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.

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Alex Knight
Alex Knight
5 years ago

Dr. Higgs: Have you yet seen my recent column here?

5 years ago
Reply to  Alex Knight

Alex, it seems you’re in good company wherever you go. I recently discovered some of the guys that run this site. Good people.

I have to agree with Robert Higgs on this one, even in my own family there are differences of opinion on the true nature of the state. Some people don’t want liberty.

James Akamine
James Akamine
5 years ago

Let me suggest that “society” is not a monolith. Assuming your (Higgs’) observation is correct, the obvious direction for anyone who does want to be free is to ignore the “libertarian” approach because (1) it is a political strategy and hence immoral and (2) an unpopular one and hence unsuccessful, and seek out understanding and agreement with others who want to be free and create a society including only those people. The mystery (to me) is not really why freedom is relatively unpopular, but why those who claim to want to be free are not interested in what I suggest.… Read more »