Martin 5th Aug '21 - 4:31pm

    You mention John Smith with some approval. He famously said:

    “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

    He understood the way the system works better than most present day Lib Dems. The driving force of our economy is self interest which can be interpreted as ‘greed’ when the £ figures attached to the self interest are high. In my younger days I was happy to play cricket and football for nothing. If someone had offered me £100k per week I wouldn’t have turned it down. Why would anyone do that?

    The problem isn’t so much that bankers, footballers, television personalities etc ask for too much money. Anyone will ask for what they think they can get. It’s the rest of us who are at fault for paying them. In the final analysis, there is always the tax system which can be used to reduce the income, and the wealth, of the super rich.

  • Paul Barker 5th Aug '21 - 4:34pm

    There may well be a “Left Libertarian ” tradition but the fact is that there are a number of Libertarian Parties & they are all Right Wing, there are lots of Tory Politicians & commentators who call themselves Libertarian & if Voters have ever heard of Libertarianism its the Right wingers they have heard from.

    If “Left Libertarians” want to claim Libertarianism for their tradition then they need to make a lot more noise. In the end words mean what most people think they mean.

  • Andrew Tampion 5th Aug '21 - 5:09pm

    I agree with Jack Nicholls and Peter Martin (assuming the latter meant Johhn Stuart Mill but not John Smith). It seems to me that amongst Liberal Democrats too often Libertarian is used to mean a Liberal with whom one has issues.

  • Libertarians reject the idea that individuals are rooted in communities. They are for individual freedom without qualification.

    This libertarian writing in the Telegraph just before the first lockdown disagrees…

    ‘We libertarians who back coronavirus lockdown are far from being hypocrites’ [10th. March 2020]:
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/03/10/libertarians-back-coronavirus-lockdown-far-hypocrites/

    How can libertarians ever support mandatory quarantine and nationwide lockdowns?

    Quite easily, as it happens. I can’t speak for all libertarians (who can?) but I see libertarianism as applied economics. The government should leave businesses alone unless there are demonstrable market failures and it should leave people alone unless they are doing direct harm to others.

    In case it is not obvious, infecting somebody with a potentially fatal virus counts as direct harm to others. […]

    Lock-downs and quarantines are economically damaging and illiberal. They might be a last resort, but they should not be off the table. They do not fall under the umbrella of ‘nanny state’ because they are designed to protect other people from you and you from other people, not you from yourself. […]

    It is not the scale of the risk nor the number of people affected that turns a health problem into a public health problem. It is the lack of consent from those who are at risk and their inability to escape danger without other people taking action.

  • Jack Nicholls 5th Aug '21 - 5:28pm

    You’re not wrong about the way ‘libertarian’ is often used, but by the same token ‘liberal’ is generally interpreted as centre-right in continental Europe, Japan and Australia, none of which reflect the stance of the Lib Dems even in coalition. Tony Benn used to talk about libertarians meeting round the back of the traditional left-right spectrum. In respect of words meaning what most people think they mean, I’m not sure that stands up as a workable position, except maybe diagnostically. Republican, as you know, means very different things in Denver and Derry. Liberal makes you a communist in parts of the states (mind you so does being Mitt Romney) and an unfeeling capitalist in the Morning Star. As for making noise – I shall! 🙂

  • Brad Barrows 5th Aug '21 - 5:41pm

    @Paul Barker
    You may be interested to know there is a libertarian grouping within the Labour Party. Google ‘Black Rose Labour’ and you will get the link.

  • Peter Martin,

    that would be Adam Smith you are quoting rather than the former Labour leader, John Smith. John Smith was a social democrat rather than a Libertarian, who along with Roy Jenkins and David Owen, had voted to take the UK into the European Community. He did not quit with them to form the new SDP, explaining that unlike them he was “comfortable with the unions” and their influence in the party (although he did abolish the trade union block vote at Labour party conferences and replaced it with OMOV, one member one vote, for internal party democracy).

