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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Giver and Utopian Socialism

By Anne Hobson

The Giver is the dystopian parallel of The Hunger Games infused with the provocative themes of The Matrix. It is the right wing answer to Elysium, and it is a masterpiece of what it means to be human.

In the film, an elite group of elders—the social planners suffering from Hayek’s fatal conceit—posit that humans are weak and selfish. When humans are given a choice, they choose wrongly. The planners decided to remove what makes us human—our emotions, our passion, and our differences, and our decisions. In this community, there are no winners and no losers, and there is no free will.

The Giver’s answer: “We could choose better.”

For those Americans who push against the surveillance state, the welfare state, and big government, it is a relief to see a film characterized by overtones of self-reliance and the dangers of social engineering.

In 1825, socialist Robert Owen pioneered a new planned community in Indiana. Like the elders in The Giver, he pledged to design a “New Moral World” of happiness and prosperity. He founded New Harmony as a society of communal living and social reform. His town dissolved into chaos within the year.

In The Giver we are reminded that utopianism is doomed to fail. Imperfect beings are incapable of creating a perfect system. Humans have such a wide array of needs that there is no single social construct that can fulfill them.

The Giver by Lois Lowry is a novel often assigned in middle school under the auspices of learning the significance of the relationship between pain and pleasure, celebrating our differences, and the power of free will.

With actors Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges, the viewers get to rediscover the joy of music, sunsets, love, and fun. They are also faced with a question: if you were given the opportunity to take the red pill and know the truth, however much it hurts, would you? Or would you take the blue pill of ignorant bliss:
“You take the blue pill: the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill: you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."

The Giver takes this question a step further: if you had to make this decision for everyone, what would you choose?

Humanity comes with a price—a capacity for evil—but perhaps the greatest evil is enslavement and the inability to choose one’s fate. The Giver is out in theaters this Friday, August 15th.

Anne is a current MA Fellow in applied economics at the Mercatus Center.

Originally from the Chicagoland area, Anne moved to Baltimore to attend Johns Hopkins University.  After graduating in 2012 with a B.A. in International Studies, she came to D.C. to blog for the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, a foreign policy think tank. Anne’s work has been published by the American Spectator, the Daily Caller, the Global Security Monitor Blog and the Austrian Economics and Liberty Blog. Her academic interests range from economics and marketing to graphic design and the Spanish language.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

