Second thoughts on Liberty


I wanted to add some thoughts following up on an article by my friend Keating which we published yesterday, entitled: Twits tweeting away Liberty.

Keating observed that “At the core of lib800px-Sl-shadowerty is an oft forgotten, seemingly contradictory conundrum. Simply put, Liberty is something worth fighting for. It is something worth protecting.”

If we carry out a survey of history, tyranny, not liberty, appears to be the natural state of human affairs. In many respects, our recent generations in the West have experienced a degree of liberty (and equality) never previously experienced in human society. Liberty, to be maintained is worth protecting, and demands that we work to keep it.

The culture of slogans and ‘tweets’ which now dominate our media has had a dumbing down effect on our social and political discourse. Keating stated: “my point is that Liberty sides with education, the greater good and complexity, whereas oppression and intolerance and ignorance are simplistic and tweetable.” The slogans and tweets that now dominate political discussion threaten the liberties and freedoms which we in the West cherish.

Keating’s remarks are very much in the spirit of John Adams, the former president and one of America’s forefathers who had a few of his own things to say on Liberty. “Liberty”, Adams maintained “cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people.”

Liberty demands that we maintain, and seek after knowledge. It also demands that a high degree of personal responsibility be taken by the populace for their own lives and affairs. The reasons why libertarians and conservatives talk about personal responsibility, freedom of choice, and small government isn’t because they are mean and selfish and don’t want to pay taxes, and lack compassion towards the less fortunate. It also isn’t because they want to be left alone to get away with their own personal vices. It is because without remaining educated, informed and vigilant, liberty can be easily lost. While grand government welfare schemes might seem compassionate, they often erode personal responsibility, create dependence, and undermine the liberty of not just those who pay for these services, but most especially those who have become dependent on them. A people who have become too dependent on government management of their lives give away their liberty and invite tyranny to usurp their freedom. If this happens, the whole structure of Liberty is likely to collapse. And what it will be replaced with, a system with both less freedom and indeed, less equality.

Liberty is worth protecting, yet it is costly. It demands a mature, educated and self-determining populace. It must be constantly worked on in order to be maintained. Yes, liberty is worth fighting for. And now is the time to do it.