  • John Littler 5th Aug '21 - 6:55pm

    Ayn Rand and the philosophies of Friedman and Hayek do appeal to wealthy self made people because they advocate these individuals ( or Corporations ) hogging the lot to themselves and ignoring social and environmental fall out or the multiple bottom line alternative.

    The likes of Mogg and Redwood call themselves patriotic but go silent when they are reminded that there is nothing remotely patriotic about their businesses whose main purpose is sending the money of wealthy people overseas to avoid UK taxes. Others at the top of the Tory Party are making 10% commission by legitimising Russian funds.

    The real reason the UK dropped everything, throwing industries, jobs, rights and livelihoods to the wall to leave the EU on 1st Jan ’21 was to completely avoid the EU Savings Directive and EU Transparency Directive ( hot money ) which applied from that date.

  • @ Peter Martin Both Scots, one from Kirkcaldy and the other from Argyll….. but over two hundred years apart.

    That’s some hiccup and one heck of a big typo, Peter.

  • Jason Conner 5th Aug '21 - 9:29pm

    So to put it simply in a nutshell – libertarian = I do what I want where I want when I want to and don’t really care about the consequences for anyone else; Liberal = I act with consideration for others and try to be helpful not hurtful. Yes that sums it up nicely. I wonder if Libertarians would reverse the smoking ban inside buildings as they would not care about the effects of passive smoking on health.

  • James Fowler 5th Aug '21 - 10:10pm

    What Jack Nicholls said. The surprise has been how far the radical liberal left have been willing to compromise their radicalism and their liberalism over lockdown. The classical liberal right has been pretty consistent in prioritizing liberty over security on this issue. Condemning respect for individual integrity as a form of selfishness is a fair point, but one that I would expect to see coming from an essentially Labour rather than a Liberal political perspective – like much else I read on this website 😉

  • Peter Martin 6th Aug '21 - 6:43am

    @ Joe @ David, @ Andrew

    Yes I meant Adam Smith and not John Smith! Mental ‘typo’ there! 🙂

    @All,

    The term Libertarian is only a problem if we think in terms of a single political dimension of left and right. Left and right are essentially economic concepts. It is quite possible, even desirable for a 21st century capitalist, to be on the right economically and still be socially liberal. Hang ups about sexuality, nationality, and race etc aren’t good for trade.

    On the other hand, we have examples of systems which are politically considered to be on the left but are far from socially liberal.

    So we do need an extra dimension to account for this. As ‘political compass’ explains, we have left and right on a horizontal axis. In addition we have authoritarian and libertarian on a vertical axis. The link below shows the parties from the 2019 general election. Lib Dems might want to question if they should be shown as both more to the right than the Labour Party and more Authoritarian too!

    https://www.politicalcompass.org/uk2019

  • Steve Trevethan 6th Aug '21 - 7:09am

    Might it be of relevance that Ayn Rand’s theories did not work in practice?
    In her later years years she relied upon Social Security and a form of Medicare.

  • The problem we have is that politicians think that they have some sort of control. The only control they have is giving advice and vaccines. Everything else are rather marginal actions the efficacy of which are exaggerated out of all proportion.

    My Liberalism comes from knowing the limits of government, apologising and making right what’s gone wrong. If the outcomes are the same regardless of restrictions will the politicians that mandated them apologise?

    It’s no good Liberals caricaturing libertarians and anti-lockdowners into absurd labels – what happens if Lockdowns are seen to benefit the rich without taking into the economic costs of failed businesses, mental health, lack of schooling and lack of social networks? Where are the good old cost benefit analyses in all this?

    It’s all well and good being against vaccine passports (and I voted LD at the locals on that basis) where were the Lib Dems on the governmental undermining of liberty that got us here?

    We are not going back our `old normal` back. Already gay places are saying that people `must show their nhs vaccination card` and as for social life – the book club I used to attend is staying on Zoom and there’s a waiting list.

  • @Steve Trevethan
    “Might it be of relevance that Ayn Rand’s theories did not work in practice?
    In her later years years she relied upon Social Security and a form of Medicare.”

