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Liberty is a concept of political philosophy and identifies the condition in which an individual has the right to act according to his or her own will. In feudal times, a liberty was an area of allodial land in which regalian rights had been waived.

Individualist and classical liberal conceptions of liberty relate to the freedom of the individual from outside compulsion or coercion.

Contents

Philosophy

Opinions on what constitute liberty can vary widely, but can be generally classified as positive liberty and negative liberty. Positive liberty asserts that freedom is the ability of society to achieve an end. For example, Puritans such as Cotton Mather often referred to liberty in their writings, but focused on the liberty from sin (e.g. sexual urges) even at the expense of liberty from the government. In the negative sense, one is considered free to the extent to which no person interferes with his or her activity. According to Thomas Hobbes, for example, "a free man is he that... is not hindered to do what he hath the will to do."

John Stuart Mill, in his work, On Liberty, was the first to recognize the difference between liberty as the freedom to act and liberty as the absence of coercion.[1] In his book, Two Concepts of Liberty, Isaiah Berlin formally framed the differences between these two perspectives as the distinction between two opposite concepts of liberty: positive liberty and negative liberty. The latter designates a negative condition in which an individual is protected from tyranny and the arbitrary exercise of authority, while the former refers to having the means or opportunity, rather than the lack of restraint, to do things.

Mill offered insight into the notions of soft tyranny and mutual liberty with his harm principle.[2] It can be seen as important to understand these concepts when discussing liberty since they all represent little pieces of the greater puzzle known as freedom. In a philosophical sense, it can be said that morality must supersede tyranny in any legitimate form of government. Otherwise, people are left with a societal system rooted in backwardness, disorder, and regression.

The Statue of Liberty, donated to the US by France, an artistic personification of the concept.

The concept of negative liberty has several noteworthy aspects. First, negative liberty defines a realm or "zone" of freedom (in the "silence of law"). In Berlin's words, "liberty in the negative sense involves an answer to the question 'What is the area within which the subject -- a person or group of persons -- is or should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons." Some philosophers have disagreed on the extent of this realm while accepting the main point that liberty defines that realm in which one may act unobstructed by others. Second, the restriction (on the freedom to act) implicit in negative liberty is imposed by a person or persons and not due to causes such as nature, lack, or incapacity. Helvetius expresses this point clearly: "The free man is the man who is not in irons, nor imprisoned in a gaol (jail), nor terrorized like a slave by the fear of punishment... it is not lack of freedom not to fly like an eagle or swim like a whale."

The dichotomy of positive and negative liberty is considered specious by political philosophers in traditions such as socialism, social democracy, libertarian socialism, and Marxism. Some of them argue that positive and negative liberty are indistinguishable in practice, while others claim that one kind of liberty cannot exist independently of the other. A common argument is that the preservation of negative liberty requires positive action on the part of the government or society to prevent some individuals from taking away the liberty of others.

A socialist defines liberty as being connected to the reasonably equitable distribution of wealth, arguing that the unrestrained concentration of wealth (the means of production) into only a few hands negates liberty. In other words, without relatively equal ownership, the subsequent concentration of power and influence into a small portion of the population inevitably results in the domination of the wealthy and the subjugation of the poor. Thus, freedom and material equality are seen as intrinsically connected. On the other hand, the classical liberal argues that wealth cannot be evenly distributed without force being used against individuals which reduces individual liberty.

Freedom as a triadic relation

In 1967, Gerald MacCallum argued that proponents of positive and negative liberty converge on a single definition of liberty, but simply have different approaches in establishing it. According to McCallum, freedom is a triadic relationship: "x is/is not free from y to do/not to do or become/not become z". In this way, rather than defining liberty in terms of two separate paradigms, positive and negative liberty, he defined liberty as a single, complete formula.

