Liberty Defined, by Ron Paul

Ron Paul gets down to basics. From Paul at mises.org:

Liberty means to exercise human rights in any manner a person chooses so long as it does not interfere with the exercise of the rights of others. This means, above all else, keeping government out of our lives. Only this path leads to the unleashing of human energies that build civilization, provide security, generate wealth, and protect the people from systematic rights violations. In this sense, only liberty can truly ward off tyranny, the great and eternal foe of mankind.

The definition of liberty I use is the same one that was accepted by Thomas Jefferson and his generation. It is the understanding derived from the great freedom tradition, for Jefferson himself took his understanding from John Locke (1632–1704). I use the term “liberal” without irony or contempt, for the liberal tradition in the true sense, dating from the late Middle Ages until the early part of the twentieth century, was devoted to freeing society from the shackles of the state. This is an agenda I embrace, and one that I believe all should embrace.

To believe in liberty is not to believe in any particular social and economic outcome. It is to trust in the spontaneous order that emerges when the state does not intervene in human volition and human cooperation. It permits people to work out their problems for themselves, build lives for themselves, take risks and accept responsibility for the results, and make their own decisions.

Our standards of living are made possible by the blessed institution of liberty. When liberty is under attack, everything we hold dear is under attack. Governments, by their very nature, notoriously compete with liberty, even when the stated purpose for establishing a particular government is to protect liberty.

To continue reading: Liberty Defined

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