Front Page Titles (by Subject) I: Liberty vs. Authority - Literature of Liberty, Autumn 1981, vol. 4, No. 3
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I: Liberty vs. Authority - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Autumn 1981, vol. 4, No. 3 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Liberty vs. Authority
To distinguish dramatically the underlying historical forces that determine either the happiness and progress or the misery and decline of mankind, our cover subject Benjamin Tucker (1854–1936) chose the antagonistic concepts of Liberty and Authority. Tucker discerned in these concepts the conflicting principles which set at loggerheads the two camps of individualistic libertarians and state socialists. These “two extremes,” he asserted:
are more diametrically opposed to each other in their fundamental principles of social action and their methods of reaching the ends aimed at than either is to their common enemy, the existing society. They are based on two principles the history of whose conflict is almost equivalent to the history of the world since man came into it; and all intermediate parties, including that of the upholders of the existing society are based upon a compromise between them....These two principles referred to are AUTHORITY and LIBERTY...(Instead of A Book, p. 4).
Although liberty must be conceded to be opposed to authority, its precise definition and historical realization have proved somewhat elusive. Nevertheless, libertarian traditions have left their humane mark on man's fitful advance beyond the regressive forces of statism, war, legal privilege, slavery, and monopoly. The following group of summaries trace diverse humanitarian contributions to the liberal conception of man and society. Of direct relevance to Tucker's own intellectual milieu are the Ledbetters and Hall summaries, which clarify the impact of abolitionist thought on Transcendentalism and the significance of Joshua K. Ingalls' economic doctrines.
Inventing the State: the Investiture Conflict
“The Invention of the State.” from Essays on Medieval Civilization. Eds. Karl Lackner and Kenneth Roy Philip. University of Texas Press, 1978. Austin and London.
In his essay, Prof. Cheyette searches, not so much for the origins of the typical European state, as for the idea of the state, its laws, and institutions. He particularly hopes to understand how the modern West came to think of the state and human law as coercive. Certainly, such a notion did not originate with the ancient Greeks. They considered the healthy state and its laws as essential to the good society and the individual. Cheyette traces the genesis of the modern attitude to the Middle Ages.
He contends that, during the early medieval period, little if anything abstract was expressed about the state, law, and authority until the eleventh century. Up to that time, Europe had survived as a society which was based on a largely oral tradition. Ideas expressed orally could not be abstract, because they issued from a specific person—a king such as Clovis or Charlemagne, a doomsman, an official, or a priest. Charters referred to men granting and receiving land but not to feofers, feoffees, vendors, and buyers.
Thinking in more universal terms evolved gradually after the great “medieval awakening” which began around the middle of the eleventh century. The growth of literacy and the concomitant appeal to texts diminished the role of the person and expanded the domain of the general and abstract political thought.
The one specific event which acted as a catalyst for this change was the imperialpapal Investiture Controversy. This struggle concerning the right to install bishops and abbots forced spiritual and secular officers to think about the nature of their function and authority and damaged the theoretical justification of political rule. In the course of debate, individuals such as Pope Gregory VIII (1073–1085) and Henry IV (1050–1106) came to be thought of not so much as persons but as generalized holders of an office.
In his Dictatus Papae, Gregory VII argued that the powers and rights of the papal office were vastly superior to the secular powers inherent in the office of emperor. Secular powers, he argued, originated from men ignorant of God, who secured their authority through pride, plunder, and treachery.
Cheyette contends that, after the Dictatus, men began to “see office and property not as having character but as impersonal and abstract because derived from an impersonal and abstract body of rules.” By appealing to written rules instead of to what men remembered, the Gregorian reformers initiated a fundamental change in Western thinking.
Those reformers of the eleventh century conceived their divinely ordained task as one of returning the Church to the purity it had in the days of the Fathers. Such an intent could only have arisen within a literate community, for it depended not on oral tradition but on texts. Patristic writings were to mold one's judgement of the world. The insistence that truth was to be found in texts, and not in what people did (custom), proclaimed the atemporal, abstract nature of those writings and of the offices and authority which they sanctioned.
Thus, authority and, by extension, law and the state came to serve as an abstract, impersonal, literate structure of coercive force. For the later Middle Ages, as for the modern man, they became essentially an apparatus, the human embodiment of the Other and the Other's compulsion.
True Whiggism: 1688–1694
“The Roots of True Whiggism, 1688–94.” History of Political Thought 1(Summer 1980):195–236.
Early English Whiggism underwent an erratic shift in ideas. The initial party led by Locke's patron, the first Earl of Shaftesbury, (1621–1683) aimed to exclude the Catholic, James, Duke of York from the throne, but was crushed by Charles II.
The Whig party which achieved permanent existence after 1688 was quite different in outlook. Guided by the four lords, known as the Junto, it was oligarchic, commercialist, and favored extensive executive power. The “judiciously conservative” Constitution of 1689 was a compromise under which, by 1695, the Junto had gained control of William III's government. As the party moved away from its “country” outlook, a number of critics, much studied by historians, sought to restore the principles of “true” Whiggism. The early critics of the Junto have been relatively neglected.
The three leaders of this movement were Major John Wildman, John Hampden, and Samuel Johnson. They had allies among the Lords, such as Mordaunt, Delaware, Macclesfield, Lovelace, Wharton, and Bolton, as well as the well-organized elements in the City of London, including many among the clergy, lawyers, and printers.
