Paul Hinman's Reviews > On Liberty

On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
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's review
Jul 03, 2011

liked it
Read from August 31 to September 18, 2011

I can only wish I had read this book before the rise of the tea party and the co-opting of select libertarian ideas by Conservative politicians in rescent years.

Mills makes a plain case argument for the necessity of personal liberty, and guarding against the tyranny of the majority in terms of legislating purely personal behavior. And I can get entirely onboard with that ideal. However what Mills could probably never have anticipated, and what I perceive as the real failing of libertarianism, is the profusion of our adherence contract culture and the role of corporate interests in public and private life. It is one thing permit individuals to do as they please, so long as it does not harm others. So what happens when banks use predatory methods to encourage debt by individuals. Or pollution, which may place only small harm on identifiable persons in the present, so that seeking legal redress becomes next to impossible.

I'm not advocating that Mills is incorrect in his assertion of the necessity of individual freedom. But as he begins to point out, but ultimately fails to address in my opinion, is the line between public and private behavior. Or the inadequacy of the market in addressing long term problems when the primary concern is quarterly profits.

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