    Much as I dislike Ayn Rand’s ideas – and I would agree that they do not work – her later years reliance on welfare and medicare don’t demonstrate this. She in fact spoke openly about this at the time and regarded it as reclaiming her own money from the state which had been “stolen” it from her in the form of taxation.

    Incidentally, I used to personally know a long standing member of the Liberal Democrats (now deceased) who thought the Ayn Rand was wonderful, and also used to regard all forms of taxation as theft by the state. He believed that taxation should be voluntary?!

    One of the problems of having a party which appears to welcome any malcontents from either the Labour or Conservative parties… not to mention the plain eccentric.

  • I have become quite tired of the way many liberal ideas are mischaracterised as “libertarian”

    As I understand it, Libertarianism is the most right wing position on a state vs free market spectrum. Libertarians believe in a minimalist state that only provides policing, defence, security and protects property rights.

    So if you believe in a welfare state then you are a liberal not a libertarian. However what liberals and libertarians do have in common is a belief in individual rights including the idea that certain rights and liberties cannot easily be dispensed with even during a crisis.

    If libertarianism on social issues is entirely absent from your thinking it may be that you are more of a social democrat or socialist.

  • William Wallace 6th Aug '21 - 10:18am

    Steve: Can you name any political party with more than ten members that does not have a fair number of eccentrics?

  • Lord Wallace is factually wrong in that the AZ virus is being produced on a non-profit basis.

    But we must realise the very important role that “greed” if you want to put it that way – making profits in the development of vaccines and drugs generally. Billions get risked in a very risky process with no guarantee that a vaccine or drug will get approved – billions down the drain if they don’t. It is therefore necessary that companies have the ability to make billions back for the rare successes. Most covid vaccines still remain unapproved – indeed I believe AZ is in the US.

    And of course if you are to raise capital in competition with others you need to make a return on that capital. And most of us are happy with that when we collect our pension!

    All drugs get supplied to the NHS on a “for profit” basis. Doctors, nurses and NHS workersall get paid. Indeed one of the most respected parts of the NHS GP practices are small private businesses.

    Dare I say it that Lord Wallace does his work as legislator on a “for profit” basis – in that he gets paid. Although I will withdraw that allegation if he tells us he doesn’t draw his allowance.

    There is much wrong with “big pharma”. But the proof of the pudding has been in the eating in that it has given us healthier longer lives.

    And there is much wrong with Capitalism. Monopolies have to be broken up. Often it – as we us a society are – is at its best when there is co-operation between the state and businesses. Covid vaccines needed fundamental research funded by the state. The internet was started by the state – through things like the defence network Darpanet. Companies transport goods on publicly funded roads. But of course all Government public funding comes ultimately from the the public sector.

    Let’s discuss as Lib Dems regulation of business and the level of taxation and public spending. But let’s not indulge in “boo hiss – it’s those nasty greedy capitalists that need to be destroyed” politics.

    To do so is to deny our own prosperity and health – in that capitalism has brought us a vast range of goods. Supermarkets heaving with food – delivered at wafer thin margins. Technological goods – the £100 mobile phone is said to embody services that would have cost $1 million a few years ago. Billions of hours of streaming TV available instantly at little cost. And drugs to keep us healthier longer.

  • Nonconformistradical 6th Aug '21 - 11:34am

    @Michael 1
    “Billions get risked in a very risky process with no guarantee that a vaccine or drug will get approved…”

    Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine research ‘was 97% publicly funded’
    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/apr/15/oxfordastrazeneca-covid-vaccine-research-was-97-publicly-funded

    And more generally:
    For Billion-Dollar COVID Vaccines, Basic Government-Funded Science Laid the Groundwork
    Much of the pioneering work on mRNA vaccines was done with government money, though drugmakers could walk away with big profits
    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/for-billion-dollar-covid-vaccines-basic-government-funded-science-laid-the-groundwork/

    It appears we taxpayers take much of the risk while the drug companies make the profits….

  • @ William Wallace “Eccentrics ?”. Given William and I are both getting a bit long in the Liberal tooth, I wonder if he recalls a speech to Conference back in the 1960’s by the late Lady Violet Bonham Carter (Lady Asquith), in which she said to great cheers and much merriment ?
    “Every political party has a lunatic fringe, but ours happens to be more luxuriant than the others”.

    Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

    With due and proper homage to Professor Sarah Gilbert and her brilliant colleagues at Oxford University, may I correct Mr Michael 1 ?

    The Guardian, 23 November, 2020 :

    “Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, AstraZeneca’s experimental vaccine is already a part of Covax, the global initiative that is hoping to distribute about 2bn doses to 92 low- and middle-income countries at a maximum cost of $3 a dose.

    As global justice campaigners demanded more transparency from Oxford and AstraZeneca over details of the deal to supply doses to people in the developing world, the partnership confirmed in a statement that lower-income countries would receive the vaccine on a not-for-profit basis.

    “A key element of Oxford’s partnership with AstraZeneca is the joint commitment to provide the vaccine on a not-for-profit basis for the duration of the pandemic across the world, and in perpetuity to low- and middle-income countries,” it said.

    As part of the initiative, AstraZeneca announced during the summer it would make 1.3bn doses of its then untried vaccine available at cost to ensure that any vaccine was not hoarded by the world’s wealthiest countries”.

  • “Libertarianism is a philosophy of selfishness which denies social constraints and obligations”
    This is a very crude caricature of Libertarianism coming from someone with Lord Wallace’s academic background.
    As the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy puts it
    “Libertarianism is a family of views in political philosophy. Libertarians strongly value individual freedom and see this as justifying strong protections for individual freedom…
    “As a result, libertarians endorse strong rights to individual liberty and private property; defend civil liberties like equal rights for homosexuals; endorse drug decriminalization, open borders, and oppose most military interventions…
    “It is popular to label libertarianism as a right-wing doctrine. But this is mistaken. For one, on social (rather than economic) issues, libertarianism implies what are commonly considered left-wing views. And second, there is a subset of so-called “left-libertarian” theories. While all libertarians endorse similar rights over the person, left-libertarians differ from other libertarians with respect to how much people can appropriate in terms of unowned natural resources (land, air, water, minerals, etc.)…”
    In this context it is also worth considering Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts of Liberty” which differentiated between Negative Liberty and Positive Liberty. Quoting the SEP again

    “Negative liberty Berlin initially defined as freedom from, that is, the absence of constraints on the agent imposed by other people. Positive liberty he defined both as freedom to, that is, the ability (not just the opportunity) to pursue and achieve willed goals; and also as autonomy or self-rule, as opposed to dependence on others.”
    So by all means do your Tory bashing. This government is chaotic and deserves all it gets. Don’t mix point-scoring with political philosophy
    In your attempts to to balance liberty and community and explaining the difference to potential activists and voters, well, good luck with that on the doorstep.

  • Steve Trevethan 6th Aug '21 - 1:17pm

    My Lord Wallace,
    I plead not guilty.
    Perhaps you are thinking of Adam?
    P.S. I am all for thoughtful, benign eccentrics!

  • Steve Trevethan 6th Aug '21 - 2:08pm

    Might Herr Kant’s and Mr. Roosevelt’s differentiation of freedom into “Freedom Of/To” and “Freedom From ” aid our discussion?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Freedoms

  • James Fowler 6th Aug '21 - 7:39pm

    @Jim Casey. Some hard hitting questions there. Spot on.

  • John Roffey 6th Aug '21 - 7:44pm

    Whereas it is interesting to read various contributors views on the distinction between Libertarians and Liberals – I do question whether such distinctions can survive the Climate Emergency and ecological safeguards that will be necessary – if the majority of climate scientists are correct in their predictions. Basically that net CO2 emissions [among other gases] have to be reduced to zero within the next decade.

    These reductions will be agreed on a nation by nation basis at COP26 later in the year – but in the case of each nation – these will need to be mandatory if the risk of wiping out the majority of species on the planet, including we humans, is to be avoided!

