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 Liberty2004-02-20 18:50
picture by Flemming Funch

Via Lisa Williams who's reading John Stuart Mill's essay "On Liberty", which is good stuff:
"The object of this Essay is to assert one very simple principle as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be physical force in the form of legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public opinion. 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 rightfully be 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 a sufficient warrant."
In brief, you should be free to live your life as you choose, as long as you don't harm others. And government has no right to use its power against you, other than to prevent you from doing harm to others.

Now, wouldn't that be nice. If it were impossible for greedy individuals to manipulate themselves into positions of power where they can force everybody else to adhere to their twisted morals and self-serving business interests. What if government were an agency to ensure such fundamental individual liberty, rather than a primary vehicle for subverting it.

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21 Feb 2004 @ 09:47 by John Abbe @ : Liberalism and Anarchism
Recently attended an anarchist study group, and someone brought a dictionary of philosophy from which the definitions of liberalism and anarchism were read, resulting in this concise distinction: Liberalism says let's come up with a system everyone would agree to in principle, without knowing there situation in life, and then all agree to live under that system. Anarchism says let's work it out "live" as we go along.

Interestingly, both seek to maximize freedom (liberty) and minimize coercion (-archism). In the end of course both depend on a high degree of good will, which is why i focus more on developing that than on any particular political philosophy.  

21 Feb 2004 @ 12:58 by ming : Maximize freedom
Those are great definitions. I support both. I guess I'd prefer to work out a system, compared with sort of fighting it out along the way. Or, maybe, rather, work out a minimal system that ensures liberty, and that ensures it won't be a fight at all, and then work out the rest of the details live along the way.

You're right, a lot of good will is unfortunately a pre-requisite. And probably the reason we don't have anything particularly close to any of them today.  

21 Feb 2004 @ 23:35 by John Abbe @ : Consensual law
Some people don't want any laws, as they can only imagine them being applied in violent or at least coercive ways. But we could hear any breaking of a law as we ideally hear an objection in consensus - a likely source of improving the law/decision. In some cases it may be more a cry for help, or quite often, a mix of the two. Thus law would simply be a statement of current practice and expectation, rather than some kind of hard-edged thing.  

22 Feb 2004 @ 08:01 by ming : Laws
Also, if laws are meant to be the system that works best for everybody, then obviously there's a reason to discuss things when a situation arises where the laws don't work. Any need for an "exception" or any perception of the results of a given law occasionally being unfair, means that it isn't really working.  

24 Feb 2004 @ 18:11 by george dafermos @ : mill's wisdom
...is always brought up in discussions of drug policy reform. and from mill's above words it derives that moral outrage is a bad basis for policy making. all economists know the above words; some of them by heart. then why is it that politicians always fear of moral outrage when crafting policies, although they know they have the consent of economists by their side?  

4 Mar 2004 @ 07:16 by Ray Wiltfong @ : Government
anarchism is the highest form of government suppressed by the lowest - faschism  

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