These radical, populist critics focused on several basic ideas. Many were advocates of an outright republicanism, but realized that if the monarchy could not be abolished, it was best to seek to limit its power through Parliament. A second enemy, beyond monarchical absolutism, was the tyranny of the established Anglican Church.
While many opponents of James II argued that the constitution was itself sound but that the King had abused it, the Commonwealthmen held that its faults made the abuses possible. A tension existed between those who stressed this historical-legal tradition, and those who argued from principles of reason and nature for a right to exist. The same ambiguity, of course, had been evident in the various factions during the Revolution of the 1640's. In 1688–1689, radicalism was undercut by the priority of getting a new King.
The radicals initiated a host of pamphlets early in 1689 offering advice to the impending Convention: the thrust being that the dissolution of the kingship suspended the constitution and returned political power to the people. The Convention, then, had the power to reconstruct the Constitution. Power ought to rest with the people's elected representatives in Parliament. The King ought to be elected with a universal oath of allegience. The right to bear arms and join a militia was essential to insure the right to revolution. A political education along “consensual” lines was advocated, while advocates of absolutism would be denied citizenship. These themes formed the substance of the “true” Whig literature from 1689 to 1693.
With few illusions about William, the radical Commonwealthmen sought to develop a limiting contract before he took office. It was through the efforts of the radicals that the Declaration of Rights, though watered down, was as comprehensive as it was.
The split between court and county Whigs did not take place in 1691 or 1692 as argued by some historians, but is best dated from February, 1689. The moderate court Whigs joined the conservativeminded Tories in offering William the Crown without the contractual stipulations thought necessary by the radicals.
The aftermath was a rearguard action. The country party of the Whigs was shocked at how easily ministers in the old regime returned to power, even though a few were castigated for their role in the earlier suppressions. In the early 1690's several developments undercut the effectiveness of the radicals. The influence of the King was used to either co-opt some, or keep others from office. Some of the older leaders died, and the allure of Jacobitism attracted others.
Locke's Justification of Rebellion
“Locke's Second Treatise and ‘The Best Fence Against Rebellion.’” The Review of Politics 42(April 1981):198–217.
Recent commentators on Locke have hotly disputed how radical he truly was. In particular, how extensive was Locke's advocacy of the right of resistance and revolution? The answer to two questions can resolve the larger issue of the extent to which may be considered a radical: (1) Is the state of nature a state of war? and (2) Does the dissolution of government dissolve society?
To answer these questions, we must first understand what Locke means by “society.” In his usage “society” does not connote the complete absence of government. Locke usually means by “civil society” a democratic organization of the body of the people which sets up the formal structure of government and to which the formal government is responsible. If, therefore, the formal structure of the legislature and executive dissolves, this does not immediately dissolve society. A time period may exist in which society may be able to form a new government.
Also, the state of nature is not, by definition, a state of war. In the state of nature, there is, by definition, no government. It is an empirical question, whether and to what extent, a state of nature (lacking a government) leads to civil discord. Locke does think that in practice the state of nature will lead to civil war. Also, while it is true that a period of time may exist after the dissolution of the legislature in which society can reconstitute the formal apparatus of government, in practice this period is likely to be extremely brief.
But these probabilities do not destroy the hope for a successful outcome to revolution. Two ways to appear by which the existing authorities' abuse of power may justify revolution. First, new bodies are substituted for those bodies the people themselves have authorized. This suffices to constitute a dissolution of government in the above mentioned sense. After this has occurred, the time for effective action may have passed and civil war may be the inevitable result.
The existing authorities may, however, abuse their power by attempting to increase the prerogatives of existing institutions. The prognosis is more hopeful for this possibility. Opponents may anticipate their designs and thwart them, thus achieving a successful revolution. By successful anticipation, we can avoid the earlier problem (only a very short time existing after the government dissolves in which society still exists). Such success depends upon the informed public attention to the doctrine of sound political thinkers.
Locke's “Two Treatises” & Revolution
“The Exclusion Controversy, Pamphleteering, and Locke's Two Treatises.” The Historical Journal 24, no. 1(1981): 49–68.
It has been more than twenty years since Peter Laslett argued that the Exclusion controversy (aimed at keeping the Catholic James, Duke of York from the throne) and not the Revolution of 1688 was the occasion for the writing of John Locke's Two Treatises. Nonetheless, scholars still resist viewing the Two Treatises as predominantly activist tracts and persist in characterizing them as something loftier-— “political philosophy,” “systematic moral apologia,” and the like. In his article, Prof. Tarlton analyzes both the Whig pamphlets of the late seventeenth century and Locke's Two Treatises as writings intended to effect the monarchy's return to constitutional principles. Tarlton concludes that Locke can indeed be read as part of the pamphlet literature of 1669–83 without treating his Two Treatises as somehow unworthy of serious study.
The Restoration of Charles II (1660) ended a long period of Civil War troubles and was greeted by Englishmen, including Whigs, with jubilation. By the middle 1670s, however, buoyancy had turned to bitter disappointment. Andrew Marvell (1621–1678) concisely and dramatically expressed basic Whig complaints against Charles' rule. “There has now for divers years a design been carried on to change the lawful Government of England into an absolute tyranny and to convert the established Protestant Religion into downright Popery: than both which nothing can be more destructive or contrary to the interest and happiness, to the constitution and being of the king and kingdom.”
