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{{other uses}}File:Majestic Liberty Large.jpg|thumb|right|Liberty Enlightening the World, known as the Statue of LibertyStatue of LibertyBroadly speaking, liberty (Latin: Libertas) is the ability to do as one pleases.The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2005, Merriam-Webster, Inc, {{ISBN|978-0-87779-636-7}}. In politics, liberty consists of the social, political, and economic freedoms to which all community members are entitled."Each of those social and political freedoms which are considered to be the entitlement of all members of a community; a civil liberty." Oxford English Dictionary.weblink In philosophy, liberty involves free will as contrasted with, determinism."The fact of not being controlled by or subject to fate; freedom of will." Oxford English Dictionary.weblink In theology, liberty is freedom from the effects of "sin, spiritual servitude, [or] worldly ties.""Freedom from the bondage or dominating influence of sin, spiritual servitude, worldly ties." Oxford English Dictionary.weblinkSometimes liberty is differentiated from freedom by using the word "freedom" primarily, if not exclusively, to mean the ability to do as one wills and what one has the power to do; and using the word "liberty" to mean the absence of arbitrary restraints, taking into account the rights of all involved. In this sense, the exercise of liberty is subject to capability and limited by the rights of others.Mill, J.S. (1869)., "Chapter I: Introductory", On Liberty.weblink Thus liberty entails the responsible use of freedom under the rule of law without depriving anyone else of their freedom. Freedom is more broad in that it represents a total lack of restraint or the unrestrained ability to fulfill one's desires. For example, a person can have the freedom to murder, but not have the liberty to murder, as the latter example deprives others of their right not to be harmed. Liberty can be taken away as a form of punishment. In many countries, people can be deprived of their liberty if they are convicted of criminal acts.The word "liberty" is often used in slogans, such as "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"The Declaration of Independence, The World Almanac, 2016, {{ISBN|978-1-60057-201-2}} or "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"weblink


Philosophers from earliest times have considered the question of liberty. Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121–180 AD) wrote:"a polity in which there is the same law for all, a polity administered with regard to equal rights and equal freedom of speech, and the idea of a kingly government which respects most of all the freedom of the governed."Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations", Book I, Wordsworth Classics of World Literature, {{ISBN|1853264865}}According to Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679):"a free man is he that in those things which by his strength and wit he is able to do is not hindered to do what he hath the will to do" (Leviathan, Part 2, Ch. XXI).John Locke (1632–1704) rejected that definition of liberty. While not specifically mentioning Hobbes, he attacks Sir Robert Filmer who had the same definition. According to Locke:
"In the state of nature, liberty consists of being free from any superior power on Earth. People are not under the will or lawmaking authority of others but have only the law of nature for their rule. In political society, liberty consists of being under no other lawmaking power except that established by consent in the commonwealth. People are free from the dominion of any will or legal restraint apart from that enacted by their own constituted lawmaking power according to the trust put in it. Thus, freedom is not as Sir Robert Filmer defines it: 'A liberty for everyone to do what he likes, to live as he pleases, and not to be tied by any laws.' Freedom is constrained by laws in both the state of nature and political society. Freedom of nature is to be under no other restraint but the law of nature. Freedom of people under government is to be under no restraint apart from standing rules to live by that are common to everyone in the society and made by the lawmaking power established in it. Persons have a right or liberty to (1) follow their own will in all things that the law has not prohibited and (2) not be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, and arbitrary wills of others."Two Treatises on Government: A Translation into Modern English, ISR, 2009, p. 76
File:John-stuart-mill-sized.jpg|thumb|upright=0.65|right|John Stuart MillJohn Stuart MillJohn Stuart Mill (1806–1873), 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.Westbrooks, Logan Hart (2008) "Personal Freedom" p. 134 In Owens, William (compiler) (2008) Freedom: Keys to Freedom from Twenty-one National Leaders Main Street Publications, Memphis, Tennessee, p3–38, {{ISBN|978-0-9801152-0-8}} 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 the liberty that comes from self-mastery, the freedom from inner compulsions such as weakness and fear.


