Liberty Defined

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare

This address
was delivered before the Mont Pelerin Society at St. Moritz, Switzerland,
on September 4, 1957, and published by the Freedom School in 1958.
Harper, an economist at Cornell, was the author of Liberty:
A Path to Its Recovery
and Why
Wages Rise
. He later founded the Institute
for Humane Studies
.

There are times
when one's humility seems to go on vacation, as it did, for me when
Professor Hayek proposed tackling this topic for discussion. Then
later when reality returned to plague the victim, there ended a
beautiful, balmy sense of well-being during which all had seemed
perfectly clear and simple; during which the topic of liberty —
its meaning and philosophic base — posed no apparent problem of
a serious nature; during which, at first blush, it seemed almost
trite to presume to dwell on the obvious.

But is the
meaning of liberty so clear and simple?

Were a stranger
to observe the nature of the Mont Pelerin Society and note its convening
for this decennial occasion, would he not be surprised to find us
devoting an entire session to the meaning of liberty — the word
perhaps more basic than any other to the original purpose of the
Society? Might he not expect this to have been a matter resolved
with essentially unanimous agreement at the outset of our Societal
association together? The fact that it has not been thus resolved
seems to me to reflect the lack of any clear agreement as to the
meaning of liberty; apparently it is something not so clear and
simple. We use this beloved word in our communication with one another
and assume an understanding that apparently is not there.

Confusion over
the meaning of this key word may seem strange. For liberty is not
a new issue in the world. Presumably it has been a concern of mankind
from the very dawn of his existence. As he battled for life and
life's betterment, he must surely have faced constant threats to
his liberty, just as he was confronted with the tides, the tornadoes,
and pestilences of all sorts. All these must have been a part of
man's experience from time immemorial.

Prior to any
carefully reasoned contemplation of such obstructions, mankind must
have battled them intuitively. We may assume that for an eon mankind
has battled for his liberty, for instance, without having any deep
sense of what liberty really is, just as he battled for his existence
among the forces of nature without knowing precisely and formally
the laws of natural phenomena.

I suppose that
conclaves are also being held elsewhere to ponder just what electricity
really is, or where and why the winds and storms originate, while
we here are, pondering just what liberty really is. We are to explore
the composition of liberty and its deeper meaning at a time when
the paths of mankind behind us are strewn with the blood of countless
battles over it throughout all of history.

So my comments
on this subject are offered in the spirit of exploration rather
than with any presumed finality, and I trust they will be accepted
in that light.

The Nature
of Man

At the outset
we might recognize two outstanding, long-standing questions:

  1. What is
    the nature of man?
  2. What pathways
    are charted for man, as a consequence of his nature? What, in
    other words, is the purpose of human life?

As to the nature
of man, I readily give my proxy to others, including not only the
philosophers but also the biologists whose field of search must
hold an important key to the nature of man as it relates to the
problem of liberty. For if the biological nature of the organism
is not in tune with liberty, it is surely futile for us to proclaim
the virtues of liberty and to pursue its practice; and in that event
we had best disband this Society and redirect our hopes and endeavors
elsewhere.

But I assume
the nature of man to be attuned to liberty. And therefore I posit
the case for liberty squarely on a biological base, using that term
in its broadest sense to include all that is man. Work in biology
and related fields in recent years suggests the promise of a highly
fruitful period which may now be dawning. Illustrative of work which
seems to me to be highly significant in relation to the nature of
man and liberty is that of Roger J. Williams, biochemist at the
University of Texas [1]
; Edward W. Sinnott, botanist and Emeritus Dean of the Graduate
School at Yale University
[2]
; Horace W. Stunkard, Emeritus Head of Biology Department
at New York University
[3]
; Leonard Carmichael, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
[4]
; Lecomte du Nouy, the French scientist [5] ; and others.

The outstanding
theme of works such as these, so far as liberty is concerned, is
the extreme diversity of persons, one from another, and the significance
of this variation when liberty allows its expression in life's
attainments.

