Front Page Titles (by Subject) Equality and Social Coercion - Literature of Liberty, July/September 1978, vol. 1, No. 3
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Equality and Social Coercion - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, July/September 1978, vol. 1, 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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Equality and Social Coercion
“Freedom From Coercion.” In Freedom and Its Limitations in American Life. Edited by Don E. Fehrenbacher. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1976, pp. 1–19.
Americans have consistently believed themselves the “freest people on earth.” Alexis de Tocqueville, representing the European attitude, challenged this and indicted Americans for subordinating freedom or liberty of opinion to equality and the “tyranny of the majority.” In the American tradition freedom, ever balanced by the claims of social equality, has meant opposition to the inequality of authority, coercion, and deference. The American slogan “free and equal” implies that the heart of freedom is not Emersonian nonconformity so much as political, economic, spiritual, and social equality.
The best Americans in each generation subscribe in theory to individualism and freedom of dissent, but most Americans do not consistently demonstrate this liberality in practice. They have repeatedly violated John Stuart Mill's notion of liberty as the individual's freedom from conforming to the community in the name of his own or the common good. They have repressed by law dissenting individual conduct that violated community standards of morality—no matter how private such conduct was. Liquor prohibition and statutes regulating sex and marriage (e.g., those forbidding Mormon polygamy) illustrate this ambivalent notion of freedom.
Hierarchy or “pulling one's rank” has been the unforgiveable sin among Americans committed to equality. This sense of equality has led to the distrust of power and authority as well as to the constitutional attempts to place limits on government and prevent the coercive authority of a ruling class. Americans have also been noticeably reluctant to martial authority and force. They shun naked power and authority in preference to at least the show of voluntary cooperation. Consequently, in the period since World War I, Americans have shied away from acknowledging their own world power and authority.
Americans glory in being “masterless.” But freedom from overt authority is illusory since it generates social tensions and psychological needs that call for group action. What substitute for noncoercive social order has arisen in America? It is plausible to suggest that instead of abolishing coercion, Americans have forged more subtle and impersonal chains.