File:Magna Carta (British Library Cotton MS Augustus II.106).jpg|thumb|right|The Magna Carta (originally known as the Charter of Liberties) of 1215, written in iron gall ink on parchment in medieval Latin, using standard abbreviations of the period. This document is held at the British LibraryBritish Library


File:A Chronicle of England - Page 226 - John Signs the Great Charter.jpg|thumb|A romanticised 19th-century recreation of King John signing the Magna CartaMagna CartaThe modern concept of political liberty has its origins in the Greek concepts of freedom and slavery.Rodriguez, Junius P. (2007) The Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery: A–K ; Vol. II, L–Z, To be free, to the Greeks, was not to have a master, to be independent from a master (to live as one likes).Mogens Herman Hansen, 2010, Democratic Freedom and the Concept of Freedom in Plato and Aristotle That was the original Greek concept of freedom. It is closely linked with the concept of democracy, as Aristotle put it:
"This, then, is one note of liberty which all democrats affirm to be the principle of their state. Another is that a man should live as he likes. This, they say, is the privilege of a freeman, since, on the other hand, not to live as a man likes is the mark of a slave. This is the second characteristic of democracy, whence has arisen the claim of men to be ruled by none, if possible, or, if this is impossible, to rule and be ruled in turns; and so it contributes to the freedom based upon equality."Aristotle, Politics 6.2
This applied only to free men. In Athens, for instance, women could not vote or hold office and were legally and socially dependent on a male relative.BOOK, Mikalson, Jon, Ancient Greek Religion, 2009, Wiley-Blackwell, 978-1405181778,weblink 2nd, 129, The populations of the Persian Empire enjoyed some degree of freedom. 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 (550 BC). All the palaces of the kings of Persia were built by paid workers in an era when slaves typically did such work.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|0-7190-4923-7}}.In the Buddhist Maurya Empire of ancient India, citizens of all religions and ethnic groups had some 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 also appears to have been condemned by Ashoka.Amartya Sen (1997). Human Rights and Asian Values. {{ISBN|0-87641-151-0}}. Slavery also appears to have been non-existent in the Maurya Empire.Arrian, Indica:
However, according to Hermann Kulke and Dietmar Rothermund, "Ashoka's orders seem to have been resisted right from the beginning."Hermann Kulke, Dietmar Rothermund (2004). A history of India. Routledge. p. 66. {{ISBN|0-415-32920-5}}
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. Many of the liberties enjoyed under Roman law endured through the Middle Ages, but were enjoyed solely by the nobility, rarely by the common man.{{citation needed|date=July 2016}} The idea of inalienable and universal liberties had to wait until the Age of Enlightenment.

Social contract

File:Eugène Delacroix - La liberté guidant le peuple.jpg|thumb|Right|Eugène Delacroix – Liberty Leading the People (La liberté guidant le people) (1830)]]File:French-Liberty-British-Slavery-Gillray.jpeg|thumb|In French Liberty. British Slavery (1792), James GillrayJames GillrayThe social contract theory, most influentially formulated by Hobbes, John Locke and Rousseau (though first suggested by Plato in The Republic), was 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 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. This conception of law would find its culmination in the ideas of Montesquieu. 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 universal as possible.In On Liberty, John Stuart Mill sought to define the "...nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual," and as such, he describes an inherent and continuous antagonism between liberty and authority and thus, the prevailing question becomes "how to make the fitting adjustment between individual independence and social control".

Origins of political freedom

England and Great Britain

England and following the Act of Union 1707 Great Britain, laid down the cornerstones to the concept of individual liberty.In 1166 Henry II of England transformed English law by passing the Assize of Clarendon act. The act, a forerunner to trial by jury, started the abolition of trial by combat and trial by ordeal.WEB, The History of Human Rights,weblink Liberty, 17 August 2015, In 1215 the Magna Carta was drawn up, it became the cornerstone of liberty in first England, Great Britain and later, the world.{{sfn|Danziger|Gillingham|2004|p=278}}{{sfn|Breay|2010|p=48}}In 1689 the Bill of Rights grants 'freedom of speech in Parliament', which lays out some of the earliest civil rights.WEB, Bill of Rights,weblink British Library, 23 June 2015, In 1859 an essay by the philosopher John Stuart Mill, entitled On Liberty argues for toleration and individuality. If any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.BOOK, Mill, John Stuart, 1859, On Liberty, John W.Parker & Son, London, 2,weblink BOOK, Mill, John Stuart, 1864, On Liberty, Longman, Green, Longman Roberts & Green, London, 3,weblink In 1958 Two Concepts of Liberty, by Isaiah Berlin, determines 'negative liberty' as an obstacle, as evident from 'positive liberty' which promotes self-mastery and the concepts of freedom.WEB, Carter, Ian, Positive and Negative Liberty,weblink 5 March 2012, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 16 August 2015, In 1948 British representatives attempt to and are prevented from adding a legal framework to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (It was not until 1976 that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights came into force, giving a legal status to most of the Declaration.) BOOK, Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Final authorized text,weblink September 1952, The British Library, 16 August 2015,

