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Positive And Negative Liberty

Uploaded by mkidd on Jan 14, 2002

The need for liberty lies deep within the very essence of the human entity. It seems that only in a state of freedom can the human being be provided with the propitious premises for a harmonious evolution. Even if the cultivation of high spiritual values and a number of great cultural, social and scientific achievements were also possible in ‘freedom-lacking’ environments, we must understand that those cases were only the exceptions to the rule and stood as testimony for the will and determination of the humanity to surpass any obstacles put in its way.

Given its overwhelming importance, the connotations of liberty have been deeply and almost exhaustively studied by philosophers, sociologists and last but not least by politicians.

First of all, what does liberty mean? It means acting in whatever way you see fit for satisfying your own interests, desires and expectations to the extent that you don’t infringe upon the very same liberties of the others. There can be no freedom without compromise, or, in other words, you cannot dispose of absolute freedom, for the others, at their turn, would no longer be bound to respecting your own and will therefore deprive you of it. So the only way liberty can be achieved is through consensus among its bearers.

Politically speaking, liberty is only possible in societies lead by a legitimate government, as Karl Jaspers accurately remarked. Legitimacy of government is a term that can comprise various meanings, out of which the most important are the legitimacy of heredity and the legitimacy of free universal vote. Both forms can be contested and are subject to well-founded doubt: while heredity can legitimate both the idiot and the vulgar, vote is partially conditioned by error and sheer occurrence, and very often it is the result of temporary mass suggestion. But given the fact that there can be only one choice between despotism and legitimacy, we must make do with any wants the latter might encompass. In our times, the most suited form of legitimacy is considered to be free universal voting.

As I stated before, the freedom of the individual is possible only to the extent it coexists with the freedom of the others. Therefore, in order to maintain his own liberty, one has to permanently respect in his own actions the liberties of the people surrounding him. But from the juridical point of view, the individual is also entitled to a very own...

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Uploaded by:   mkidd

Date:   01/14/2002

Category:   Politics

Length:   5 pages (1,031 words)

Views:   1868

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