Don’t Want to Live in a Free Society

The plain fact is that in the USA and many other countries the majority of the people have either demanded or voiced no objection to the government’s suppression of many human rights. Thus, people, in general, have made it clear enough that they do not wish to live in a free society. Of course, we may blame politicians for the actions they have taken, yet the fact remains that they are in many ways more dependent than independent variables in the process.

So, most people don’t want to live in a free society. Worse, they will scream to the heavens if little bits of freedom are permitted. People want creature comforts; they want entertainment; and they want the illusion of security, which the government supplies. But scarcely anyone truly wants to live in a free society. If such were not the case, the past century or more of U.S. and European history would have unfolded completely differently.

Libertarians tend to ignore the foregoing reality and to assume that people actually want to be free. Perhaps this mistaken assumption helps to explain why libertarianism has had so little appeal to the American and European people. What the libertarians are selling, the people are not demanding.

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Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, the University of Economics, Prague, and George Mason University. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.