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Free society

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The southern critique of wage slavery catalyzed in Lincoln a defense of free society. Most northerners, he insisted, were "neither hirers nor hired," but worked "for themselves." ~ Eric Foner
The bourgeoisie ... lets him have the appearance of acting from a free choice, of making a contract with free, unconstrained consent, as a responsible agent who has attained his majority. Fine freedom, where the proletarian has no other choice than that of either accepting the conditions which the bourgeoisie offers him, or of starving, of freezing to death, of sleeping naked among the beasts of the forests! ~ Friedrich Engels
Because we live in a largely free society, we tend to forget how limited is the span of time and the part of the globe for which there has ever been anything like political freedom: the typical state of mankind is tyranny, servitude, and misery. - Milton Friedman
The contract by which he sold his labour-power to the capitalist proved in black and white, so to speak, that he was free to dispose of himself. But when the transaction was concluded, it was discovered that he was no 'free agent', that the period of time for which he is free to sell his labour-power is the period of time for which he forced to sell it. ~ Karl Marx

In a free society all individuals act voluntarily, having the freedom to obtain the power and resources to fulfill their own potential.

CONTENT : A - F , G - L , M - R , S - Z , See also , External links

QuotesEdit

Arranged alphabetically by author.

A - FEdit

  • My own conviction is that philosophical education is required, moral education is required, psychological education is required, and that no free society can last without an appropriate philosophy and supporting culture. A free society requires and entails a whole set of values, a whole way of looking at people—at human relationships, at the relationship of the individual to the state—about which there has to be some decent level of consensus.
  • The freedom to have a private conversation – free from the worry that a hostile government, a rogue government agent or a competitor or a criminal are listening – is central to a free society.
    • Cindy Cohn, as quoted in “With the latest WikiLeaks revelations about the CIA – is privacy really dead?”, Olivia Solon, The Guardian, March 9, 2017
  • A free society cherishes nonconformity. It knows that from the non-conformist, from the eccentric, have come many of the great ideas of freedom. Free society must fertilize the soil in which non-conformity and dissent and individualism can grow.
  • The bourgeoisie has gained a monopoly of all means of existence in the broadest sense of the word. What the proletarian needs, he can obtain only from this bourgeoisie, which is protected in its monopoly by the power of the state. The proletarian is, therefore, in law and in fact, the slave of the bourgeoisie, which can decree his life or death. ... The bourgeoisie ... lets him have the appearance of acting from a free choice, of making a contract with free, unconstrained consent, as a responsible agent who has attained his majority. Fine freedom, where the proletarian has no other choice than that of either accepting the conditions which the bourgeoisie offers him, or of starving, of freezing to death, of sleeping naked among the beasts of the forests!
  • Read the history of the English Poor laws, and you will find that the laboring class of England have, every day since the emancipation of the villeins, been in a worse condition, morally and physically, than any slaves ever were. ... How comes it that your distinguished neighbor, Gerrit Smith, proposes to make land as free for the enjoyment of all as air and water? Confessedly, because the despotism of capital over labor is intolerable. ... Do not the late writers on society in Western Europe, and in our free States, generally admit that those evils are intolerable, and that Free Society requires total subversion and reorganization? Should you not, therefore, abolish your form of society and adopt ours, until Mr. Greely or Brigham Young, or Mr. Andrews, or Mr. Goodell, or some other socialist of Europe or America, invents and puts into successful practice, a social organization better than either?
    • George Fitzhugh, Letter to A. Hogeboom, January 14, 1856, in Cannibals All!: Or, Slaves Without Masters (1857), pp. 151-153
  • Lincoln was fascinated and disturbed by the writings of proslavery ideologues like George Fitzhugh. The southern critique of wage slavery catalyzed in Lincoln a defense of free society. Most northerners, he insisted, were "neither hirers nor hired," but worked "for themselves, on their farms, in their houses, and in their shops, taking the whole product to themselves, and asking no favors of capital on the one hand, nor hirelings or slaves on the other." Wage earners were generally young "beginners," hired "by their own consent"; contrary to southern charges, they were not "fatally fixed in that condition for life." Yet even Lincoln's eloquent exposition could not escape free labor's inherent ambiguities. Was wage labor a normal, acceptable part of the northern social order or a temporary status, associated with the lack of genuine freedom?
    • Eric Foner, The Story of American Freedom (1998), p. 68
  • In a free society a large degree of human activity is none of the government's business. We should make criminal what's going to hurt other people and other than that we should leave it to people to make their own choices.
    • Barney Frank, commenting on legislation to remove federal criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, CNN Newsroom: Rep. Barney Frank's Marijuana Bill (30 July 2008)
  • The course of decision in this Court has thus far jealously enforced the principle of a free society secured by the prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures. Its safeguards are not to be worn away by a process of devitalizing interpretation.
  • Without a free press there can be no free society. That is axiomatic. However, ‘freedom of the press is not an end in itself but a means to the end of a free society’. The scope and nature of the constitutional guarantee of the freedom of the press are to be viewed and applied in that light.
  • I want people to take thought about their condition and to recognize that the maintenance of a free society is a very difficult and complicated thing and it requires a self-denying ordinance of the most extreme kind. It requires a willingness to put up with temporary evils on the basis of the subtle and sophisticated understanding that if you step in to do something about them you not only may make them worse, you will spread your tentacles and get bad results elsewhere.
  • Because we live in a largely free society, we tend to forget how limited is the span of time and the part of the globe for which there has ever been anything like political freedom: the typical state of mankind is tyranny, servitude, and misery.
  • The widespread use of the market reduces the strain on the social fabric by rendering conformity unnecessary with respect to any activities it encompasses. The wider the range of activities covered by the market, the fewer are the issues on which explicitly political decisions are required and hence on which it is necessary to achieve agreement. In turn, the fewer the issues on which agreement is necessary, the greater is the likelihood of getting agreement while maintaining a free society.

