Lost Language, Lost Liberalism

A review of the changes 1880-1940 to the central semantics of liberal civilization.

Freedom  Confusions


Francis Herbert Bradley (1846 – 1924) was a British idealist philosopher. 

Francis Herbert Bradley (1846 – 1924) was a British idealist philosopher. 

Bradley, Francis Herbert. 1876. Ethical Studies. Henry S. King and Co.: London

[51] If ‘mustalways means the ‘must; of the falling stone, then ‘mustis irreconcileable with ‘oughtor ‘can.Freedom will be a bare ‘not-must,and will be purely negative.

But how if the ‘must’ is a higher ‘must’? And how if freedom is also positive—if a merely negative freedom is no freedom at all? We may find then that in true freedom the ‘can’ is not only reconcileable with, but inseparable from, the ‘ought;’ and both not only reconcileable with. but inseparable from, the ‘must.’ Is not freedom something positive? And can we give a positive meaning to freedom except by introducing a will which not only ‘can,’ but also ‘ought to’ and ‘must,’ fulfil a law of its nature, which is not the nature of the physical world.

[52] We all want freedom. Well then, what is freedom? ‘It means not being made to do or be anything. ‘Freemeans ‘free from.’’ And are we to be quite free? ‘Yes, if freedom is good, we can not have too much of it.Then, if ‘free= ‘free from, to be quite free is to be free from everything—free from other men, free from law, from morality, from thought, from sense, from—Is there anything we are not to be free from? To be free from everything is to be—nothing. Only nothing is quite free, and freedom is abstract nothingness. … Freedom now means the self-assertion which is nothing but self-assertion. It is not merely negative—it is also positive, and negative only so far as, and because, it is positive.

 

Mulford, Elisha. 1877. The Nation. Hurd and Houghton: New York.

[18n.1] There is in the same school the utter denial of the real freedom of the individual and the nation, when it aims to define freedom only in the limitations of a physical necessity, and the mind of man is regarded only as involved in the physical process of nature.

[25] Government, which is the central organization of the nation, is not an evil. Its substance is in itself good, and is implicit in the conception of the good. Law, which is the ground and expression of its authority, is in its ultimate apprehension the manifestation of the divine will, as has been said of it in imperishable words, ‘Its home is the bosom of God, and its voice is the harmony of the world.’ And freedom, which in the nation is constituted in law, is the sphere of the normal development of man. And the nation is not a mere negation, only a restriction of evil tendencies and an impediment to evil courses, as this theory assumes. It has a positive character and content. It is the manifestation of the life of the organic people, after a moral order, and in the institution of justice and of rights. It is a constructive power in history. It is not a local and temporary expedient, and its elements are not those which the scientific culture of another and a later age may set aside.

[110] The action which is merely unlimited and unrestrained is not free; the power to do whatever one lists or pleases is not freedom. The most false representation of freedom is this apprehension of it in the absence of restraint. It is then identified with mere caprice. The freedom which in this assumption is called natural freedom is unreal.

[115] The freedom of the people, or political freedom, subsists in the nation in its organic and moral unity. It is the self-determination of the people, in the nation, as a moral person. It is formed in the conscious life, and its process is in the conscious vocation of the organic people. Freedom has, apart from the nation, no positive existence. Thus among the vast populations of Asia, there is no political freedom, but only the natural freedom of man, and the term freedom can be applied to those peoples only negatively as denoting the absence of a positive system of slavery.

[117] Freedom, in the assertion of law, assumes restraint and accepts obligations in the relations of an organic and moral being, and in these there is no limitation in the sense of hindrance, or as the mere impediment to action.

[119-120] The realization of the freedom of the nation, or political freedom, is in rights. Freedom embodies itself in rights, as in rights also there is the manifestation of personality. The institution of positive rights defines in the nation the sphere of a realized freedom. … The freedom of the people as it becomes determinate establishes itself in rights…. It is only in rights that freedom is actualized in the nation; it is only in positive rights that it gains a sure foothold in its progress; they alone afford the requisite strength and security for it. In rights freedom is guarded against denial, fortified against fraud, shielded against conspiracy and surprise and sudden overthrow. In the same measure in which freedom fails to establish itself in rights, whose institution is in law, it is liable to the whim and the caprice of men, and the highest interest is left to the adjustment of changing circumstance. This secure institution and organization of freedom in positive rights is the work of the statesman. It demands the more comprehensive political sagacity. Freedom does not gain much while it is held in an ideal conception, and is left to the pages of scholars, or the rhymes of poets, or the voices of orators. These are not laws, and the condition of every advance in freedom is its assertion in laws and its organization in rights. It has in their strong guaranties alone protection against selfish interests and private aims.

 

Thomas Edward Cliffe Leslie (1826 – 1882) was an Irish economist. He was professor of jurisprudence and political economy in Queen's College, Belfast, noted for challenging the Wages-Fund doctrine and for addressing contemporary agrarian policy questions.

Thomas Edward Cliffe Leslie (1826 – 1882) was an Irish economist. He was professor of jurisprudence and political economy in Queen's College, Belfast, noted for challenging the Wages-Fund doctrine and for addressing contemporary agrarian policy questions.

Leslie, Thomas Edward Cliffe. 1879. Essays in Political and Moral Philosophy. Longmans, Green and Co.: London.

[19-20] But practical freedom involves much more than the absence of legal and social restraint; every limitation of power is an abridgement of positive liberty. A man is not free to go from Shropshire to London, or from Liverpool to New York, if the journey is too long and expensive for him; nor is he actually free to develop a powerful intellect if education lies beyond his reach. The present multiplicity of occupations, pursuits, and paths of thought, affords the requisite variety of situations; and a nominal freedom has arisen from the abolition of many feudal, municipal, and religious disabilities; but it is the facility of information and locomotion, the accessibility of books, newspapers, and places, that give real freedom to the poor.

 

Arnold, R. Arthur. 1880. Free Land. C. Kegan Paul & Co.: London.

[12] The argument of this book will be directed to securing the freedom of the soil; that is, its freedom from the operation of those laws and customs which, with injury to every class in the country, maintain an unnatural and injurious distribution of the land. … I have no objection to such a distribution of the soil if it should result from the action of laws which are most beneficial alike to the interests of proprietors and to those of the community.

[278-79] There would be quite a different administration of the Poor Law of England when free land was established and an enfranchised people ruled in all departments of local expenditure. The landowner's ability to pay would further be immensely increased by the augmented value of his land—not merely owing to comparative freedom from pauperism, but by the positive increment of value contributed by security of title and simplicity of transfer.

 

Ormond, A. T. 1880. “Agnosticism in Kant,” Princeton Review 56(Nov.): 351-382.

[376] We must postulate something. First, in order that the unqualified law of duty may be valid man must be free. He must be free not only as transcending the laws of sense which is negative freedom merely, but as subject to laws which transcend sense. Negative freedom is consistent with mere lawlessness and could not account for the fact of obligation. But positive freedom presupposes law. If man is free in the positive sense, he not only transcends the laws of sense but is subject to super-sensual laws.

 

Thomas Hill Green 1836 –1882) was an English philosopher, political radical and temperance reformer, and a member of the British idealism movement. Like all the British idealists, Green was influenced by the metaphysical historicism of G.W.F. Hegel. 

Thomas Hill Green 1836 –1882) was an English philosopher, political radical and temperance reformer, and a member of the British idealism movement. Like all the British idealists, Green was influenced by the metaphysical historicism of G.W.F. Hegel. 

Green, Thomas Hill. [1881] 1888. “Liberal Legislation and Freedom of Contract” in Works of Thomas Hill Green, Vol. III, edited by Richard Lewis Nettleship. Longmans, Green, and Co.: London.

[370-371] But when we thus speak of freedom, we should consider carefully what we mean by it. We do not mean merely freedom from restraint or compulsion. We do not mean merely freedom to do as we like irrespectively of what it is that we like. We do not mean a freedom that can be enjoyed by one man or one set of men at the cost of a loss of freedom to others. When we speak of freedom as something to be so highly prized, we mean a positive power or capacity of doing or enjoying something worth doing or enjoying, and that, too, something that we do or enjoy in common with others. We mean by it a power which each man exercises through the help or security given him by his fellow-men, and which he in turn helps to secure for them. When we measure the progress of a society by its growth in freedom, we measure it by the increasing development and exercise on the whole of those powers of contributing to social good with which we believe the members of the society to be endowed; in short, by the greater power on the part of the citizens as a body to make the most and best of themselves. Thus, though of course there can be no freedom among men who act not willingly but under compulsion, yet on the other hand the mere removal of compulsion, the mere enabling a man to do as he likes, is in itself no contribution to true freedom. In one sense no man is so well able to do as he likes as the wandering savage. He has no master. There is no one to say to him nay. Yet we do not count him really free, because the freedom of savagery is not strength, but weakness. The actual powers of the noblest savage do not admit of comparison with those of the humblest citizen of a law-abiding state. He is not the slave of man, but he is the slave of nature. Of compulsion by natural necessity he has plenty of experience, though of restraint by society none at all. Nor can he deliver himself from that compulsion except by submitting to this restraint. So to submit is the first step in true freedom, because the first step towards the full exercise of the faculties with which man is endowed.

[372] If I have given a true account of that freedom which forms the goal of social effort, we shall see that freedom of contract, freedom in all the forms of doing what one will with one's own, is valuable only as a means to an end. That end is what I call freedom in the positive sense: in other words, the liberation of the powers of all men equally for contributions to a common good. No one has a right to do what he will with his own in such a way as to contravene this end. It is only through the guarantee which society gives him that he has property at all, or, strictly speaking, any right to his possessions. This guarantee is founded on a sense of common interest.

 

William Stanley Jevons, (1835 –1882) was a British economist and logician. 

William Stanley Jevons, (1835 –1882) was a British economist and logician. 

Jevons, William Stanley. 1882. The State in Relation to Labour. Macmillan and Co.: London.

[13-14] If we are to acknowledge the existence in social affairs of any indefeasible right or absolute principle, none would seem more sacred than the principle of freedom—the right of the individual to pursue his own course towards his own ideal end. In favour of such a view, it may be said, in the first place, that happiness mainly consists in unimpeded and successful energising. Every needless check or limitation of action amounts to so much destruction of pleasurable energy, or chance of such. Not only, however, must man, in common with the brutes, suffer from endless material checks and obstacles, but he cannot enjoy the society of other men without constantly coming into conflict with them. The freedom of one continually resolves itself into the restriction of another. In any case, then, the mere fact of society existing obliges us to admit the necessity of laws, not designed, indeed, to limit the freedom of any one person, except so far as this limitation tends on the whole to the greater average freedom of all.

[15] I do not think that such interference, applying, as it would do, only to the simpler physical conditions of the body, can be said, in a reasonable point of view, to dimmish freedom. As physical conditions become more regulated, the intellectual and emotional nature of man expands ever more freely. The modern English citizen who lives under the burden of the revised edition of the Statutes, not to speak of innumerable municipal, railroad, sanitary, and other bye-laws, is after all an infinitely freer as well as nobler creature than the savage who is always under the despotism of physical want. He is far freer, too, than the poor Indian who, though perhaps unacquainted with written law, is bound down by the most inflexible system of traditional usage and superstition. It is impossible, in short, that we can have the constant multiplication of institutions and instruments of civilisation which evolution is producing, without a growing complication of relations, and a consequent growth of social regulations.

 

Thompson, Robert Ellis. 1882. Political Economy. Porter and Coates: Philadelphia.

[50-52] It is, therefore, apart from all merely ethical considerations, a wise economic policy for a nation to guard the lives and the health of its people, and to remove all artificial obstructions to the natural growth of population. It is indeed the duty correlative to its right to command their lives and persons in its own defence; but it is also the best policy, in view of both the military strength and the industrial welfare and contentment of its people. For the more people there are productively employed in any well-managed country, the greater the share of food and clothing, of necessaries and comforts, that will fall to each one of them. Whatever tends to diminish their numbers, —or, what comes to much the same thing, to lower their bodily health and strength—has also the tendency to impoverish them by diminishing their power of cooperation and association. … Thus in England the law recently passed to limit the hours of work in mills and factories for married women, received the support of nearly all that class of mill-hands. They were free to make such private contract with the mill-owner as they pleased, but in fact their freedom amounted to nothing whatever until the law required them to refuse excessive work.

 

Matthew Arnold (1822 – 1888) was a British poet and cultural critic who worked as an inspector of schools.

Matthew Arnold (1822 – 1888) was a British poet and cultural critic who worked as an inspector of schools.

Arnold, Matthew. 1883. Culture & Anarchy: An Essay in Political and Social Criticism. Macmillan and Co.: London.

[45-46] For a long time, as I have said, the strong feudal habits of subordination and deference continued to tell upon the working class. The modern spirit has now almost entirely dissolved those habits, and the anarchical tendency of our worship of freedom in and for itself, of our superstitious faith, as I say, in machinery, is becoming very manifest. More and more, because of this our blind faith in machinery, because of our want of light to enable us to look beyond machinery to the end for which machinery is valuable, this and that man, and this and that body of men, all over the country, are beginning to assert and put in practice an Englishman's right to do what he likes; his right to march where he likes, meet where he likes, enter where he likes, hoot as he likes, threaten as he likes, smash as he likes. All this, I say, tends to anarchy; and though a number of excellent people, and particularly my friends of the Liberal or progressive party, as they call themselves, are kind enough to reassure us by saying that these are trifles, that a few transient outbreaks of rowdyism signify nothing, that our system of liberty is one which itself cures all the evils which it works, that the educated and intelligent classes stand in overwhelming strength and majestic repose, ready, like our military force in riots, to act at a moment’s notice.

 

Gronlund, Laurence. 1884. The Cooperative Commonwealth. Lee and Shepaud: Boston.

[101] Liberty is a negative term; the glorious English word ‘freedom’ is positive. There is the same difference between ‘libertyand ‘freedomas between ‘rightand ‘might,between ‘fictionand ‘fact,between ‘shadowand ‘substance.

Freedomis something substantial. A man who is ignorant is not free. A man who is a tramp is not free. A man who sees his wife and children starving is not free. A man who must toil twelve hours a day in order to vegetate is not free. A man who is full of cares is not free. A wage-worker, whether laborer or clerk, who every day for certain hours must be at the beck and call of a ‘master,is not free.

 

Miller, William Galbraith. 1884. Lectures on the Philosophy of Law. Charles Griffin and Co.: London.

[179-180] While negatively the state must protect the citizen from external force, it may positively assist him to higher freedom when necessary. On the one hand it would secure order, with freedom as the ultimate end in view; and on the other it would promote freedom, which involves order. The state, being an assemblage of conscious moral beings, is itself a conscious and moral being. It has an ethical and spiritual, as well as a physical side. And the philosophy which would confine the state to the functions of a policeman ignores altogether its ethical and spiritual side. … It is this idea of the state which justifies our poor laws. The state (in the widest sense of the word) has brought those persons into existence for its own purposes, and it is bound to see that they do not starve, while it insists on able-bodied men working for their own support, and so adding to the wealth of the community.

[219-220] It is obvious that the struggle between the supporters and opponents of the principle of laissez-faire is merely another example of the opposition between form and matter, to which I have again and again referred. The legal mind tends to support contracts if they are formally correct. If a human being has a spark of self-consciousness, give him freedom of contract and it will do the rest. … And we ourselves, at the end of the nineteenth century, are only now awakening to the fact that freedom of contract is not much more than a theory. If the matter is closely looked into, it will be found there has been not only much less freedom of contract, but much less contract than is generally supposed to be the case.

 

Montague, Francis C. 1885. The Limits of Individual Liberty. Rivingtons: London.

[3-4] The only proper function of the state is to secure that order within and without which is indispensable if every man is to have an equal chance of doing what he likes. Society exists in order to make the individual free. Once the individual finds himself free, he will develop everything which civilization requires… This doctrine may be called the doctrine of negative freedom… At the present day political and social perfection seem nearly as remote as ever; the ideal which we were about to clasp has melted in our embrace; and we begin to doubt whether the way of seeking after it, once so universally approved, was the only way or the best. For a century of enlarged individual freedom has done for human greatness or human happiness only a very small part of what its noblest advocates expected

[5-6] And for the temper which men cherish towards their society, this temper has been mellowed in England by the habit of emigration, and by legislation which habitually transgresses the principle of laissez-faire; but elsewhere people hitherto seem to have grown more and more discontented as they have attained to more and more freedom.

[7] Our modern Socialism expresses the practical revolt against the doctrine of negative freedom.

[15] If we are indeed enslaved, we have been enslaved of our own free will. The prime occasion of our encroachment upon individual freedom lay in the necessity of organizing some mode of civilized life for the artisans and laboureres crowded together in great multitudes, which made all voluntary action fruitless, and under circumstances which rendered their subsistence more that usually precarious.

[18] The theory of freedom is the theory of the relation sitting between the individual and society.

[49-50] For the doctrine of negative freedom, the doctrine that it is of sovereign virtue for every man, so far as is possible, to do what he likes, the doctrine that we form character by following inclination, rests on a deep-seated doubt as to whether truth and certainty exist at all, and on a deep-seated conviction that the surest good is pleasure, which everybody is likely to pursue of his own accord… Many Liberals of that time wished to apply the fashionable economic principles to the whole of life.

[122] But we must not forget that the old slavery was natural and that the new freedom has been purchased by obedience. In the sphere of science the attempt to liberate our intelligence corresponds to the attempt to liberate our wills in the sphere of action. In either case we obtain freedom only through an arduous discipline. The freedom which we desire is not freedom to do whatever we like, nor freedom to think as we like; but rather freedom from instinct, freedom from our thoughtless natural propensities. This freedom is not freedom to be eccentric. Nor can it be acquired by giving the rein to our eccentricities. Eccentricity is the very thing from which we would be free; what we above all things desire is to be at the center.

[182] Freedom as the complete emancipation of the individual from all social influence is thus an utter impossibility. Happily it is also quite undesirable; the only freedom worth having is the freedom of him who can either control or satisfy all his desires. Complete fruition of such freedom is not granted to any man here below, but it is only in society that it can be enjoyed at all; and freedom, in the common sense of that term, freedom from the bonds of law or of public opinion, is good only in so far as it helps man to attain that other freedom which is an end in itself, the end of all social organization.