Among these
infinitely variable qualities evidencing the nature of man is variation
in his knowledge and wisdom, or in his ignorance and foolishness.
Liberty tends to enthrone knowledge and wisdom; the absence of liberty
tends to enthrone ignorance and foolishness, because of the mathematical
principle of regression which comes into play through the processes
by which liberty is curbed.

Another derivative
of biological research is to bring into focus the independent, unitary
nature of the human organism. Persons are born alone as distinctly
separate units, one at a time. They likewise die one at a time as
separate units. All their acts in between are as separate units
as well, even in their cooperative endeavors. An aggregation of
any sort — even this meeting — fails to blend even two persons into
one unit, so long as there is life in each. Even in panic or any
like phenomenon where the herd seems to operate as a unit, it is
entirely individual persons who do all the acting, however much
their apparent concert. Every collective is an illusory construction.
The biologists are helping us to see this and to relegate the concepts
of the social collective, to where nothing is left except an empty,
meaningless shell of imaginary form.

Liberty
Defined

With that brief
treatment of the assumption that liberty is rooted in the biological
nature of man, perhaps we should consider what is the meaning of
this liberty of which we speak.

In searching
for its meaning one might first turn to what many consider to be
the opposite of liberty, namely, socialism. Could we not merely
invert the definition of socialism and have an acceptable definition
of liberty?

One can search
in vain, I believe, for any consensus of the meaning of socialism.
The confusion is illustrated by the fact that when the Parisian
Le Figaro opened its pages in 1892 with a list of definitions of
socialism, more than 600 were included. And when Dan Griffiths of
England wrote his book in 1924, What
is Socialism?
, he found 263 answers worthy of note.

I shudder at
the thought of proposing 600 or even 263 corresponding counterparts
of these as definitions of liberty, for you to pay your money and
take your choice. I believe that it is necessary for effective communication
and progress in the cause of liberty that we bring into focus a
more precise tool of word meaning than that. One wonders, to use
an analogy, what would be the present status of science in general
if there had been no more precise language there; if, for instance,
one were to find 600 or 263 possible answers offered to the problem
of the sum of two and two, or the nature of oxygen?

Nor can I quite
accept the view of one renowned social scientist who recently opined
that it is a good thing to have the meaning of words changing constantly
"progressing" — as though words were somehow like clothes
which become soiled and need changing every now and then. Nineteen
Eighty-Four
portrayed the consequences of that practice.

Both precision
and stability of the meaning of words like liberty seem absolutely
required for much progress in the science of human relationships.
For communication is surely as important here as in other sciences,
and communication requires both precision and stability in the meaning
of words.

I suppose the
supreme liberty of all is for each person to be allowed to define
liberty as he pleases. I am, therefore, going to exercise that privilege
myself. In doing so, however, I would like to make it as reasonable
as possible in order that others may share my view of an etymologically
and functionally sound definition.

To begin with,
liberty seems to me to be a word having to do with matters of personal
conduct in relation to other persons in society. Or to put it another
way, it relates to limitations of action one person may or may not
suffer at the hands of another person. It is in that sense a word
focused on matters of individual conduct in a social setting.

There are other
barriers to one's freedom of action, of, course, besides those one
person imposes upon another. These include environmental restraints
imposed by nature other than by persons — chemical, physical, astronomical,
and other such barriers to complete freedom of action.

You may, for
instance, desire to move elsewhere without being confronted with
the mountain which stands in your way. Or in winter you may wish
roses to rise out of the snow. Or you may wish Mars were closely
at hand so that you could step across for a visit. Such impediments
to the fulfillment of our momentary wishes are not problems of liberty.
They lie outside the interpersonal concerns where all problems of
liberty are to be found, for they are problems you would face even
in total isolation from your fellow men.

Liberty
stems from liber, which means to be free. And so the definition
of liberty I would propose is this:

Liberty is
the absence of coercion of a human being by any other human being;
it is a condition where the person may do whatever he desires, according
to his wisdom and conscience.