  • Jack Nicholls 7th Aug '21 - 6:05am

    Mr Roffey, with great respect I don’t think they are mutually exclusive. Dealing with any crisis, especially a global one, necessitates consideration of our philosophical priorities. Responding to the climate crisis will require people coming from different ideological starting points to get together – internationally minded socialists motivated by solidarity and green-belt preserving conservatives driven by duty to their children. Community-minded liberals and libertarians who get that clean air and water are prerequisites of freedom. I disagree with Lord Wallace’s stance, but heartily endorse his engagement with the question 💜.

  • Nonconformistradical 7th Aug '21 - 8:17am

    @Jack Nicholls
    “Responding to the climate crisis will require people coming from different ideological starting points to get together”

    I agree. But I’m not holding my breath. And my feeling is that it is those of a more libertarian outlook who stand in the way of international co-operation.

  • Jack Nicholls 7th Aug '21 - 8:54am

    @Nonconformistradical – you may be right, or at least that those who claim to be libertarians (and who are really liberties-I-care-about-erian conservatives) aren’t great on international cooperation. My concern in these things is always the attitudes of those with a more ‘nation-first’ perspective, which most liberals and libertarians are disinclined to sign up to 🙂.

  • Rif Winfield 7th Aug '21 - 10:30am

    William, I think the point that you are trying to get across here is that – for Liberals – liberty for the individual must be qualified by the degree to which that liberty impinges on the liberty of others – all others. Thus the liberties to which we subscribe are only valid if they are shared by each and every individual in society. You will recall that our former colleague Peter Hain termed this belief as libertarian socialism. The practicality of this becomes more and more difficult to apply in our increasingly complex society, but as a principle is must to maimed at in all considerations. As an example, we have to take into account the impact of individual behaviour on the environment in which all of the members of that society inevitably share. As applied to vaccination, we must accept that a refusal to be vaccinated constitutes a threat to the health and well-being of all of the rest of us, and is thus not a valid choice for the individual to make.

  • Rif Winfield 7th Aug '21 - 10:33am

    correction – the eighth line should read “principle it must be maintainedin all considerations”.

  • John Roffey 7th Aug '21 - 12:19pm

    @ Jack Nicholls

    I think you may have missed the point I am making. As far as I can see, once the net CO2 emissions [among other gases] for the UK have been agreed – laws will have to be put in place to ensure that these are not exceeded.

    These laws will be enacted by the current Tory government or after 2024 by Labour, perhaps propped up by the SNP or the Lib/Dems. In either case the distinction between Libertarians and Liberals will not be of great concern to the government of the day.

  • Jack Nicholls 7th Aug '21 - 12:54pm

    @John Roffey – I see now, my apologies, and you are quite right. That said though, I wonder if any government bears philosophical distinctions between different groups in mind when implementing legislation, unless they believe it to be advantageous to appear to do so, or unless they are trying to whip/appeal to a divided parliamentary party.

  • John Roffey 7th Aug '21 - 2:04pm

    @ Jack Nicholls

    I am sure that there is little doubt that governments, obliged to introduce unpopular legislation, will choose a form that will benefit them politically – if this is possible.

  • Peter Hirst 7th Aug '21 - 2:09pm

    Pure libertarianism is a scourge of our society that has devestated our society for too long. Ambition and drive are needed though not at the expense of greed. Climbing Everest shows the former can be harnessed in a way that does not corrupt the rest of us as can sport. Healthy competion is one thing. Selfishness is quite another.

  • Steve Trevethan 7th Aug '21 - 4:00pm

    “Freedom is not the opportunity to do as one pleases, neither is it the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is the opportunity to formulate all the available choices, to argue over them and the opportunity to choose from them.” (From C. Wright Mills)

  • Jason Conner 7th Aug '21 - 5:49pm

    I agree Peter, is stand for the selfish individualism not social or societal individualism.

  • I think William Wallace can choose how he defines his terms and then argue for them. That is quite legitimate, and may gain a following that is also quite legitimate. I think his main point is that you should be claiming that ground if you wish to argue against the wild and eclectic sentences yelled out at random as “rights”. It is convincing people that matters for a better, not worse world.

    I like the Kant/Roosevelt point.

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