Society exists only in a tempered mixture of constraint and licence. Where the individual has no choice in his actions, there will be no society; for where there is no individual will, there is no joint will; where the individual is free to do whatever he pleases, there is no society, for there can be no organization. The society best organized for the highest purposes is the freest society, and since the best organization is always relative to the character and circumstances of the persons organized, the desirable quantity of freedom from restraint is always relative to that character and to those circumstances. Any one who asks how much freedom is good for men, really asks how much freedom is good for his contemporaries and countrymen, and this question the statesman, rather than the philosopher, is bound to answer.

[183] Publicists no longer talk of man’s natural freedom, no longer attempt to establish an absolute measure of freedom for all times, countries, and peoples. They do not assume any abstract right to freedom. Allowing that no man has a right to anything save to that which is really good for him, they content themselves with trying to ascertain those principles which underlie all beneficial freedom and make it beneficial. This was the course adopted by Mr. Mill in his celebrated essay on Liberty. But it seems to me that he and many other authors of less ability and reputation occasionally lost sight of their admitted first premiss, and, whilst they advocated freedom on the ground of expediency, were not unbiassed by the doctrine of a former generation which asserted freedom as man's natural and indefeasible right.

 

Hickok, Laurens Perseus. 1885. A System of Moral Science. Ginn, Heath, and Co.: Boston.

[118] The duty is made plain by the distinct declaration of the law. Where ignorance might hesitate from its weak apprehension, the law speaks clearly; where practical principles are equivocal, the law expresses them distinctly and definitely; where practice must have some standard, and which from the nature of the case might be any one of many methods, the law directly settles which and how. Statute law, thus, in all practical measures, gives clearness to duty beyond what the reason in pure morality would supply. The state must legislate, and by legislation it meets the want of social freedom.

 

Politicus. 1886. New Social Teachings. Kegan Paul, Trench, and Co.: London.

[131-132] This is the conception which, in the commercial aspects, to which we will confine ourselves, is denoted by the phrase ‘freedom of contract.’ Let us apply this doctrine to the Irish landlord and tenant again. It claims for each, in the name of freedom, the right to make such bargain as he pleases, the consequent result of rent to landlord and profit to tenant being honestly theirs, with, perhaps, the proviso that no deception shall have been practised to obtain the result. We, then, have gained a morally right result. What is the actual result? As before stated, simply to hand over to the landlord the whole produce of the family labour, minus only that which is absolutely essential for bare subsistence. Poverty and ignorance have driven the tenant into substantial slavery, in which state ‘freedom of contractmeans freedom for the landlord to take whatever it is for his pecuniary interest to take. … Individualism in commerce means that whatever is gainable by competition is honestly mine, and that any interference with the freedom so to gain is dishonesty. The result we see to be that gross injustice results.

[137] We have stated the claim of Individualism to be that it alone (1) secures freedom; (2) is honest between the various members of a community; and (3), freedom and honesty being necessary to progress in civilization, it alone can secure that end. We find that a further State interference than Individualism will allow, even in its illogical moments, may (1) result in a larger freedom than laisser-faire would secure; may (2) give a higher honesty; and (3) may thus be the most direct path to a self-reliant humanity, and, generally, to progress in all the ends of civilization.

[161] We have seen that the Individualist denies the right of his fellows to limit his freedom, excepting so far as may be necessary to secure the like freedom to him. The aim is to preserve the individual for himself, and, possessing this greatest freedom of self-disposal, his conscience must determine how far he will sacrifice himself to the welfare of others.

 

Foxwell, Herbert Somerton. 1886. Irregularity of Employment and Fluctuations of Prices. Co-operative Printing Company Ltd.: Edinburgh.

[93] The almost complete anarchy of individualism through which we passed in the first half of this century may have been, hideous as it was, an essential stage in the evolution of society, —the travailing which was to give birth to the new era. We may go further, and admit that the principle may be held to imply a positive truth, which is truth in all ages. Individual freedom, when it is not exercised to the injury of others, is itself a social good of the highest importance. And were individual freedom unduly fettered by public control, that ‘tendency to variation,’ as the biologists call it, might be checked, which, in social as in organic life, is the first condition of development.

All this is true. But there is no greater mistake than to suppose that a mere negative policy of noninterference will secure general freedom to individuals. All it secures is the freedom of the strong to prey on the weak. The whole criminal law is a recognition of this fact. While, then, we must be careful that public control is not unintelligently and excessively applied, so as to destroy more freedom than it creates, it remains true that, in some form or other, reorganisation is emphatically the business of the present age, and that the strong prejudice in favour of a blind negative principle like laissez faire can do little but put obstructions in the way.

 

John Bascom (1827 – 1911) was an American professor, college president and writer.

John Bascom (1827 – 1911) was an American professor, college president and writer.

Bascom, John. 1887. Sociology. G. P. Putnams Sons: New York.

[158-159] Law must aim, under the moral sense, not only at justice between citizen and citizen, class and class, as the state finds them, but also, as a second effort, at a perpetual renewal of all the conditions of free, full, fair action between men, as these have been narrowed or unfavorably altered by the successes and defeats of the past.

 

Ritchie, David George. 1887. “The Political Philosophy of the Late Thomas Green,” Contemporary Review 51(Jun.): 841-851.

[849-850] Now it is obvious that freedom in this sense as the ideal end of the State is very different from the ‘freedom’ to which Locke considered that man had a ‘natural rightin which a well-managed State ought to secure him. This freedom is the mere negative freedom of being left alone, and corresponds to the generic sense of freedom in morals. It is a mere means to the attainment of the freedom which is itself an end. This distinction shows what Green's attitude to the questions about State-action and laissez faire was likely to be. State-action, he holds, is expedient just in so far as it tends to promote ‘freedomin the sense of self-determined action directed to the objects of reason, inexpedient so far as it tends to interfere with this. … But, on the other hand, there is no a priori presumption in favour of a general policy of laissez faire, because in a vast number of cases the individual does not find himself in a position in which he can act ‘freely(i.e., direct his action to objects which reason assigns as desirable) without the intervention of the State to put him in such a position—e.g., by ensuring that he shall have at least some education. Terms like ‘freedom,’ ‘compulsion,’ ‘interference,are very apt to be misleading. As Green points out, “‘compulsory educationneed not be ‘compulsoryexcept to those who have no spontaneity to be deadened” and it is “not as a purely moral duty on the part of a parent, but as the prevention of a hindrance to the capacity for rights on the part of children, that education should be enforced by the State.” The ‘interferencemay be interference in behalf of individual liberty—even in the negative sense of liberty. So also, when interference with ‘freedom of contractis spoken of, we must consider not only those who are interfered with, but those whose freedom is increased by that interference.

 

Lacy, George. 1888. Liberty and Law. Swan Sonnenschein, Lowrey and Co.: London.

[128-130] ‘Free competition’ is only possible by the aid of that ‘freedom of contractwhich political economists and individualists hold to be the one panacea by which society is to be held together. We are told that if it is interfered with there will be an end to all industry. More, indeed, than this, for we are assured that the State will be practically disintegrated, and a condition of anarchy will presumably ensue. Let us then look a little at this wonderful nostrum. At the very first glance it is seen to be a complete delusion. For what is meant by freedom of contract, and what are the essentials to it? It must be perfectly obvious that the primary essential to freedom of contract between two individuals is that they must both be in similar positions in respect of the necessity, or otherwise, of entering into the contract. If to one it is a matter of indifference whether he enter into it or not, and to the other a matter of the greatest importance, it is manifest that that equality of circumstances necessary to equal freedom does not exist. To the extent of the greater or less importance to the one party of concluding the contract, to that extent is he compelled by his circumstances to conclude it. As applied to this transaction, therefore, freedom of contract is an absolute contradiction in terms. For the one party can demand his own terms, and the other is constrained to accept them. Freedom of contract is thus only possible between those whose circumstances are absolutely, or at furthest proximately, identical. The meaning of the expression is distinctly that both parties to it must be equally free to enter or to abstain. No other significance can be possibly attached to it. Although we may make believe to conjure with such terms as ‘equal,and ‘freedom,we must, when pushed to the point, acknowledge that they have each a special meaning, and cannot be applied to more than one idea. … This vaunted ‘freedom of contract,is therefore neither more nor less than the freedom to starve, and it is the grossest hypocrisy to apply such a term as freedom to it. It is distinctly a matter of coercion, without the remotest element of freedom whatever.

[155-156] In like manner, if the manufacturer has unrestrained freedom to exact his own terms, to work his hands so long as he pleases, in as insanitary conditions as he pleases, and with as dangerous machinery as he pleases, he holds power of life and death over his employés. If the shipowner has full freedom to send rotten and dangerously loaded ships to sea, he holds the same power. All such freedom is the slavery of others. The freedom of the ground-landlord to crowd insanitary dwellings on his land; the freedom of the building-lease owner to build rickety unwholesome houses, and to demand his own rent; the freedom of usurers to demand their own interest; the freedom of brewers and distillers to make and sell poison; even the freedom of the butcher and baker to exact their own prices for the necessaries of life, all come under the same head. It is one gigantic system of the compulsion of the weak by the strong.

[160-161] Thus even if Liberalism ever had a sincere desire for general freedom, which I maintain that the evidence does not warrant, it defeats its own end. It may have freed large numbers of people from the power of the landlords but it has only done so in order to step into the landlords shoes—for whether or no it had that special intention, it has done so in fact. In place of an aristocracy it has created a plutocracy, and though the latter has undoubtedly done immensely more for civilisation than the former, in that it has created wealth which by more judicious distribution might be of inestimable value to mankind, yet the actual organisation it has effected is not a whit better than that which preceded it. … There is no more real freedom from restraints now than there was before the Liberal party came into being. Many disabilities have been removed, but in place of them have been substituted innumerable restraints, which owe their existence solely to the nature of capitalism and could have none under any other system.

[162-163] Compulsion is everywhere, and the only freedom is that if the ways of the trade are not complied with it can be left. The freedom then is not the freedom to do or to refrain in every particular case, but the freedom to do or refrain in respect of the cumulative demands of a particular class. But in the case of small traders and wage-earners, who have to get a living by their own personal efforts, this freedom finally resolves itself into the freedom to do, not one particular thing, but a large class of things, or to starve.

 

Kirkup, Thomas. 1888. An Inquiry into Socialism. Longmans, Green and Co.: London.

[155-156] It is very generally assumed that socialism would involve a great curtailment of individual freedom. … Now nothing can be more certain than that under the present system the freedom of the mass of men is merely nominal. If attained at all, it can be attained only at the expense of security, at the risk of sacrificing the means of subsistence; it is a choice of working under the prescribed conditions, which are frequently unhealthy, degrading and dangerous, or of starving. Not seldom there is no choice at all, but compulsory starvation and the wretchedness of pauperism. … Such freedom is a mockery and delusion. There can be no substantial or desirable freedom that is not based on economic security, on the possession of a home, and on well-established means of subsistence and of cultivation both of body and mind.

[156] Our present system of industrial relations is in theory regulated by free contract. In a country where land and capital are virtually the monopoly of a class, there must be a vast multitude of contracts that are only nominally free. When land is required for building or industrial purposes, the landholder can exact his own terms; the contract is not free. … He has to deal with a powerful monopolist for that which is to him essential and indispensable. Scarcely anywhere or at any time, even with the unrestricted right of combination, does the workman meet the capitalist on equal terms.

[184] Like the democracy, socialism aims at the realisation of freedom for the mass of mankind; not the negative freedom of laissez-faire, but a substantial, well-ordered freedom; not the one-sided and delusive freedom of individualism, but one that has regard to the economic and social needs of man; freedom under moral and economic conditions suited to the fuller and more harmonious development of human beings; freedom wedded to moral law, to art and knowledge.

 

Richard Burdon Haldane (1856 –  1928), was an influential British Liberal Imperialist and later Labour politician, lawyer and philosopher. He was Secretary of State for War between 1905 and 1912 during which time the "Haldane Reforms" were implemented.

Richard Burdon Haldane (1856 –  1928), was an influential British Liberal Imperialist and later Labour politician, lawyer and philosopher. He was Secretary of State for War between 1905 and 1912 during which time the "Haldane Reforms" were implemented.

Haldane, R. B. 1888. “The Liberal Party and its Prospects,” The Contemporary Review 53(1): 145-160.

[154] The great error which has been made, and which has led to much of the popularity of what is currently called Socialism…has been its identification with the bare fact of a departure from the principles of laissez faire… The truth is, that it is not a mere departure from the principle of laissez faire which sensible people mean when they object to propositions as Socialistic of economically unsound! Such departures are even recognized as essential for the promotion of real freedom between contrasting parties.

 

Richmond, Wilfrid John. 1888. Christian Economics. E. P. Dutton and Co.: New York.

[267-268] Freedom was the keynote of the gospel of Political Economy as preached by Adam Smith. This freedom was the freedom of production, industry, and trade from the artificial restraints of law, from those restraints, especially, which were dictated by the false idea that money, the means of the exchange of wealth, was wealth itself, and which, under this idea, enriched a certain number of traders at the expense of the general prosperity of the community. What was demanded was, that law should leave the economic machine to work by itself: the result was anticipated that there would be a great increase in the amount of wealth produced, and in the prosperity of the community at large.

We have to set forth a new demand, that the economic motive should be set free from any restraints which are imposed upon it in the working of the economic machinery, free to attain the result at which it really aims, happiness in the enjoyment of wealth. Wealth is its end—not the production of wealth only, but its just use, and its right enjoyment—wealth, as it contributes to the well-being of those who produce it. This freedom differs from the other in two respects. It is not merely negative—the removal of restraints; it is freedom to do something—to enjoy. Again, it is human; it is freedom, not for a system only, but for men. This freedom of enjoyment it is the aim of economic morals to secure. A mans duty in regard to wealth may be said to be so to act as to forward its highest enjoyment. Wealth reaches its end in being enjoyed.

 

Sidney James Webb (1859 – 1947) was a British socialist, economist, reformer and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. He was one of the early members of the Fabian Society in 1884, along with George Bernard Shaw.

Sidney James Webb (1859 – 1947) was a British socialist, economist, reformer and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. He was one of the early members of the Fabian Society in 1884, along with George Bernard Shaw.

Webb, Sidney. 1889. “The Historic Basis of Socialism” Fabian Essays in Socialism edited by G. Bernard Shaw. The Fabian Society: London.

[41] Women working half naked in the coal mines; young children dragging trucks all day in the foul atmosphere of the underground galleries; infants bound to the loom for fifteen hours in the heated air of the cotton mill, and kept awake only by the overlooker’s lash; hours of labor for all, young and old, limited only by the utmost capabilities of physical endurance; complete absence of the sanitary provisions necessary to a rapidly growing population: these and other nameless iniquities will be found recorded as the results of freedom of contract and complete laisser faire in the impartial pages of successive blue-book reports. But the Liberal mill-owners of the day, aided by some of the political economists, stubbornly resisted every attempt to interfere with their freedom to use ‘theircapital and ‘theirhands as they found most profitable, and (like their successors to-day) predicted of each restriction as it arrived that it must inevitably destroy the export trade and deprive them of all profit whatsoever.

 

Clarke, William. 1889. “The Industrial Basis of Socialism” Fabian Essays in Socialism edited by G. Bernard Shaw. The Fabian Society: London.

[86-87] Capitalism is becoming impersonal and cosmopolitan. And the combinations controlling production become larger and fewer. Baring’s are getting hold of the South African diamond fields: A few companies control the whole anthracite coal produce of Pennsylvania. Each one of us is quite ‘freeto ‘competewith these gigantic combinations, as the Principality of Monaco is ‘freeto go to war with France should the latter threaten her interests. The mere forms of freedom remain; but monopoly renders them nugatory. The modern State, having parted with the raw material of the globe, cannot secure freedom of competition to its citizens; and yet it was on the basis of free competition that capitalism rose. Thus we see that capitalism has cancelled its original principle—is itself negating its own existence.

[98] Now what does this examination of trusts show? That, granted private property in the raw material out of which wealth is created on a huge scale by the new inventions which science has placed in our hands, the ultimate effect must be the destruction of that very freedom which the modern democratic State posits as its first principle. Liberty to trade, liberty to exchange products, liberty to buy where one pleases, liberty to transport one's goods at the same rate and on the same terms enjoyed by others, subjection to no imperium in imperio: these surely are all fundamental democratic principles. Yet by monopolies every one of them is either limited or denied. Thus capitalism is apparently inconsistent with democracy as hitherto understood. The development of capitalism and that of democracy cannot proceed without check on parallel lines. Rather are they comparable to two trains approaching each other from different directions on the same line. Collision between the opposing forces seems inevitable.

 

Bernard Bosanquet (1848 – 1923) was an English philosopher and political theorist, and an influential figure on matters of political and social policy in late 19th and early 20th century Britain. His work influenced – but was later subject to criticism by – many thinkers, notably Bertrand Russell, John Dewey and William James.

Bernard Bosanquet (1848 – 1923) was an English philosopher and political theorist, and an influential figure on matters of political and social policy in late 19th and early 20th century Britain. His work influenced – but was later subject to criticism by – many thinkers, notably Bertrand Russell, John Dewey and William James.

Bosanquet, Bernard. 1889. Essays and Addresses. Swan Sonnenschein and Co.: London.

[103] Nothing is more shallow, more barbarously irrational, than to regard the progress of civilization as the accumulation of restrictions. Laws and rules are a necessary aspect of extended capacities. Every power that we gain has a positive nature, and therefore involves positive conditions, and every positive condition has negative relations. To accomplish a particular purpose you must go to work in a particular way, and in no other way. To complain of this is like complaining of a house because it has a definite shape. If freedom means absence of attributes, empty space is ‘freer’ than any edifice. Of course a house may be so ugly that we may say we would rather have none at all.

 

Richard Theodore Ely (1854 – 1943) was an American economist, author, and leader of the Progressive movement who called for more government intervention, especially regarding factory conditions, compulsory education, child labor, and labor unions. 

Richard Theodore Ely (1854 – 1943) was an American economist, author, and leader of the Progressive movement who called for more government intervention, especially regarding factory conditions, compulsory education, child labor, and labor unions. 

Ely, Richard T. 1889. An Introduction to Political Economy. Chautauqua Press: New York.