In the light of such criticisms, Whig pamphleteers launched a broadside attack against “divine right” (jure divino) theories of the monarchy and episcopacy. Divine right was viewed as a justification for tyranny barely disguised by theology. Whig propagandists repeatedly stressed that all tyrannies rested upon illusory foundations. Such warnings were often accompanied by thinly veiled threats that oppression would likely provoke armed resistance among the people. Lastly, almost as a bribe, the writers combined professions of fidelity to the king with appeals to him to halt a dangerous aggrandizement of power.
During the short period between 1675 and 1680, efforts to exclude the Roman Catholic James, Duke of York, from succession to the throne became symbolic of attempts to impose limits on the monarchy. Eliminating the king's own brother from contention would educate the monarch to the inevitable limits of power and, only then, to the subsequent possibilities of his position.
The textual supports for interpreting Locke's Two Treatises as Whig Exlusionist tracts are, in Prof. Tarlton's view, quite strong. First of all, his critique of Filmer, of divine right, and paternalism in the First Treatise is accompanied, as in many Whig pamphlets, by the condemnation of a supposedly conspiratorial faction which could be blamed for the king's novel ideas of absolute authority.
Like the Whig writings, the Two Treatises stress the dependent and precarious position of governors. Their fragile hold on power, Locke asserts, can only be strengthened by their acceptance of consensually-based rule. When subjects consent to a monarch's power, he receives their willing obedience rather than a grudging acquiesence to compulsion.
Locke's discussion of royal prerogative carries this lesson even further. For Locke, a prince who exercises his power visibly in the public interest “cannot have too much Prerogative.” However, it is equally clear that the prince who abuses prerogative forces the people to reexamine and to restrict it if necessary.
Ultimately, Locke warns, a dispute over prerogative may have to be resolved by “an appeal to heaven” (his code word for revolution). Locke's theory of revolution appears strategically, as it does in the Whig pamphlets, as an educational tool intended to control and caution rulers.
Finally, Prof. Tarlton concurs with Laslett in finding Locke's chapter “On Conquest” a veiled reference to the Exclusionist controversy. Whig authors saw conquest by French armies as the only expedient left to Roman Catholics should the English exclude James as successor. Such a war of conquest, they warned. would be met with English resistance. Though set in a discussion of the moral consequences of the Norman Conquest, Locke's approval of rebellion against rule by an unwanted conqueror had a much more pressing relevance for readers in the late seventeenth century. Consistent with overall Whig strategy, his justification of rebellion becomes a warning to the king that a tyranny established by force of arms can never be secure.
Property in 17th-Century England
“The Meaning and Definition of ‘Property’ in Seventeenth-Century England.” Past & Present 86(February 1980):87097.
Considering the crucial role which property has played in the history of English Law and its importance in the development of English society, it is surprising that the term was not given a legal definition until quite late. During the sixteenth century, the word “property” certainly appeared in English law books but, without any precise delineation of its meaning.
In the 1520s, for example, Christopher S. German's Doctor and Student refers to “that generall laws or generall custome of propretye wherby good's mouable and unmouable be brought in to a certayne propretye/so that euery man may knows his owns thynge.” An interesting historical, but hardly a legal definition. The successive editions of Rastell's book of legal terms includes a definition of “possession” but none of property.
The earliest explicit definition seems to be that of John Cowell in his law dictionary The Interpreter (first edition 1607). In a discussion contrasting Roman and English legal positions on dominium, Cowell pointed out that, in England, no one except the king has full lordship—both of ownership and of use—over nonmoveables (landed property). All other persons and institutions could only have some kind of “fee” (or feudum) in real property, not full dominion over it (plenum dominium or allodium). “Propertie,” he wrote, “signifieth the highest right that a man hath or can have to any thing; which is in no way depending upon any other mans courtesie. And this none in our kingdom can be said to have in any lands or tenements, but only the king in the right of his Crowne.”
At about the same time that Cowell published his Interpreter, Sir Edward Coke, the chief justice of Common Pleas, included in his Reports a case concerning a disputed flock of swans. In the course of his description, Coke defined the three types of property as “absolute,” “qualified,” and “possessory.” The 1624 edition of Rastell effects a curious piece of legal syncretism. The “possession” entry previously mentioned remains as before, but there is now a new entry for “propertie” which cites Cowell's definition verbatim and adds to it Coke's division of property into three types.
The first clear statement of absolute ownership of property by individuals as opposed to the king appeared, not surprisingly, under the Cromwell's Protectorate (1653–1659). In the law dictionary produced by William Sheppard, Cromwell's legal advisor, Chapter 129, “Of Property,” begins: “Property is the Right that a man hath to anything which no way dependeth upon another mans courtesie (echoes of Cowell): And he that hath this is called a Proprietary.” Any royalist restriction on absolute (private) property in lands has been dropped.
After the Restoration (1660–1688), royal privilege reappeared but in attenuated form, as in Style's collection of law reports. By the eighteenth century, however, a sweeping statement such as the following could appear in John Lilly's collection of abridged reports: “An absolute proprietor hath an absolute power to dispose of his Estate as he pleases, subject only to the Law of the Land.”
The law dictionary of Giles Jacob (first edition 1729) consolidates this development and gives it legal teeth: “And every Man (if he hath not forfeited it) hath a Property and Right allowed him by the Law to defend his Life, Liberty, and Estate; and if it be violated, it gives an Action to redress the Injury, and punish the Wrong-doer.” Thus, the definitional process which had begun both with Cowell and Coke's report of the swan case resulted in the idea of absolute ownership protected by legal sanctions—a concept which would become fundamental to the then developing industrial economy.
