What happened to liberty?
Commenting on the entry, “Why the spread of Muslim democracy simply equals the spread of jihadism,” an Indian living in the West writes:
If you watch footage from the past, American presidents rarely spoke only of “freedom,” which itself is capable of being interpreted differently, and can have a very debased meaning in the lowest common denominator popcorn sense today. The Americans spoke in the past not of “freedom” but of “liberty.” There is a qualitative difference in emphasis and meaning between the two terms. One is a debased term of common usage today, the other was a more elevated term which was used to reflect the uniqueness of American institutions and history.LA replies:
Yes, it’s a key point. “Freedom” has entirely replaced “liberty.” Liberty denotes a political and moral order of which liberty is a part; liberty means liberty (or freedom) under law and morality. Freedom in today’s usage basically means you can do what you like; it is virtually indistinguishable from license. Freedom is almost never used in the older sense of ordered freedom. In fact, I hardly ever use the word liberty myself any more because I am engaged in critiquing contemporary politics, particularly contemporary “conservatism,” and contemporary “conservatives” speak only of unqualified “freedom.” Self-described conservatives who make freedom their highest ideal are absurd and unthinking persons.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 30, 2012 08:14 AM | Send