[35-36] Take the one economic factor of labor. It is found in a condition of slavery, in a condition of serfdom, and in a condition of free contract. But these are only names for the three general conditions in which labor has been found, and within each one of these conditions there has been a multitude of changes. Slavery has assumed a vast variety of forms, some extremely harsh and some extremely mild, with almost infinite gradations between the two extremes. Serfdom at times appears as harsh as slavery, and it is also found in forms which differ little from freedom, and which are doubtless in some respects superior to the condition of the ordinary laborer who is free to make his own bargains, or who, as we say, lives under the regime of free contract. Free contract in its turn means many different things: sometimes, indeed, the oppression by the employee of the one who employs labor, but oftener the practical dependence of the laborer on account of the pressure of economic necessity; at times, indeed, a dependence which virtually amounts to slavery, as has been seen in the case of tailors in London employed by so-called ‘sweaters,or small contractors, who have reduced their workmen to such a condition that perhaps a dozen have only one coat among them, and they are kept prisoners in the dens where they work.

 

Lilly, William Samuel. 1889. A Century of Revolution. Chapman and Hall: London.

[36] The only legitimate limit to the freedom of each is that which is necessary for the equal freedom of all. … This is no a priori abstract idea, such as that wherewith the maker of paper constitutions starts, when he sets himself to build up his house of cards. It is a principle, which is the most concrete thing in the world; the quintessence of the facts from which it is deduced; the very law of their succession and connection as manifested in their working.

[37-38] We may say then, as the result of our argument, that Liberty [is] freedom from constraint in the action of our faculties; that, considered in its end, it is the exercise of personality; that its indispensable condition is a certain stage of intellectual and spiritual development…in which a man shall be capable of tending consciously towards the realization of personality; and that the law of its tendency is moral. ‘When we measure the progress of a society by its growth in freedom,’ the late Professor Green has well observed, ‘we measure it by the increasing development and exercise, on the whole, of those powers of contributing to social good… Freedom, in all the forms of doing what one will with one's own, is valuable only as a means to an end. That end is what I call freedom in the positive sense: in other words, the liberation of the powers of all men, equally, for contributions to a common good.’

This is real freedom. This is the only liberty worthy of that august name. This rational liberty all social institutions and political machinery should subserve; and they are of value only in proportion as they do subserve it.

 

Anonymous. 1889. “French and English Jacobism,” The Quarterly Review 168(336): 532-558.

[535] But, at the outset, we are confronted with another question: what do we mean by human liberty? Shall we, with Mr. Herbert Spencer, take ‘real freedom’ to ‘consist in the ability of each to carry on his own life without hindrance from others, so long as he does not hinder them?Surely that is a most inadequate conception of ‘real freedom.For such freedom is merely negative. It has no root in itself. It is the freedom of the wild beast, the savage; physical, not rational; chaotic, not constructive. Real freedom, positive liberty, means a great deal more than that: it means the possession of an interior rule, of a moral curb. It is the endowment which specially distinguishes the civilized man. It is the peculiar product, the chief object of polity. …

Freedom,writes the late Professor Green, ‘forms the true goal of social effort. … The ideal of true freedom is the maximum of power for all members of human society alike to make the best of themselves. … That end is what I call freedom in the positive sense: in other words, the liberation of the powers of all men, equally, for contributions to a common good. …When we speak of freedom as something to be so highly prized, we mean a positive power or capacity of doing or enjoying, something worth doing or enjoying, and that, too, something which we do or enjoy in common with others.

This is ‘real freedom,as we account of it.

 

Ernest Belfort Bax (1854 – 1926) was an English socialist journalist and philosopher, associated with the Social Democratic Federation (SDF).

Ernest Belfort Bax (1854 – 1926) was an English socialist journalist and philosopher, associated with the Social Democratic Federation (SDF).

Bax, Ernest Belfort. 1891. Outlooks from the New Standpoint. Swan Sonnenschein and Co.: London.

[66] What is the crucial distinction between Liberalism or Radicalism and Socialism? This is a question very often asked. That they are actually often opposed is not to be denied. But the general opinion among advanced Liberals seems to be that Liberalism, if its principles are thoroughly carried out, is not in any necessary conflict with Socialism. We propose to examine this position with special reference to the economic basis respectively of Liberalism and Socialism. The Liberal party has always claimed to be the party of progress, to be the exponent of the progressive lines of social and political development at a given epoch, and, as such, to be opposed to the party of reaction. This may be termed the negative side of Liberal theory, and so long as it maintains this attitude as the party in the vanguard of progress, it must necessarily become identical with Socialism—i.e., from the standpoint of Socialists. But here comes the crux. If Liberalism becomes identified with Socialism, it surrenders bodily all that has hitherto formed the positive side of its theory, and, indeed, what has hitherto given it the reason of its being. It has up till now placed the freedom of the individual as the professed aim of all its measures, and as its basal principle. But does not Socialism also aim at the freedom of the individual we shall be asked? Certainly. But the question is, what do Liberals (for the most part) understand by their freedom of the individual, or individual liberty, and why have they always made it such a strong point in their political faith? The answer is, they meant by individual liberty, first and foremost, the liberty of private property as such, to be uncontrolled in its operations by aught else than the will of the individual possessing it. What was cared for was not so much the liberty of the individual as the liberty of private property. The liberty of the individual as such was secondary. It was as the possessor and controller of property that it was specially desired to assure his liberty. Indeed, in the extreme form of  ‘Liberal’ theory and practice, as embodied in modern legislation, the individual appears merely as the adjunct of property.

[69-70] But I shall hope to show, further, that progress has now turned a corner, so to speak; that the removal of all hindrances to the acquirement of wealth other than what is based upon conscious fraud or open force; that the absolute right of the individual over the property he has acquired or inherited—in short, that security and freedom in the tenure of private property is no longer synonymous with individual liberty, but often with its opposite; that individual liberty now demands the curtailment and the eventual extinction of the liberty of private property, and that Liberalism, in so far as it aims at maintaining the liberty of private property, is reactionary and false to the principle which it has always implicitly or explicitly maintained, of the right of each and every individual to a full and free development. In so far as Liberalism does this, in so far as it assumes as axiomatic a state of society based on unrestricted freedom of private property, and proceeds to adjust social arrangements solely or primarily in the interests of the owners of private property—in so far, Liberalism and Socialism are death enemies. Liberalism has been negatively described by Sir Henry James as being alike opposed to Toryism and Democracy, and this is, I think, no unfair description of Liberalism during this century. Liberalism has historically opposed itself alike to Toryism, landed interest, and democracy, working-class interest, whenever that interest appeared as a distinct political party. It has been the political creed of the middle-classes, which has used the war-shout of individual liberty as a means for the acquirement of individual property. The individual liberty now desired by the Socialist is the liberty of the individual as man, and no longer his liberty as mere property-holder.

[77] Liberalism was therefore now entering upon a new phase. The middle-class was beginning to see that its interest lay in a fuller carrying-out of its ground-principles, rather than as heretofore in their merely tentative and limited application. The working-man, like everyone else, must be freed from artificial restraints in the acquirement of wealth, must be allowed free liberty to make what contract he pleased; this was the claim, at least, of the more advanced section of the party. He must be made equal before the law. Now the working-man for a long time heeded the music of the Liberal syren. Chartism went to pieces. The new Liberalism carried all before it.

[78-79] Now the Socialist, in contradistinction to the Liberal, recognises to the full this contradiction between the two individualisms, the individualism which centres in personal property, and to which Socialism is opposed, and the individualism which presupposes the abolition of private property, at all events in the means of production, and which is identical with Socialism. He sees that the first is a purely abstract and formal individualism which sacrifices the real freedom of the individual to his merely nominal freedom. He finds that the workman is the slave of economic forces beyond his control, and that the way of real freedom for the individual, as for the society, lies in a revolution in economic condition which must involve the negation of the liberty of private property.

[86-87] The great thing which now oppresses men is, not the privilege of status, but the privilege of wealth. It is not the legal position into which a man is born that weighs him down, it is the contract he is compelled to make of his own free choice (if you will excuse the ‘bull’). Progress therefore on the old lines of individual freedom before the law has plainly reached, or is fast reaching, an impasse beyond which it is impossible, and would be useless if it were possible, to go. Liberal individualism is therefore played out. Progress towards freedom, in short, has, as I said at the beginning of this lecture, ‘turned a corner.Its old position has landed it in a contradiction, inasmuch as the attainment of the maximum of formal liberty has produced a maximum of real slavery. Free contract under a system of unrestricted individual property holding has strangled liberty. We are to-day struggling with this fell contradiction. To suppress one of its terms is impossible.

 

Bax, Ernest Belfort. 1891. The Religion of Socialism. Swann Sonnenschein and Co.: London.

[34] In the present day the abstract, the nominal freedom of the individual is complete. But individualism has no sooner shaken itself free from the supports which, though they may have cumbered it in its advance, yet did at least keep it from falling; it has no sooner completely realised itself, than its death-knell is rung, and it finds itself strangled by the very economical revolution which had rendered its existence possible. For that revolution which has brought about an absolute separation of classes, has deprived the one class of all individuality whatever, albeit their abstract freedom still remains to mock them.

 

Gunton, George. 1891. Principles of Social Economics. G. P. Putnams Sons: New York.

[417-418] The contention that trades unions destroy the right of individual contract and limit the laborer’s freedom has a plausible seeming, but it is singularly superficial. If it be true that combination destroys the freedom of the laborer, why does it not also destroy that of the capitalist. It will hardly be contended that capitalists who have steadily integrated into larger and larger combinations are less free than formerly; one great complaint against them is that they are having too much freedom. It is true that labor combinations have steadily increased during the last fifty years, and it is equally true that the laborersindustrial, social, and political freedom has increased more during that period than ever before.

[419] The mistake in this attitude arises from a misconception of what constitutes freedom. As already observed, freedom does not consist in the negative permission to do but in the positive power of actual doing. The essence of freedom is power, and the source of economic and social power is wealth. Nothing can furnish the motive to associate but the fact that association increases the power to obtain desired objects. The history of freedom is the history of progress, and the history of progress is the history of industrial, social, and political integration or combination. Every movement towards freedom is a movement towards greater economic and social interdependence between individuals. Interdependence involves mutual helpfulness, which in turn furnishes security of rights and the maximum freedom of action. The difference between freedom furnished by savagery and that secured by society is that the former affords the freedom to injure while the latter gives freedom only to help our fellow-man, and thereby benefit ourselves. If trades unions were inimical to the laborers’ freedom we should find more individuality and freedom among unorganized than among organized laborers. The facts, however, are everywhere the reverse. … It is not correct therefore, either theoretically or historically, that labor combinations tend to destroy the laborersfreedom.

 

Ritchie, David George. 1891. Principles of State Interference. Swan Sonnenschein and Co.: London.

[92] The head of the household, if left to himself to act ‘like the Cyclops’ in patriarchal manner, might exercise his patria potestas in a way which would interfere with the just liberty—i.e. what we have come, or are coming, to regard as the just liberty—of wife, children, and servants. The State steps in to protect them by direct legislation, or by sanctioning legal remedies against the exercise of customary privileges with which in the good old days it would never have dared to meddle, or dreamt of meddling. The trades guilds exercised an authority over individuals to which the State has gradually put an end. The State has restrained religious bodies from exercising the control they wished over the opinions and conduct of individuals. We are beginning to find out that the powers of gas and water companies, and the relations between landlord and tenant, between employer and employed, nay, even between parent and child, frequently need State interference in the interest of individual freedom. Yet all these various subordinate associations of men contribute their share to the formation of that vague totality which we call ‘public opinion.’

 

John Dewey (1859 – 1952) was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. Dewey is one of the primary figures associated with philosophy of pragmatism and is considered one of the founders of functional psychology.

John Dewey (1859 – 1952) was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. Dewey is one of the primary figures associated with philosophy of pragmatism and is considered one of the founders of functional psychology.

Dewey, John. 1891. Outlines of a Critical Theory of Ethics. Register Publishing Co.: Ann Arbor, MI.

[158] Negative Aspect of Freedom. The Power to be governed in action by the thought of some end to be reached is freedom from the appetites and desires.

 

Ritchie, David George. 1895. Natural Rights. Swann Sonnenschein and Co.: London.

[138] It would be easy to multiply examples of the ambiguities of the words ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom.’ …The ‘libertiesof corporations, classes, or individuals, mean their special privileges, and thus involve considerable interference with the ‘libertyof the non- privileged. ‘Freedom of contractmay result in a practical bondage of one of the parties to the other.

[147] A few strong, well-armed men might be quite willing that every one should have an equal right to kill and plunder; but this willingness of the brigand to adopt the formula of Mr. Herbert Spencer would not (in the judgment of most persons) justify a settled modern society in going back to

‘the good old rule . . . the simple plan,
That they should take who have the power,
And they should keep who can.’

The principle of equal freedom, if taken as the ultimate basis on which the fabric of law and government is to be built up, would either compel a complete abstinence from all action on the part of every individual—that would be one way of every one having an equal right to do everything,—or it would mean the equal right of every one to do everything in the sense of Hobbes, i.e. the war of all against all.

 

Mackenzie, John Stuart. 1895. An Introduction to Social Philosophy. Macmillan and Co.: New York.

[321n.2] Cf. Bryce’s American Commonwealth, Vol. 1II., p. 545, where it is pointed out that the freedom of American life does not lead to variety. On the other hand, however, it might be urged that American life is in this respect the very type of what might be expected under a socialistic regime; for the freedom which the American citizen enjoys is precisely that which the socialist would grant—‘the right of doing whatever the law permits.It is freedom of the people as a whole, rather than freedom of the individual citizen.

[283] In the battle of life more execution is often done with the elbows than with the fists; and pure laisser faire, instead of freeing us from the interference of one another, leads simply to the most intense of all struggles, in which the less capable are overcome and subjected by the more capable—or rather the less fit, who in a higher sense are sometimes in reality the most capable, by those who are more fit for the struggle of life in that particular style. … The result of this is, as we had occasion to point out before, the exploitation of man by things. Men, in endeavouring to free themselves from one another, become enslaved by their own inventions. For this reason, if for no other, pure liberty in this sense is an impossibility. It ‘passes over into its opposite,as all such abstractions tend to do.

At the same time, it would be rash to conclude that there is no sense in which it may rightly be maintained that freedom is our ideal. What we find is rather this, that freedom from our fellowmen is not in reality freedom, so long as nature remains our enemy to such an extent that we require to act together in the effort to subdue her.

[284] Freedom, in fact, can mean for us nothing but that, in Hegelian language, we are ‘determined by the absolute idea throughout.’ ‘Law alone can give us liberty.’ … Children, however, in whom it is recognised that the rational nature is not yet fully developed, are by general consent subjected to an external rule; and so long as there is any truth in the saying that men are but ‘children of a larger growth’…they cannot be freed from a certain amount of social regulation. As the parent is the embodiment of the universal self for the child, so is society the embodiment of it for the man. And thus we are naturally led from the individualistic to the socialistic ideal.

 

McKechnie, William Sharp. 1896. The State and the Individual. James McLehose and Sons: Glasgow.

[309] The second individualistic assumption which requires examination is that whatever is gained to authority is lost to freedom and vice versa; just as one vessel might be emptied by pouring its contents into another. In reality the facts are exactly the reverse. The stronger the government becomes, the greater, caeteris paribus, is the liberty of its subjects. It has been already pointed out that the coercion of government is a way of escape from the worse coercion of unorganized society, of local prejudice, and, worst of all, of anarchy.

[317-318] Is no similar conception of positive freedom possible in the sphere of the State? Undoubtedly it is, for political freedom means subjection to the laws of a rational government, which frees individuals from subjection to a chaos of warring wills. It means the substitution of the coercion of Parliament for that of free competition, of the national will for that of the county or parish or trades union, of wisdom for ignorance. It is only when a negative and abstract conception is formed of liberty, that government is necessarily its foe. It is by taking this inadequate view of freedom that Sir John Seeley is led to make the opposition final and irreconcilable. ‘Liberty, in short,’ he says, ‘in the common use of language, is opposed to restraint, and as government in the political department is restraint, liberty in a political sense should be the opposite of government. … Liberty being taken as the opposite of government, we may say that each mans life is divided into two provinces, the province of government and the province of liberty.Such reasoning, founded as it is on individualistic assumptions, would lead to the conclusion that the savage is more ‘freethan the subject of a civilized State, because the number of restraints placed upon him is less.

Mr. Herbert Spencers definition may be profitably compared with Professor Seeleys, as both have fallen into the same error. ‘The liberty which a citizen enjoys is to be measured, not by the nature of the governmental machinery he lives under, whether representative or other, but by the relative paucity of the restraints it imposes on him.Now, this is to take an artificial and mechanical view of liberty, and to determine the degree of freedom or of bondage by merely adding up the sum of restraints irrespective of their character. It is, however, the nature and not the number of these restraints that is the important point. To obey the uniform laws of a rational government is freedom, whereas to be at the mercy of the capricious dictates of a Nero is slavery. Freedom, when understood in a positive sense, is not lawlessness.

 

Gunton, George. 1897. Wealth and Progress, seventh ed. D. Appleton and Co.: New York.

[205-206] Freedom does not consist in the mere absence of legal barriers, but in the actual power to go and to do. The poor can never be free in any true sense of the term. Whoever controls a man’s living can determine his liberty. Freedom means independence, which nothing but wealth can impart.

[230-231] But before a satisfactory answer to the above question can be given, it is necessary to understand what constitutes social opportunity. In the sense that the expression is here used, opportunity, like freedom, does not consist of the mere absence of legal or arbitrary limitations. A man is not free to go and to do, simply because statute law does not forbid him, nor even by virtue of its expressed permission to do so. The man whose livelihood depends upon the will of another has no more freedom than if he were bound by statutory enactment. Whoever controls a man's living can control his liberty. To be restricted, by whatever means, to choosing between obedience to the will of another and starvation, is not freedom. The worst form of chattel slavery that ever existed could not prohibit the slave from choosing between obedience and death. The freedom to do implies not only the right, but also the power to do. To simply remove imposed restrictions, to make access to certain places and things legally possible, is not necessarily creating opportunity.

 

Ball, Sydney. 1898. “Individualism and Socialism II,” The Economic Review 8(2): 229-35.

