Liberty or Freedom

Authored or posted by | December 8, 2017
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Picture of the words freedom and liberty

By Ken Bartle, author of

The phrase ‘Liberty or Freedom’ implies distinction, in particular, that liberty does not mean freedom. Today there tends to be a little difference between the two. Freedom describes one’s ability to act according to his or her wish without any external pressure. Liberty is the more commonly used word, which presumes to mean freedom, but seldom is recognised as contingent upon a legal framework.


From the etymological source, ‘liberty’ denotes the legal status of a full member in a tribe or society. Membership may be an inherited status, alternatively one that is acquired through adoption or as an official favour. The word liberty is from the Latin word ‘libertas,’ which means a ‘descendent,’ being one who enjoys the same social position enjoyed by their predecessors. In todays political society, it typically is an attribute of citizenship, which is a construction of government. Liberty refers to permissions shared by people of a community or a state as they apply to its government.

In general, liberty is a fundamental attribute that provides one the ability to do what he or she wants. The real issue is, who exactly is to provide this attribute. It surely is not a natural gift, a natural right to do as one wants. For any given government controlled society it is necessary to examine its legal codes to ascertain the extent of one’s liberty. Liberty in one society may be very different from that in another. Thus statism enters the picture.


‘Statism is the idea that the ruler should have not only the power to rule (as supreme commander in times of war, as diplomat, and as judge in some but not necessarily all disputes among his subjects) but also the power to govern. A medieval ruler ruled his realm but did not govern anything within it except his own household or «economy». Government (as distinct from rule) was a matter of private housekeeping. Every household had its own government. However, political or public government originated in the cities, when patrician families and, later, professional associations began to think of their city as a single household or economy under their management.’ — Richard Storey

That quotation explains the origins of statism and the foundations of what we call liberty.


In vibrant contrast to ‘liberty,’ ‘freedom’ does not connote a social position or status. Freedom is not a legal concept. Its origins belong to the field of natural law studies, specifically those concerning order and disorder in person-to-person or convivial relations. The aforementioned differs widely from order and disorder in social structures or organisations where individuals are occupants of socially defined positions.

Freedom derives from its etymological roots in the word ‘free’, an old Indian word ‘priya,’ meaning friend. Its Latin forms included ‘privus’ meaning exceptional or standing apart. Altogether these meanings in proper context refer to someone or something having no burdens of any type; no external imposed obligations or interferences. Freedom defines a state in which one is capable of doing according to his or her wishes without any external obligations.

‘Freedom is freedom among likes. A free man is ‘his own man’; he belongs to himself and to no other natural or artificial person. Hence, a natural person, being free by nature, is a free person everywhere, even where his freedom is not respected. One’s nature does not change merely because others fail to respect it, but one’s liberty is nothing else than what the rule makers in one’s society declare it to be.’ —Frank van Dun

Liberty or Freedom?

Only now can freedom and liberty be equated. On the one hand, we have natural persons and their convivial order. Otherwise are artificial persons and legal orders. This difference exposes the fundamental divide in the philosophy of the human world, namely whether ‘society’ should be a fit place for humans to live freely. Alternatively, human nature must bow and be moulded to a social correctness that prescribes liberty.

Apathetic indifference

Much as the word ego is falsely ascribed all too often, as mentioned in my last post, so the words liberty and freedom are used ambiguously, notwithstanding that freedom is the highest form of liberty to exist.

‘In a high-tech age that has seen the creation of artificial intelligence by computers, we are also seeing the creation of artificial stupidity by people who call themselves educators.
Educational institutions created to pass on to the next generation the knowledge, experience and culture of the generations that went before them have instead been turned into indoctrination centers to promote whatever notions, fashions or ideologies happen to be in vogue among today’s intelligentsia.’ —Thomas Sowell

To be consciously aware these days is sufficient for many. Beliefs are held as knowledge, even understanding. Slowly but surely the populace is being intellectually dumbed down. Critical thinking and inquiry are dying. We suffer from inattention, and lack of intention, lack of critical focus. So-called leaders, encourage indifference. AI fosters apathy and disconnection. The less we think and the less we challenge the status quo, the easier it is to further poison thought, and deplete critical analysis.

What exactly do we want—freedom or apathetic endurance of permission to exist? At whose cost?

This article was found on and republished on this website for educational purposes.

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Category: Freedom & Sovereignty

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