Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/311

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
291
WHAT IS CIVIL LIBERTY?

tion the fatal effects sprung from the spread of education. While thoughtless or superficial writers pretend to find in education the remedy of all social evils, as a matter of fact education has become the source of a vast amount of human suffering in modern times, under which those whose education is their only patrimony or source of income suffer most."[1] This is sufficiently explicit, and also manifests the solidarity of all forms of liberty and modern civilization. Those who attack them all show that they appreciate the truth of things a great deal better than those who try to attack some and save others.

4. Then there are the philosophers of the newest school, who, seizing upon the plain fact that all liberty is subject to moral restraints, as we shall presently see, are forcing upon us, or trying to force upon us, by legislation, restraints on liberty derived from altruistic dogmas, and, in general, under the high-sounding name of ethics, are assuming a charter for interference wherever they choose to allege that they have moral grounds for believing that things ought to be as they want them.

5. Finally, the anarchists, taking liberty to mean that a man ought to be a law unto himself, and that there should be no other law, have shown from another side that we should try to find out what liberty is.

The History of the Dogma of Natural Liberty.β€”The history of the dogma of the natural liberty of all men, with the cognate dogma of the natural equality of all men, would be an important topic for exhaustive treatment by itself. From the notes which I have made on the subject I condense as far as possible the following view of it:

Slavery in the classical states seems to have rested upon the law of war, that the vanquished man with his family and all his property fell under the good pleasure of the conqueror. Xenophon states this law explicitly: "The law is well known among all men that, when a state goes to war, the property and bodies of all in the state are the property of the captors. You will, therefore, not possess wrongfully whatever you get, but, if you permit them to retain anything, it will be out of humanity."[2] It seems that the reason why slaves in antiquity so universally accepted their fate was that they understood that such was the fortune of war. They acquiesced in it as according to the rules of the game. The earliest writer in date whom I have found who utters the dogma of liberty is Philemon (fl. c. 350 b. c.): "No one by nature ever was born a slave, but ill-fortune enslaved the body."[3] Aristotle discusses the subject in the third and fourth chapters of the first

  1. ↑ Karoly, "The Dilemmas of Labor and Education," London, 1884, introd., x.
  2. ↑ "Kyroped.," vii, 5, 73. Cf. "Memorab.," ii, 2, 2, and Polybius, ii, 58, 9.
  3. ↑ Frag. 39 in Meineke, "Com. Graec," iv, S. 47.