Ideal of Liberalism

The dome of the Jefferson Library of Congress

2-28-2017

The Science of Liberty

Timothy Ferris

The ideal of liberalism is universal peace and mutual aid. “The starting point of liberal thought is the recognition of the value and importance of human cooperation,” wrote the economist Ludwig von Mises, “ and the whole policy and program of liberalism is designed to serve the purpose of maintaining the existing state of mutual cooperation among the members of the human race and of extending it still further. . . . Liberal thinking always has the whole of humanity in view and not just parts” Liberals are opposed to war not only for the usual reasons but also because wars tend to aggrandize governments, ballooning their budgets and emboldening them to draft conscripts. Similarly liberalism opposes colonialism, racism and every other form of oppression.

There is, however, one inherent problem with liberalism. Since absolute liberty would be anarchy, liberalism must sanction some form of coercion to prevent the strong from abridging the freedoms of the weak. The troubled history of American race relations is replete with examples of such il-liberalism on the march: The white robed Klansmen who bombed churches and burned crosses might be said to have been exercising their freedom of speech and association, as were the white American shipyard workers who harrased their black coworkers during World War II. TO prevent such injustices, liberals concede to government a monopoly on coercive force. The police, the national guard, and the military are entitled to employ force, while corporations, vigilante groups and self appointed militias are not. This governmental monopoly on coercive force calls forth two further liberal mandates. The first is equal protection under the law.(Locke: where there is no law, there is no freedom.”

 

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