On Liberty

john-stuart-millPerhaps it is a little conceited of me to steal the title of Mill’s classic work for this post, however it seemed the only title apt for this train of though. Recently, I’ve been reading and viewing many historical documentaries, and it made me think of what actually constitutes liberty. We live in a modern world, with the internet, and the human freedom index, which shows the Western Democracies as the most free in the world relating to its metrics. Yet, they also have the highest volumes of laws and regulations of any nations in history. In fact, one of the major contentions in BREXIT was not only the volume of laws and regulations, but also who was permitted to influence their passing. Laws are rules that are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, with the social institutions having the power to coerce people into following them. After all, law without enforcement is moral philosophy.

However, this seems to be a contradiction to me, that the most free societies are also those with the strongest rule of law. The United States has 5000 Federal criminal laws with 10.000 – 300.000 regulations that can be enforced [1]. The European Commission passed a total of 49,699 laws between 1993 and 2014 [3]. The UK Parliament  So, what strikes me as strange, is the thesis that these countries are the most free while their citizens are regulated and controlled by law to such an extent. Continue reading