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Is Liberty Too Extreme?

There is one type of question, more than any other, that the advocate of freedom is likely to be asked over the years: Human liberty and freedom of choice are, of course, important social and moral goods, but can't they be pushed too far? Is it not better to work for, and accept, a more moderate balance in society? Your position, it will be said, seems to offer no compromise, no happy medium through which a common ground can be found so that a reasonable amount of freedom can be attained. Don't you think your dogmatic extremism only serves to work against the very goals for which you are devoting your energies? The first reply to this type of question, is to ask back, "With what are we asked to compromise and to offer a more moderate position?" ...

The Forgotten Importance of Civil Liberties

One of the real tragedies in the struggle for freedom in the United States in the latter part of the 20th century has been the forgotten importance of civil liberties. While economic liberty provides the focal point of most of the efforts of freedom devotees, and rightfully so, it is vitally important that we never forget that all aspects of freedom are intertwined — if we lose one, we stand in danger of losing all of them. Advocates of economic liberty and limited government recognize that the purpose of government is to protect peaceful and law-abiding people from violence and fraud. If a person inflicts direct harm such as murder, rape, or theft on another person, he should be punished by the State for violating the rights of others. But many freedom devotees believe that the analysis stops there — that criminals should be punished and that's all there is to it. Many of them, especially those on "the Right," view ...

The Heritage of Economic Liberty

For the Founding Fathers, economic liberty was inseparable from the case for political freedom. Many of the grievances enumerated in the Declaration of Independence concern British infringements on the free movement of goods and men between the thirteen colonies and the rest of the world. It was not a coincidence that the same year that saw the Declaration of Independence also saw the publication of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. Both represented the ideas of the age. When Smith spoke of a "system of natural liberty" in which "every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interests his own way and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of other men," he was expressing the economic vision of most of those who fought for freedom from British imperialism in the thirteen colonies.