The question is whether this formula fully captures what positive liberty means. Positive liberty, understood as "internal forces which determine how a person shall act" [3] is saying more than 'x is free to do z.' One is free when one becomes the ideal of oneself, which includes MacCallum's triadic relation; but the latter alone is insufficient to fully capture what positive liberty means.[citation needed]

Liberty and political thought

Meaning of Liberty

Freedom (ama-gi) written in Sumerian cuneiform

The first known use of the word freedom in a political context dates back to the 24th century BC, in a text describing the restoration of social and economic liberty in Lagash, a Sumerian city-state. Urukagina, the king of Lagash, established the first known legal code to protect citizens from the rich and powerful. Known as a great reformer, Urukagina established laws that forbade compelling the sale of property and required the charges against the accused to be stated before any man accused of a crime could be punished. This is the first known example of any form of due process in the history of humanity.

Like Urukagina, most ancient freedoms focused on negative liberty, protecting the less fortunate from harassment or imposition. Other ancient legal codes, such as the Code of Hammurabi, similarly forbade compulsion in economic matters, like the sale of land, and made it clear that when a rich man murders a poor one, it is still murder. Still, these codes relied on a certain virtuousness of kings and ministers, which was far from reliable.

In the Persian Empire, citizens of all religions and ethnic groups were given the same rights and had the same freedom of religion, women had the same rights as men, and slavery was abolished. All the palaces of the kings of Persia were built by paid workers in an era where slaves typically did such work.[4]

In the Maurya Empire of ancient India, citizens of all religions and ethnic groups had rights to freedom, tolerance, and equality. The need for tolerance on an egalitarian basis can be found in the Edicts of Ashoka the Great, which emphasize the importance of tolerance in public policy by the government. The slaughter or capture of prisoners of war was also condemned by Ashoka.[5] Slavery was also non-existent in ancient India.[6]

Roman law also embraced certain limited forms of liberty, even under the rule of the Roman Emperors. However, these liberties were accorded only to Roman citizens. Still, the Roman citizen enjoyed a combination of positive liberty (the right to a trial, a right of appeal, law and contract enforcement) and negative liberty (unhindered right to contract and the right to not be tortured). Many of the liberties enjoyed under Roman law endured through the Middle Ages, but were enjoyed solely by the nobility, never by the common man. The idea of unalienable and universal liberties had to wait until the Age of Enlightenment.

In Chinese, freedom is written 自由(ziyou). 自(zi) is the character for self, and 由(you) is the character to follow, with an additional connotation of reason. Liberty thus implies a necessary connection between individualism and a rational duty.

Social contract

Eugène Delacroix - La liberté guidant le peuple (1830)
In French Liberty. British Slavery (1792), James Gillray caricatured French "liberty" as the opportunity to starve, and British "slavery" as bloated complaints about taxation.

The social contract theory, invented by Hobbes, John Locke and Rousseau, were among the first to provide a political classification of rights, in particular through the notion of sovereignty and of natural rights. The thinkers of the Enlightenment reasoned the assertion that law governed both heavenly and human affairs, and that law gave the king his power, rather than the king's power giving force to law. The divine right of kings was thus opposed to the sovereign's unchecked auctoritas. This conception of law would find its culmination in Montesquieu's thought. The conception of law as a relationship between individuals, rather than families, came to the fore, and with it the increasing focus on individual liberty as a fundamental reality, given by "Nature and Nature's God," which, in the ideal state, would be as expansive as possible. The Enlightenment created then, among other ideas, liberty: that is, of a free individual being most free within the context of a state which provides stability of the laws. Later, more radical philosophies such as socialism articulated themselves in the course of the French Revolution and in the 19th century.

Modern perspectives

The modern conceptions of democracy, whether representative democracies or other types of democracies, are all found on the Rousseauist idea of popular sovereignty. However, liberalism distinguishes itsef from socialism and communism in that it advocates for a form of representative democracy, while socialism works to a direct democracy.