This means
that to have liberty one must be free without qualification or modification,
so far as his social relationships are concerned. Nature will still
impose its restrictions on him, of course, but his fellow men shall
impose none.

In order to
bring this definition more dearly into focus, consider as an alternative
a definition which seems to me to be the only possible one to be
selected in its stead:

Liberty is
a condition where the person must do whatever another person desires
that he shall do, according to the other person's wisdom and conscience.

This is the
sole, alternative, because for any one act under consideration there
are only two possibilities: (1) you determine what you shall do;
or (2) you are prohibited from determining what you shall do.

The last of
these two possibilities means that some other person or persons
will decide what you shall do, and force you to do it. That seems
to be a definition of slavery rather than of liberty, and therefore
I must reject it. And since there is no other alternative — since
a person must act voluntarily by his own wisdom and conscience or
involuntarily according to the mandate of another person — the first
definition seems to me to be the only tenable one.

One point of
possible concern with this definition should be mentioned at this
point. Liberty as
I have defined it does not preclude as guidance for one's acts any
form or degree of advice and influence, if voluntarily accepted,
which, originates elsewhere than within himself. This guidance might
be religious influences, evidence from historical records, scientific
knowledge, the advice of another person, or even processes of mental
telepathy or clairvoyance or insight from mystical origins, to whatever
extent these may occur. If willingly accepted, the act resulting
from such influences is as much an act of liberty as would be any
other.

So liberty
as I have defined it is not limited to self-willed conduct arising
from total isolation. All these other forces can operate to influence
one's acts as a free man. I would even argue that such influences
operate at their best and their fullest only under liberty.

Adulterated
Definitions of Liberty

Many persons
have an overpowering urge to modify and adulterate this definition
of liberty. These include many persons who seem to have unusually
deep libertarian perceptions. They want a definition that encompasses
u201Cproper conduct.u201D To do so, however, seems to me to confuse the
concept of liberty and to adulterate it until it becomes meaningless.

Many persons,
I suspect, have such an infatuation for their beloved word liberty
that, like a juvenile lover whose expectations surpass reality,
they try to deny any imperfection in their beloved. And so, in order
to assure his perfection they try to deny the possibility of any
imperfection by their definition. In this instance, some would bend
their concept of liberty so as to exclude any act which in their
eyes is imperfect.

Let us consider
in an analogy another field of contemplation, chemistry. In the
early period of its development, it was perceived that the elemental
chemical constituents must be identified before a science of chemistry
could be developed. Suppose it had been decided at that time to
define each element as that form of material only when it was being
put to u201Cproper use.u201D Chlorine would then, I suppose, be chlorine
when used for table salt, but something else when used for chlorine
gas for wartime or something else if the enemy used it for that
purpose, I suppose, and something else if the salt were to corrode
your motor. The introduction of any such dilution of meaning of
the underlying concepts of any science would seem to bar effectively
any appreciable development of that science. Basic words of this
type must not be confused by trying to incorporate human judgments
of an entirely different sort.

Or suppose
similar confusions had been introduced into the early development
of words for basic concepts in physics, Or physiology, or bacteriology.
What then could have been the progress in those fields?

I would argue,
then, for this clear and rigid meaning of a key word of social science
— liberty.

It should acquire
a place in our vocabulary comparable to an element in chemistry,
or to motion in physics. For if we try to modify it with
the presumed propriety of the act, we shall have introduced a wholly
different type of concern which should be kept entirely separate
from the meaning of liberty. For they are two areas which cannot
possibly be blended into one clear definition.

One other aspect
of this definition seems worth mentioning. Were we to try to incorporate
into the definition of liberty a judgment of the act as good or
bad making liberty, in other words, mean only u201Cgoodu201D acts — who,
or what body, is to define what is u201Cgoodu201D? I would contend that
the determination of what is good would then have to be a socialized
one in some degree. And for us as libertarians to define liberty
in such a way that we must accept a socialized concept of morals
before we can classify an act as one of liberty would seem to me
to be an abandonment of our faith in the formulating of our own
language.