G - LEdit

  • The systems advocated by professed upholders of laissez-faire are in reality permeated with coercive restrictions of individual freedom. ... What is the government doing when it “protects a property right”? Passively, it is abstaining from interference with the owner when he deals with the thing owned; actively, it is forcing the non-owner to desist from handling it, unless the owner consents. Yet Mr. Carver would have it that the government is merely preventing the non-owner from using force against the owner. This explanation is obviously at variance with the facts—for the non-owner is forbidden to handle the owner's property even where his handling of it involves no violence or force whatever. ... In protecting property the government is doing something quite apart from merely keeping the peace. It is exerting coercion wherever that is necessary to protect each owner, not merely from violence, but also from peaceful infringement of his sole right to enjoy the thing owned.
    • Robert Lee Hale, “Coercion and Distribution in a Supposedly Non-Coercive State,” Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 3 (Sep., 1923), pp. 470-494
  • A free society means toleration, which in turn comes from openness of mind. But freedom also presupposes conviction; a free choice—unless it be wholly arbitrary (and then it would not be free)—comes from belief and ultimately from principle. A free society, then, cherishes both toleration and conviction.
    • Harvard Committee, Report, General Education in a Free Society, Harvard University Press, 1950, p. 77
  • If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion.
    • Friedrich Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, Chap. 6: “Equality, Value and Merit,” Routledge (1960) p. 77, first published 1960
  • But it is also true that in a free society an individual will be esteemed according to the manner in which he uses his freedom.
    • Friedrich Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, Chap. 5: “Responsibility and Freedom,” Routledge (1960) p. 70, first published 1960
  • There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal. While the first is the condition of a free society, the second means as De Tocqueville describes it, 'a new form of servitude.'
    • Friedrich Hayek, "Individualism: True and False" essay (1945); later published in Individualism and Economic Order, University of Chicago Press (1948) p. 16
  • We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage.
  • Unless we can make the philosophic foundations of a free society once more a living intellectual issue, and its implementation a task which challenges the ingenuity and imagination of our liveliest minds, the prospects of freedom are indeed dark. But if we can regain that belief in power of ideas which was the mark of liberalism at its best, the battle is not lost.
  • In this constant battle which we call living, we try to set a code of conduct according to the society in which we are brought up, whether it be a Communist society or a so-called free society; we accept a standard of behaviour as part of our tradition as Hindus or Muslims or Christians or whatever we happen to be. We look to someone to tell us what is right or wrong behaviour, what is right or wrong thought, and in following this pattern our conduct and our thinking become mechanical, our responses automatic. We can observe this very easily in ourselves.
  • The principles of a free society describe not a hierarchy of superior and subordinate authorities but an archipelago of competing and overlapping jurisdictions. A free society is sustained to the extent that laws honour these principles and authorities operate within the laws.
    • Chandran Kukathas, The Liberal Archipelago: A Theory of Diversity and Freedom, Oxford University Press, 2003, p. 4
  • A free society is an open society and, therefore the principles which describe its nature must be principles which admit the variability of human arrangements rather than fix or establish or uphold a determinate set of institutions within a closed order… the fundamental principle describing a free society is the principle of freedom of association. A first corollary of this is the principle of freedom of association. A second corollary is the principle of mutual toleration of associations.
    • Chandran Kukathas, The Liberal Archipelago: A Theory of Diversity and Freedom, Oxford University Press, 2003, p. 4
  • If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. The functionaries of every government have propensities to command at will the liberty and property of their constituents. There is no safe deposit for these but with the people themselves; nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe.
  • In a free society the state does not administer the affairs of men. It administers justice among men who conduct their own affairs.
    • Walter Lippmann The Good Society, Transaction Publishers (2009) p. 267, first published 1937