 [230] …[T]he phrase ‘economic independence and freedom of the individual’ refers to the divorce of the worker from the means of production, and connotes something more than the formal but ineffectual freedom to which certain theorists of Liberalism have limited the conception. To adopt a Hegelism, under a system of private Capitalism, only ‘some men are free.’

 

Gronlund, Laurence. 1898. The New Economy. Herbert S. Stone and Co.: Chicago.

[73] Now, what does it mean to be ‘free’? We have in our English language two words: ‘libertyand ‘freedom,that we unfortunately are in the habit of using indiscriminately. And yet, we may be sure, that there is a difference, even an important difference, between them, just as we in the next chapter shall see there is between individualism and individuality. Liberty, in the first place, is a Latin word, while freedom is of Anglo-Saxon origin; liberty, next, is a purely negative term, but freedom is decidedly positive. Liberty simply denotes the absence of restraint; to be ‘at liberty’ means not to be controlled. Now it is easy enough to see, as soon as we only reflect, that the condition of not being restrained may under some circumstances be a very bad one, as under others it is a very good one; but we rarely think of this, for liberty happens to be a splendid illustration of the magic power which mere words may have over us. We say deliberately that liberty has unfortunately in our country degenerated into a most pernicious condition. Some time ago an employer, who liked to roll ‘libertyunder his tongue, was as a witness asked to give his definition. He answered: ‘Why, liberty is the right of an American to do as he pleases,and added, ‘this is the American ideal of manhood.Well, unfortunately he was right; our competitive system has given some Americans, a very few, such a right, and it is looked upon by altogether too many as our ‘ideal of manhood.’

[75-76] But freedom, strictly speaking, cannot be abused. It is a positive acquisition, as was already said. … That is to say, power is an essential, integral constituent of freedom; freedom is power, as also Locke observed. Freedom once was a privilege, just as property now is. … The freedom we mean is Kingsley’s ‘true freedom,while liberty is his ‘false freedom;Wordsworth calls the latter ‘unchartered freedom.Now, freedom has in theory been made the inalienable right of all our decent people; practically, however, the very reverse obtains; the masses of our citizens are positively un-free; and they are that, really and truly, because a few amongst us are altogether too much ‘at liberty.’ We cannot enjoy our right to freedom, because our powerful fellow-citizens abuse their liberty.

[76] We said that freedom is closely connected with economics; it is dependent upon our enjoying security and independence in the economic sphere. But free competition is a condition where none but the successful few are free. Yet we can not lead moral lives at all, unless we are free, unless we have the power of freedom. Hence, not liberty, not equality, but freedom is the ideal of Collectivists and should be ‘the ideal of manhood’ for us all. And it is freedom that the new education will have for object.

 

Ely, Richard T. 1899.  “Political Economy,” in Political Economy, Political Science and Sociology, ed. by Richard T. Ely. The University Association: Chicago.

[29] Personal freedom then signifies that relations are determined by bargains which each one supposedly makes for himself. It would seem that legal freedom to make the bargains which one pleases must give in reality personal freedom. It is the theory of free contract that, as a matter of fact, it does terminate in actual freedom. Personal freedom must be considered in several particulars in order to understand the true nature of the conditions which actually exist in industrial society. First of all it should be observed that true freedom is not merely negative, but is rather positive.

[30] The idea of freedom is a positive opportunity to develop or unfold all one’s powers, to make the best of ones self, and to contribute according to one's faculties to the common good.

 

Charles Henry Vail (1866–1924) was an American Universalist clergyman and Christian socialist political activist and writer. Vail is best remembered as the first National Organizer of the Socialist Party of America and as a candidate of that party for Governor of New Jersey.

Charles Henry Vail (1866–1924) was an American Universalist clergyman and Christian socialist political activist and writer. Vail is best remembered as the first National Organizer of the Socialist Party of America and as a candidate of that party for Governor of New Jersey.

Vail, Charles Henry. 1899. Modern Socialism. Commonwealth Co.: New York.

[142-143] Individual freedom consists in the opportunity to develop real individuality and true personal character. This is impossible where each is fighting for himself and against his neighbor. A true social environment is the first requisite to individual development and real freedom. The acquisition of freedom necessitates peace, order, and organization. Socialism alone furnishes the conditions for individuality and personal freedom. To-day we are under the greatest tyranny of which it is possible to conceive, —the tyranny of want. It is this whip of hunger that drives men to work long hours and in unwholesome occupations. It is here that we find the basis of servitude. Slavery is economic dependence on the oppressor. We require liberty not only intellectually and morally but economically. The first two have been recognized as abstract rights, but both have been practically nullified through the absence of the last. We must secure economic freedom to be assured of intellectual and moral freedom. … The man who has no work, or who must submit to wages dictated by a corporation in which he has no voice, —a wage which means only a bare subsistence, —need not fear the abrogation of his freedom. Personal liberty for such is already abrogated, and in many instances political liberty also, for the dictation of corporations in the use of the franchise is something execrable. A man thus tyrannized over is not free. Any man who for ten hours a day is at the beck and call of a master has not yet attained his emancipation. True freedom can only be realized in the Co-operative Commonwealth.

[144-145] Freedom, as we have seen, would not be as much restrained under Socialism as it is now under capitalism. No one would claim that labor is free to-day. The industrial worker is only a link in the chain and is subjected to many rules and regulations. It is not only freedom of labor but freedom from labor that Socialism seeks. This freedom, which results from the common ownership of machinery, would secure to the laborer that leisure so much desired. Socialism would enable men to live as men, and secure to each the best opportunities for free development and movement. The objection that Socialism would destroy liberty either within or without the economic sphere is wholly without foundation.

 

Hobson, John Atkinson. 1900. “The Ethics of Industrialism” in Ethical Democracy edited by Stanton Coit. Grant Richards: London.

[82] The eulogists of laissez faire and the free trade economy have doubtless been too indiscriminate in their exposition of this unseen harmony of interests. But making due allowance for this, the economic changes summed up in the Industrial Revolution must be accounted great liberating forces. The competitive ideal, that every man should have his chance to do the best work for himself and for the world, was not indeed attained, but some definite steps were taken towards it, by the breaking down of ancient obstructive barriers. In spite of all the misery and degradation which accompanied, and in part resulted from, the earlier phases of the change, modern industrialism may be accredited with a real increase in the sense aggregate of individual freedom, not merely in the negative of abolition of restraints, but in the positive sense of an increase of opportunities for the attainment of a good human life.

 

Huxley, Leonard. 1900. The Life and Letters of Thomas H. Huxley Vol. 1. Appleton: New York.

[384-385] Suppose, however, for the sake of argument, that we accept the proposition that the functions of the state may be properly summed up in the one great negative commandment– ‘Thou shalt not allow any man to interfere with the liberty of any other man’ –I am unable to see that the logical consequence is any such restriction of the power of government, as its supporters imply. If my next-door neighbor chooses to have his drains in such a state as to create a poisonous atmosphere, which I breathe at the risk of typhoid and diphtheria, he restricts my just freedom to live just as much as if he went about with a pistol threatening my life; if he is to be allowed to let his children go unvaccinated, he might as well be allowed to leave strychnine lozenges about in the way of mine; and if he brings them up untaught and untrained to earn their living, he is doing his best to restrict my freedom, by increasing the burden of taxation for the support of gaols and workhouses, which I have to pay. The higher the state of civilization, the more completely do the actions of one member of the social body influence all the rest, and the less possible is it for any one man to do a wrong thing without interfering, more or less, with the freedom of all his fellow citizens.

 

Herkless, William Robertson. 1901. Jurisprudence or the Principles of Political Right. William, Green, and Sons: Edinburgh.

[31] Reflection removes any semblance of paradox from the conclusion that the object of the state is the state itself. Because freedom is the essence of spirit or self-conscious being, the absolute final aim is freedom. Law, morality, government, are the actual or concrete truth of freedom. They exist only in and through the state. Thus the state, as expressing the absolute final aim, is an end in itself. It exists for itself, and not as means or instrument to any other end. In other words, the object of the state is the state itself.

 

Ely, Richard T. 1901. Introduction to Political Economy. Eaton and Mains: New York.

[64] It is well in this connection to reflect on the real nature of freedom. In a positive sense freedom is intelligent obedience to wise law, but frequently, perhaps even commonly, it signifies mere absence of restraint upon our actions, and is thus negative. It may be compared to an empty vessel. Its value depends upon what we put into it. Absence of restraint can hardly be called a good in itself. It may be a curse, or it may be a blessing. It gives opportunity for the development of our faculties to a full and harmonious whole; yet, if we are not ripe for such self-governing as would be made necessary, it may involve our degradation. Children are not fit for it, and their development can better be secured under the controlling influence of a higher authority. Not all nations are fit for it. The Declaration of Independence was the assertion before the world that we were fit for free and uncontrolled self-development. American democracy means the ripeness of Americans for political freedom.

 

George Jacob Holyoake (1817 – 1906) was a British secularist and co-operator. He promoted secularism and the co-operative movement.

George Jacob Holyoake (1817 – 1906) was a British secularist and co-operator. He promoted secularism and the co-operative movement.

Holyoake, George Jacob. 1901. “Anarchism,” The Nineteenth Century and After 50(296): 683-686.

[684-685] The philosophical anarchists adopt, or accept, the name, but have no anarchy in them. They are against conventional government—not from malice, but because they think self-government nobler. What they seek is unlimited freedom, which, if set going to-morrow, would not last a month. They hold that free association will be the ultimate form of society. There is no disquietude in that—but the distance to it is distressing. They are for voluntary, not compulsory society. Their passion is for absolute individual freedom. It may be described as individuality run mad—as men and things go.

[686] The objection to government and lawful order is simply a reversion to the savage state. Mr. Auberon Herbert and the philosophers of absolute freedom cannot make anything else of it. … The philosophers who are against government do not realise what life is without it. Men may be too much governed—they often are; but the remedy does not lie in the extreme of no government. Anarchic outrage is born of this impetuous oversight. The best of life does not consist of defiance. There is dignity in just obedience. There is noble pleasure in grateful or useful service. It is this sense which philosophical and proletarian anarchy alike lack.

 

Herbert Louis Samuel, 1st Viscount Samuel (1870 – 1963) was a British politician and diplomat.

Herbert Louis Samuel, 1st Viscount Samuel (1870 – 1963) was a British politician and diplomat.

Samuel, Herbert. 1902. Liberalism. Grant Richards: London.

[28-29] Three causes then, combined to convert Liberalism from the principle of State abstention…It was seen that the State had become more efficient and its legislation more competent, and laws of regulation were found by experiment neither to lessen prosperity nor weaken self-reliance…It was realized that the conditions of society were in many respects so bad that to tolerate them longer was impossible, and that laissez faire policy was not likely to bring the cure. And it was realized that extensions of law need not imply diminutions of freedom, but on the contrary would often enlarge freedom.

 

Beatrix Potter (1866 – 1943) was an English author, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist best known for her imaginative children’s books featuring animals such as those in The Tale of Peter Rabbit which celebrated the British landscape and country life.

Beatrix Potter (1866 – 1943) was an English author, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist best known for her imaginative children’s books featuring animals such as those in The Tale of Peter Rabbit which celebrated the British landscape and country life.

Webb, Beatrice Potter and Sidney Webb. 1902. Industrial Democracy, new ed. Longmans, Green and Co.: London.

[847] What particular individuals, sections, or classes usually mean by ‘freedom of contract,’ ‘freedom of association,or ‘freedom of enterpriseis freedom of opportunity to use the power that they happen to possess; that is to say, to compel other less powerful people to accept their terms. This sort of personal freedom in a community composed of unequal units is not distinguishable from compulsion.

 

Charles Horton Cooley (1864 – 1929) was an American sociologist and the son of Thomas M. Cooley. He studied and went on to teach economics and sociology at the University of Michigan, and he was a founding member and the eighth president of the American Sociological Association. He is perhaps best known for his concept of the looking glass self, which is the concept that a person's self grows out of society's interpersonal interactions and the perceptions of others.

Charles Horton Cooley (1864 – 1929) was an American sociologist and the son of Thomas M. Cooley. He studied and went on to teach economics and sociology at the University of Michigan, and he was a founding member and the eighth president of the American Sociological Association. He is perhaps best known for his concept of the looking glass self, which is the concept that a person's self grows out of society's interpersonal interactions and the perceptions of others.

Cooley, Charles Horton. 1902. Human Nature and the Social Order. Charles Scribners Sons: New York.

[392-394] The common notion of freedom is negative, that is, it is a notion of the absence of constraint. Starting with the popular individualistic view of things, the social order is thought of as something apart from, and more or less a hinderance to, a man's natural development. There is an assumption that an ordinary person is self-sufficient in most respects, and will do very well if he is only left alone. But there is, of course, no such thing as the absence of restraint, in the sense of social limitations; man has no existence apart from a social order, and can develop his personality only through the social order, and in the same degree that it is developed. A freedom consisting in the removal of limiting conditions is inconceivable. … A sociological interpretation of freedom should tahke away nothing worth keeping from our traditional conception of it, and may add something in the way of breadth, clearness, and productiveness.

The definition of freedom naturally arising from the chapters that have gone before is perhaps this: that it is opportunity for right development, for development in accordance with the progressive ideal of life that we have in conscience. A child comes into the world with an outfit of vague tendencies, for all definite unfolding of which he is dependent upon social conditions. If cast away alone on a desert island he would, supposing that he succeeded in living at all, never attain a real humanity, would never know speech, or social sentiment, or any complex thought. On the other hand, if all his surroundings are from the first such as to favor the enlargement and enrichment of his life, he may attain the fullest development possible to him in the actual state of the world. In so far as the social conditions have this favoring action upon him he may be said to be free. And so every person, at every stage of his growth, is free or unfree in proportion as he does or does not find himself in the midst of conditions conducive to full and harmonious personal development.

 

Ritchie, David George. 1902. Studies in Political and Social Ethics. Swan Sonnenschein and Co.: London.

[57] Only in a strong State is individual freedom really possible, individual freedom which is a reality and not an empty form.

 

Farrer, Thomas Henry. 1902. The State in Its Relation to Trade. Macmillan and Co.: London.

[41-42] Freedom of contract is often spoken of as if it were the same as simple freedom of action or disposition. But it is no such thing. Contract involves obligation, which is the opposite of freedom. When a man makes a contract he gives up a portion of his freedom; he binds himself by a promise to another person to do or not to do certain things; and this promise, if binding in the eye of the law, is one which society, with all its crushing and overwhelming power, will compel him to perform. … Freedom of contract is, therefore, a very different thing from freedom of action and disposition. So far from the doctrine of contract being identical with freedom, it is pro tanto the reverse. So far from its being noninterference on the part of the state with individual action, it is interference of the most subtle, searching, and overwhelming kind. It brings the whole weight of the social fabric upon the man who has bound himself by a promise. His freedom consists in being able to make or to abstain from making a binding promise. But when he has made it, the state uses its whole despotic power to compel or prevent his free action. Care therefore has been taken by the state to prevent the abuse of such a power. The law of contract…is, in fact, a statement of the limitations which it has been found necessary to impose on absolute freedom of contract, the definition of the conditions under which, and of the manner in which, a man may make such a promise as the law will enforce.

 

Weber, Adna F. 1902. “Public Policy in Relation to Industrial Accidents,” Journal of Social Science (40): 31-48.

[40-41] The truth of the matter is that our policy in regard to industrial accidents has been determined by too unthinking a devotion to the eighteenth-century dogma of laissez-faire. The United States and England, and every other industrial community, had to throw overboard this so-called sacred right of free contract when they enacted the factory codes that are now recognized as indispensable safeguards of true economic freedom. For we have now reached the point where we realize that economic freedom is not to be attained by the removal of all restraints upon the freedom of contract: we have seen that such negative liberty means simply the economic tyranny of the strong, — the introduction in some cases of an actual state of serfdom under the forms of freedom. Under absolute freedom of contract, men have been compelled by economic pressure to sign away their actual freedom for a term of years, so that the courts have had to rule such contracts illegal. This logical result of the laissez-faire doctrine is too familiar a fact to require further attention. It is sufficient to refer to the admirable address on Industrial Liberty which Professor Ely, as president of the American Economic Association, delivered in this hall last December, and in which he developed the idea of positive liberty as opposed to the negative liberty of philosophical anarchism. It was a realization of this same concept of positive liberty that impelled the United States Supreme Court to uphold the Utah statute depriving workmen of their right to contract to labor in mines and smelters more than eight hours a day. That decision explicitly recognizes the fact that employers and employees do not stand upon a footing of equality.

 

Arthur Twining Hadley (1856 – 1930) was an economist who served as President of Yale University from 1899 to 1921.

Arthur Twining Hadley (1856 – 1930) was an economist who served as President of Yale University from 1899 to 1921.

Hadley, Arthur Twining. 1903. The Relations Between Freedom and Responsibility in the Evolution of Democratic Government. Yale University Press: New Haven.

[128] A third stage of evolution will combine the two, and give the poor man something more than the mere name of freedom, which under present conditions is little more than the assurance of being crushed to the wall.

 

Ely, Richard T. 1903. Studies in the Evolution of Industrial Society. The Macmillan Co.: New York.

[412] It has been said, and truly, that development of law lags behind the evolution of industrial society, so that the law represents a correspondence to a preceding stage or period in industrial development. It has been difficult for our courts to adjust themselves to the restrictions upon nominally free contract demanded by the interests of a larger and truer freedom.

 

Simmons, May Wood. 1904. “Employers Associations,” The International Socialist Review 5(4): 193-202.

[195] The employers of the early nineteenth century used similar arguments against the factory legislation of their time. According to theory the labor contract may be an agreement voluntary, and freely entered into by the employer on one hand and the laborer on the other. Everyone knows, however, and Mr. Parry among them, that this freedom is nominal and not real. The peculiar characteristics of the commodity labor are such that the individual seller of labor power is always at a disadvantage. There is no freedom or equality in contracts for the sale of labor. Where is the ‘freedom of contract’ when the workman stands alone before the employer? The laborer has no choice, it is with him a question of work or starvation; ‘there is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of unequals.The only resource the laboring man has thus far found is in collective bargaining. Hence the employer seeks to revive the cry of free competition and that the individualsfreedom is infringed on if the union exists or labor legislation is passed.