Another alternative
meaning of liberty, differing from the one I prefer, is to define
it as a condition where the restriction of coercion of human beings
by other human beings is at a minimum. But such a concept, in my
opinion, describes something else than liberty. Perhaps it is the
way to describe a liberal society of fallible humans, or something
of the sort. For in such a society of fallible humans, complete
liberty of all its members is obviously an impossibility, for our
fallible conduct precludes some of the liberty of one another.

We would not
define a vacuum as the nearest to the absence of material content
of a space that we know how to attain, nor would we define ytterbium
as a compound as near to that element in its purity as we have yet
found. Instead, we should define all these liberty, vacuum, ytterbium
— in pure form even when unattained yet in our experience.

Your choice
is still an act of choice even when I do not agree with your selection.
Your act of liberty, likewise, is still liberty when I disfavor
what you have done. It is an act of liberty for me to define liberty
in a manner you disfavor; it is also an act of liberty for you to
disagree.

Morals versus
Liberty

In defining
liberty as embodying judgments of one's own acts according to his
conscience, my intent is to recognize the importance of morals and
ethics in this connection. Rather than to attempt to distinguish
between morals and ethics in the short time available, I shall speak
only of morals — the u201Cgoodu201D versus the u201Cevil,u201D the u201Coughtsu201D versus
the u201Cought notsu201D of human conduct.

It is well
to remind ourselves at this point that liberty as I have defined
it is not a synonym for good; that any act of liberty may be either
u201Cgoodu201D or u201Cevilu201D as another person judges it. This will be true
until and unless infinite wisdom and universal perfection of conscience
guide every act of every person in such a way as to be approved
by every other person.

But universal
agreement is far from a description of real life; it is no more
than a direction toward which to strive. And that fact is precisely
why there is any problem of liberty at all. Except as there exist
these differences in moral judgments of what the other person ought
or ought not do, there would be no purpose whatever in a Mont Pelerin
Society, nor any other of the processes aimed at trying to deal
with matters of human conduct and conflict

To speak of
morals, then, is not the same as speaking of liberty, but instead
refers to a qualitative measure of those acts.

Let us explore
this point just a bit further. The concern of morals is to judge
acts as either good or evil, right or wrong u201Cmoralu201D
or u201Cimmoral,u201D as we say in appraising them. Such a judgment has
neither place nor meaning except for acts of choice. A person cannot
do right except in a situation where there is also the option of
doing wrong. In other words, moral considerations have no place
except where liberty exists. A stone is confronted with no moral
consideration, because so far as we know a stone is wholly without
choice and merely rolls here and there with the impact of the forces
of its natural environment. A stone can do no right or wrong under
its own guidance because it makes no choices — it is incapable
of liberty.

It follows,
then, that no problem of morals can ever be resolved by removing
liberty, in a degree either large or small. All that can be done
by enslavement is to remove the moral consideration from the enslaved
person's life, and relegate him toward the status of a stone. The
moral issue remains with the enslaver, however.

To assert that
a person or a society of persons can be made moral by removing their
liberty is akin to the policy of the doting mother who said that
she was not going to let her child go near the water until he had
learned to swim.

Thomas Davidson
expressed it this way: u201CThat which is not free is not responsible,
and that which is not responsible is not moral. In other words,
freedom is the condition of morality.u201D [6]

Moral Law

Liberty will
be allowed in society only insofar as there is acceptance of the
conduct of others. Acceptance may be because of either agreement
with the act or tolerance in disagreement.

Tolerance in
disagreement demands acceptance of separate domains within which
a person is allowed to make his mistakes, if he does so with what
is his rather than with what is yours. Private property within the
economic arena of scarce and desired things operates to this end.
Once these domains are accepted, then it becomes a prime moral right
of a person u201Cto do what I will with mine ownu201D instead of to do what
I will with your own. [7]

Some moral
code to guide our acts, insofar as acceptance can be attained, is
a route to peaceful coexistence with one another. And for that reason
the moral code becomes a concern related to the question of maximizing
liberty, because in the absence of such agreement we shall surely
take liberty away from one another more or less in proportion thereto.

