Sunday, October 21, 2012

Freedom versus Liberty

I've described myself as a libertarian, classical liberal, even an anarcho-capitalist. All those terms seem defined by their context. Even taking anarcho-capitalist to its core, its larger category of anarchist leaves one defined by a context and not what is inherent to the person.  Anarchy literally means "without a ruler." (

The concept of liberty is lacking. It sounds like you are being allowed to do something. Freedom seems more universal, less defined by a person's environment - more inherent. I've been frustrated by a lack of analysis or dialogue until I found this:

One might ask how [the] tyrannical society [of the indenture-servitude and slavery based mid-Atlantic] could have produced some of the greatest champions of republicanism, such as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and James Madison. The answer is that Tidewater's gentry embraced classical republicanism, meaning a republic modeled after those of ancient Greece and Rome. They emulated the learned, slave-holding elite of ancient Athens, basing their enlightened political philosophies around the ancient Latin concept of libertas, or liberty. This was a fundamentally different notion from the Germanic concept of Freiheit, or freedom, which informed the political thought of Yankeedom [New England] and the Midlands. Understanding the distinction is essential to comprehending the fundamental disagreements that still plague relations between Tidewater [mid-Atlantic], the Deep South, and New Spain on one hand and Yankeedom and the Midlands on the other.
American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North American by Colin Woodard
And of course, once my mind was more open to the conflict, I ran across this: "Freedom vs. Liberty" by Joseph R. Stromberg on This article goes into the etymology of the two terms. And Stromberg comes to a similar conclusion that I did, that "'freedom' seems a bit more world-bound or concrete than 'liberty.'"
Being on the freedom end of the political spectrum leaves one, as a matter of convenience, defined a libertarian or anarchist, or possibly a sovereign individualist. Is there a label or philosophy that is more concrete? Freedomer? Freedom lover? Well, the philosophy is freedom. That's simple. But what do you call the adherent? Freeman? Freewoman? Freeone? Freeneck? Freedomer?

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