United States

According to the 1776 United States Declaration of Independence, all men have a natural right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". But this declaration of liberty was troubled from the outset by the presence of slavery. Slave owners argued that their liberty was paramount, since it involved property, their slaves, and that Blacks had no rights that any White man was obliged to recognize. The Supreme Court, in the Dred Scott decision, upheld this principle. It was not until 1866, following the Civil War, that the US Constitution was amended to extend these rights to persons of color, and not until 1920 that these rights were extended to women.The Constitution of the United States of America, The World Almanac and book of facts (2012), pp. 485–86, Amendment XIV "Citizenship Rights not to be abridged.", Amendment XV "Race no bar to voting rights.", Amendment XIX, "Giving nationwide suffrage to women.". World Almanac Books, {{ISBN|978-1-60057-147-3}}.By the later half of the 20th century, liberty was expanded further to prohibit government interference with personal choices. 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.Griswold v. Connecticut. 381 U.S. 479 (1965) Decided June 7, 1965 Jacob M. Appel has summarized this principle:}}In modern America, various competing ideologies have divergent views about how best to promote liberty. Liberals in the original sense of the word see equality as a necessary component of freedom. Progressives stress freedom from business monopoly as essential. Libertarians disagree, and see economic freedom as best. The Tea Party movement sees big government as the enemy of freedom.Iain McLean and Alistair McMillan, Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics, 3rd edition, Oxford University Press, 2009, {{ISBN|978-0-19-920516-5}}.BOOK, Capitol Reader, Summary of Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto – Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe,weblink 21 June 2013, Primento, 978-2-511-00084-7, 9–10, NEWS, Haidt, Jonathan, 16 October 2010, What the Tea Partiers Really Want,weblink Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, Inc, 17 March 2015, BOOK, Ronald P. Formisano, The Tea Party: A Brief History,weblink 4 April 2012, JHU Press, 978-1-4214-0596-4, 72,


France supported the Americans in their revolt against English rule and, in 1789, overthrew their own monarchy, with the cry of "Liberté, égalité, fraternité". The bloodbath that followed, known as the reign of terror, soured many people on the idea of liberty. Edmund Burke, considered one of the fathers of conservatism, wrote "The French had shewn themselves the ablest architects of ruin that had hitherto existed in the world."Clark, J. C. D., Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France: a Critical Edition, 2001, Stanford. pp. 66–67, {{ISBN|0-8047-3923-4}}.



{{Liberalism sidebar}}According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics, liberalism is "the belief that it is the aim of politics to preserve individual rights and to maximize freedom of choice". But they point out that there is considerable discussion about how to achieve those goals. Every discussion of freedom depends on three key components: who is free, what they are free to do, and what forces restrict their freedom.Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics, Oxford University Press, 2009, {{ISBN|978-0-19-920516-5}}. John Gray argues that the core belief of liberalism is toleration. Liberals allow others freedom to do what they want, in exchange for having the same freedom in return. This idea of freedom is personal rather than political.John Gray, Two Faces of Liberalism, The New Press, 1990, {{ISBN|1-56584-589-7}}. William Safire points out that liberalism is attacked by both the Right and the Left: by the Right for defending such practices as abortion, homosexuality, and atheism, and by the Left for defending free enterprise and the rights of the individual over the collective.William Safire, Safire's Political Dictionary, "Liberalism takes criticism from both the right and the left,...", p. 388, Oxford University Press, 2008, {{ISBN|978-0-19534334-2}}.


{{Libertarianism sidebar}}According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, Libertarians hold liberty as their primary political value.WEB, Libertarianism,weblink Encyclopædia Britannica, 2014-05-20, libertarianism, political philosophy that takes individual liberty to be the primary political value, Their approach to implementing liberty involves opposing any governmental coercion, aside from that which is necessary to prevent individuals from coercing each other.David Kelley, "Life, liberty, and property." Social Philosophy and Policy (1984) 1#2 pp. 108–18.

Republican liberty

{{Republicanism sidebar}}According to republican theorists of freedom, like the historian Quentin SkinnerQuentin Skinner, contributor and co-editor, Republicanism: A Shared European Heritage, Volume I: Republicanism and Constitutionalism in Early Modern Europe, Cambridge University Press, 2002, {{ISBN|978-0-521-67235-1}}Quentil Skinner, contributor and co-editor, Republicanism: A Shared European Heritage, Volume II: The Values of Republicanism in Early Modern Europe Cambridge University Press, 2002, {{ISBN|978-0-521-67234-4}} or the philosopher Philip Pettit,Philip Pettit, Republicanism: a theory of freedom and government, 1997 one's liberty should not be viewed as the absence of interference in one's actions, but as non-domination. According to this view, which originates in the Roman Digest, to be a liber homo, a free man, means not being subject to another's arbitrary will, that is to say, dominated by another. They also cite Machiavelli who asserted that you must be a member of a free self-governing civil association, a republic, if you are to enjoy individual liberty.Niccolò Machiavelli, Discourses on Livy, Harvey C. Mansfield & Nathan Tarcov, translators, University of Chicago Press, 1996, {{ISBN|0-226-50036-5}}The predominance of this view of liberty among parliamentarians during the English Civil War resulted in the creation of the liberal concept of freedom as non-interference in Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan.{{citation needed|date=August 2015}}