Where and how
do we look for a code of this sort?

A basic question
involved here, it seems to me, is whether one assumes that there
is an ordered universe or assumes that there is not.

If we start
with the assumption of an ordered universe, certain other derivative
assumptions follow in turn. The assumption of an ordered universe,
as I see it, allows room for both science and religion, as companions
representing two types of belief about the nature of an ordered
universe. This assumption of order is theistic in one or another
form, whether one wishes to think of it as God, or as natural law,
or as the universal phenomenon of cause or consequence, or what-not.
For present purposes we need not differentiate in any such way as
to beliefs, nor to carry the concept of God to the point of anthropomorphic
or other. The only concern for this purpose is that of an ordered
universe or not.

If one starts
with the premise of an ordered universe, it follows that he accepts
the existence of eternal truths and unchanging principles, universally.
This does not necessitate the arrogant assumption that we know all
these truths with final or full certainty; it means only the assumption
that they exist to be found — that known or unknown to us, we are
powerless to change them either individually or collectively, bending
or altering them at will.

If there are
these eternal truths and unchanging principles, then one may assume
the existence, as a part of the universe in which we live, of moral
truths — moral law, if one wishes to speak of them that way, ruling
over and above our social, statutory laws of society, or custom,
or tradition. These moral laws are then assumed to be the code of
conduct by which to abide, if one is to be u201Cgood,u201D just as we assume
that we must abide by physical laws if we are to be safe. Violation
of either is an option under choice, or under liberty, but the consequences
prevail in spite of our ignorance or our wishing that things were
different in the universe.

If, on the
other hand, one assumes the alternative of an unordered universe,
his course of derived assumptions are these: atheism; events occurring
at random; lack of any precise cause and consequence to be discovered;
lack of eternal truths and unchanging principles; no moral law or
physical law to rule affairs; no science to be pursued in the spirit
that identical conditions will lead to consequences repeating themselves.
It presumes, I suppose, that we can change the universe any way
we want to, at will — but also, it seems to me, it assumes that
no change will remain even for an instant. This whole concept seems
to me to be a blind path to a dead end. I do not see how one can
live under any such assumption. Study of science or of any past
experiences of any sort would be a pure waste of time. One might
as well jump off the cliff, if he were to assume that past events,
involving untold numbers of deaths of persons who did likewise,
prescribe no pattern for the present or the future.

So my assumption
is an ordered universe, with moral law beyond the power of man to
alter. We may not know what these moral laws are with certainty,
but even so we must, under this assumption, proceed with the best
guess we can make as to what they are. We would deny as moral truths
any prescription by majority decision, or kingly decree, or the
like — we would deny all these as invalid sources per se. We would
reject the definition of morality given in a book by a Professor
of Psychology at the University of Southern California, who has
said: u201CMorality is the quality of behaving in the way society approves…u201D
[8]
Instead, we would accept morality as the quality of behavior
by which an individual should abide, by a source of truth
above the crowd.

It has always
seemed to me in this connection that if there is cause and consequence
in the area of morals, the accumulated experience of mankind must
somehow be distilled into some sort of guide to conduct. It may
be in part intuitive, like one's sense of fear at the edge of a
cliff; it may be in the form of religion, or custom, or tradition,
or what-not. We must admit, however, that these lessons of the past
have been contaminated with error, including the medicine man's
hocus-pocus and superstition of all sorts. But somewhere must be
reflected the distilled experience of mankind in relation to moral
law, to be found with some degree of validity if we will only look
in the right place.

Let us take
religion as an example. The Golden Rule and the Decalogue, for instance,
have occurred in essentially the same way repeatedly in various
religious eras and sects. It seems unlikely that this is due to
chance, and therefore one may assume that concepts of this sort,
to illustrate the process, persist because of their harmony in some
degree with moral law of the universe.

