I am here following the distinction that some use,
between freedom and liberty: freedom is being free in your own
mind--even a prisoner in a gulag can be free. Liberty is the external
condition of being able to do what you want, within the usual
constraints of nature--a prisoner in a gulag does not have liberty.
Now, it is possible to have liberty, no matter what
political worldview you subscribe to. A communist can have liberty, if
he lives in a place that allows him to be a communist, just as he wants
to be. This is so for any other political persuasion; liberals can have
liberty, and conservatives can too. Some people may not realize this.
Anyone can have liberty; whether they are free is another question
altogether, that I won’t address here.
Let’s start this investigation with an analogy.
Imagine you live in a large city. Every morning you get up, get in your
car, and travel along your favorite road, Liberal Way. You travel on
Liberal Way because you are a liberal (just assume this for the moment).
This road has all the things you need. There are other roads, like
Conservative Boulevard, and Progressive Avenue, and even a gravel road
called Communist Lane, but you are not interested in going there,
although you may have tried it once when you were younger.
Now, you do have to drive through some ugly,
blighted areas, but you are sure they are that way because of what
happens over on Conservative Boulevard. Likewise, conservatives think
the blight they drive through on Conservative Boulevard is because of
what happens in Liberal Way. You both wish the rest of the city was more
like your own preferred road, so the blight would go away and you could
be proud of your entire city. And, you try to make that happen through
One day you get the notion to drive outside the
city. You start going but are soon stopped by a fence with a sign, “NO
EXIT PERMITTED.” You sadly turn around and go home. You then go back to
your old routine, but this event keeps gnawing away at the back of your
mind. For some reason you can’t quite fathom, the city loses its
friendly feeling. The familiar sights along Liberal Way start to seem a
bit “off"; nothing is quite as it appears. You start to feel as if you
are in a prison.