 

Anonymous. 1904. “Organized Individualism,” Public Policy 11(12): 134-135.

[134-135] Individual freedom is always limited by social contact. A condition of absolute individual freedom is perfect isolation. When isolation is destroyed by social contact the freedom of each individual is at once limited by a due regard of the similar rights of others. In a condition of barbarism brute force holds mastery and destroys individualism by making the weaker slaves of the stronger. In a condition of ethical civilization an intellectual conception of the requirements of justice holds mastery and develops individualism through liberty protected by law. Within the limits of freedom prescribed by the social conscience the weak enjoy liberty equally with the strong.

[581] In The Parting of the Ways, an address delivered in the William Morris Labour Church at Leek, Mr. MacKail describes the passing of William Morris from Liberalism to Socialism, and in so doing points out the weakness of Liberalism—its connection with Capitalism. No longer, he asserts, is it a Religion as it was to Grote, Cobden, J. S. Mill, the Brownings, and Charles Dickens. It is inert towards reform, feeble against reaction, a mere political party, without high ideals. The principle of Liberalism, he says, is Freedom: the principle of Socialism is Justice. This of course is largely true, but the Manchester School of thought which once dominated the Liberal Party in its fight against the privileged classes, is now chiefly the property of the Tory Party. For our part we see nothing incompatible in combining the two principles, and in labelling ourselves Liberals and Socialists. Many Liberals now recognise that more real freedom for the individuals exists in a collectivist than in an individualistic society. We believe that an alliance between what is vital in Socialism and what yet lives in Liberalism is something more than the dream in which Mr. MacKail indulges.

 

Villiers, Brougham. 1904. The Opportunities of Liberalism. London.

[84] A State that is closely in touch with the whole people, and whose action enters largely into their lives…becomes a thing, separation from which is to the individual neither desirable nor conceivable. It is not something outside of and alien to the individual life, but the means by which that life can alone attain full freedom of expression, the effective agent of the Nation, the organ of its collective will.

 

Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse (1864 – 1929) was a British liberal political theorist and sociologist. His works, culminating in his famous book Liberalism (1911), occupy a seminal position within the canon of New Liberalism.

Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse (1864 – 1929) was a British liberal political theorist and sociologist. His works, culminating in his famous book Liberalism (1911), occupy a seminal position within the canon of New Liberalism.

Hobhouse, Leonard T. 1905. Democracy and Reaction. G.P. Putnams Sons: New York.

[215] The starving man is nominally free to take or reject the last loaf of bread, but in reality he acts under constraint, and if the baker extorts from him a fabulous price, he avails himself, not of the freedom, but of the necessities of his customer.

[215] [Gladstone adopted the principle] that where the necessities of one party deprived the apparent freedom of choice of all reality, it is legitimate for the community as a whole to step in and regulate the bargain. But…the actual freedom of choice is in all contracts a variable quantity. The two parties are seldom on equal terms, and here freedom and equality are, as often, correlative… For example, where one class is economically weaker, by the strict Gladstonian principle the State has a right to intervene as arbitrator.

 

Edwin Robert Anderson Seligman (1861-1939), was an American economist who spent his entire academic career at Columbia University in New York City. Seligman is best remembered for his pioneering work involving taxation and public finance.

Edwin Robert Anderson Seligman (1861-1939), was an American economist who spent his entire academic career at Columbia University in New York City. Seligman is best remembered for his pioneering work involving taxation and public finance.

Seligman, Edwin Robert Anderson. 1905. Principles of Economics. Longmans, Green and Co.: New York.

[171] Liberty, then, must be looked at from the social as well as from the individual point of view. The individual has become what he is largely through associated effort. This, however, inevitably implies a certain subjection of the individual to the group. The liberty which is compatible with social progress involves the readiness of the individual to work for a common end. If this readiness is not voluntary, it must be developed by persuasion or by force. All liberty is a balancing between the powers of anarchy and of tyranny. Individual freedom that is oblivious of the rights of others or of the best interests of the majority leads to an anarchy that is destructive of real liberty; group restrictions that are forgetful of the possibilities of the individual lead to a tyranny that is equally destructive of real liberty.

 

Sterrett, James Macbride. 1905. The Freedom of Authority. The Macmillan Company: New York.

[30] In society, the insane asylum, prison walls and the electric chair await me, if I do not please to do as my fellows please. It is this shallow conception of doing as one pleases in order to be free, that is the lingering heritage and heresy of the eighteenth century rationalism. It takes freedom in its etymological sense, (liber, freon + dom) i.e., to be free from dominion. That is, freedom is a privative term, meaning to be free from everything but self, let this self be what it may—the empirical self of the stubborn child or of the bad man. Emancipation from dominion must be from the cradle to the grave— wherever there is an empirical me. I am only free when I can assert my own private, peculiar self.

[33] The only way to real freedom is conformity of the empirical selves in me to an ideal self, which, we have seen, is a social self. … The true self is always an alter ego—the social self. And true freedom is the conduct congruous with this other self. I have freedom in bonds, not freedom from bonds. Thus I am only free when I am not free from social functions, from functioning as a good parent or child, citizen or churchman.

 

Carver, Thomas Nixon. 1905. Sociology and Social Progress. Ginn and Co.: Boston.

[84] Our analysis of the individual into private and social functions removes another common error. The statement is constantly made that by entering society the individual sacrifices some of his liberty. Only if society is false will it demand that personal liberty be sacrificed. If it is meant that in society an individual cannot act as if he were isolated, the statement simply means that he cannot act contrary to the nature of things. In society a man cannot act as if he were out of society, for the reason that he is in it and not out of it. No true society interferes with the freedom inherent in man, but recognizes and encourages that freedom. By passing from isolation into social relations the individual changes his conditions but does not lose his freedom. Personally, in his private affairs, he is as free as ever he was; but while he retains all the real freedom he had in isolation, his life is augmented by entering society. Besides the real freedom he retains, he now sustains social relations and enters upon social action. Indeed, we may well question whether freedom applies to men isolated. Freedom from what? It is in society, where men can maintain their views in the face of false restraints, that freedom manifests itself.

 

Mackght, Thomas and C. C. Osborne. 1905. Political Progress of the Nineteenth Century. Linscott Publishing Company: Philadelphia.

[437] The dawn of a new era had come. In future, the State was to be the protector of the weak and oppressed. Its efforts were at first cautious and experimental. Interference with freedom of contract, restriction of the hours of labour, the regulation of the sanitary condition of factories and workshops, were only made in the interests of little children and young girls. But the benefits of such legislation were so obvious that they were speedily extended to women; and then, step by step, to every class of adult worker. To-day the State employs an army of experts, to see that the laws passed to protect the toiling millions are obeyed. The worker is not only protected against the employer, he is in many instances protected against himself. Women and children are no longer free to slave an unlimited number of hours every day in their endeavour to secure the means of subsistence.

[439] The largest possible amount of freedom has been granted to each individual citizen. While the bounds of liberty have been enlarged, the abuses arising from license have been restricted. The old doctrines of laissez-faire, and legislative non-intervention, have been discarded. Slowly, but steadily, the State has extended its control over every branch of industry with the objects of checking the abuse of power, of lessening the evils of competitive labour, of securing the safety and preserving the health of the worker, of protecting the weaker classes in what Adam Smith calls "an undeformed and unmutilated manhood.

[439-440] Intervention by Government in all these matters was necessitated by the growth of society. … But in legislating for the protection of the toiling millions, Parliament has violated no principle of British freedom. … Mr. Herbert Spencer declared that British freedom was lost, and warned us to prepare for ‘the coming slavery.’ But though the State has continued to pursue its policy of interference with undiminished vigour, there still appears to be an abundance of British freedom, and if the new conditions under which we live are those of ‘slavery,that institution has been greatly traduced in the past. Which is the more intolerable ‘slavery,the state of things that prevailed under the laws which made combination penal, or that which has resulted from the legalization of trades unions? … But, up to the present, the tendency of British democracy has not been to set up universal State action in the place of individual liberty, or to deprive any class of its just rights and privileges.

 

Henderson, Charles Hanson. 1905. Children of Good Fortune: A Essay on Morals. Houghton, Mifflin, and Co.: New York.

[318-319] Social welfare depends upon the freedom of the individual to work out his own good fortune. It is the condition of morality, and therefore the fundamental virtue of the moral state. But freedom, as we have seen, has a double aspect, the freedom of non-interference, and the freedom of opportunity. The one is negative, the police function. The other is positive, the social function. … A state which did nothing but cry ‘Hands off!’ would offer, at best, a very barren sort of freedom; just as a state which devoted itself to the [319] socialistic activities of opportunity, while it allowed the individual to be badgered and coerced, would be a very miserable moral failure. Non-interference means, in a large way, not only the non-interference of persons and institutions, but also the non-interference of events, — of time and space, hunger and cold and nakedness, disease and poverty, fire and water, — in a word, that essential non-interference of what we have called the tyranny of things. Since more persons, infinitely more, have perished from disease and famine and natural calamities than from the total violence of a not-too-gentle world, it is not fanciful to urge that the police function might properly be exercised against these combined foes with as much enthusiasm and efficiency as against more visible and corporal assailants.

 

Lester F. Ward 1841 – 1913) was an American botanist, paleontologist, and sociologist. He served as the first president of the American Sociological Association.

Lester F. Ward 1841 – 1913) was an American botanist, paleontologist, and sociologist. He served as the first president of the American Sociological Association.

Ward, Lester Frank. 1906. Applied Sociology. Ginn and Co.: Boston.

[327] The conditions of existence are such that human happiness depends in large degree upon the material surroundings of each individual. As has been consistently maintcained, it consists entirely in the normal exercise of the faculties. But in order to that exercise{C}{C}[2]{C}{C}  there must be freedom from restraint. … In cold climates clothing and shelter as well as such artificial heat as fuel can procure are conditions of existence. All these are furnished by money or its equivalent, and no person can live in society as it is now constituted without the wherewithal to purchase food, clothing, shelter, and fuel. There are thousands of other real wants the deprivation of which restrains the freedom to exercise the faculties.

 

Schaffner, Margaret Anna. 1907. “The Labor Contract from Individual to Collective Bargaining,” Bulletin of the University of Wisconsin, Economics and Political Science Series 2(1): 1-182.

[11-12] The statutes relating to common employment, to employers’ liability, and to contracting out, limit freedom of contract in a negative way but in reality they extend positive liberty. Green has well said: ‘To uphold the sanctity of contracts is doubtless a prime business of government, but it is no less its business to provide against contracts being made, which, from the helplessness of one of the parties to them, instead of being a security for freedom, becomes an instrument of disguised oppression.Real freedom of contract is possible only where the state places restrictions on the sale of labor so that it becomes impossible for any individual to contract away his right of contract.

 

Hastings Rashdall (1858–1924) was an English philosopher, theologian, and historian. He expounded a theory known as ideal utilitarianism, and is a major historian of the universities of the Middle Ages.

Hastings Rashdall (1858–1924) was an English philosopher, theologian, and historian. He expounded a theory known as ideal utilitarianism, and is a major historian of the universities of the Middle Ages.

Hastings, Rashdall. 1907. The Theory of Good and Evil. Clarendon Press: Oxford.

[391] I content myself with remarking that the idea that ‘compulsion’ is avoided by the absence of State interference is a delusion arising from superficial insight into the meaning of words. The workman who is compelled to accept subsistence wages under penalty of starvation is just as much ‘compelledor ‘interfered withas if he were threatened with imprisonment by the State. To suppose that unrestricted freedom of contract can secure real ‘equivalencebetween work done and reward received is a belief too naive to require serious refutation. If a Spencerian declares that it would do so in a completely ‘adjustedsociety, we can only once again remark on the uselessness of absolute Ethics for guidance in that world with which human Morality has to deal.

 

Seth, James. 1908. A Study of Ethical Principles, eighth ed. Charles Scribners Sons: New York.

[290] The essence of the State is sovereignty, and the maintenance of the sovereign power through coercion or control. In order that each may have freedom of self-development, each must be restrained in certain ways.

[296] Even at this stage the activity of the State is, in its essence, the same as it is at the higher stages of that activity. Even here the function is not a mere police one; even here the State ‘interferes’ with the individual. To protect the individual from the aggression of other individuals and of society, the State must interfere with the individual, and be in some considerable measure ‘aggressive.Already the imagined sphere of sheer independent and private individuality has been penetrated, and the right of the State to act within that sphere established. While it is true that the preservation of the integrity of the individual life implies a large measure of freedom from government control, it is also true that the only way to secure such freedom for the individual is by a large measure of such control. If other individuals, and non-political society, are not to encroach upon the individual and destroy his freedom, the State must be allowed to encroach and set up its rule within the life of the individual. … The justification of State-interference in all its forms is, as we have seen, that it is exercised in the interest of individual freedom.

[372] Freedom means self-determination rather than indetermination; it presupposes, rather than negates, uniformity

[375] A negative, as well as a positive, vindication of freedom is therefore possible—the former by the condemnation of the categories of science as insufficient, the latter by the provision of higher and sufficient categories for its explanation.

 

Barker, J. Ellis. 1908. British Socialism. Smith, Elder and Co.: London.

[31] The workers are unfree, being enslaved by the capitalists. It is true that they possess freedom of contract, but freedom of contract, like individual liberty, is an illusion, because the workers, being penniless, are compelled to accept whatever work is obtainable, and to be satisfied with whatever wages are offered.

 

Villiers, Brougham. 1908. The Socialist Movement in England. T. Fisher Unwin: London.

[282-283] That it would restrict or even abolish personal freedom is, of course, the oldest objection to Socialism, an objection which, let it be admitted, has received colour from the proposals of many earnest State Socialists. … In the first place, it may be premised that freedom is not a negative, but a positive thing. There is no law or regulation to prevent any man going to the moon, and yet it would be a mere absurdity to say that a man was ‘free’ to travel there. If we regard freedom as mere absence of restraint, no one is quite free until he is dead, when all human statutes and regulations cease to have any control over him. Yet it is obvious that freedom implies life; it implies, not only the absence of legal restraint, but the presence of power. It is a thing not purely abstract, but existing only in relation to other things. We are free to walk, to eat, to dress ourselves, to attend to our daily business; we are not free to do anything our imaginations may suggest, unless those imaginations work within the limits of our personal capacity.

Now the whole aim of the Labour and Socialist movement is to increase the extent of this freedom. The Trade Unionist strikes for better pay or shorter hours, in order that he may be able to obtain or do things for which at present he has neither time nor money. In a similar way, the Social reformer advocates Old Age Pensions, in order that the poor may be able to spend their declining years in the way most pleasing to them, to free them from the option of the workhouse or starvation; and the proper feeding of school children, in order that they may have the physical strength and education necessary to do many things possible only to the strong and intelligent. Other things being equal, the strong man is more free than the weak; for a multitude of things are possible to him which the other cannot hope to do. The intention, at least, of Socialism is to increase freedom, by bringing the possibilities of civilised life to all.

[285] The point of all this is, that it is society that gives civilised man the opportunities of life, the basis from which arises all possibility of freedom. The mere absence of law is not freedom

[287] Now the aim of Socialism is to give to the whole people that positive basis of freedom already attained to by society.

 

Mills, Herbert Elmer. 1909. Outlines of Economics, second ed. Enterprise Print: New York.

[15] Freedom in the sense of positive capacity for self-determined action was unknown among savages. Subjection to nature, to the strong and to custom was accompanied by extermination of captives. Slavery, serfdom and the wage system, each introduced because of its relative economic superiority, were steps in advance. There is now a considerable degree of freedom as of marriage, movement, occupation, association, consumption, production, contract, trade. Liberty is not an end but a means to that higher development of individuality which is the only real freedom. Liberty except as based on equality and a sense of social responsibility is dangerous; and hence we must by social control restrict liberty to secure freedom. Positive individual freedom is a social product.

 

Sir Henry Jones (1852 – 1922), was a Welsh philosopher and academic. He was instrumental in the passing of the Intermediate Education Act of 1889, and worked for the establishment of the University of Wales and the introduction of a penny rate for education.

Sir Henry Jones (1852 – 1922), was a Welsh philosopher and academic. He was instrumental in the passing of the Intermediate Education Act of 1889, and worked for the establishment of the University of Wales and the introduction of a penny rate for education.

Jones, Henry. 1909. Idealism as a Practical Creed. James MacLehose and Sons: Glasgow.

[99] Man, now completely conscious of his right to freedom, proceeds to make that freedom good, to establish it amidst the extant powers of the world, an equal, and more, ‘amongst their mightiest energies.’ For he has to subordinate them to his spirit, and make the social, political, and religious order the exponents of his freedom. Hence we see old ways of life restored one by one. Truths were discovered in the repudiated creeds, institutions that were useful and ways of life which were honourable and of good report were found amongst the debris of the old social and political world. … The old material was put to new uses, in obedience to the plans of the new architectonic conception of a Freedom which was to find no limits any more, except within itself. But Freedom itself has changed its meaning in the meantime. It is no longer merely negative. … It is now divined that the State itself may be free, and the means of the freedom of its members. Men now regarded it with a new reverence.

[123-124] In a society where such conditions rule the State and the individual will verily serve and strengthen each other. The citizen has but to stand in his station and perform its duties in order to fulfil the demands of citizenship. He is like an organ to the organism, best where he is—at his own work. … Thus does true freedom show itself to be no merely negative thing. It is emancipation, non-interference, exclusion, independence for the individual, and great, indeed, is the price which civilization has paid to secure these for him. But it is much more. It is life within the State; it is the life of the State within its members, for his duties to himself are duties to the State. … The man who stands firm within his duty, stands not merely for himself but for his family, and not merely for his family but for his neighbours, not merely for his neighbours but for his State; nay, he stands for what is universally right because it is intrinsically right.

 

Sturt, Henry Cecil. 1909. The Idea of a Free Church. The Walter Scott Publishing Co.: New York.

