Monday, December 1, 2008
Posted by lex dexter
[A]ttention to individual liberty would prove to be the signal contribution of English liberalism to political thought and an important heritage for its American admirers. In succeeding centuries, "liberal" thought on property would shift and change, but the primacy of individual liberty would remain axiomatic. It was a curious axiom, in an important sense an obstacle to democracy rather than a contribution to it. Liberty could be invoked by the citizen to defy a tyrant - but equally to defy democratic majorities. Furthermore, by promising citizens that they were free to live the life they chose, Locke's conception of liberty challenged the ancient concepts of civic virtue at their roots.