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Analyse how different ideologies treat the concept of liberty.

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Analyse how different political ideologies treat the concept of liberty. What advantages and disadvantages does each have? Liberty can be interpreted as meaning the freedom to do something without restrictions. The principal interpretations of liberty are 'negative liberty', which can be understood as freedom from restrictions; 'positive liberty', which can be understood as freedom to do things; and the view that there is such a small difference between these two interpretations that a distinction is unwarranted, as the ability to do something necessarily involves a lack of restrictions. The differences between the two interpretations regard the way in which people wish to treat liberty. Those who view liberty in the 'negative' sense, for example liberals and anarchists, generally feel that the role of law should be as limited as possible, whereas those who view it in the 'positive' sense generally feel that laws are needed so as to help people to achieve their full potential liberty. In this essay I will consider liberal, conservative and anarchist (the end result of the Marxist dialectics is anarchism, and as such Marxism will be treated as a form of anarchism) ...read more.


Locke saw humanity in its natural state as a collection of autonomous, rational, moral beings. The role of law, so as to allow humanity to act in this way, must be that of an objective adjudicator, limiting one person's liberty only in order to allow another's. This is perhaps best measured by Mill's 'harm principle', where he states that 'the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others'. A government would ideally enforce laws based upon a similar principle, be elected democratically and be as limited as possible, so to avoid a 'tyranny of the majority' or tyranny by any other group. The disadvantages of the liberal approach can mainly be seen as being in this last area. It is possible for a government to create laws based on such a principle, especially in a democracy? Is it possible for government to exist without tyranny? These questions are closely related. ...read more.


Other 'liberties' that many take for granted in a capitalist state, for example the ability to own private property, must, most anarchists argue, also be abolished, as private property leads to an unequal distribution of wealth. This would involve community ownership of the means of production. The disadvantages of the anarchist position are also practical ones; many people argue that anarchism is impossible or at the very least undesirable, as it paints too rosy a picture of human nature. The idea of all governments being magically overthrown and people being organised enough to live together without them seems ridiculous. However, this is viewing the future through the lens of the present. How many people in the time of Feudalism foresaw industrial revolutions that would lead to almost worldwide Capitalism? Most anarchists are very realistic in their interpretation of human nature; they see the fact that some humans are greedy and bullying as the exact reason why anarchism is necessary to protect people's liberties. It cannot be said, either, that the anarchist position focuses only on the distant future; most anarchists take an approach that is fairly close to the classical liberal approach to everyday situations. ...read more.

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