[26-27] Let me define freedom a little further by contrast with what may be confused with it. Freedom is the right to do; it is not the right wholly to abstain from doing. A man is to be free to choose his career; he is not to be free to choose no career. We need not negative but positive freedom, the freedom of the citizen who gladly takes up his share of public duty, the freedom of the artist who wants to do original work. … Positive freedom is not opposed to loyalty; it is impossible without loyalty. This follows from regarding true freedom as freedom to do. No one who is not loyal can be an effective member of organizations, and, apart from organizations, no work of good quality can be produced. The artist may not take much part directly in society, but his work all through has reference to society; he is an embodiment or expression of the spirit of his society. So it is with the moral life; it must be a man's own; but it is ineffectual unless it belongs to a wider system. … True freedom then dissociates itself from the waywardness of individualistic romanticism, from nihilists and anarchists, and from those who think their country always in the wrong.

 

Kirkup, Thomas. 1909. A History of Socialism, fourth ed. Adam and Charles Black: London.

[45] In such a system where would there be room for arbitrary rule or tyranny? The State would establish the social workshops, would pass laws for them, and supervise their execution for the good of all; but its role would end there. Is this, can this be tyranny? Thus the freedom of the industrial associations and of the individuals composing them would not only remain intact; it would have the solid support of the State. The intervention of a democratic Government on behalf of the people, whom it represented, would remove the misery, anarchy, and oppression necessarily attendant on the competitive system, and in place of the delusive liberty of laissez-faire, would establish a real and positive freedom.

 

Lewis, Arthur Morrow. 1909. Evolution Social and Organic, fifth ed. Charles H. Kerr and Company: Chicago.

[163-165] But the individualist theories proper to the 18th century, and its mode of wealth production, passed over into the 19th where their economic justification had ceased. … The struggle of the 20th century is not a struggle between individuals, it is a struggle between classes, and so Individualism has lost its meaning — it is defunct.

With the disappearance of the economic foundation of Individualism, and the overthrow of the philosophic superstructure erected thereon, all its watchwords have lost their power to charm. Free trade, free labor, free contract, free competition; all these are the lingering and belated echoes of a day that is gone.

‘Free tradewas the protest of the rising capitalist class against the trammels placed upon its commerce by the feudal regime. Now it appears in a new role; it is the cry of the small capitalist against those ‘predatory trustswhich discovered that competition is not the life but the death of trade, and are using protection to destroy their weaker fellow-robbers.

‘Free laborwas the demand of the capitalist that the serf should be released from the soil in the country so that he might be available for exploitation in the factory, in the city. In England an attempt has been made to give this defunct phrase a new lease of life by the ‘Free Labor Associationan organization which had this in common with our ‘Citizens Alliancethat it sought to encourage the dear good workingman to keep out of the ‘tyrannicallabor unions.

‘Freedom of contractor, as it is sometimes called ‘Voluntary Co-operationnever existed in capitalist society and has never been anything but a grim joke or a plain lie. Where is the freedom or voluntaryism of the worker who must work for what he can get or starve like a dog in the street?

 

Davies, Arthur Ernest. 1909. The Moral Life. Review Publishing Co.: Baltimore.

[158] Under negative freedom are included physical and psychological freedom, and the common character which this type of theory has consists in the denial that the conditions under which human activity takes place are determinative of moral behavior. It is an assertion of freedom from. By positive freedom is understood the recognition that the will is under direction and control in carrying out those courses of action which receive moral valuation. … This is characteristically a freedom to. Now, it is an interesting observation that this classification of theories marks the point of disagreement between the two main parties to the free-will controversy—the necessarians and the libertarians. Necessarianism—or, following Mill, determinism—is a challenge of the facts on which negative freedom relies for maintaining its position. Libertarianism—or, as is sometimes said, indeterminism—is a flank movement to turn the assault of the direct attack, and to cover the movements of the advanced wing in their retreat from an untenable situation. When, therefore, we come to a statement of what freedom is, as the result of these movements and counter-movements, we find that the essential contention of necessarianism is granted, and a more precise regard is had for the conditions which are essential to the occurrence of moral behavior. Thus the freedom of the moral life is no longer thought to consist in the fact that it is beyond all law or regulation, only it is held that the source of control is to be found in the moral subject himself. Or, to use the generally accepted terminology of the schools, ‘self-determinationis of the essence of moral freedom.

 

Jones, Henry. 1910. The Working Faith of the Social Reformer and Other Essays. Macmillan and Co.: London.

[262n] It is only the pseudo freedom of irrational caprice which has been limited. Nor has the state invaded any rights in such action; for the liberty to do wrong is not a right, but the perversion of a right and its negation.

 

Palmer, George Herbert. 1911. The Problem of Freedom. Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston.

[13-14] Here then will be our amended definition: the freedom of the pendulum will mean its ability to express itself, unhampered by alien interference. So we ourselves, in order to be free, must be detached from certain portions of our environment. In the circumstances of each of us there is much which is not favorable to our best working. Environment of this sort we seek to abolish and so secure a negative freedom. But this is done only with a view to positive freedom, the development and expression of our powers themselves. Accordingly, in order to decide in any specific case whether we are free, we should need to know whether the circumstances are likely to help or hinder our interests.

 

Herbert David Croly (1869 – 1930) was an intellectual leader of the progressive movement as an editor, and political philosopher and a co-founder of the magazine The New Republic in early twentieth-century America. 

Herbert David Croly (1869 – 1930) was an intellectual leader of the progressive movement as an editor, and political philosopher and a co-founder of the magazine The New Republic in early twentieth-century America. 

Croly, Herbert David. 1911. The Promise of American Life. The Macmillan Co.: New York.

[178] [Democratic countries] are obliged to admit the doctrine of popular Sovereignty. They are obliged to proclaim a theory of unlimited popular powers… A people, to whom was denied the ultimate responsibility for its welfare, would not have obtained the prime condition of genuine liberty. Individual freedom is important, but more important still is the freedom of a whole people to dispose of its own destiny; and I do not see how the existence of such ultimate popular political freedom and responsibility can be denied by any one who has rejected the theory of a divinely appointed political power.

 

Vrooman, Frank Buffington. 1911. The New Politics. Oxford University Press: New York

[27] The problems of politics will be held as unsolvable without going back to the everlasting questions of right and wrong and rationality. By reason of their essential nature, they invade those chaotic voids which individualism has bereft of law and order and where a state of anarchy has left free play for an unbridled scramble for the wealth, place, and power of the world; where the greeds and hatreds of men masquerade under the unctuous catchwords of Jacobinism: ‘freedom of contract,’ ‘free trade,’ ‘free competition,’ ‘individual initiative,laissez faire, etc. These phrases once had a meaning. But they no longer even cloak the hypocrisy and greed they once tried to expose. What we want to-day is an ethical theory of politics based on an ethical theory of life. If we agree to agree so far with Kant that the only unconditioned good in the universe is the element of good will, we must abandon at once the whole theory of individualism, that ‘free competitionwhere the big eat the little, and both the politics and economics which are the conclusions of a philosophy of life which justifies a mans selfishness to himself.

 

Vedder, Henry Clay. 1912. Socialism and the Ethics of Jesus. The Macmillan Company: New York.

[313] Freedom is not negative but positive; it is not mere absence of restraint, but presence of opportunity. If you give a poor man a thousand dollars, you have greatly increased his freedom, by multiplying the things that he can do. Other things being equal, the strong have more freedom than the weak, the educated than the ignorant, the rich than the poor. Civilization that frees us from restraints also multiplies restraints, but at the same time multiplies possibilities of action and enjoyment, and hence promotes freedom. The restraints of law are trifling in their pressure on the working-man, even in despotic Russia, compared with the restraints of poverty. To make a man, it is needful to make him rich — that is, give him enough to live a civilized life. It is not law, therefore, but poverty that hinders freedom in a civilized society, and Socialism is the attempt to release men forever from the restraints of poverty and correspondingly to enlarge real liberty.

 

Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1856 – 1924) was the 28th President of the United States, in office from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913. With the Republican Party split in 1912, he led his Democratic Party to control both the White House and Congress for the first time in nearly two decades.

Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1856 – 1924) was the 28th President of the United States, in office from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913. With the Republican Party split in 1912, he led his Democratic Party to control both the White House and Congress for the first time in nearly two decades.

Wilson, Woodrow. 1913. The New Freedom. Doubleday, Page and Co.: New York.

[19] In order to start an enterprise now, you have to be authenticated, in a perfectly impersonal way, not according to yourself, but according to what you own that somebody else approves of your owning. You cannot begin such an enterprise as those that have made America until you are so authenticated, until you have succeeded in obtaining the good-will of large allied capitalists. Is that freedom? That is dependence, not freedom.

[284] It is still intolerable for the government to interfere with our individual activities except where it is necessary to interfere with them in order to free them… [Law] must come to the [individual’s] assistance to see that he gets fair play; that is all, but that is much. Without the watchful interference, resolute interference, of the government, there can be no fair play between individuals and such powerful institutions as the trusts. Freedom to-day is something more than being let alone. The program of a government of freedom must in these days be positive, not negative merely.

[294] Since [the day of those men who first set their foot upon America,] the meaning of liberty has deepened. But it has not ceased to be a fundamental demand of the human spirit, a fundamental necessity for the life of the soul. And the day is at hand when it shall be realized on this consecrated soil, — a New Freedom, — a Liberty widened and deepened to match the broadened life of man in modern America restoring him in very truth the control of his government, throwing wide all gates of lawful enterprise, unfettering his energies, and warming the generous impulses of his heart, — a process of release, emancipation, and inspiration, full of a breath of life as sweet and wholesome as the airs that filled the sails of the caravels of Columbus and gave the promise and boast of magnificent Opportunity in which America dare not fail.

 

Blease, W. Lyon. 1913. A Short History of English Liberalism. G.P. Putnams Sons: New York.

[328] Paradoxical as it may appear to say that a positive policy of constant interference is the same as a negative policy of constant abstention, it is true that the mental habit at the back of the one is identical with that at the back of the other. Both aim at emancipating the individual from the things which prevent him from developing his natural capacities. The Manchester School saw only the fetters which directly impeded him. The modern Liberal sees also the want of the positive aids without which he is only half free.

[332] Economic society is to be converted into a gigantic Trade Union, based upon the belief that the highest good of the individual can only be secured in co-operation with his fellows, and limiting his freedom only in so far as it is necessary to secure freedom to his associates. It is obvious that this new economic Liberalism has borrowed largely from Socialism, and it has one character in common with Protection.

 

Silvin, Edward. 1913. Why I Am in Favor of Socialism. E. Silvin: Sacramento, CA.

[20] It is in the field of industry and commerce that the greatest reconstruction will need to be made, for after having struggled so long to secure the freedom of the individual when it becomes clearly recognized that the only freedom that is even partially secured is the negative one of being left alone and that positive freedom of efficient action is lacking, there is bound to be a new direction to the constant efforts of civilization to secure the good of its component members.

 

Wright, Henry Wilkes. 1913. Self Realization — An Outline in Ethics. Henry Holt: New York.

[115] In obeying his reason man is but conforming to the rational order of the world: he is playing his part in the universal scheme of things. Life according to reason thus means life according to nature. The freedom that man gains through the exercise of reason is not merely negative, a relief from domination by external objects and forces, it is positive freedom, the freedom of self-expression and self-development.

 

Ely, Richard T. 1914. Property and Contract in Their Relations to the Distribution of Wealth, Vol. II. The Macmillan Company: New York.

[612-613] Freedom, then, is something positive, and is a social product, a social acquisition. It is admitted that there can be no freedom of men who act not willingly but under compulsion. Nevertheless, says [Thomas Hill] Green, ‘the mere removal of compulsion…is in itself no contribution to true freedom.’ Perhaps this is too strong a statement, yet his idea is a correct one. The freedom of savagery is not true freedom. It gives not strength but weakness. The powers of the noblest savage are not equal to those of the humble citizen of a law-abiding state. We have in this freedom of savagery a slavery to nature, which can only be removed by submission to social restraint through which true freedom is acquired.

Freedom of contract is only valuable as a means to an end, and that end is ‘freedom in the positive sense: in other words, the liberation of the powers of all men equally for contribution to a common good. No one has a right to do what he wills with his own in such a way as to contravene this end.’ ‘Positive freedom consists in an open field for all men to make the best of themselves.Here is a positive and constructive concept of freedom as opposed to the negative idea of freedom. Freedom is not just a mere form, but is a form or vessel to be filled in.

 

Algernon Sidney Crapsey (1847–1927) was an Episcopal priest and father of poet Adelaide Crapsey. Crapsey was an ardent supporter of the Social Gospel movement and developed a national reputation for eloquent lectures that inspired social ideals.

Algernon Sidney Crapsey (1847–1927) was an Episcopal priest and father of poet Adelaide Crapsey. Crapsey was an ardent supporter of the Social Gospel movement and developed a national reputation for eloquent lectures that inspired social ideals.

Crapsey, Algernon Sidney. 1914. The Rise of the Working Class. The Century Co.: New York.

[351-352] There was never a greater delusion than that freedom of contract was secured between man and man by the removal of the restraints of the Church, the State, and the gilds. It is nearer the truth to say that by the removal of these restraints freedom of contract was for the greater number of men made forever impossible. Freedom of contract holds only between equals. A contract is free only when both of the parties are at liberty to accept or reject its conditions. Every contract is vitiated by fraud or duress. When one party either deceives or forces the other party the contract is void and of no effect.

 

Henry Scott Holland (1847 – 1918) was Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford. He was also a canon of Christ Church, Oxford. He was keenly interested in "social justice" and formed PESEK (Politics, Economics, Socialism, Ethics and Christianity) which blamed capitalist exploitation for contemporary urban poverty.

Henry Scott Holland (1847 – 1918) was Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford. He was also a canon of Christ Church, Oxford. He was keenly interested in "social justice" and formed PESEK (Politics, Economics, Socialism, Ethics and Christianity) which blamed capitalist exploitation for contemporary urban poverty.

Holland, Henry Scott. 1915. A Bundle of Memories. W. Gardner Darton and Co.: London. Quoted in T.H. Green and the Development of Ethical Socialism by Matt Carter (Imprint Academic, 2003).

[179] [Socialism] regards Society as existing for the sake of the living men and women who are its product. Its justification lies in the excellence of the type of citizens, who result from it. All its organization, its wealth, its methods, are to be tried by this test of living character, as the right issue. That is the best State which provides the fullest opportunity for the growth and the freedom of living of human beings.

 

Felix Adler (1851 – 1933) was a German American professor of political and social ethics, rationalist, popular lecturer, religious leader and social reformer who founded the Ethical Culture movement, and is often considered one of the main influences on modern Humanistic Judaism.

Felix Adler (1851 – 1933) was a German American professor of political and social ethics, rationalist, popular lecturer, religious leader and social reformer who founded the Ethical Culture movement, and is often considered one of the main influences on modern Humanistic Judaism.

Alder, Felix. 1915. The World Crisis and its Meaning. D. Appleton and Company: New York.

[141n.1] The difference between English and American liberalism and the view indicated above depends on the negative conception of freedom in the one case and the positive conception of freedom in the other. The ideal of even the most radical liberals stresses independence without due weight on interdependence. The ideal condition of nations is conceived of as one in which they dwell in juxtaposition, each without interference from its neighbors, realizing its own ends. This is the same idea of liberty for peoples as Mill described and desired for individuals. The mutual assimilation of the products of culture, the enjoyment by all of what is produced by each, is quite possible under such a scheme. But the idea of positive freedom or of interdependence goes far beyond these limits. It puts the chief stress on the self-development of nations, as of individuals, through the effort to assist in the distinctive development of others.

 

Bussey, Gertrude Carman. 1917. Typical Recent Conceptions of Freedom. T. Morey and Son: Mass.

[9] Although this emphasis on the negative aspect of freedom was perhaps a necessary accompaniment of the attempt to free the individual from the absolutism of both state and church, the inadequacy of such freedom was proved by the course of social events. It was discredited by the changes resulting from the industrial revolution and from the evils growing out of the laissez-faire policy. The theoretical insufficiency of the merely negative concept of freedom was disclosed by the work of the German Idealists and of the English Hegelians.

 

Edward Alsworth Ross (1866 – 1951) was a progressive American sociologist, eugenicist, and major figure of early criminology.

Edward Alsworth Ross (1866 – 1951) was a progressive American sociologist, eugenicist, and major figure of early criminology.

Ross, Edward Alsworth. 1917. “Class and Caste: Equalization,” American Journal of Sociology 23(1): 67-82.

[71] Gradually it was found necessary to recognize in the normal individual certain powers essential to self-effectuation, of which he cannot divest himself, i.e., ‘inalienable rights.’ Hence modern law gives no force to a contract which without due equivalent cripples ones future freedom to act or to contract, e.g., to live in a certain place or outside a certain place, to marry or not to marry a certain person, not to carry on one's trade or business, not to exercise the right of franchise or to exercise it in a certain way, or to forego one's legal rights as, e.g., the passenger's right to damages for injury through the fault of a common carrier.

Society will not permit the surrender of rights essential to the public welfare. Thus in some of our states the debtor cannot waive the statutory exemptions in his favor or the mortgager his equity of redemption. Legal standard insurance policies have virtually removed insurance from the domain of contract. Personal safety is not to be contracted away; one cannot legally bind himself to engage in dangerous work or to remain in a dangerous place. Statutes clothing the worker with the right to be paid his wages in cash and the right to indemnity for injuries received in the course of his work will not allow him to contract himself out of these rights. An agreement to assign to ones employer the patents of all one's future inventions is invalid unless restricted to inventions of a particular character.

[71-72] In all these cases, what at first glance appears a fetter on the worker's freedom to contract is really an enlargement of his freedom, since it prevents the stronger from snatching out of the passing distress or dependence of the weaker a lasting advantage over him.

 

Fulton, Maurice Garland. 1918. National Ideals and Problems. The Macmillan Company: New York.

[304-305] You know that one of the interesting things that Mr. Jefferson said in those early days of simplicity which marked the beginnings of our government was that the best government consisted in as little governing as possible. And there is still a sense in which that is true. It is still intolerable for the government to interfere with our individual activities except where it is necessary to interfere with them in order to free them. But I feel confident that if Jefferson were living in our day he would see what we see: that the individual is caught in a great confused nexus of all sorts of complicated circumstances, and that to let him alone is to leave him helpless as against the obstacles with which he has to contend; and that, therefore, law in our day must come to the assistance of the individual. It must come to his assistance to see that he gets fair play; that is all, but that is much. Without the watchful interference, the resolute interference, of the government, there can be no fair play between individuals and such powerful institutions as the trusts. Freedom today is something more than being let alone. The program of a government of freedom must in these days be positive, not negative merely.