Revolutionary Committees of Safety
“The New Hampshire Committee of Safety and Revolutionary Republicanism.” Historical New Hampshire 35(February 1980):241–283.
New Hampshire's Fourth Provisional Congress created a state Committee of Safety on May 26, 1775. The purpose was to provide the Revolutionary movement with the institutional continuity and effective leadership which it lacked.
The Committee represented the emergence of new social forces in the state. Usually new to politics, they came mostly from the inland region. The Committee operated broadly in a wide range of executive, legislative, and judicial functions to the extent it might be called the “real revolutionary government.” During these nine years there were nineteen separate Committees, which met over a range of from 66 to 345 days.
The turnover of members was high, and the bulk of the work was done by five men: John Dudley, Mashech Wesare, Josiah Bartlett, Josiah Moulton and John Calfe. The “new” men who had had a local, but not imperial, power base were drawn from the middle-aged, Congregational, economic elite of farmers and merchants. At first selected by counties, the Committee was later based proportionally on representation in the legislature.
Membership reflected the interests of three areas: the Connecticut River Valley, Portsmouth along with its satellite towns, and the towns in the Merrimack Valley. The first of these areas had been denied participation in colonial policies to such a degree that many of the residents had threatened secession. Portsmouth had dominated in the pre-revolutionary years, but it was from the Merrimack area that a large number of men, previously denied office, came to participate on the Committee.
While the Committee worked with what was often an inefficient Assembly, it was at times reluctant to share power. The Committee in so acting tended to violate the notion of mixed government which formed the core of eighteenth-century political theory.
Beyond the executive functions, or legislative activities, the Committee also acted in a judicial capacity especially in cases of counterfeiting, suspected treason or desertion. At the same time local committees had, by 1779, been set up in every town. The State Committee and the legislature served as ultimate checks on the activities of these numerous groups. While relations were on the whole harmonious, several times the various committees found themselves in jurisdictional conflicts.
The early and widespread committee system was a clear signal to older, conservative leaders of the revolutionary ferment in the state. The Committees kept the peace, and even became active in economic activities during the war.
The judicial activities then and now, however, drew the greatest comment. While not acting as Star Chambers, the committee used considerable power to punish suspected disloyalty. The Committee failed to survive the war and by 1781 attention was turning to the writing of the new state constitution. In addition to the legislature (led by Speaker John Langdon), the Portsmouth leaders began to challenge the work of the State Committee and call for a constitutional convention. The ratification of the new Constitution late in 1783 signalled the end of the committee system which had taken such an active part in the prosecution of the war.
Hayek's Defense of Liberty
“F. A. Hayek on Liberty and Tradition.” The Journal of Libertarian Studies 4:2(Spring 1980):119–37.
Despite the appearance of unity in Hayek's system of thought, certain areas of tension and difficulty exist. At the epistemological and methodological levels, for example, “his neo-Kantian theory of knowledge commits him to a form of skepticism whose radical implications he shows little evidence of acknowledging.” Secondly, Hayek's evolutionary view of mind and society does not necessarily support “the belief that a spontaneous order of cosmos in society must conform with the moral and political principles of classical liberalism.”
Hayek has argued for a constitutional order which confers a framework of security, but critics such as historian Ronald Hamowy and others have raised some serious questions about the extensive intrusion on individual liberty which might be a part of such Rechtstaat. Hayek attempts to steer a middle course between the excessive rationalism of some liberals and the stand-pattism of conservatism. A basic problem has been observed, however, by Jacob Viner, who pointed out that Hayek offers no measure by which we are to assess the utility which he advocates.
This is in turn related to the fact that Hayek does not develop a theory of justice or rights upon which to ground his system. His awareness of this difficulty is evident in his account of what he considers “true” and “false” individualism. Thus Hayek offers “a foundationless liberalism, suited only to the needs of established liberal orders threatened by collectivist movements, but offering nothing to preliberal (or for that matter, postliberal) societies.”
His political thought occupies an “unstable middle ground” between skeptical conservatism and classical liberalism. Hayek's relativism, for example, deprives the liberal principles of much of their critical force. Spontaneous order occurs in the market process because of the function of the entrepreneur, but as Lachmann and other Austrian economists have pointed out, in certain circumstances that learning process and coordination may fail even in the marketplace. Further, Hayek does not provide a clear conception of how such an order is formed outside the sphere of market exchanges.
Whatever these failures, there is much value in Hayek's work ranging from his recent critique of current ideas of social justice, to his contributions to the socialist calculation debate, including his work on the early history of capitalism, and his objections to certain aspects of macroeconomics. Nonetheless, his lack of a theory of justice and moral rights undercuts his effort to bridge individualism and traditionalism. This failure suggests that classical liberals cannot evade the examination of normative political theory nor ignore questions of epistemology and metaphysics.
Medieval Liberty & Its Evolution
“Political Liberty in the Middle Ages.” Speculum 55 (3) (1980):423–443.
Although some have asserted that the Middle Ages contributed little if anything to the development of political liberty in the West, Prof. Harding points out that the word “liberty” occurs with great frequency in medieval charters and legal records. Harding argues that, in the great majority of cases, the word does refer essentially to political freedom in an embryonic form. Of course, no conception as yet existed concerning the right to vote or the right to express political opinions, which are central to political freedom in a modern context. The liberty which was understood and cherished in the Middle Ages served, nevertheless, as the necessary precondition of these modern freedoms. This medieval liberty encompassed the power to act in community affairs and to exert influence on one's fellows without the interference of government.
