collectivism vs. individualism - FREEDOM KEYS
Our constitution does not copy the laws of neighboring states. We are rather a pattern to others than imitators ourselves. Its administration favors the many instead of the few; this is why it is called a democracy. If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if to social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit. Nor again does poverty bar the way. If a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition. The freedom which we enjoy in our government extends also to our ordinary life. There, far from exercising a jealous surveillance over each other, we do not feel called upon to be angry with our neighbor for doing what he likes, or even to indulge in those injurious looks which cannot fail to be offensive, although they inflict no positive penalty. But all this ease in our private relations does not make us lawless as citizens. Against this, fear is our chief safeguard, teaching us to obey the magistrates and the laws, particularly such as regard the protection of the injured, whether they are actually on the statute books or belong to that code which, although unwritten, yet cannot be broken without acknowledged disgrace.
Freedom in the gospel | Theology, Ministry, and the …
Direct action may be conceived of as physical action, and in all the cases in which coercion is identifiable with physical action we have a simple method of defining what coercion is. But in most cases coercion is exercised through the threat of some kind of physical action that actually does not take place. Coercion is more a feeling of intimidation than a physical event, and the identification of coercion is more difficult than we would imagine at first sight. Threats and the feelings relating to threats constitute a chain of which the links are not easily traceable under all circumstances nor easily definable by other people than the individual concerned. In all such cases the assumption that some action or form of behavior is coercive of the action or the behavior of others is not clear or objective enough to form the basis of an empirically ascertainable statement about it. This is an embarrassment for all supporters of a system of individual freedom, in so far as freedom has a negative character that cannot help being accurately stated without reference to coercion. If we have to state what behavior or action would be “free” in a given case, we must also state what corresponding behavior or action would be coercive, that is, what action would deprive people of their freedom in that case. Whenever there is no certainty about the nature of the corresponding coercion to be avoided, the ascertainment of the circumstances under which we can secure “freedom” for an action and the definition of the content of the latter are very difficult indeed.
Professor Hayek, who is one of the most eminent supporters of written, general, and certain rules at the present time as a means of counteracting arbitrariness, is himself perfectly aware of the fact that the rule of law “is not sufficient to achieve the purpose” of safeguarding individual freedom, and admits that it is “not a sufficient condition of individual freedom, as it still leaves open an enormous field for possible action of the State.”