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Commentaries on freedom are everywhere.  In fact, there are no new ideas on the subject.  People just express this important thought in different terms.  Occasionally, a few of these terms catch on only to get lost in time as other terms come into vogue.  But it never hurts to repeat the thoughts of others on the subject.


For us, freedom is the right to choose responsibly.  It is a right because, unless it is enforced and protected by government, it can be taken away by superior force.  Responsibility is required because we know that this right must be exercised in a manner that does not unreasonably interfere with the rights of others.  The right involves choice because we can choose not to do something or to do any of those infinite other opportunities perceived by us as free people.  Although liberty is more unrestrained than freedom in a philosophical sense, we believe the Founding Fathers considered the two as largely the same.  Our freedom is constrained not just by law but by our own conscience and sense of right and wrong and by social customs.


Freedom is like property because its essence, in the case of freedom, is the individual’s control over himself and, in the case of property, over things he controls to the exclusion of others.  However, we have found, with both freedom and property, that the government steps in to regulate our choices whenever it decides that this is necessary in the public interest.  Campaign Constitution was formed to check the federal government’s supervision over our freedom and property and to transfer some of it to the States and to the People.  There follow the views of a few others on the subject of freedom.


F. A. Hayek said in Constitution of Liberty (1960):


Though freedom is not a state of nature but an artifact of civilization, it did not arise from design.  The institutions of freedom, like everything freedom  has created, were not established because people foresaw the benefits they would bring.  But, once its advantages were recognized, men began to perfect and extend the reign of freedom and, for that purpose, to inquire how a free society worked.  This development of a theory of liberty took place mainly in the 18th century.


It is indeed a truth, which all the great apostles of freedom outside the rationalistic school have never tired of emphasizing, that freedom has never worked without deeply ingrained moral beliefs and that coercion can be reduced to a minimum only where individuals can be expected as a rule to conform voluntarily to certain principles.


There is as much need of moral rules in political as in individual action, and the consequences of successive collective decisions as well as those of individual decisions will be beneficial only if they are all in conformity with common principles.

Such moral rules for collective action are developed only with difficulty and very slowly.  But this should be taken as an indication of their preciousness.  The most important among the few principles of this kind that we have developed is individual freedom, which is most appropriate to regard as a moral principle of political action.  Like all moral principles, it demands that it be accepted as a value in itself, as a principle that must be respected without our asking whether the consequences in the particular instance will be beneficial.


F. A. Hayek said in The Fatal Conceit (1988):


…Hume may have been the first clearly to perceive that general freedom becomes possible by the natural moral instincts being "checked and restrained by subsequent judgment" according to "justice, or a regard to the property of others, fidelity, or the observance of promises [which have] become obligatory and acquire[d] an authority over mankind."


Paul Woodruff, First Democracy (2005), discusses freedom (eleutheria in Greek) and says the Greeks learned the meaning of freedom by understanding the tyranny they did not want.  He says:


Freedom needs an opposite.  Before they knew what tyranny was, the Greeks had no notion of political freedom.  Freedom from slavery is not the same thing, as we shall see.  Generally, freedom has positive and negative sides.  On the positive side, if you are free, then you are free to do something; the Athenians wanted to be free to take part in their own government.  On the negative side, if you are free, there are certain things you are free from.  In Athens, what the people wanted to be free from, more than anything else, was tyranny….

The essence of their freedom was the right of any citizen to speak in the Assembly (parrhesia). 


Woodruff put great stock in the poets of the classical age because of their ability to express the emotions of the people.  He notes that, when the Persian king asked the people of Samos for tribute, they asked Aesop for advice, and he replied:


Chance shows us two roads in life:  one is the road of freedom, which has a rough beginning that is hard to walk, but an ending that is smooth and even; the other is the road of servitude, which has a level beginning, but an ending that is hard and dangerous.


Woodruff quotes Solon in his comments on the tyrant Pisistratus:


Each of you follows the footprints of this fox,
And you all have empty minds,
For you watch only the tongue of the man, his slippery speech,
But you never look at what he actually does.


In Forever Flowing (1970) the Russian novelist Vasily Grossman said:


I used to think freedom was freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of conscience, but freedom is the whole life of everyone.  Here is what it amounts to:  You have to have the right to sow what you wish to, to make shoes or coats, to bake into bread the flour ground from the grain you have sown, and to sell it or not sell it as you wish:  for the lathe operator, the steel worker, and the artist, it’s a matter of being able to live as you wish and work as you wish and not as they order you to.


And it was with tragic clarity that the sacred law of all life defined itself: freedom of the individual human being is higher than anything else, and there is no goal, no purpose in the world, for which it may be sacrificed.


John Cogswell, my father, said in the Voice of the Plains (1987):


Freedom is a dear, dear thing, and no responsible American wants to be part of denying freedom…. But freedom doesn’t fall from heaven like rain.  It has always had to be earned.  Do you think our country would enjoy individual freedom if we were not full of millions of people who can read, study, and evaluate the events of the day?