Liberalism is a political current embracing several historical and present-day ideologies that claim defence of individual liberty as the purpose of government. Two main strands are apparent, although both are founded on an individualist ideology. economic liberalism is the right of the individual to contract, trade and operate in a market free of constraint. social liberalism is the right to dissent from orthodox tenets or established authorities in political or religious matters. Both are core political issues, and highly contentious.[citation needed]

United States

In the United States Supreme Court decision Griswold v. Connecticut, Justice William O. Douglas argued that liberties relating to personal relationships,such as marriage, have a unique primacy of place in the hierarchy of freedoms.[7] Professor Jacob M. Appel has summarized this principle as follows:

I am grateful that I have rights in the proverbial public square -- but, as a practical matter, my most cherished rights are those that I possess in my bedroom and hospital room and death chamber. Most people are far more concerned that they can control their own bodies than they are about petitioning Congress.[8]

A school of thought popular among US libertarians holds that there is no tenable distinction between the two sorts of liberty—that they are, indeed, one and the same, to be protected (or opposed) together. In the context of U.S. constitutional law, for example, they point out that the constitution twice lists "life, liberty, and property" without making any distinctions within that troika.

Anarcho-Individualists, such as Max Stirner, demanded the utmost respect for the liberty of the individual. From a very similar perspective from North America, primitivists like John Zerzan proclaimed that civilization not just the state (as in socialist thought) would need to be abolished to foster liberty. Some in the US see protecting the ideal of liberty as a conservative policy, because this would conform to the spirit of individual liberty that they consider is at the heart of the American constitution. Some think liberty is almost synonymous with democracy, at least in one sense of that word, while others see conflicts or even opposition between the two concepts, with democracy being nothing more than the tyranny of the majority.[citation needed]

Liberty Canon

See also

References

  1. ^ Westbrooks, Logan Hart (2008) "Personal Freedom" page 134 In Owens, William (compiler) (2008) Freedom: Keys to Freedom from Twenty-one National Leaders Main Street Publications, Memphis, Tennessee, pages 133-138, ISBN 978-0-9801152-0-8
  2. ^ John Stuart Mill, On Liberty and Utilitarianism, (New York: Bantam Books, 1993), 12-16.
  3. ^ Miller, David, 'Introduction', in Miller, ed., Liberty, 1991
  4. ^ Arthur Henry Robertson, John Graham Merrills (1996). Human Rights in the World: An Introduction to the Study of the International Protection of Human Rights. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0719049237.
  5. ^ Amartya Sen (1997). Human Rights and Asian Values. ISBN 0-87641-151-0.
  6. ^ Arrian, Indica:
    "This also is remarkable in India, that all Indians are free, and no Indian at all is a slave. In this the Indians agree with the Lacedaemonians. Yet the Lacedaemonians have Helots for slaves, who perform the duties of slaves; but the Indians have no slaves at all, much less is any Indian a slave."
  7. ^ GRISWOLD v. CONNECTICUT U.S. Supreme Court 381 U.S. 479 (1965) Decided June 7, 1965
  8. ^ A Culture of Liberty

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end. ~ Lord Acton

Liberty is a concept of political philosophy and identifies the condition in which an individual has the right to act according to his or her own will.