My only point
for purposes of the present discussion is to uphold a search for
moral law, and to illustrate the type of thing that successful search
may in time reveal.

The Rights
of Man

In living our
daily lives and making the decisions that liberty entails, one must
assume certain human rights in accord with moral law. These human
rights are not the sort of rights prescribed by a political body
or by the toleration of one’s neighbors. They are, instead, the
rights which moral law prescribes as the scope of propriety, if
one is to avoid suffering a consequence as unfortunate in a moral
sense as walking off a cliff or other such conduct would be in the
world of nonhuman affairs.

What might
such human rights be?

In a sense,
perhaps, the most basic human right is the right to be free, the
right to make choices and decisions, and to shoulder the consequences
of the choice; the right to be wrong at times. I prefer, however,
to start at another point in order to place a moral boundary on
one's conduct under liberty.

Basic among
human rights would seem to be the right to life itself. This is
an assumption, of course. Like anything else we presume to know,
if we trail liberty to the horizon of our view it will always be
found to start with an assumption. Then derivatives flow logically
from the beginning assumption, but with a validity no better than
the validity of the premise.

The right to
life as an assumption is evidenced by the way people act. It is
evidenced by the way a person struggles to preserve his own life,
as well as by one's reaction to a deed such as the murder of a baby.
Before judging such a murder to be a dastardly deed which violates
a basic human right to life, who among us would first inquire who
perpetrated the murder; who would ask, as being relevant to such
a judgment, whether it was done by the King, or by the Prime Minister,
or by the Legislature, or by the majority in a national election?
The seeming irrelevancy of such a query about the murderer reflects
an acceptance, it seems to me, of the right to life as perhaps the
basic human right of all. And others follow in its wake:

  1. The right
    to life.
  2. If one has
    the right to life, he then has the right to sustain his life
    with his own time and means, so long as in so doing he does
    not infringe on the same right of others.
  3. If one has
    the right to thus sustain his life, he then has the right to
    have whatever he is able to produce with his own time and
    means.
  4. If he has
    the right to whatever he is able to produce, he then has the
    right to keep it for any period of time – the right of
    private property.
  5. If he has
    the right of private property, he then has the right to exchange
    it, sell it, or give it away on any terms acceptable to the
    recipient. No third party, be it one person or any combination
    of persons, has any right to intercede in the process or dictate
    its terms.

This, as I
see it, is the sequence of rights which flows from the assumption
of a right to life.

If this rigid
code of rights seems harsh and inhumane, leaving persons destitute
in any society abiding by it, I would reiterate that the final right
of any person is the right of giving to others that which is his,
as alms. Where else could alms come from for purposes of charity,
if we are to avoid a sequence of rights that would lead logically
to a denial of the right of life itself? Is charity to be founded
on a denial of the right to life? I would argue that true charity
can flow only from the fruits of production in the form of private
property.

Assuming such
a code of human rights, and relating it to religious codes, it is
interesting to note the harmony between them. Such harmony is not
proof, of course; it is no more than circumstantial evidence of
validity. But even so, the Commandment u201CThou shalt not killu201D corresponds
with the right to life, as a basic human right. The Commandment
u201CThou shalt not stealu201D corresponds to the right to keep what one
has produced or otherwise properly acquired as private property.
Stealing is an empty word without the presumption of ownership,
by the victim of the theft, of the object stolen. I have attempted
to define liberty, and to give a philosophic base for liberty that
recognizes both the importance and the content of morality, to the
end that liberty may be maximized. Morals presume liberty to begin
with; and further, there is assumed to be eternal moral law for
which we should search and by which we should abide in our acts
as free persons.

The Hope
and the Hopelessness of Liberty

In closing,
I would comment briefly about the hope of our cause the upholding
of liberty.

If the end
is embodied in the means, no libertarian can employ other than purely
voluntary means to further the cause of liberty. This means education,
persuasion, demonstration. In that way, others may be led to reform
their conduct on behalf of liberty.