In England and France, at least, political liberty was first of all a prerogative of lordship, involving territorial immunities such as exemptions from taxation, noninterference by royal courts, and the right to enforce law and order without the aid of the king's peace officers. For centuries, therefore, liberty was a matter of feudal privilege before it acquired the character of general right. This privilege was attached to the favored lord's land and was exercised there. As a result, the term “liberty” might refer to the land, as well as to the freedom enjoyed on that land. According to Prof. Harding, this peculiarly medieval view of liberty contributed three essential qualities to the idea of political freedom as it subsequently evolved in the West.
First of all, the lord's power of independent action within his domain (or “liberty”) imbued the idea of freedom with political force. This lordly power was in fact Hobbes' “natural liberty” —for Hobbes the only genuine form of liberty. The authority of the lord within his domain constituted a practical fact which medieval kings would simply recognize in their charters.
Secondly, rights were subsequently acquired by communities in rural and especially urban territories, giving rise to the notion of individual liberty. This concept may be defined as the collection of separate privileges considered appropriate to a man's sphere of life: for instance, a merchant's burgage (land tenure) rights, his freedom of passage, and freedom from prosecution outside his borough. These liberties were more negative than the freedom of action of territorial lords, but they were accessible to a far more numerous population. From these beginnings, the idea of freedom for the man without noble blood slowly acquired form and content. Freedom of passage granted to burgesses along with protection from arbitrary imprisonment accorded in the thirteenth century combined to make up the notion of “individual civil liberty.” Individual political liberty in the modern sense evolved quite naturally as boroughs acquired the right to send representatives to parliament.
Lastly, the curbing of the territorial powers of the lords by thirteenth-century kings endowed the concept of freedom with an emotional force and helped create the politics of freedom. From the Florentine legislation against the magnates in the 1290s to the French revolutionaries' attacks on the clergy and nobility, a major element of the European political tradition was the opposition between the liberties of the whole community and the license of the lords.
Despite these developments, the foundation stone of the Western tradition of liberty is to be found in the medieval concept of territorial immunity. This concept allows us to synthesize the various facets of freedom in a single abstract idea—inviolability. In our own day, however, liberty no longer refers to the inviolability of the great estate, but to that of the individual citizen in his proper sphere.
Isaiah Berlin on Liberty
“Berlin and the Division of Liberty.” Political Theory 8(August 1980):365–380.
Liberty seems to have the uncanny property of extinguishing itself. For, if I am free to do whatever I want and so are you, then I have no assurance that I can actually do what I want. You, being as free as I, may interfere with me. On the other hand, if my freedom is not absolute but limited along with that of everyone else, then I have assurance that I can do what I may do, that no one in other words, will interfere.
In “Two Concepts of Liberty,” Sir Isaiah Berlin argues that there are indeed two concepts, not one, whose name is liberty. His analysis has provoked much controversy. Whatever the merits of the critics' responses, they, like Berlin himself, fail to investigate the origins of the division of liberty. The principal defect of Berlin's work is in his assumptions leading to the conclusion that liberty is divided between two irreconcilable concepts, rather than between complementary aspects. Prof. Reed attempts to demonstrate this complementarity.
In political matters, Berlin points out, the term “freedom” is used in two senses: negative and positive. Behind each of these senses lies a question: “In what ways am I free to act?” (negative); and “Who determines what those ways are?” (positive). To have negative liberty is to enjoy rights, liberties, permissions, and freedoms to act. To have positive liberty is to exercise control over what those liberties are to be.
Berlin considers the negative “freedom from” as the fundamental sense of freedom and other senses as derivative. He thus prepares the way to show that positive “freedom to” is an extension of that root sense. For him, the essence of liberty involves “holding off” an intruder, trespasser, or despot. Yet, Reed comments, if this is the essence of liberty, it was not always so.
Historical evidence indicates that “freedom from” is itself an extension by metaphor of a prior understanding of freedom. According to linguistic research, freedom in the primary sense did not signify being “rid of something”: the original meaning was that of belonging to an ethnic stock, designated by a metaphor of vegetal growth. This belonging conferred a privilege which a stranger would never know.
A later metaphor introduces the idea of making free by treating a person born a stranger as if he grown up with the kin. This metaphor enables people to do by choice what at first only nature could do by birth—make a person free. A third metaphor would later turn release from constraint as such into liberation.
In order to participate in the hunt or in combat, the free or freed tribesman had to exercise considerable self-control —resisting fear, despair, hunger, lust for the sake of right; he could display anger, pride, or courage only in the proper ways and at the proper time. Here we have the two complementary aspects of freedom conjoined: participation and self-control. A free man does as he pleases because what pleases him is right; that is, it accords with the practices or tradition of his people. He is treated as one who belongs, because he acts like one who belongs. He rules himself, curbs his passions in the service of the right.
From this point of view, lawful restriction is not deprivation of liberty. Instead, it involves a comprehensive sharing in a system of right. Liberty does not consist in a set of freedoms (although they accompany it) but in the status of free man and in action which accords with that status. Berlin takes as fundamental the expression “free from,” whereas it is actually derived from “free person.”
Berlin's conclusion that we must choose between individuality and belonging makes it appear that we are more fully individual and more fully human as we slough off common standards. He thus obscures the connection between selfcontrol, maturity, and the interpretation and application of common standards. Berlin makes freedom appear as isolation rather than sharing. The political consequences of his view are increasing fragmentation and injustice in the name of liberty. He succumbs to the paradox of liberty. However, Reed believes that the paradox can be overcome by the realization that giving up, for the sake of justice, some freedom to act does not diminish liberty.