 

Ackerman, H. C. 1919. “The Christian Conception of Freedom and Some Modern Tendencies,” The Constructive Quarterly 7(2): 296-306.

[300] This species of freedom (non-interference) is obviously but a relative freedom, and in this specific quality of relativity lie both its merits and its defects. In short, the defect is one of limitation, so that a kind of freedom from can not be typical of the ideal.

[302] The conclusions suggest that freedom will be based, not upon the elimination of effort, or friction, or hindrance and obstruction, nor upon the negative release of a culture state from interference or obligation or outside emergency, but upon a perfected union with the ever- increasing and ever-expanding fulness of life as a living whole. This mature freedom will be essentially dynamic in principle, abounding in sympathetic relationship and loving understanding and mutual trust throughout the whole realm of sentient being, that will ensure a vitality to the free spirit and guarantee infinite progress in its intelligent and benevolent expression.

[302-303] Instead of freedom being conceived negatively as a release from opposition and obstacle it can only be truly defined actively in dynamic terms, terms which imply the exercise of the will in so creative a manner that the elemental conditions of existence are not evacuated, abandoned and denied but overcome and incorporated into the more abundant life.

[303] To translate, now, this positive aspect of freedom, which we have reached by a criticism of the negative aspects of the ‘separatedlife, namely, that freedom is based upon the range and scope of human activity rather than upon the ease and grace of life flowing smoothly within predetermined bounds, into more practical terms, let me cite a recent utterance of Georges Clemenceau, the French Premier. Speaking in regard to the problem of the League of Nations, he is reported to have said, ‘In the society of nations, each nation must be willing to renounce its traditional aloofness and be willing to employ the national strength outside its own country, both in war and in peace.In other words, the principle of freedom, as exhibited in present national tendencies, appears generalized to the highest degree, covering both individual and society, class and nation, an extension of the law of liberty coterminous with humanity as a whole.

 

Ely, Richard T. 1919. Outlines of Economics. The Macmillan Company: New York.

[27-28] This leads us to a distinction between what have been called negative freedom and positive freedom. Mere absence of restraint (negative freedom) is one thing, and the power to develop our activities to the fullest extent (positive freedom) is a very different thing. Legal restrictions may actually be the means of increasing positive freedom. Thus, a library placed at the disposal of the public without rule or regulation would result in a smaller total utilization of the books than one in which the observance of certain rules is strictly enforced. All laws which limit the power of the strong to oppress and which help to open the gates of opportunity to all must of necessity increase positive freedom. The newer idea of freedom aims at the development of such social arrangements that sane and complete lives will be possible for the largest number of persons.

 

John Rogers Commons (1862–1945) was an American institutional economist, progressive and labor historian at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

John Rogers Commons (1862–1945) was an American institutional economist, progressive and labor historian at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Commons, John Rogers. 1919. Industrial Goodwill. McGraw-Hill Company: New York.

[127] Thirty years ago the state of Wisconsin placed on its statute books a law requiring private and parochial schools to give a minimum amount of instruction in the English language and to be subject to the inspection of the State Superintendent of Schools similar to that of public schools. On the plea of liberty and freedom of worship the law was soon repealed, and those who sought freedom in America have been free of this particular duty to become American.

 

Harry Wellington Laidler (1884–1970) was an American socialist functionary, writer, magazine editor, and politician.

Harry Wellington Laidler (1884–1970) was an American socialist functionary, writer, magazine editor, and politician.

Laidler, Harry Wellington. 1920. Socialism in Thought and Action. The Macmillan Company: New York.

[59] The increasing industrial crises, the growing inability of the system to assure an existence to the workers, and the ever greater power of the producer on the political and economic field, cut from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable. The proletariat, through such a victory, will turn the means of production into social property, and by this act replace anarchy in production with systematic, definite organization; abolish the class nature of the state, abolish class divisions, make man at last master of his own form of social organization, at the same time, lord over Nature, his own master—free.

 

Mecklin, John Moffatt. 1920. An Introduction to Social Ethics: The Social Conscience in a Democracy. Harcourt, Brace and Howe: New York.

[306] The doctrine of natural rights has exercised a profound influence upon our conceptions of private property. In its most modern form it insists that property is indispensable to man’s individual development and the attainment of liberty. Without the dominion over things he is a slave. It is in the free creative expression of his powers that man achieves personality and freedom. Property is but the external form of this inherent and necessary law of human nature. Hence property is a natural right independent of the laws and institutions of men. This same hoary doctrine of natural rights underlies much of the thinking of to-day.

 

Schneider, Herbert Wallace. 1920. Science and Social Progress. The New Era Printing Co.: Lancastrer, PA.

[46] Moral science, then, far from being a return to fixed conditions and social coercion, is an attempt to give positive meaning and direction to individual freedom. As such it is not only an extension of man's control over nature by science, but also a further step in the democratic organization of society.

 

Cooley, Charles Horton. 1920. Social Process. Charles Scribners Sons: New York.

[143] The idea of freedom as developed in our present institutions is somewhat empty, because negative; we are apt to give a man the choice between drudgery and anarchy, and when we find that we have more of the latter than other nations we think it is because we are so free.

We need, then, a system of social groups, corresponding to the system of functions in society, each group having esprit de corps, emulation and standards within itself, and all animated with a spirit of loyalty and service to the whole. To achieve this would call for no change in human nature, but only in the instigation and direction of its impulses; it would mean chiefly firmer association and clearer ideals of merit among those pursuing the several functions. Pecuniary inducement would play a large part in it, but would be dethroned from the sole and all-sufficing position assigned to it in the prevalent economic philosophy. Freedom, self-expression, and the competitive spirit would be cherished, but could not degenerate into irresponsible individualism.

 

Avey, Albert Edwin. 1921. Readings in Philosophy. R. G. Adams and Company: Ohio.

[476] The definition of freedom just given is negative, and therefore it does not tell us what freedom is in itself; but it prepares the way for a positive conception of a more specific and more fruitful character.

 

May Gorslin Preston Slosson (1858 – 1943) was an American educator and suffragist.

May Gorslin Preston Slosson (1858 – 1943) was an American educator and suffragist.

Slosson, Preston. 1921. “Reaction and the Way Out,” The Independent (Feb. 26): 210-211.

[211] The so-called Spencerian individualists of fifty years ago thought that freedom involved nothing more than limiting the coercive powers of the state. They forgot that a factory law which interferes with ‘freedom of contract’ to work long hours or under unwholesome conditions may foster the larger liberties which health and leisure alone make possible. A child ‘compelledto go to school is freer in the long run than a child permitted to grow up within the imprisoning walls of illiteracy. … What we want is not anarchy, but that minimum of public regulation which will secure the maximum of free personal activity.

 

Wera, Eugene. 1921. Human Engineering. D. Appleton and Co.: New York.

[155-156] The new idea is to introduce the principle of self-government in industry. In government, freedom from restriction has been granted by decrees, but it is mere liberation and is only negative freedom. Positive freedom is that of expression. Such freedom cannot be granted; it must develop gradually and its development is a part of the real business of living. The new freedom in industry is self-expression in cooperation; it implies responsibility for acting conscientiously toward others as well as for regarding the consequences of our own actions.

 

Durant, Drake. 1921. The Problem of Conduct. Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston.

[402] But it is a travesty on the sacred word ‘liberty’ that it should be thus invoked to uphold the prerogatives of the favored few. Liberty, in the sense in which it is properly an ideal for man, connotes the right to all such forms of activity as are consonant with the greatest general happiness, and to no others. It implies the right not to be oppressed, not the right to oppress. Mere freedom of contract is not real freedom, if the alternative be to starve; such formal-freedom may be practical slavery. The real freedom is freedom to live as befits a man; and it is precisely because such freedom is beyond the grasp of multitudes to-day that our system of ‘free contractis discredited; it offers the name of liberty without the reality.

 

Groat, George Gorham. 1921. An Introduction to the Study of Organized Labor in America. The Macmillan Company: New York.

[187] The view of the law in this period was fairly representative of the spirit of the age. English political struggle had ushered in the era of laissez faire, but it was an era of relative freedom for the merchant and manufacturer class from restrictions of king and lords in Parliament. There was no thought of any practical extension of the new privileges to journeymen and laborers. The American Revolution had won political independence from Great Britain, a movement based on new principles of freedom. But this also had been a movement in which the capitalist classes had been leaders. They little thought that American freedom would be of any different brand than that of England except a greater degree of freedom from a King and parliament. Further developments were necessary to secure the extension of the nations rights and privileges to its workingmen.

 

Goodrich, Carter Lyman. 1921. The Frontier of Control. Harcourt, Brace and Company: New York.

[49-50] The general interest in organization becomes directly important for control only when it is turned to the organizing of industry; the general interests in industry become directly important for control only as they become organizing interests. … Mr. Straker, it is true, states the demand in terms of ‘the straining of the will of men to be free’; but he has more than once explained that he means by that not merely a negative freedom but a positive freedom, a freedom to do something. The content of his idea of freedom is in fact workmanship. … Wages and conditions are not enough. They have been improved and the unrest is still strong. Mere negative freedom from harsh discipline is not enough. That the Northumberland Miners have long been able to secure and the unrest is still strong. The root of the matter is a demand for a positive freedom of responsibility and self-expression.

 

Stone, Gilbert. 1922. A History of Labour. The Macmillan Company: New York.

[320] In particular, as regards the protection extended to women, it has been strenuously contended that as women are equal before the law as regards their power to contract, no effort to restrain their freedom of contracting can be tolerated. Such an argument is a return to the views expressed by some economists in England more than a century ago. It is an argument which tends to weaken as labour becomes stronger, for it is manifest that under modern labour conditions the health and well-being of the community demand that the future generation shall not be crippled before birth nor in its early youth. It is the protection and not the restraint of the employee that is the object of the Factory Acts, as it is the purpose of those Acts which have, for example, forbidden persons to buy poisons except under very stringent regulations. The good of the community demands that in some circumstances the private citizen’s freedom should be restricted; it demands that women and children should not be allowed to do that which, if persisted in, will not merely injure their individual health, but will degrade the character and stamina of their generation.

 

Hobhouse, Leonard T. 1922. Elements of Social Justice. George Allen and Unwin: London.

[56] Moral freedom, then, has nothing to do with isolation, but is…the harmony of the whole self in the multitudinous relations which constitute the web of its interests.

[58-59] A community as a collective whole and all its members as individuals in close inter-action might be absolutely free if their natures were absolutely harmonious just as the individual man might be free internally if all the elements within him harmonized. … We may…say that a society is in fact free in proportion as its internal life is harmonious. Just in that proportion all constraint drops away and goodwill and ready service take its place. But in so far as men’s natures are out of harmony restraints are required. They are required by freedom as much as by harmony for…the uncharted freedom of one would be the unconditional servitude of all but that one, and conversely a freedom to be enjoyed by all must impose some restraint upon all. … The respect in which I am free places a limiting restraint upon everyone else. The guaranteed system of liberties is, therefore, the obverse of an enforceable system of restraints.

[155] …[The] property which confer freedom on the owner, at the same time, limit or destroy the freedom of another. … For example, a man may have direct property in another, e.g. in a slave or, by a law recognized as semi-obsolete, in his wife. Here we have one of the cases in which the freedom of one is the unfreedom of another.

[157] The unfreedom which has been most keenly felt in modern industry rests on the dependence of the worker without capital on the owner of the means of production.

 

Thilly, Frank. 1923. “The Individualism of John Stuart Mill,” The Philosophical Review 32(1): 1-17.

[15] Leaving men free to exercise their rights, with the State on guard as the policeman, will not necessarily result—indeed, has not resulted—in a social order in which men enjoy complete and genuine freedom. Moreover, mere negative freedom from restraint is at best a questionable good. To be free from something need not be freedom at all: the all-important question is what one is free for. The freedom of speech of an ignorant man may be no good to any one, either to himself or to society; what he needs is the larger positive freedom to acquire knowledge.

 

Wilde, Norman. 1924. The Ethical Basis of the State. Princeton University Press: New Haven.

[190] The essence of freedom does not consist in a form of government, but in the character of the popular will finding expression through it.

[210] Unless a man can live in security, move about and change his occupation freely, posses and control the means of subsistence and happiness, and be free to speak his mind, he can hardly be reckoned as having truly human freedom.

 

James Ramsay MacDonald, (1866 – 1937) was a British statesman who was the first ever Labour Party Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, leading a Labour Government in 1924, a Labour Government from 1929 to 1931, and a National Government from 1931 to 1935.

James Ramsay MacDonald, (1866 – 1937) was a British statesman who was the first ever Labour Party Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, leading a Labour Government in 1924, a Labour Government from 1929 to 1931, and a National Government from 1931 to 1935.

MacDonald, James Ramsay. 1924. Socialism: Critical and Constructive. The Bobbs-Merrill Company: Indianapolis.

[213] No community can be free until it controls its financial organization. But finance can not be controlled, can not be absorbed into the functioning organization of the community, until industry has been organized on Socialistic models.

 

Blum, Solomon. 1925. Labor Economics. Henry Holt and Company: New York.

[30] Freedom was the fetish of the laissez-faire economy of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

[31] The individual was the basis of society and its raison d’etre. … Hence the welfare of the individual, that is to say his freedom, took precedence over all other considerations.

[34] Freedom and equality are, like poverty, relative matters, dependent upon the conditions of others. A group is free only when it has the same powers and privileges as other groups within the community, and such equality is conditioned even more, perhaps, by economic circumstances than by law.

 

Lauck, William Jett. 1926. Political and Industrial Democracy. Funk and Wagnalls Company: New York.

[91-92] The second fundamental principle to democracy in industry is the establishment of adequate wage standards. … Industry cannot function properly with a staff that is not at least physically maintained, or, in other words, protected by sufficient wages against physical deterioration. Moreover, the spirit of the workers, which is the real constraining force in cooperative effort, is dependent upon their freedom from economic and other anxieties, such as the inability to provide properly for their families, to educate their children, and generally to live according to American standards.

 

Gabbert, M. R. 1927. “Moral Freedom,The Journal of Philosophy 24(17): 464-472.

[465] Freedom has a positive and a negative meaning. … We assert our freedom over against some situation which seems about to hinder us in some way, or against some authority which is being set up over us. … Freedom, in other words, means for something as well as from something.

 

Burns, C. Leslie. 1927. Political Ideals, third ed. Oxford University Press: London.

[270] Finally, by contrast with Individualism in so far as this implies the freedom of development of each individual, the socialistic ideal involves that each shall be given every opportunity to fulfil that function for society of which he is most capable.

 

Evans, D. Luther. 1928. “Current Epistemology and Contemporary Ethics,” The Philosophical Review 37(4): 353-359.

[354] Freedom, in ethical philosophy, has seldom meant the absence of a conditioning context for conduct. … Determinists or indeterminists, we may all agree with Hegel that ‘in duty we reach the real essence and gain positive freedom.’

 

Jessie Wallace Hughan (1875 – 1955) was an American educator, a socialist activist, and a radical pacifist. During her college days she was one of four co-founders of Alpha Omicron Pi, a national fraternity for university women. She also was a founder and the first Secretary of the War Resisters League, established in 1923. For over two decades, she was a perennial candidate for political office on the ticket of the Socialist Party of America in her home state of New York.

Jessie Wallace Hughan (1875 – 1955) was an American educator, a socialist activist, and a radical pacifist. During her college days she was one of four co-founders of Alpha Omicron Pi, a national fraternity for university women. She also was a founder and the first Secretary of the War Resisters League, established in 1923. For over two decades, she was a perennial candidate for political office on the ticket of the Socialist Party of America in her home state of New York.

Hughan, Jessie Wallace. 1928. What is Socialism? Vanguard Press: New York.

[25] Socialism is the political movement of the working class which aims at the ownership by society of the principle means of production and distribution, with their economic management for the prevention of exploitation and for the benefit of the people as a whole. … The Socialist program has always included free trade as an important means of preventing the exploitation of special privilege.

[26] Movements for individual freedom and for local self-government are actively supported by socialists, except in cases where such liberty interferes with that of others or causes exploitation, —for example, the freedom of an employer to disregard sanitation, or of a state to permit child labor. ‘Liberty of persons and government of things’ is a Socialist motto.

 

Giovanni Gentile (1875 – 1944) was an Italian neo-Hegelian Idealist philosopher, a peer of Benedetto Croce. He described himself as 'the philosopher of Fascism', and ghostwrote A Doctrine of Fascism (1932) for Benito Mussolini. He also devised his own system of philosophy, Actual Idealism.

Giovanni Gentile (1875 – 1944) was an Italian neo-Hegelian Idealist philosopher, a peer of Benedetto Croce. He described himself as 'the philosopher of Fascism', and ghostwrote A Doctrine of Fascism (1932) for Benito Mussolini. He also devised his own system of philosophy, Actual Idealism.

Gentile, Giovanni. 1928. “The Philosophic Basis of Fascism,” Foreign Affairs 6(2): 290-304.

[304] Liberalism broke the circle above referred to, setting the individual against the State and liberty against authority. What the liberal desired was liberty as against the State, a liberty which was a limitation of the State; though the liberal had to resign himself, as the lesser of the evils, to a State which was a limitation on liberty. The absurdities inherent in the liberal concept of freedom were apparent to the liberals themselves early in the Nineteenth Century. It is no merit of Fascism to have again indicated them. Fascism has its own solution of the paradox of liberty and authority. The authority of the State is absolute. … But on the other hand, the State becomes a reality only in the consciousness of its individuals. And the Fascist corporative State supplies a representative system more sincere and more in touch with realities than any other previously devised and is therefore freer than the old liberal State.

 

Durant, Will. 1929. The Mansions of Philosophy. Simon and Schuster: New York.

[421] The first condition of freedom is its limitation; life is a balance of interferences, like the suspension of the earth in space.

 

Wheldon, Jr., C. H. 1930. “Constructive Dissent from Present Political Degradation,” Social Forces 9(1): 104-112.