See also: Freedom

Sourced

Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it. ~ Learned Hand
I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it. ~ Thomas Jefferson
  • Liberty, next to religion has been the motive of good deeds and the common pretext of crime...
    • Lord Acton, in The History of Freedom in Antiquity (1877)
  • By liberty I mean the assurance that every man shall be protected in doing what he believes his duty against the influence of authority and majorities, custom and opinion.
    • Lord Acton, in The History of Freedom in Antiquity (1877)
  • Liberty and good government do not exclude each other; and there are excellent reasons why they should go together. Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.
    • Lord Acton, in The History of Freedom in Antiquity (1877)
  • There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.
    • John Adams, in notes for an oration at Braintree (Spring 1772)
  • Liberty, according to my metaphysics, is an intellectual quality, an attribute that belongs not to fate nor chance. Neither possesses it, neither is capable of it. There is nothing moral or immoral in the idea of it. The definition of it is a self-determining power in an intellectual agent. It implies thought and choice and power; it can elect between objects, indifferent in point of morality, neither morally good nor morally evil.
    • John Adams, in a letter to John Taylor (15 April 1814)
  • If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.
    • Samuel Adams, in a speech at the Philadelphia State House (1 August 1776)
  • Ever since I arrived to a state of manhood, I have felt a sincere passion for liberty.
    • Ethan Allen, as quoted in "In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!" - American Heritage magazine Vol. 14, Issue 6 (October 1963)
  • Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.
  • Whenever a separation is made between liberty and justice, neither, in my opinion, is safe.
    • Edmund Burke, in a letter to M. de Menonville (October 1789)
  • Indeed nations, in general, are not apt to think until they feel; and therefore nations in general have lost their liberty: For as violations of the rights of the governed, are commonly not only specious, but small at the beginning, they spread over the multitude in such a manner, as to touch individuals but slightly. Thus they are disregarded. The power or profit that arises from these violations centering in few persons, is to them considerable. For this reason the governors having in view their particular purposes, successively preserve an uniformity of conduct for attaining them. They regularly increase the first injuries, till at length the inattentive people are compelled to perceive the heaviness of their burthens — They begin to complain and inquire — but too late. They find their oppressors so strengthened by success, and themselves so entangled in examples of express authority on the part of their rulers, and of tacit recognition on their own part, that they are quite confounded : for millions entertain no other idea of the legality of power, than it is founded on the exercise of power.
    • John Dickenson, in The Political Writings of John Dickinson, Esquire Vol. I (1801), Letter XI
  • The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
  • Liberty is a word which, according as it is used, comprehends the most good and the most evil of any in the world.
    • Oliver Ellsworth, in "A Landholder, III" in The Connecticut Courant No. 1191, (19 November 1787), also in Essays On The Constitution Of The United States, Published During Its Discussion By The People, 1787-1788 (1892) edited by Paul Leicester Ford, p. 146
  • They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
  • Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
  • What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty? I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it… What is this liberty that must lie in the hearts of men and women? It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not the freedom to do as one likes. That is the denial of liberty and leads straight to its overthrow. A society in which men recognize no check on their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few — as we have learned to our sorrow.
    What then is the spirit of liberty? I cannot define it; I can only tell you my own faith. The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias; the spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded; the spirit of liberty is the spirit of Him who, near two thousand years ago, taught mankind that lesson it has never learned, but has never quite forgotten; that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be heard and considered side by side with the greatest.
    • Learned Hand, in "The Spirit of Liberty" - a speech at "I Am an American Day" ceremony, Central Park, New York City (21 May 1944)
  • It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and provide for it.... It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
    • Patrick Henry, Speech at the Second Virginia Convention at St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia (23 March 1775); first published in Life and Character of Patrick Henry (1817) by William Wirt
  • But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing.
  • The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.
  • We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
  • The British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, & what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves. Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusetts? And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of its motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always, well informed. The past which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive; if they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13 states independent 11 years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure.
  • The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. As yet our spirits are free.
  • I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.
  • It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own.
  • Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.
  • The great writers to whom the world owes what religious liberty it possesses, have mostly asserted freedom of conscience as an indefeasible right, and denied absolutely that a human being is accountable to others for his religious belief. Yet so natural to mankind is intolerance in whatever they really care about, that religious freedom has hardly anywhere been practically realised, except where religious indifference, which dislikes to have its peace disturbed by theological quarrels, has added its weight to the scale.
