Only where we ourselves are responsible for our own interests and are free to sacrifice them has our decision moral value. We are neither entitled to be unselfish at someone else’s expense nor is there any merit in being unselfish if we have no choice. The members of a society who in all respects are made to do the good thing have no title to praise.
Even the striving for equality by means of a directed economy can result only in an officially enforced inequality – an authoritarian determination of the status of each individual in the new hierarchical order
It is, indeed, part of the liberal attitude to assume that, especially in the economic field, the self-regulating forces of the market will somehow bring about the required adjustments to new conditions, although no one can foretell how they will do this in a particular instance. There is perhaps no single factor contributing so much to people
Perhaps the fact that we have seen millions voting themselves into complete dependence on a tyrant has made our generation understand that to choose one.
It may indeed prove to be far the most difficult and not the least important task for human reason rationally to comprehend its own limitations. It is essential for the growth of reason that as individuals we should bow to forces and obey principles which we cannot hope fully to understand, yet on which the advance and even the preservation of civilization depends. Historically this has been achieved by the influence of the various religious creeds and by traditions and superstitions which made man submit to those forces by an appeal to his emotions rather than to his reason. The most dangerous stage in the growth of civilization may well be that in which man has come to regard all these beliefs as superstitions and refuses to accept or to submit to anything which he does not rationally understand. The rationalist whose reason is not sufficient to teach him those limitations of the powers of conscious reason, and who despises all the institutions and customs which have not been consciously designed, would thus become the destroyer of the civilization built upon them. This may well prove a hurdle which man will repeatedly reach, only to be thrown back into barbarism.
The more state ‘plans’ the more difficult planning becomes for the individual.
Once you admit that the individual is merely a means to serve the ends of a higher entity called society or the nation, most of those features of totalitarian regimes which horrify us follow of necessity. From the collectivist standpoint, intolerance and brutal suppression of dissent, the complete disregard of the life and happiness of the individual, are essential and unavoidable consequences of this basic premise; and the collectivist can admit this and at the same time claim that his system is superior to one in which the
…the case for individual freedom rests largely on the recognition of the inevitable and universal ignorance of all of us concerning a great many of the factors on which the achievements of our ends and welfare depend
Liberty not only means that the individual has both the opportunity and the burden of choice; it also means that he must bear the consequences of his actions…. Liberty and responsibility are inseparable.
If most people are not willing to see the difficulty, this is mainly because, consciously or unconsciously, they assume that it will be they who will settle these questions for the others, and because they are convinced of their own capacity to do this.
With every grant of security to one group the insecurity of the rest necessarily increases.
The greatest danger to liberty today comes from the men who are most needed and most powerful in modern government, namely, the efficient expert administrators exclusively concerned with what they regard as the public good.
With the exception only of the period of the gold standard, practically all governments of history have used their exclusive power to issue money to defraud and plunder the people.
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- Karl Popper Austrian-born British Philosopher
- Ludwig von Mises Austrian Economist
- Robert Owen British Social Reformer
- Jane Addams American Social Activist
- Bertrand A. Russell British Philosopher, Mathematician
- Jeannette Rankin American Social Activist
- Ludwig Wittgenstein Austrian-born British Philosopher
- T. S. Eliot American-born British Poet
- Winston Churchill British Head of State
- Milton Friedman American Economist