[108] The duty imposes by free individuals upon their political government, that is, upon the chief social agency of control, is twofold only. The duty, first, to maintain in full and in behalf of the universal freedom those reservations to individual freedom which are sustained by the existing typical level of collective opinion. Such maintenance means sustaining, as far as possible, the effective freedom of the mental and spiritual spheres of life, and means accomplishing, as far as possible, the equalization and improvement of opportunities for physical adjustment to the environment.

[109] To safeguard the economic position of the individual in the interest of his proper freedom, the federal government should initiate a model system of unemployment insurance and accident insurance compulsory upon every employer of labor, to be applied by each State individually as its people sees fit, and similarly a model system of voluntary and contributory retirement insurance for all individuals whose incomes are principally in the general form of wages, salaries, or net returns from the individual conduct of a business or profession.

 

Norman Mattoon Thomas (1884 – 1968) was an American Presbyterian minister who achieved fame as a socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America.

Norman Mattoon Thomas (1884 – 1968) was an American Presbyterian minister who achieved fame as a socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America.

Thomas, Norman. 1931. Americas Way Out: A Program for Democracy. The Macmillan Company: New York.

[203] The first freedom men of our generation desire is from poverty and insecurity.

 

Richard Henry "R. H." Tawney (1880 – 1962) was an English economic historian, social critic, ethical socialist, Christian socialist, and an important proponent of adult education.

Richard Henry "R. H." Tawney (1880 – 1962) was an English economic historian, social critic, ethical socialist, Christian socialist, and an important proponent of adult education.

Tawney, Richard Henry. [1931] 1979. Equality. Unwin Books: New York.

[166] Freedom is always, no doubt, a matter of degree; no man enjoys all the requirements of full personal development, and all men posses some of them.

 

Callcott, Mary S. 1932. Principles of Social Legislation. The Macmillan Company: New York.

[4] Progressive minds saw that the way to give greater freedom to the many. Greater opportunity for individual development, was to restrict the liberty of the few.

 

Lorwin, Lewis L. 1932. “Some Political Aspects of Economic Planning,” The American Political Science Review 26(4): 723-727.

[725-726] My feeling on the subject is that in order to answer the question we need a clearer analysis of the changing content and forms of freedom. If the freedoms which are important to the individual are the freedom of movement, the freedom of thought, of expressing opinion, of selecting one’s place in the productive system in accordance with one’s own capacity, we may say that most of these freedoms could be retained under a system of economic planning, provided that techniques of guidance are worked out in accordance with economic needs and changing psychology. That many of the repressions and restrictions under laissez faire are not resented, and indeed are even accepted as forms of freedom, is evidence of the fact that the present system has worked out a technique of giving the individual the illusion of freedom where the latter does not really exist. Even under Soviet planning today, there would be more individual leeway, were it not for the extraordinary conditions under which the economic development of the country is proceeding and for the Soviet reaction against western democracy, which makes the Soviet planners unduly impatient, for the time being, with the problem of individual freedom.

 

Slichter, Sumner H. 1932. Modern Economic Society. Henry Holt and Co.: New York.

[56] It should be observed that abandonment by the government of its hands-off policy toward industry does not inevitably mean a loss of freedom. The unregulated buying and selling of goods does not necessarily represent a state of freedom.

[57-58] Real freedom consists in having the conditions and the institutions which are satisfactory to the greatest number. … It is more realistic to regard the state as an instrument for creating freedom, and the restrictions which it imposes upon industry as a means to an end. … Far from merely imposing restrictions, the government gives us an opportunity to choose the kind of freedom that we shall have.

 

Cohen, Morris R. 1933. “The Basis of Contract,” Harvard Law Review 46(4): 553-592.

[591] Nowhere is this warning more necessary than against the absolute separation of freedom of contract from government regulation, the former conceived as purely negative and the latter purely arbitrary. In actual life real freedom to do anything, in art as in politics, depends upon acceptance of the rules of our enterprise. … Real or positive freedom depends upon opportunities supplied by institutions that involve legal regulation.

 

Dewey, John. 1935. “The Future of Liberalism,” Journal of Philosophy 32(9): 225-230.

[230] Any liberalism that does not make full cultural freedom supreme and that does not see the relation between it and genuine industrial freedom as a way of life is a degenerate and delusive liberalism.

 

Noonan, Joseph F. 1935. “The Social Meaning and Significance of a Theoretically Planned Economy,” Journal of Educational Sociology 9(3): 179-186.

[183-184] It is undoubtedly axiomatic that individual freedom, undirected and unrestrained, has been considered one of the major criteria of happy living. … This tendency may be responsible for rather wide acceptance of the doctrine of a priori individualism. … When the individual, flushed with success through the accumulation of wealth, forgets the debt that he owes the body politic that made his status possible, there remains no recourse on the part of society except to curb his unnatural ego and curtail his objectionable activities with the restraining leash of some form of social control. He has mistaken liberty for license, and must again be restored to his senses. If this reasoning is correct, there can be no inherent principle of a priori individualism. All men must be induced to regulate their actions in such fashion that the welfare of the social group will not be adversely affected. … Economic control of society, based on the law of supply and demand solely, is today a form of political chicanery that finds acceptance by no responsible party group.

 

Soule, George. 1935. A Planned Society. The Macmillan Company: New York.

[74] Freedom in the abstract means nothing. It must be set in terms of a desire to do something in particular, and the presence of obstacles to that desire, before it assumes form and substance. Nevertheless, the early philosophers of liberalism gave freedom a halo of abstract sanctity.

 

John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes,(1883 – 1946) was a British economist whose ideas have fundamentally affected the theory and practice of modern macroeconomics, and informed the economic policies of governments.

John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes,(1883 – 1946) was a British economist whose ideas have fundamentally affected the theory and practice of modern macroeconomics, and informed the economic policies of governments.

Keynes, John Maynard. 1935. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. Harcourt, Brace and Company: New York.

[381] It is certain that the world will not much longer tolerate the unemployment which, apart from brief intervals of excitement, is associated…with present-day capitalistic individualism. But it may be possible by a right analysis of the problem to cure the disease whilst preserving efficiency and freedom.

 

McGilvary, Evander Bradley. 1935. “Freedom and Necessity in Human Affairs,” International Journal of Ethics 45(4): 379-398.

[386] Freedom is not freedom from causes but freedom for causes.

 

Czenner, Eugene. 1935. “Political Structure and Economic Order,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 180(Jul.): 102-105.

[104-105] The disciples of the liberal, laissez faire school will of course never agree to any restriction of freedom, should it be political or economic. But complete freedom never existed anywhere, through all history, because it would mean anarchy. One’s individual freedom, whether economic or political, has always been limited by the like freedom of his neighbor. … No political freedom, no democratic or constitutional idea, need be hurt by bringing in a new economic order so long as the change is not established by force or revolution, but as a result of the constitutionally expressed wish of a nation.

 

Harold Joseph Laski (1893 – 1950) was a British political theorist, economist, author, and lecturer. He was active in politics and served as the chairman of the British Labour Party during 1945–1946, and was a professor at the London School of Economics from 1926 to 1950.

Harold Joseph Laski (1893 – 1950) was a British political theorist, economist, author, and lecturer. He was active in politics and served as the chairman of the British Labour Party during 1945–1946, and was a professor at the London School of Economics from 1926 to 1950.

Laski, Harold J. 1936. The Rise of Liberalism. Harper and Brothers: New York.

[301] That the liberty [the men who served liberalism] cherished was, in sober fact, a freedom denied to the overwhelming majority of their fellow-citizens too rarely entered into their conscious thoughts. They had refused to see that a just society means either one in which there is recognition of an equal claim upon the common stock of welfare, or one, at least, in which differences in reward are capable of justification in terms of relevance to that common stock.

 

Agar, Herbert. 1936. Introduction” in Who Owns America? edited by Herbert Agar and Allen Tate. Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston.

[viii] So far from providing freedom, monopoly capitalism does not even desire it. To be sure, a cardinal tenet of its economic theory is that both capital and labor should be ‘free.’ But this only means that they must be allowed to flow backward and forward from area to area and from industry to industry, wherever the highest rate of profit is to be found.

In terms of labor this means that a workman had better be ‘free’ from a home, because if he had a home he would not be sufficiently mobile. He had better be free from personal responsibilities; above all, he had better be free from children.

 

Tate, Allen. 1936. “Notes on Liberty and Property” in Who Owns America? Edited by Herbert Agar and Allen Tate. Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston.

[82] Control, the power to direct production and to command markets, is freedom.

 

Rowell, Chester H. 1936. “The Freedom of the Press,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 185(May): 182-189.

[189] Only thus will the newspaper be really free. Freedom is not the mere absence of restraint. … Unless the American newspaper can attain to this positive freedom, not much would be lost by depriving it of its negative freedom.

 

Langley, G. H. 1936-1937. “Freedom and Modern Political Conceptions,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 37 N.S.: 41-60.

[47] But similar theories of the state have been held by Hegel and other thinkers, and it seems to me that these states do provide conditions which, in one respect, make a positive contribution to the personal freedom of many of their citizens.

If freedom, as we have maintained, implies self-fulfillment, the individual cannot obtain freedom in isolation from or in opposition to the society which he belongs. On the other hand he can only find self-fulfillment by entering into mutually helpful relation with other individuals. In such relations the individual discover himself in a manner that would not otherwise be possible, and at the same time does so by subordinating purely personal desire and purpose to the demands made upon him by membership of a society.

[48] Nevertheless, since the state is a society, citizens do posses common ends which could not have existed outside the state. … Thus citizens may, while enjoying comradeship with their fellow citizens, find enhanced freedom by accepting ends which the state pursues. Many in the Corporate States are possibly experiencing such a sense of enhanced freedom.

 

Sir Stephen Harold Spender (1909 – 1995) was an English poet, novelist and essayist who concentrated on themes of social injustice and the class struggle in his work. He was appointed the seventeenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the United States Library of Congress in 1965.

Sir Stephen Harold Spender (1909 – 1995) was an English poet, novelist and essayist who concentrated on themes of social injustice and the class struggle in his work. He was appointed the seventeenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the United States Library of Congress in 1965.

Spender, Stephen. 1937. Forward from Liberalism. Victor Gollancz: London.

[24] Instead of abandoning the idealist achievements of the liberal state, communism would make them real. It would provide the equal economic basis for freedom, make democracy effective, states international.

 

Leighton, Joseph Alexander. 1937. Social Philosophies in Conflict. D. Appleton-Century Company: New York.

[319] The positive meanings of ‘liberty’ or ‘freedomreside in the opportunities that their exercise gives to individuals to do, or to abstain from doing, something specific that has either value or disvalue.

[320-321] It is obvious, to any disinterested and well-informed person that, on the other hand, the other forms of freedom are mere mockeries to a starving and homeless man, if economic opportunity be wholly denied him.

[326] The only freedom that is of any real value is the freedom that consists in a fair opportunity to lead, by honest work that enriches the total economic and spiritual wealth of society, a normal human life; one in which the common capacities for work, play, companionship, love, and spiritual development get scope for fulfillment.

 

Sabine, George H. 1937. A History of Political Theory. Henry Holt: New York.

[674] [Thomas Hill] Green’s contrast between positive and negative freedom reproduced a line of thought which came to him both from Rousseau and from Hegel. That is to say, it reflected the rediscovery of the community as a corporate body of which both institutions and individuals are a part, so that the idea of collective well-being or the common good underlies any claim to a private right. … The difficulty with Greens idea of positive freedom, however, is that it can lead precisely to that shuffling with the meaning of a common word that occurs in Rousseau and Hegel.

 

Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc 1870 – 1953) was an Anglo-French writer and historian. He was one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century. He was known as a writer, orator, poet, sailor, satirist, man of letters, soldier and political activist. He is most notable for his Catholic faith, which had a strong impact on his works, and his writing collaboration with G. K. Chesterton.

Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc 1870 – 1953) was an Anglo-French writer and historian. He was one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century. He was known as a writer, orator, poet, sailor, satirist, man of letters, soldier and political activist. He is most notable for his Catholic faith, which had a strong impact on his works, and his writing collaboration with G. K. Chesterton.

Belloc, Hilaire. 1938. “The Way Out – Secured Capitalism,” Social Justice 2A(2): 4.

[4] The destitute man is legally bound by his contract to the capitalist for whom he has engaged to work for a wage. He is free not to work for such a master; but it is only freedom to starve. … At the same time the destitute citizen, the wage earner without property and therefore without economic freedom, is securely bound to the capitalist machine.

 

McConaughy, James L. 1938. “Freedom of Education in a Democracy,” The Public Opinion Quarterly 2(1): 32-35.

[32] Actually, freedom is far from complete in our schools. It is limited both in freedom of educational opportunity and in educational practice. We boast of free schooling, but we do not provide it; we talk of freedom for teachers but we do not permit it.

[35] Freedom of education is an essential in a democracy. … Freedom of educational opportunity has gained strikingly in the past few decades. The state must strive to give as great freedom as the individual’s promise, in brains and character, deserves. … Freedom for the teacher should be as complete as the states welfare can allow. When we have attained these ideals, freedom in democratic education will be assured.

 

League for Social Reconstruction. 1938. Democracy needs Socialism. Thomas Nelson and Sons: Toronto.

[137] Democracy has been held back by an individualism that has become too rugged; by ‘freedom’ which has become the privilege of large corporations and private profit seekers to pursue their own interests without let or hindrance; by our refusal to face the facts that political freedom to vote means little if the wealthy finance the parties, control the press, and employ the lawyers.

 

Bowden, Witt. 1938. “Freedom for Wage Earners,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 200(Nov.): 185-209.

[186-187] The conditions underlying freedom in the sense intended by the ordinary citizen in application to himself include opportunity for work with compensation at least somewhat above a bare family subsistence and the possibility of maintaining his morale and capacity for work during temporary or transitional periods of unemployment. … In the case of the wage earner, a purely individualistic and legalistic interpretation of freedom of expression is in effect a denial of the means essential to the maintenance of his freedom.

 

Soule, George. 1939. An Economic Constitution for Democracy. Yale University Press: New Haven.

[101] But if we face the facts and deal with them voluntarily and in a constructive spirit, we can become more free and effective than ever before. We can then use central political power as a creative instrument of cooperation rather than making out of it a superpoliceman. Here lies the essence of what we mean by democracy. A well-ordered economic constitution is not the enemy of freedom in the modern world but its inevitable accompaniment.

 

Merriam, Charles E. 1939. The New Democracy and the New Despotism. McGraw-Hill Book Company: New York.

[82-83] My unlimited freedom of choice—liberty—may, to be sure, interfere with the free choices of others, with their liberty, or with social justice, or with public order and the commonweal itself, or with their equality. If my system of free choices interferes with the dignity of man, with the possibility of his development, with his fair share in the gains of civilization, my system must be revised in according with the systems of others in a democratic society at any given stage of its development.

 

Clark, John Maurice. 1939. Social Control of Business. McGraw-Hill Company: New York.

[90] Every day people are killed by automobiles, killed in coal mines, or injured in various ways by industry. We have a ‘right’ to personal liberty, yet people work under such dangers because they feel that they cannot help themselves; they are not free to do otherwise.

 

Bronisław Kasper Malinowski (1884–1942) was a Polish anthropologist, one of the most important 20th-century anthropologists. He has been also referred to as a sociologist and ethnographer.

Bronisław Kasper Malinowski (1884–1942) was a Polish anthropologist, one of the most important 20th-century anthropologists. He has been also referred to as a sociologist and ethnographer.

Malinowski, Bronislaw. 1944. Freedom and Civilization. Roy Publishers: New York.

[21] Peace, security and international law, sanctioned by a collective police force responsible only to the executive powers of the Super-state, are the only cultural devices which can prevent the recurrence of total war. … The advantages are freedom from want and freedom from fear.

[22] Democracy is freedom in action.

[25] The essential nature of freedom thus conceived is pragmatic. Freedom comes into being when the activities of organized behavior follow human choice and planning. … All claims for freedom remain idle and irrelevant unless planning and aiming can be translated into an effective execution through well-implemented and well-organized behavior.

[27] Clearly, since freedom of action means the conditions sufficient and necessary for the mastery of all circumstances inherent in the execution of purpose, freedom means power. … Without some order—and order always implies a residue of authority if not coercion—freedom means anarchy.

 

Karl Paul Polanyi (1886 – 1964) was a Hungarian economic historian, economic anthropologist, political economist, historical sociologist and social philosopher. He is known for his opposition to traditional economic thought and his book, The Great Transformation.

Karl Paul Polanyi (1886 – 1964) was a Hungarian economic historian, economic anthropologist, political economist, historical sociologist and social philosopher. He is known for his opposition to traditional economic thought and his book, The Great Transformation.

Polanyi, Karl. [1944] 1957. The Great Transformation. Beakon Press: Boston.

[254] …[R]egulation both extends and restricts freedom; only the balance of the freedoms lost and won is significant.

[254-5] The institutional separation of politics and economics, which proved a deadly danger to the substance of society, almost automatically produced freedom at the cost of justice and security. Civic liberties, private enterprise and wage-system fused into a pattern of life which favored moral freedom and independence of mind. Here again, juridical and actual freedoms merge into a common fund, the elements of which cannot be neatly separated.

[256] The passing of the market economy can become the beginning of an era of unprecedented freedom.

[256-7] Planning and control are being attacked as a denial of freedom. Free enterprise and private ownership are declared to be essential of freedom. No society built on other foundations is said to deserve to be called free… With the liberal idea of freedom thus degenerates into a mere advocacy of free enterprise—which is today reduced to a fiction by the hard reality of giant trusts and princely monopolies.

[257] Freedoms utter frustration in fascism is, indeed, the inevitable result of the liberal philosophy, which claimed that power and compulsion are evil, that freedom demands their absence from a human community.


George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950) was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics.

George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950) was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics.

Shaw, Bernard. 1971. The Road to Equality: Ten Unpublished Lectures and Essays, 1884-1918. Beacon Press: Boston.

[38] The natural right of property goes no further than this—that ‘every man has freedom to do all that he wills’ with his own ‘provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man.’ The freedom here affirmed [by Herbert Spencer] is a barren one.


4L is authored by Daniel B. Klein, Professor of Economics, JIN Chair at the Mercatus Center, George Mason University, Associate Fellow of the Ratio Institute; email: dklein@gmu.edu

Quotations compiled by Ryan Daza & Daniel B. Klein