Friday, March 18, 2005

"Freedom for the pike"

I seem to often use this phrase when talking about how freedoms are balanced in a liberal society. It comes from a saying by Isaiah Berlin: "In a lake stocked with minnows and minnow-eating pike, freedom for the pike means death to the minnows." It means a freedom only for the strong or the rich.

As someone who values personal autonomy and believes that freedom should be for everyone, not just the wealthy or powerful - as someone on the left, rather than the right, in other words - I favour limiting the freedom of pikes. As Berlin pointed out, "the liberty of some must depend on the restraint of others". In order for all of us to be free, the ability of those who would limit the freedom of others must be restricted.


It's there to be an umpire, and protect us from all the other would-be pikes. And unlike them, it is democratically accountable to the rest of us.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 3/18/2005 10:32:00 AM

Freedom to starve isn't freedom.

Posted by Muerk : 3/19/2005 05:23:00 PM

Bushy: I don't know why you're so surprised. The idea that society depends on restraint goes back to Hobbes and Locke, and is the foundation of all classical liberal and Libertarian thought.

Where I differ from Hobbes is in applying his central bargain - that each man "be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himself" - to all liberties, not just to hitting one another.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 3/26/2005 06:10:00 PM

Could everyone who really belives in freedom please take a minute and go here to help this guy out. Its useful to remmember that freedom is a stranger to many parts of this world still....

Posted by Anonymous : 11/08/2006 07:07:00 PM