Welcome to the grand opening of the Liberty Through Knowledge blog. The Constitution of Liberty Part I

“The greatest tyranny has the smallest beginnings.  From precedents overlooked, from [remonstrances] despised, from grievances treated with ridicule, from powerless men oppressed with impunity, and overbearing men tolerated with complaisance, springs the tyrannical usage which generations of wise and good men may hereafter perceive and lament and resist in vain.”

The Times of London, Aug. 11, 1846.

Welcome the grand opening of the blog Liberty Though Knowledge


In this blog I will be discussing some of the great free market thinkers throughout history:  From Adam Smith through Milton Friedman.  Specifically this blog will be addressing the remarkable prescience these individuals had on not only the conundrums of their own time, but on the current political assault on liberty and the free marketplace.

My first entry on the Liberty Through Knowledge blog is a discussion of Frederick Hayek’s book The Constitution of Liberty.   Specifically Chapter 5- Responsibility and Freedom

This chapter is a great reflection of our current state of affairs!  In Hayek’s description of the slide of 1950s society towards socialism, his discussion centers on the need for personal responsibility and its relationship to a free society.   Although written in the 1950s, it specifically addresses our current mortgage crisis, spawned by the recievers of Fannie Mae campaign contributions: Barney Frank, and Chris Dodd (The President was one of the top three receivers when he was a U.S. Senator), The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), The Assoc. for Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and generally coercive actions and regulations by Congressional Committees towards home lending institutions to grant mortgages to those without the wherewithal to keep up payments.  An altruistic intent to a large extent, but as usual the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

In this chapter, Hayek emphatically states that a free society can’t function unless individuals accept that their position and success is directly attributable to their personal choices, regardless of luck or the lack of it.  Everything from an individual dishonestly signing a mortgage agreement to the above politicians and their proxies such as ACORN coercing banks to lend to un-creditworthy customers through the CRA, are harbingers of this country’s slide away from personal responsibility and its inseparable relationship to liberty.

Frighteningly today, many American’s desire for liberty is coming into question; just as it apparently did during the writing of this book, as liberty does not guarantee happiness or success. Hayek goes on to explain that those who insist their lives are dependent on circumstances outside of their control are those who tend to be afraid of (or even hostile to!) liberty itself.  He continues by explaining that this fear of liberty therefore leads to a predisposition towards governmental largess in areas from income redistribution to outright legalized moralizing.  A great current example is House Democrats’ motif that everyone be given the “right” to own a home.  Or how about the President’s government guarantee of General Motor’s warrantees?  (Now the govt. is going to fix your muffler for you.)  These current examples illustrate that:  We as conservatives believe that liberty means freedom from governmental coercion.  Liberals believe that liberty means freedom from all want or need.

This avoidance of individual responsibility also stems, according to Hayek, from something deeper than a fear of freedom (e.g. failure to succeed).  Hayek describes this avoidance of personal decision making as universal determinism, a concept originating in the 1800s.    All this term represents is the false belief that the general state of affairs in one’s life is determined by external events, or fate if you will.  (“Oh well, everything’s out of my control, why should I bother to try to improve my standard of living.”)  Basically, what this boils down to is: do we have free will and do our decisions have concrete consequences on our personal circumstances? (By the way, Judeo/Christian theology says we do.)

My next entry will finish the discussion of the Constitution of Liberty, Chapter 5, and it’s relevance to our modern times.


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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Well Obama promised to spread the wealth, and one thing is for sure- he keeps his promises!

  2. It’s unfortunate that Americans don’t see that the concept of government helping anyone is an oxymoron. Government has no real resources of its own, only those it takes from the people. So to confer unearned resources on some requires the taking of resources from those who’ve earned and continue to produce them. This unnatural and artificial movement of resources serves only to constrict, not promote, individual liberties–which, when exercised in a free and open economy, lead to prosperity. Instead, producers, who are punished, have no desire to take risks, and consumers, who are rewarded, have no need to take risks.

  3. Liberty is becoming a little-valued personal attribute in today’s western societies. Most of the population lives in urban areas. People have jobs and work for somebody else. Many people receive some kind of government support. In the US just about half the population pays no income tax. Most do not engage in activities that require independence and responsibility for their own safety. Government has been expanding its reach into the economy and society since the mid 1800s. Speech codes proliferate. Personal liberty is diminishing and its demise is not mourned.

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