{{Socialism sidebar}}Socialists view freedom as a concrete situation as opposed to a purely abstract ideal. Freedom is a state of being where individuals have agency to pursue their creative interests unhindered by coercive social relationships, specifically those they are forced to engage in as a requisite for survival under a given social system. Freedom thus requires both the material economic conditions that make freedom possible alongside social relationships and institutions conducive to freedom.BOOK, Bhargava, Rajeev, Political Theory: An Introduction, Pearson Education India, 2008, 255, Genuine freedom as Marx described it, would become possible only when life activity was no longer constrained by the requirements of production or by the limitations of material scarcity…Thus, in the socialist view, freedom is not an abstract ideal but a concrete situation that ensues only when certain conditions of interaction between man and nature (material conditions), and man and other men (social relations) are fulfilled., The socialist conception of freedom is closely related to the socialist view of creativity and individuality. Influenced by Karl Marx's concept of alienated labor, socialists understand freedom to be the ability for an individual to engage in creative work in the absence of alienation, where "alienated labor" refers to work people are forced to perform and un-alienated work refers to individuals pursuing their own creative interests.BOOK, Goodwin, Barbara, Using Political Ideas, Wiley, 2007, 978-0470025529, 107–09, Socialists consider the pleasures of creation equal, if not superior, to those of acquisition and consumption, hence the importance of work in socialist society. Whereas the capitalist/Calvinist work ethic applauds the moral virtue of hard work, idealistic socialists emphasize the joy. This vision of 'creative man', Homo Faber, has consequences for their view of freedom...Socialist freedom is the freedom to unfold and develop one's potential, especially through unalienated work.,


For Karl Marx, meaningful freedom is only attainable in a communist society characterized by superabundance and free access. Such a social arrangement would eliminate the need for alienated labor and enable individuals to pursue their own creative interests, leaving them to develop and maximize their full potentialities. This goes alongside Marx's emphasis on the ability of socialism and communism progressively reducing the average length of the workday to expand the "realm of freedom", or discretionary free time, for each person.BOOK, Wood, John Cunningham, Karl Marx's Economics: Critical Assessments I, Routledge, 1996, 978-0415087148, 248–49, Affluence and increased provision of free goods would reduce alienation in the work process and, in combination with (1), the alienation of man's 'species-life'. Greater leisure would create opportunities for creative and artistic activity outside of work., BOOK, Peffer, Rodney G., Marxism, Morality, and Social Justice, Princeton University Press, 2014, 9780691608884, 73, Marx believed the reduction of necessary labor time to be, evaluatively speaking, an absolute necessity. He claims that real wealth is the developed productive force of all individuals. It is no longer the labor time but the disposable time that is the measure of wealth., Marx's notion of communist society and human freedom is thus radically individualistic.Karl Marx on Equality, by Woods, Allen.weblink "A society that has transcended class antagonisms, therefore, would not be one in which some truly universal interest at last reigns, to which individual interests must be sacrificed. It would instead be a society in which individuals freely act as the truly human individuals they are. Marx's radical communism was, in this way, also radically individualistic."

Cultural prerequisites

Some authors have suggested that a virtuous culture must exist as a prerequisite for liberty. Benjamin Franklin stated that "only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."The Writings of Benjamin Franklin 569 (Albert H. Smyth ed., 1970). Madison likewise declared: "To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea."The Writings of James Madison 223 (Gaillard Hunt ed., 1904). John Adams acknowledged: "Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."John R. Howe, Jr., The Changing Political Thought of John Adams 165 (1966) (quoting from John Adams' "Reply to the Massachusetts Militia," Oct. 11, 1789).

Historical writings on liberty

See also

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  • BOOK, Breay, Claire, 2010, Magna Carta: Manuscripts and Myths, The British Library, London, UK, 978-0-7123-5833-0, harv,
  • BOOK, Breay, Claire, Harrison, Julian, Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy, The British Library, London, 2015, 978-0-7123-5764-7, harv,
  • BOOK, Danziger, Danny, Gillingham, John, 1215: The Year of Magna Carta,weblink 2004, Hodder Paperbacks, 978-0340824757, harv,

External links

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