On Liberty Lost

…the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively interfering in the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection.

If English political philosopher John Stuart Mill had known when he wrote that line in his classic, On Liberty, just how vast state surveillance & control mechanisms would become, he might well have reconsidered even the government-as-protector exception to his otherwise largely libertarian creed.

As Americans pause on this July 4th to celebrate the vision of the Declaration of Independence, we should also remember just how that vision has been corrupted & subverted in the name of national security: a Presidentially-supervised assassination-by-drone program with the power to target Americans themselves; an indefinite detention law that overturns 800 years of the concept of habeus corpus; and the creation of “industrial scale” surveillance schemes (to paraphrase a senior Vodaphone official). Mill would have viewed all these things as mortal threats to liberty that should be destroyed. So should we.

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2 Responses to On Liberty Lost

  1. I could not agree more. Indeed, Mill is not the only one who would be aghast at the contortion of the Founders' legacy. I discuss various facets of our lost American ideals (including the impacts of surveillance, detention, torture with impunity, profiling, and government secrecy) and how they relate to the July Fourth holiday at What Do We Celebrate this July Fourth?.

  2. Patrick G. Eddington says:

    All the more reason to continue to fight. Have a blessed day, my brother!

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