You cannot
institutionalize liberty. You can only institutionalize its encroachments.
Institutional devices for the purpose of protecting liberty always
seem to have a way of enslaving its enslaving its presumed beneficiaries,
sooner or later. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the core of
liberty, and its hope, lies deep in the heart and soul of individual
man – something institutions can never have, something we cannot
delegate to any institution.

Some believe
the cause of liberty to be all but dead, a setting sun on the horizon
of human affairs. To say that liberty is dead, however, is to say
that human life no longer exists, for the urge to be free is embodied
in the organism itself. If you repress liberty in one place, you
are likely to stimulate it elsewhere, for man seems to will to be
free however much he fumbles the means of its attainment.

I am reminded,
when thinking of the socio-pathology of liberty, of some recent
findings in medical
pathology. James Reymers, in his experiments on germfree life, observes
instances of how the total absence of germs transforms the host
into a dangerously vulnerable form of life. In one instance, some
germ-free chicks within 24 hours after being hatched all developed
tremors and even death, whereas those chicks not germ-free suffered
no such affliction. In another instance, the ovaries of females
among a group of germ-free animals degenerated until reproduction
stopped within the strain of the experiment. [9]

One cannot
help but wonder if a similar benefit, somehow, may not arise out
of attacks on liberty. Perhaps a u201Cgermfreeu201D (pure and unadulterated
liberty) society, if we could attain it, might lack some
sort of mysterious catalyst requisite to the survival of liberty.
No one of us would, of course, destroy liberty with this purpose
in mind. Others will surely take care of that task of destruction
of liberty, and our help is not needed.

All history
suggests, in any event, that complete and universal liberty is a
star beyond our reach. Liberty ebbs and flows, never being fully
gained and never being fully lost. Perhaps it is well that it is
thus, for reasons we can only dimly perceive.

One bemoans,
of course, all absence of liberty. In like manner he bemoans those
unfulfilled desires which fuel the whole economic realm of affairs.
Yet, if there were no economic goods or services in the world —
if everything we desired were in plenitude — would that be a heaven
or a hell? To what could we then aspire? For then living would be
nothing but the sopping up of pointless pleasures in a livelihood
barren of hope, lacking things hoped for and as yet unattained.

And so perhaps
liberty apparently is a goal to be pursued but never fully captured
in its purity. Such a thought may solace libertarians in their partial
enslavement, living lonesomely among many enslavers. This concept
gives hope and purpose to live by, provided one does not dash his
hopes on some impossible goal. If instead he sets as his star the
mere furtherance of liberty rather than its full attainment for
the entire world, he need never lack hope and purpose in life. Merely
to perfect his own conduct provides plenty of work for him to do
— more than the best can attain in a lifetime.

Notes


[1]
Free
and Unequal: The Biological Basis of Individual Liberty

(Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1953); Biochemical
Individuality: The Basis for the Genetotrophic Concept

(New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1956).


[2]
Two
Roads to Truth: A Basis for Unity under the Great Tradition

(New York: The Viking Press, 1953); The
Biology of the Spirit
(New York: The Viking Press, 1955).

[3] Numerous articles.


[4]
Numerous articles, including his lecture at Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, November 17, 1953, u201CPsychology, The Machine,
and Society.u201D

[5] Human Destiny (New York: Longmans, Green
& Co., 1947)

[6] The
Education of the Wage-Earners
(New York: Ginn & Company,
1904), page 53.

[7] See St. Matthew, 20:15


[8]
John E. Burkhart, u201CAgainst the Crowdsu201D Phi Kappa Phi
Journal, Summer 1957, page 5. From Psychology
and Life
, by Floyd L. Ruch, 1937, page 104.

[9] James A. Reyniers, u201CThe Significance
of Germ-free Life Methodology (Gnotobiotics) to Experimental Biology
and Medicine,u201D MSC Veterinarian, Volume 13, No. 3, 1953,
page 182.

December
8, 2005

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare