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WHAT IS CIVIL LIBERTY?

since they accepted protection, they could not be free; when they fell into dependence, they could not be independent. If they could claim protection and at the same time dominion, they would be privileged; and any one who enjoys privilege which some one else has to furnish, is of course superior. Hence, there are three positions only in social relations: servitude with inferiority, privilege with superiority, and a middle state of neither, with equality.

Peasant proprietors turn into colons and serfs through misery.[1] They abandon personal liberty in order to get protection, and they accept servitude to get security, because they find that they have not enough of the force which prevails in the society to defend themselves. Their lords maintain superiority and exact for themselves social privilege. Such was the course of things at the downfall of the Roman Empire. When things began to improve in western Europe, the slave thought that it was comparative freedom when he was bound to the soil, because his family could not be separated, and he could not be removed from his home. A villain, however, would have thought it slavery to be reduced to the status of the serf, with unlimited servitudes to render. The serf, in his turn, thought it immeasurable gain to get his servitudes made definite, although a free man would have thought it slavery to be reduced to villainage. A villain could not go if he wanted to, but he could not be evicted if any one wanted to send him away. A free man can go if he wants to, and may be evicted if the other party chooses. At what point does the servitude of the villain, who must stay and work and pay

  1. This is a disputed point, on which a great deal has been written, with very great divergence of opinion. The above seems to me to be the best opinion.