Monday, November 3, 2014

Benjamin Constant: A Principled Voice for Liberty Worth Recalling

Richard Ebeling emails:
Dear Bob,

I have a new article on the news and commentary website, "EpicTimes," on "Benjamin Constant: A Principled Voice for Liberty Worth Recalling."

The 19th century French Classical Liberal, Benjamin Constant, may not be a household name, but he should be better know to all friends of freedom, since he was one of the most principled and consistent advocates of individual liberty and free markets.

Constant argued that freedom cannot be well-grounded and secure without a theory of individual rights against the oppressions of the state. From this sold foundation, in his great book, "Principles of Politics," Benjamin Constant demonstrated the logic and importance of civil liberties, the economic freedom of the marketplace, the rationale and importance of strictly limited government, and warned of the dangers of an imperial nationalism that perversely brings war to other countries in the name of liberty and democracy, but ends up giving neither to the invaded neighbor nor to one's own people.

He also, in a famous lecture on, "The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with that of the Moderns," explained that in the world of ancient Greece, liberty meant freedom to participate in political decision-making, but subservience of the individual to the will of the majority. While for the "moderns" of his own time in the early 19th century, liberty meant the freedom of the individual to live his life for himself as he chose, with politics concerned with securing peoples' individual liberty rather than not violating it.

Tragical, we are rapidly today returning to the collectivist "freedom" of the ancients, unless we take heed to the wise words and insights of voices for liberty such as Benjamin Constant.



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