Liberty is . . .

If I am pursuing liberty it seems reasonable to try defining what “liberty” is. Let me start off by saying that I chose the name very carefully and in the years since then I have confirmed many times that I chose correctly – liberty is what I am pursuing, and nothing short of liberty will satisfy me.

The primary (top) dictionary definition of liberty is:

a. The condition of being free from restriction or control.

b. The right and power to act, believe, or express oneself in a manner of one’s own choosing.

c. The condition of being physically and legally free from confinement, servitude, or forced labor.

I would like to add my own working definition of what liberty is. Let me preface that list of what liberty is with a couple of statements of what liberty is not:

Now for what liberty is:

  • Liberty is hard work
  • Liberty is personal responsibility
  • Liberty is the freedom to make choices
  • Liberty is attainable only on an individual level
  • Liberty is compatible with all universal laws (laws of physics, laws of human nature, laws of economics, etc.)
  • Liberty is the highest goal a person could achieve

Finally I would like to state that there is no such thing as purely political liberty except in the sense that it is possible to live in a society that promotes/provides political liberty while personally making choices that curtail ones own personal liberty. This means that in order to achieve political liberty we must be willing and able to attain personal liberty in other areas of life through our use of personal choice and accountability – anything less than that is simply freedom.

4 comments for “Liberty is . . .

  1. October 5, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    I like the definitions in Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary

    • October 5, 2009 at 1:32 pm

      I really liked definition #3 Civil Liberty and as I read #4 Political Liberty I was reminded of how much we, as a nation have been overly eager to infringe on the political liberty (sovereignty) of other nations.

  2. October 7, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Webster’s definitions are very good. It is important to note that he is careful to separate individual liberty and civil liberty. These two terms are frequently conflated, leading to much confusion and miscommunication in our public intercourse.

    Economist Friedrich Hayek defined this second type of liberty as the state of many persons willingly collaborating with one another. He states that in this context, “only abstract rules of property — i.e., the rules of law — guarantee freedom.”

    We have come so far from the rule of law that we believe that Congress and the President granting to appointed officials (such as the Secretary of the Treasury or the Chairman of the Federal Reserve) broad and unchecked authority to act in an arbitrary manner to be in accordance with the rule of law.

    No charter or constitution can keep people free that do not diligently seek to preserve liberty.

    • October 7, 2009 at 8:41 pm

      Your last sentence is absolutely true – we can’t afford to forget that fact.

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