M - REdit

  • I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for. But, my lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
  • During the very first storms of the revolution, the French bourgeoisie dared to take away from the workers the right of association but just acquired. By a decree of June 14, 1791, they declared all coalition of the workers as “an attempt against liberty and the declaration of the rights of man,” punishable by a fine of 500 livres, together with deprivation of the rights of an active citizen for one year. This law which, by means of State compulsion, confined the struggle between capital and labour within limits comfortable for capital, has outlived revolutions and changes of dynasties. Even the Reign of Terror left it untouched. It was but quite recently struck out of the Penal Code.
  • It must be acknowledged that our worker emerges from the process of production looking different from when he entered it. In the market, as owner of the commodity 'labour-power', he stood face to face with other owners of commodities, one owner against another owner. The contract by which he sold his labour-power to the capitalist proved in black and white, so to speak, that he was free to dispose of himself. But when the transaction was concluded, it was discovered that he was no 'free agent', that the period of time for which he is free to sell his labour-power is the period of time for which he forced to sell it, that in fact the vampire will not let go 'while there remains a single muscle, sinew or drop of blood to be exploited'.
  • The process of gradual abolition in New England actually inscribed the practices of slavery itself in what was quite arbitrarily defined as the "free society" to which it gave birth. The fact that New Englanders began extolling their "free society" the minute the ink was dry on the gradual emancipation statutes does not mean that the statutes inaugurated a state of being that differed materially from the one that existed before the statutes were passed.
    • Joanne Pope Melish, Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and "Race" in New England, 1780–1860 (1998)
  • Yet we can maintain a free society only if we recognize that in a free society no one can win all the time. No one can have his own way all the time, and no one is right all the time.
    • Richard Nixon, Alfred M. Landon lecture, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, September 16, 1970. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1970, p. 758
  • Regulating speech is a dangerous notion and, not compatible with the principles of a free society. The Founders recognized this, and thus explicitly prohibited Congress from making any laws that might abridge freedom of speech or of the press.
    • Ron Paul, “An Indecent Attack on the First Amendment,” before the US House of Representatives, (March 10, 2004)
  • The most important element of a free society, where individual rights are held in the highest esteem, is the rejection of the initiation of violence. All initiation of force is a violation of someone else’s rights, whether initiated by and individual or the state,…
    • Ron Paul, Freedom Under Siege: The U.S. Constitution After 200 Years, Ludwig von Mises Institute, (2007) p. 38
  • Socialism is, essentially, the tendency inherent in an industrial civilization to transcend the self-regulating market by consciously subordinating it to a democratic society. It is the solution natural to the industrial workers who see no reason why production should not be regulated directly and why markets should be more than a useful but subordinate trait in a free society. From the point of view of the community as a whole, socialism is merely the continuation of that endeavor to make society a distinctively human relationship of persons which in Western Europe was always associated with Christian traditions.
  • The danger to a free society is not the guns owned by the citizens but an unconstrained government, especially one that is better armed than the public. An armed society is a self-governing society, just as a disarmed people are vulnerable to arbitrary power of every kind.
    • Lew Rockwell, “Guns and Liberty”, Mises Daily, (June 3, 1999)
  • Electoral politics has never succeeded in achieving a free society.
    • John Pugsley, as quoted in I Must Speak Out: The Best of The Voluntaryist 1982-1999, Carl Watner, San Francisco: CA, Fox & Wilkes (1999) p. 118
  • The American project of bringing a free society to Iraq could not possibly have worked. Why not? Because a free society requires a free market, and the American regime of conquest was founded on socialist planning by the state.
    • Lew Rockwell, Against the State: An Anarcho-Capitalist Manifesto, Auburn: AL, Rockwell Communications LLC (2014) p. 38

S - ZEdit

  • My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.
  • The first principle of a free society is an untrammeled flow of words in an open forum.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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