James Mill's Utilitarian Feminism
“Utilitarianism, Feminism, and the Franchise: James Mill and His Critics.” History of Political Thought 1(Spring 1980):91–115.
The conventional view of the utilitarians' position of feminism runs as follows: In his Essay on Government, James Mill (1773–1836) asserted the rabidly anti-feminist argument that women should not be given the franchise. By contrast, Jeremy Bentham espouses a position more friendly to women. Next, John Stuart Mill's (1806–1873) enthusiastic pro-feminist stance was influenced by Bentham, as well as by Thomas Macaulay's critical review of James Mill's Essay on Government. This conventional picture, Ball argues, is almost completely in error.
It is true that James Mill's Essay on Government denies the franchise to women. Mill argues that since women's interests are likely to be identical to those of their husbands, they need not be given an independent vote. But, in his History of British India (1818), which he regarded as his chief work, Mill presented a very different view. In his History, the elder Mill measured the level of a society by the status of women. By that standard, India ranked low as a society because of the subjection of women. Mill seemed to overlook that this standard would call into question his views on women's franchise in his History.
It is also true that at some points Bentham favored the cause of women. Bentham criticized James Mill's identification of women's interests with those of their husbands. Sometimes Bentham even favored giving them at least the same legal rights as men. But in other writings he did not do so and justified limiting women's rights by alleging that their emotional nature would interfere with carrying out the requirements of the principle of utility. Ironically, some of Bentham's arguments urging caution on issues of women's rights commit what he elsewhere terms the anarchical fallacy.
Neither is it the case that John Stuart Mill was influenced by Macaulay's criticism of his father's Essay to take a pro-feminist position. Macaulay was unsympathetic to women's suffrage and, in his review, was preoccupied with attacking the principle of utility. John Stuart Mill was in fact much more influenced in his position on women by his father's History of British India and by the Appeal of the Irish utilitarian and radical, William Thompson.
The Idea of Peace: 500–1150
“The Idea of Peace in the West, 500–1150.” Journal of Medieval History 6(1980):143–167.
Modern scholars of medieval warfare regularly produce studies on the Crusades, the just war, medieval military tactics, war financing, and the aristocracy. Peace, on the other hand, has not fared so well. Its neglect by scholars is all the more curious in view of the numerous allusions to pax (peace) in much of the Latin writing of the Middle Ages, both secular and ecclesiastical. A knowledge of the development of the notion of peace could reveal much about medieval attitudes toward Church, society, and political theory.
The peace ideas which evolved in Western Europe from 300 to 1150 faithfully reflect the social and cultural forces active during that period. Peace was frequently discussed because it was so sorely wanting. The memory of the Christian Pax Romana only fueled medieval aspirations for peace and for its concomitant, order. Peace during this period always implied more than just a cessation of war. For early medievals, it meant a restoration of the proper harmony of God's creation. In varying degrees, conceptions of peace presumed a moral order mirroring the justice of heaven.
As early as AD 500, the idea of peace began to sink sociological roots. The ascetic view, for example, exerted tremendous influence throughout the Middle Ages partially because it was concentrated in a very visible social grouping—the monks. The monastic peace stressed inner harmony and holiness either as a precondition for social tranquillity or else as the only peace possible in an evil and chaotic world. Through the centuries, monks and hermits preserved and enshrined the ascetic ideal of peace within a rich literary heritage.
The social importance of monasteries assured that the monastic peace would survive and permeate all other peace theories to some extent. However, when monasticism declined as a major social force after 1150, its view of peace likewise lost influence.
The episcopal peace emerged once bishops became aware of their unique mission in Christian salvation. The episcopate came to understand that salvation could only come from the Word of God and his grace as channeled through the sacraments—areas whose care had been uniquely entrusted to the bishops. As a result, their particular approach to peace stressed the importance of obedience to the teachings and discipline of the Church. In the realm of secular affairs, they laid particular emphasis on bishops' responsibilities to remonstrate with wayward nobles and to mediate in case of war. The much studied “Peace of God” provides an extraordinary example of the strength and resources of the Western episcopacy, despite its partial secularization during the tenth century. To assure disciplined functioning of the Church, the bishops had to resort to temporal means to fortify Christians and convert the heathen. Personal example, as provided by the monks, would not suffice.
The relative clarity of the monastic and episcopal views of peace was generally lacking in their secular counterparts, primarily because political conditions were diverse and fluctuating. Charlemagne revived the notion of the imperial peace and linked it to the Church's moral order. In so doing, he tended to co-opt the spiritual authority of the Church. This process would accelerate during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, as smaller political units were absorbed into semicentralized principalities. The kings, great princes, and communes gradually transformed ecclesiastical peace concepts (such as the Peace of God) into a secularized public peace. This occurred because lay authorities had little use for the eschatological and ontological dimensions of the pax ecclesiae.
A rapid decline of the Church's influence on peace thought may be observed particularly in the period following the great religious wars of the sixteenth century. The natural law approaches to peace, developed from that time up until the eighteenth century, were normally established on a purely secular foundation.
Early medieval peace theories represent a significant step in the development of the Western mind. With the demise of the Roman Empire, the culture had to grope for fresh solutions to new problems posed by Europe's uprootedness. While never losing contact with its classical and patristic roots, the West realized that it needed more than the peace heritage of the past.
