972. (11-16-2010) (A very short history regarding the idea and definition of freedom.)ATJ It so happens that the meaning of freedom that we have adopted seems to be the original meaning of the word. Man, or at least European man, enters history divided into free and unfree; and this distinction had a very definite meaning. The freedom of the free may have differed widely, but only in the degree of an independence which the slave did not possess at all. It meant always the possibility of a person’s acting according to his own decisions and plans, in contrast to the position of one who was irrevocably subject to the will of another, who by arbitrary decision could coerce him to act or not to act in specific ways. The time-honored phrase by which this freedom has often been described is therefore “independence of the arbitrary will of another. In this sense “freedom” refers solely to a relation of men to other men, and the only infringement on it is coercion by men. This means, in particular, that the range of physical possibilities from which a person can choose at a given moment has no direct relevance to freedom….The question of how many courses of action are open to a person is, of course, very important. But it is a different question from that of how far in acting he can follow his own plans and intentions, to what extent the pattern of his conduct is of his own design, directed towards ends for which he has been persistently striving rather than towards necessities created by others in order to make him do what they want. Whether he is free or not does not depend on the range of choice but on whether he can expect to shape his present intentions, or whether somebody else has power to manipulate the conditions as to make him act according to that person’s will rather than his own. Freedom thus presupposes that the individual has some assured private sphere, that there is some set of circumstances in his environment with which others cannot interfere.
- Friedrich A. Hayek – The Constitution of Liberty, 1978
976. (11-18-2010) To concur by one’s suffrage in enacting laws is to enjoy a share, whatever it may be, in power: to live in a state where laws are equal to all, and sure to be executed…is to be free.
- Jean-Louise De Lolme, The Constitution of England, 1771