Freedom and Politics

In Freedom and Serfdom, pp. 191-217. Springer Netherlands, 1961.


To deal with the relationship between freedom and political government in the space of a single, short treatise is not possible. Indeed, a whole book would hardly suffice to deal adequately with the subject. For freedom, which is only very seldom — in times of crisis or revolution — the direct aim of political action, is, in reality, the reason why such a thing as politics exists at all in human affairs. In this connection, by freedom I do not mean that heritage of humanity which philosophers define in a variety of ways and isolate, to their own satisfaction, as one of the inherent attributes of man. Still less do I mean that so-called inner freedom, in which man seeks refuge when under external pressure; it is historically a later, and objectively a secondary, phenomenon. It has its origins in a withdrawal from the world, whereby certain experiences and aspirations are transferred to the inner, sub-conscious self, which originally were part and parcel of the outer world, and of which we should have known nothing, had we not previously encountered them as tangible, mundane realities. Basically, whether I enjoy freedom or suffer the reverse depends upon my intercourse with my fellow men and not on my intercourse with myself.