Medieval Monks on War and Peace
“Monastic Attitudes Toward War, 850–1150.” Michigan Academician 12(Spring 1980):417–421.
Monks comprised the most visible group in medieval society which opposed war. Nonetheless, no single monastic view of war existed during the Middle Ages. Several traditions flourished, often side by side, down to the thirteenth century. Scholars such as R. Bainton, however, have tended somewhat simplistically to stress monastic pacifism, thus ignoring prominent nonpacifist strains in ascetic thought.
During the period extending from 850 to 1150, changes in ascetic notions of pax (peace) reflected changes within monasticism itself. During this period, monks gradually removed most of the just war ideas which surrounded their own heritage of spiritual peace. The Gregorian papacy and the Crusades forced monks to clarify their own attitudes toward war and peace. By the early twelfth century, monks no longer had to define their pax in the context of war, as they had to in previous war-torn centuries. By 1150, the monk as the “spouse of Christ” finally replaced the monk as the miles Christi or soldier of Christ.
In the three centuries after Constantine, (died 337), the attitude of Western monasticism toward war grew out of the struggle to reconcile the antiwar stance of the early Church with the crucial necessity of repelling the barbarian invaders. Monks harmonized these apparent contradictions by relegating all wars (just or unjust) as worldly and unfit for anapausis or rest in God. According to this view, monks were the true militia Christi in contrast to secular armies.
By the ninth century, disruptions of monastic life caused by avaricious invaders, nobles, and bishops forced monks to distinguish more clearly between good and bad wars. Good wars were those directed against lawbreakers,infidel marauders, and exploiters like the nobles and bishops.
With the outbreak of “holy wars” against the Muslims in Spain and the Orient and against the supporters of Henry IV (1050–1106) in Germany, the monastic attitude toward war became increasingly ambiguous. The same monds who stanchly supported aggressions against Muslims and rebellious nobles also acted as arbiters to end disputes. Many monastic writers preferred to ignore the question of war and, instead, to exalt the peace engendered by the ascetic way of life.
By the twelfth century, as order was being reestablished in Europe, new monastic orders, such as the Cistercians, sought less social involvement and a return to literal detachment. Actually, the ever more powerful secular authorities did their best to discourage involvement by the monastic orders in public affairs. Thus, while monkish writers would occasionally “lead the charge” against vices and demons, even such military metaphors appear less frequently in their works. Instead, they dwell on the quies which dwells in the monk's heart.
A Cistercian writer such as Bernard of Clairvaux clearly established separate war standards for laymen and monastics. The lay aristocracy, he advised, should adopt the new holy war as the norm for all their aggression. The Knights Templar evolved as an outgrowth of this attitude. The new monks, on the other hand, should not do anything (even intercede for the world); they simply are. For such a monk, the essence of the monastic life is the experience of otium or tranquility.
At the same time, Bernard applies active military images to his model bishops, such as Malachy. While prelates should not wage war, they, unlike monks, must forcefully act to quell the Church's enemies with the weapons of admonition and anathema.
Bernard's defining of the varying postures toward war that must exist within the Christian community is but one aspect of his complex ecclesiology. He also believed that the spiritualities of laymen, prelates, and monks had become intolerably blurred during previous centuries. He viewed his task as one of defining the function of each group within the total ecclesia. Defining licit attitudes toward war, thus, contributed to Bernard's goal of maintaining a distinct separation among the three basic groupings that comprised the Christian community.
Transcendatalists vs. Slavery
“The Agitator and the Intellectuals: William Lloyd Garrison and the New England Transcendentalists.” Mid-America 62(October 1980):173–185.
When William Lloyd Garrison (1805–1879) arrived in Boston in June 1830, the Transcendentalist movement was developing out of the discussions, writings, and lectures of Emerson, Thoreau, and their associates in nearby Concord. Side by side, Transcendentalism and Garrisonian abolitionism grew in the rocky soil of New England. Despite significant differences, the two groups eventually recognized their mutual philosophical groundings and worked together toward common goals. The authors examine Garrison's relationship with the Transcendentalist literary leaders of his day, and trace the gradual evolution of their common ties.
Transcendentalists generally accepted the existence of an a priori knowledge that transcended the senses. They also agreed on the beneficence of God and the goodness of man. At the core of the movement were the ideals of self-sufficiency, independence, and individualism. Moral laws, they believed, were permanent immutable laws of the universe which each individual could grasp by heeding his conscience. They opposed slavery as a violation of this higher law, since man was meant to be free. No man-made law or constitution, as they saw it, could make such an institution right.
A common belief that slavery violated a higher spiritual law provided a natural link between Garrison and the Transcen-dentalists. In the early years, however, their relationship was ambivalent and, at times, rocky.
From 1830 until the outbreak of the Civil War, the Transcendentalists' position on slavery changed significantly. When they first became aware of Garrison, they still hoped that slaveholders' own conscience would reveal the evil of slavery to them. Their belief in the goodmess of man gave them grounds to hope for a moral revolution in the South. However, as the power of slavery grew, they came to appreciate Garrison's position, developing a deep respect for his role in the movement to free the slaves.
One of the first Transcendentalists to express conditional support for Garrison was the Unitarian minister William Ellery Channing (1780–1842), whose moral and religious philosophy formed a basis for Transcendentalist thought. Although both men agreed that slavery was evil, Garrison and Channing differed when it came to assessing blame for it and determining a method for its eradication. A mild gentleman who believed in the moral excellence of the human soul, the Rev. Channing could not, at first, condone Garrison's violent rhetoric.
