Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, October 22nd, 2018

Does Liberty Mean no Restraint?


Does Liberty Mean no Restraint?

The formation of states in human history has been convened by the concept that needs and rights of human beings should be safeguarded. In order to make sure that they have a better living, the formation of states has been necessitated. Today human beings are so much dependent on the state that life without state can only be considered anarchy. State has played dominant role in the life of citizens, but at the same time there have been discussions regarding the role and control of the state over the lives of the citizens.

With rise of individualism in Europe, the concept of human liberty started flourishing speedily. There were political philosophers who even reached to the extent of calling liberty the ultimate aim of human life and suggested that states must guarantee the individual liberty to every possible extent. But absolute liberty could never be maintained and the concept of liberty started finding strong position in the political systems and enjoys the same in current systems of most of the countries of the world.

The concept of liberty has been defined in different ways by different political philosophers and analysts, but the word freedom has been closely linked with the concept. Laski says, "I mean by liberty the absence of restraint upon the existence of those social conditions which in modern civilization are the necessary guarantee of individual's happiness."

However, liberty in this sense is neither practicable nor desirable in any civilized society. Liberty in this sense shall give rise to chaos and anarchy endangering the life of all the members of the society. In the larger interest of the community certain restraints must be imposed on the individual liberty so that it can be enjoyed by all the members.

In other words these restrictions should be reasonable, just and conducive to social welfare. In the absence of such restrictions it shall indeed be difficult to maintain order and harmony in the society. Since the liberty of each is relative to that of others it has to be adjusted.

Laski also says, "Historic experience has evolved for us rules of convenience which promote right living and to compel obedience to them is a justifiable limitation of freedom." In short, liberty does not mean absence of all restraints; it rather means the presence of rational restrictions in place of irrational restraints.

As McKechnie has put it, "Freedom is not the absence of all restraints, but rather the substitution of rational ones for irrational." On the other hand certain other scholars have emphasized the positive aspect of liberty.

For example Gettle says, "True liberty is the positive power of doing and enjoying those things which are worthy of enjoyment and work." Ernest Barker says the principle of liberty means that, "The state treats each and every moral person as a free agent, capable of developing his own capacities in his own way and therefore capable of enjoying and exercising the rights which are conditions of such d0evelopment."

But probably the most comprehensive definition of positive liberty has been given by Prof. Laski. He says, "Liberty is the eager maintenance of that atmosphere in which men have the option to be their best selves. It is a product of rights. Without rights there can be no liberty because in that case men are the subjects of law unrelated to the needs of personality. Liberty therefore, is a positive thing. It does not merely mean absence of restraint."

The discussed views of liberty suggest certain characteristics of liberty. First, liberty does not mean absence of restraints. On the other hand it means the presence of those conditions which are essential for the development of an individual's personality. Second, absolute liberty is neither practicable nor desirable because it is something to be enjoyed by all and not the exclusive prerogative of a handful of people. Third, liberty and laws are not antithesis. On the other hand law helps in the promotion of liberty by regulating the actions of the members and laying down norms to be observed by the members in the larger interest of the community.

Modern and developed states of the world consider it necessary to guarantee individual liberty. Especially, democracy has been considered as one of the best forms of government that can provide liberty to individual. According to modern concept, a political system must provide for the following types of liberty; civil liberty, political liberty, economic liberty and national liberty.

All these types of liberty can guarantee a better growth of individual and better fulfillment of his personality. Unfortunately, most of the states of the world have not been successful in providing these necessary liberties to their people. In order to provide liberty to the people in a state there are certain safeguards that have to be carried out.

Among them, absence of privileges is one of the most evident ones. Absence of privilege suggests that all people should be treated equally and there should not be any special privileges for any section of the society. Apart from that, democratic government can also help in safeguarding the liberties of the citizens. The other necessary measures include providence of fundamental rights, rule of law, independence of judiciary, freedom of media, well-organized party system, decentralization of power and economic equality.

Unfortunately, our country Afghanistan has been one of the countries that have not been able to provide for the necessary liberties of all the citizens as the country has been going through very preliminary stage of democratization. Though there are various instances that depict the violation of human liberty in the country, currently the issue of Simin Barakzai has been considered as an important one.

Simin Barakzai's tent which was maintained for hunger strike has been forcefully removed and she herself has been transferred to hospital. There are many people in the country who consider the current act of the government against the demands of liberty because they are of the opinion that she has the political liberty to go for a hunger strike and the government as it claims to be democratic must not deprive her of her this right.

Definitely, keeping the demands of liberty in consideration the government must make sure that it convinces her through dialogue, not force or any other coercive means. Moreover, the government should also make sure that all the citizens of the country must be provided 'true liberty' because without true liberty real democracy can not be achieved.

Dilawar Sherzai is the permanent writer of the Daily outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

Go Top