  • That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.
  • He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.
  • It is incorrect to think of liberty as synonymous with unrestrained action. Liberty does not and cannot include any action, regardless of sponsorship, which lessens the liberty of a single human being. To argue contrarily is to claim that liberty can be composed of liberty negations, patently absurd. Unrestraint carried to the point of impairing the liberty of others is the exercise of license, not liberty. To minimize the exercise of license is to maximize the area of liberty. Ideally, government would restrain license, not indulge in it; make it difficult, not easy; disgraceful, not popular. A government that does otherwise is licentious, not liberal.
  • Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.
    • Ronald Reagan, in an address to the annual meeting of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce (30 March 1961)
  • Information is the oxygen of the modern age. It seeps through the walls topped by barbed wire, it wafts across the electrified borders.…The Goliath of totalitarianism will be brought down by the David of the microchip.
  • Liberty is not a cruise ship full of pampered passengers. Liberty is a man-of-war, and we are all crew.
  • Few men desire liberty; most men wish only for a just master.
    • Sallust (Gaius Sallustius Crispus) in Histories
  • The ultimate aim of government is not to rule, or restrain, by fear, nor to exact obedience, but contrariwise, to free every man from fear, that he may live in all possible security; in other words, to strengthen his natural right to exist and work without injury to himself or others.
    No, the object of government is not to change men from rational beings into beasts or puppets, but to enable them to develope their minds and bodies in security, and to employ their reason unshackled; neither showing hatred, anger, or deceit, nor watched with the eyes of jealousy and injustice. In fact, the true aim of government is liberty.
  • The real disturbers of the peace are those who, in a free state, seek to curtail the liberty of judgment which they are unable to tyrannize over.
  • The saddest epitaph which can be carved in memory of a vanished liberty is that it was lost because its possessors failed to stretch forth a saving hand while yet there was time.
    • Justice George Sutherland, in his dissenting opinion on Associated Press v. National Labor Relations Board, 301 US 141 (1938)
  • No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.
  • It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of one of those liberties which make the defense of our nation worthwhile.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • A day, an hour of virtuous liberty,
    Is worth a whole eternity in bondage.
  • He is the freeman whom the truth makes free.
    • Author not cited; reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 377.
  • There are two freedoms — the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; the true, where a man is free to do what he ought.
  • It is a question not often considered, whether we are not just as independent when we choose an upright and godly course, even if our fathers did walk in it, as when we follow somebody's example in sin. Indeed the highest and truest independence is that which always elects to do right.
    • Henry M. King, p. 377.
  • Conquer thyself. Till thou hast done that, thou art a slave; for it is almost as well to be in subjection to another's appetite as thine own.
  • The only rational liberty is that which is born of subjection, reared in the fear of God and the love of man, and made courageous in the defense of a trust and the prosecution of duty.
    • William G. Simms, p. 378.
  • Do you wish to be free? Then above all things, love God, love your neighbor, love one another, love the common weal; then you will have true liberty.
    • Savonarola, p. 378.
  • This is the true liberty of Christ, when a free man binds himself in love to duty. Not in shrinking from our distasteful occupations, but in fulfilling them, do we realize our high origin.
  • The moment you accept God's ordering, that moment your work ceases to be a task, and becomes your calling; you pass from bondage to freedom, from the shadow-land of life into life itself.
    • H. Clay Trumbull, p. 378.
  • Not until right is founded upon reverence, will it be secure; not until duty is based upon love, will it be complete; not until liberty is based on eternal principles, will it be full, equal, lofty, and universal.
  • The great comprehensive truths, written on every page of our history, are these: Human happiness has no perfect security but freedom; freedom none but virtue; virtue none but knowledge; and neither freedom nor virtue has any vigor or immortal hope,except in the principles of the Christian faith, and in the sanctions of the Christian religion.
  • What is liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils, for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.
  • That religion which holds that all men are equal in the sight of the great Father will not refuse to acknowledge that all citizens are equal in the sight of the law.
    • Alexis De Tocqueville, p. 379.
  • Christianity is the companion of liberty in all its conflicts — the cradle of its infancy, and the Divine source of its claims.
    • Alexis De Tocqueville, p. 379.
  • True liberty can exist only when justice is equally administered to all.
    • Lord Mansfield, p. 379.
  • The Spirit of God first imparts love; He next inspires hope, and then gives liberty; and that is about the last thing we have in a good many of our churches at the present time.
  • O, we all long for the day, the blessed day, when freedom shall at least be co-extensive with Christendom; when a slave political or domestic, shall not tread on an atom upon which the cross of Calvary has cast its shadow; when the baptism of the crucified shall be on every brow, the seal of a heavenly sonship; when the fire of a new Pentecost shall melt asunder, by its divine heat of charity, the bond which wrong or prejudice has fastened; when, to touch any spot over the wide sweep of God's Christianized earth, any spot which the gospel of the Saviour has ever visited, which the name of the Saviour has ever sanctified, shall be, in itself, the spell of a complete deliverance, the magic of a perfect franchise.
  • Illustrious confessors of Jesus Christ, a Christian finds in prison the same joys as the prophets tasted in the desert. Call it not a dungeon, but a solitude. When the soul is in heaven, the body feels not the weight of fetters; it carries the whole man along with it.