In his 1835 pamphlet, Slavery, Channing condemned the practice of slavery but, at the same time, warned that the North should not interfere with Southern institutions. He called for an immediate halt to agitation, which, he said, damaged the cause of the slave. In The Liberator of February 27, 1836, Garrison roundly condemned the Channing pamphlet, calling it “contradictory and unsound.”
Despite their early differences, Channing and Garrison grew to respect each other. Public events, such as the murder of Elijah Lovejoy, the Creole affair, and agitation for the annexation of Texas, brought the minister nearer the abolitionist position. In the pamphlet, Duty of the Free State, Channing called for a strong anti-slavery commitment from Northern states. In a sequel to that tract, he contended that the North should withdraw from the Union rather than allow Texas to come in as a slave state. This radical proposal foreshadowed the disunionist movement which flourished among abolitionists in the 1840s.
As the Civil War approached, Transcen-dentalists would become far more radical. Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), for example, would strongly defend Garrison's burning of the U.S. constitution. Eventually, some Transcendentalists, such as Thomas Wentworth Higginson, went so far as to advocate violence as a means to end slavery. In this, they moved beyond Garrison, who consistently opposed bloodshed.
Garrison cannot be credited with turning the Transcendentalists into abolitionists, since the very essence of their philosophy was antithetical to slavery. However, until Garrison brought slavery to national attention, the philosophers operated largely in the abstract. In Garrison, they came to see a man actually living out the principles they advocated. In the end, the agitator helped bring the intellectuals into public affairs. The philosophical mind would ultimately join the practical movement.
Ingalls: On Land and Liberty
“Joshua K. Ingalls: Land Reformer, Opponent of Henry George, and Advocate of Land Leasing, Now an Established Mode.” American Journal of Economics and Sociology. 39 (4) (October 1980): 383–396.
The resurgence of interest in the political philosophy of libertarianism during the last thirty years has lead some historians to investigate the antecedents of the movement. Careful research has revealed that the individualist move ment in the nineteenth century (which began with the writings of Josiah Warren) was much more cohesive than previously recognized. In writings and speeches, Warren and his followers developed wide-ranging theories concerning the social implications of economic systems. One such individualist theoretician was Joshua K. Ingalls (1816–1898).
Born in Massachusetts in 1816, Ingalls moved quickly from ideas such as Quakerism, temperance, and dietary reform to economic radicalism, specifically land reform. His ideas on the evils of the current order were reinforced by his experiences as a legitimate member of the “laboring class,” a factor conspicuously absent from the careers of so many radicals.
In the land reform vs. abolition controversy which raged before the Civil War, Ingalls stressed that, far from being separate priorities, those two questions were indissolubly linked to the social dilemmas of the day. “The right to life,” he said, “involves the right to land to live and labor upon. Commercial ownership of land which enables one to exclude another from it, and thus enforces involuntary idleness, is as destructive of human freedom as ownership of the person, enforcing involuntary service.” Nonetheless, most abolitionists, Frederick Douglass included, rejected any coupling of the two issues. The relevance of connecting them was not fully realized until after the Civil War, when the plight of impoverished freedmen aroused the concern of reformers. In the 1840s and ‘50s, however, the times were not yet ripe for an appeal to land reform as a prerequisite to the emancipation of slaves.
The growing popularity of Henry George (1839–1897) inspired Ingalls to a detailed analysis and critique of George's economic theories. As Ingalls saw it, Henry George's failure to understand the true nature of capital and capitalism constituted his “greatest weakness.” For Ingalls, land and labor were the only factors of production. It followed therefore that, for fullest use of both those factors, there must be freedom from any and all arbitrary control over them. For example, any control over the soil other than by the cultivating occupant “can but fetter and cripple labor and retard production.” As a result, the landlord (not the capitalist) was the great perpetrator of injustice against labor and the most potent hindrance to the production of material wealth. For Ingalls, exclusive dominion of the land resulted in poorly and partially cultivated soil, as well as in a mass exodus to cities by the thousands who had been dispossessed of their inheritance.
As the best means of redistributing land among its occupants and cultivators, Ingalls urged the simple repeal of old land ownership laws rather than the passage of new ones. He would establish “occupancy and use” as the only title to land, as it was during the early history of mankind.
Under Ingalls' plan, governments would remove legislative sanctions from the concept of private property and would issue land leases to actual occupants and users—a method now used successfully for the allocation of certain resources (mineral and oil exploration, grazing rights, disposition of numerous urban sites, etc.)
Part of Ingalls' iconoclasm, even with in the radical land reform movement, can be explained by his distrust of government and the political process. Control of land, he said, was the basis of all power. As a result, monarchy and democracy were but variations of the same game. As long as inequitable distribution of land prevailed, equality of citizenship was impossible. Fearing the domination of individuals as much as he feared that of the collectivity, Ingalls was not an anarchist. Nevertheless, he conceived an extremely limited role for government. In Ingalls' system, “there would only be courts of equity as to matters of personal interest and relations. No laws of masters and slaves, of land-owner and tenant, of creditor and debtor, etc....but only of persons equal before the tribunal.”
Ingalls, Prof. Halls asserts, is of interest and significance in what Pedro Schwartz has described as the “history of opinions” branch of the history of economic thought. A study of Ingalls re-establishes the sometimes forgotten fact that land reform was long a part of a radical movement in nineteenth-century America and was also part of the beginnings of the progressive movement that was to fluorish in the early twentieth century.