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EARTH HUNGER AND OTHER ESSAYS

posed upon the society by some arbitrary political authority. There is a modern abuse which is exactly parallel to this, and which consists in using the law to impose pet social aims on society, which use up the time and energy of the citizens in other aims than those chosen by themselves for their own happiness. Thus the most difficult problem in respect to liberty under law is now what it has always been, to prevent the law from overgrowing and smothering liberty.

Liberty and Discipline

The proposition that "every man should be free to do as he likes, without encroaching on the similar liberty of every other man," is commonly used as if it were a a simple and final definition of social and civil liberty. It is not so, however. It is only one of those formulas which we get into the habit of using because they save us the trouble of thinking, not because they are real solutions. Evidently any two men might easily disagree as to the limits set by this formula to their respective spheres of right and liberty—if so they would quarrel and fight. Law, peace, and order would not therefore be guaranteed; that is to say, the problem would not be solved.

Civil liberty must therefore be an affair of positive law, of institutions, and of history. It varies from time to time, for the notion of rights is constantly in flux. The limiting line between the rights and duties of each man, up to which each may go without trenching on the same rights and liberty of others, must be defined at any moment of time by the constitution, laws, and institutions of the community. People often deny this, and revolt at it, because they say that one's notions of rights and