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Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Liberty
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

The fiery mountains answer each other;
Their thunderings are echoed from zone to zone;
The empestuous oceans awake one another,
And the ice-rocks are shaken round winter’s zone
When the clarion of the Typhoon is blown.

From a single cloud the lightning flashes,
Whilst a thousand isles are illumined around,
Earthquake is trampling one city to ashes,
An hundred are shuddering and tottering; the sound
Is bellowing underground.

But keener thy gaze than the lightning’s glare,
And swifter thy step than the earthquake’s tramp;
Thou deafenest the rage of the ocean; thy stare
Makes blind the volcanos; the sun’s bright lamp
To thine is a fen-fire damp.

From billow and mountain and exhalation
The sunlight is darted through vapour and blast;
From spirit to spirit, from nation to nation,
From city to hamlet thy dawning is cast,—
And tyrants and slaves are like shadows of night
In the van of the morning light.

PD-icon.svg This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

1911 encyclopedia

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From LoveToKnow 1911

LIBERTY (Lat. libertas, from liber, free), generally the state of freedom, especially opposed to subjection, imprisonment or slavery, or with such restricted or figurative meaning as the circumstances imply. The history of political liberty is in modern days identified practically with the progress of civiliza tion. In a more particular sense, "a liberty" is the term for a franchise, a privilege or branch of the crown's prerogative granted to a subject, as, for example, that of executing legal process; hence the district over which the privilege extends. Such liberties are exempt from the jurisdiction of the sheriff and have separate commissions of the peace, but for purposes of local government form part of the county in which they are situated. The exemption from the jurisdiction of the sheriff was recognized in England by the Sheriffs Act 1887, which provides that the sheriff of a county shall appoint a deputy at the expense of the lord of the liberty, such deputy to reside in or near the liberty. The deputy receives and opens in the sheriff's name all writs, the return or execution of which belongs to the bailiff of the liberty, and issues to the bailiff the warrant required for the due execution of such writs. The bailiff then becomes liable for non-execution, mis-execution or insufficient return of any writs, and in the case of non-return of any writ, if the sheriff returns that he has delivered the writ to a bailiff of a liberty, the sheriff will be ordered to execute the writ notwithstanding the liberty, and must cause the bailiff to attend before the high court of justice and answer why he did not execute the writ.

In nautical phraseology various usages of the term are derived from its association with a sailor's leave on shore, e.g. liberty-man, liberty-day, liberty-ticket.

A History of Modern Liberty, in eight volumes, of which the third appeared in 1906, has been written by James Mackinnon; see also Lord Acton's lectures, and such works as J. S. Mill's On Liberty and Sir John Seeley's Introduction to Political Science.


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Simple English

The English Wiktionary has a dictionary definition (meanings of a word) for:

Liberty means the condition in which an individual has the ability to act following his or her own will, with other words political freedom.

is a very popular icon of liberty.]]

Liberal conceptions of liberty think mainly of the freedom of the individual from outside compulsion. A socialist perspective, on the other hand, thinks of equality. As such, a socialist connects liberty (i.e. freedom) to the equal distribution of political power (i.e. democracy). They argue that liberty without equality means the domination of the most powerful. Thus, freedom and democracy are seen as connected.

John Stuart Mill, in his work, On Liberty, was the first to recognize the difference between liberty as the freedom to act and liberty as the absence of coercion (being forced to do something).

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