Academy of Ideas: John Stuart Mill On Liberty
When I think of liberty, I don’t think of the liberty to do whatever the hell I want without any consequences. I think of individual liberty, self-determination, free will, the ability for people to make their own decisions and make their own beds, just as long as they also sleep in them. That individual liberty is exactly that, for the individual. That the individual has liberty over their own lives, but not the liberty to manage someone else’s and certainly not to hurt innocent people with what they’re doing. Not talking about anarchy, but individual liberty, balanced by rule of law there to protect the innocent from predators and to handle the predators who hurt the innocent.
Individual liberty, again is exactly that. Not talking about economic freedom, or personal freedom, but individual freedom which covers both, plus political freedom. The ability to run for office and for voters to pick from a wide variety of candidates and to publicly weigh in on them. As well as to weigh in on government policy and potential future government policies. This blog covers freedom of choice a lot and has a whole section dealing with that. But that is exactly what freedom of choice is. The freedom for people to make their own choices in life, but then have to deal with the consequences of their decisions.
To me as a Liberal, a free society is an educated society. Without education, liberty doesn’t exist. So what you need for liberty to exist and be real is for the public to be educated. And once they’re educated they’ll have the tools and freedom to make the right decisions with their own lives. From where to work, where to live, what health insurance plan they should have, how to invest their money, whether, or not they should gamble or not, to smoke, or not to smoke and that includes marijuana, when it get married, or if to get married and who they should marry if anyone and even things like prostitution and pornography. Just as long as they know what they’re getting into before they make those decisions and the consequences that come with those decisions.
Now if you’re lets say a Religious, or Christian, or even a Conservative-Muslim in America and tend to look at politics from lets say a religious, or traditional perspective, the way I just described liberty probably sounds immoral and dangerous. That I want to destroy America and our traditional moral values and everything and perhaps even have anarchy. And if you’re part of the Paternalist-Left in America, people who I and others both Liberals and Libertarians call nanny statists, because you believe in the collective over the individual, you probably also see my politics as dangerous. Because I’m calling for free will and free choice and you don’t tend to trust the individual. And want a big government big enough to even protect people from themselves.
But that is not what I’m calling for all. Something that both Progressives and Religious-Conservatives have in common is the belief in education and that people should be educated and intelligent so they can live well and make good decisions. The only thing is that I take that a step forward and not just call for an educated society, because without an educated society you can’t have a free society. But then I also say that free individuals should have the education, power and liberty to use that power to make the best decisions for themselves. That you put out all the information there and let free people make their own decisions with that knowledge and hold them responsible for their own individual decisions. Individual freedom and responsibility.