“Anticommunism” versus Capitalism

In the universe there is never and nowhere stability and immobility. Change and transformation are essential features of life. Each state of affairs is transient; each age is an age of transition. In human life there is never calm and repose. Life is a process, not a perseverance in a status quo. Yet the human mind has always been deluded by the image of an unchangeable existence. The avowed aim of all utopian movements is to put an end to history and to establish a final and permanent calm
The psychological reasons for this tendency are obvious. Every change alters the external conditions of life and well-being and forces people to adjust themselves anew to the modification of their environments. It hurts vested interests and threatens traditional ways of production and consumption. It annoys all those who are intellectually inert and shrink from revising their modes of thinking. Conservatism is contrary to the very nature of human acting. But it has always been the cherished program of the many, of the inert who dully resist every attempt to improve their own conditions which the minority of the alert initiate. In employing the term reactionary one mostly refers only to the aristocrats and priests who called their parties conservative. Yet the outstanding examples of the reactionary spirit were provided by other groups:  by the guilds of artisans blocking entrance into their field to newcomers; by the farmers asking for tariff protection, subsidies and “parity prices”; by the wager earners hostile to technological improvements and fostering featherbedding and similar practices.
The vain arrogance of the literati and Bohemian artists dismisses the activities of the businessmen as unintellectual moneymaking. The truth is that the entrepreneurs and promoters display more intellectual faculties and intuition than the average writer and painter. The inferiority of many self-styled intellectuals manifests itself precisely in the fact that they fail to recognize what capacity and reasoning power are required to operate successfully a business enterprise.
The emergence of a numerous class of such frivolous intellectuals is one of the least welcome phenomena of the age of modern capitalism. Their obtrusive stir repels discriminating people. They are a nuisance. It would not directly harm anybody if something would be done to curb their bustle or, even better, to wipe out entirely their cliques and coteries.
However, freedom is indivisible. Every attempt to restrict the freedom of the decadent troublesome literati and pseudo-artists would vest in the authorities the power to determine what is good and what is bad. It would socialize intellectual and artistic effort. It is questionable whether it would weed out the useless and objectionable persons; but it is certain that it would put insurmountable obstacles in the way of the creative genius. The powers that be do not like new ideas, new ways of thought and new styles of art. They are opposed to any kind of innovation. Their supremacy would result in strict regimen­tation; it would bring about stagnation and decay.
The moral corruption, the licentiousness and the intellectual sterility of a class of lewd would-be authors and artists is the ransom mankind must pay lest the creative pioneers be prevented from accomplishing their work. Freedom must be granted to all, even to base people, lest the few who can use it for the benefit of mankind be hindered. The license which the shabby characters of the quartier Latin enjoyed was one of the conditions that made possible the ascendance of a few great writers, painters and sculptors. The first thing a genius needs is to breathe free air.
After all, it is not the frivolous doctrines of the Bohemians that generate disaster, but the fact that the public is ready to accept them favorably. The response to these pseudo-philosophies on the part of the molders of public opinion and later on the part of the misguided masses is the evil. People are anxious to endorse the tenets they consider as fashionable lest they appear boorish and backward.
The most pernicious ideology of the last sixty years was George Sorel’s syndicalism and his enthusiasm for the action directe. Generated by a frustrated French intellectual, it soon captivated the literati of all European countries. It was a major factor in the radicalization of all subversive movements. It influenced French royalism, militarism and anti-Semitism. It played an important role in the evolution of Russian Bolshevism, Italian Fascism and the German youth movement which finally resulted in the development of Nazism. It transformed political parties intent upon winning through electoral campaigns into factions which relied upon the organization of armed bands. It brought into discredit representative government and “bourgeois security,” and preached the gospel both of civil and of foreign war. Its main slogan was:  violence and again violence. The present state of European affairs is to a great extent an outcome of the prevalence of Sorel’s teachings.
The intellectuals were the first to hail the ideas of Sorel: they made them popular. But the tenor of Sorelism was obviously antiintellectual. He was opposed to cool reasoning and sober deliberation. What counts for Sorel is solely the deed, viz., the act of violence for the sake of violence. Fight for a myth whatever this myth may mean, was his advice. “If you place yourself on this ground of myths, you are proof against any kind of critical refutation.”*  What a marvelous philosophy, to destroy for the sake of destruction!  Do not talk, do not reason, kill!  Sorel rejects the “intellectual effort” even of the literary champions of revolution. The essential aim of the myth is “to prepare people to fight for the destruction of what exists.”**
Yet the blame for the spread of the destructionist pseudo-philosophy rests neither with Sorel nor with his disciples, Lenin, Mussolini and Rosenberg, nor with the hosts of irresponsible literati and artists. The catastrophe came because, for many decades, hardly anybody ventured to examine critically and to explode the trigger consciousness of the fanatical desperadoes. Even those authors who refrained from unreservedly endorsing the ideas of reckless violence were eager to find some sympathetic interpretation of the worst excesses of the dictators. The first timid objections were raised only when—very late, indeed—the intellectual abettors of these policies began to realize that even enthusiastic endorsement of the totalitarian ideology did not guarantee immunity from torture and execution.
There exists today a sham anticommunist front. What these people who call themselves “anticommunist liberals” and whom sober men more correctly call “anti-anticommunists” are aiming at is communism without those inherent and necessary features of communism which are still unpalatable to Americans. They make an illusory distinction between communism and socialism and—paradoxically enough—look for a support of their recommendation of noncommunist socialism to the document which its authors called The Communist Manifesto. They think that they have proved their case by employing such aliases for socialism as planning or the welfare state. They pretend to reject the revolutionary and dictatorial aspirations of the “Reds” and at the same time they praise in books and magazines, in schools and universities, Karl Marx, the champion of the communist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, as one of the greatest economists, philosophers and sociologists and as the eminent benefactor and liberator of mankind. They want to make us believe that untotalitarian totalitarianism, a kind of a triangular square, is the patent medicine for all ills. Whenever they raise some mild objection to communism, they are eager to abuse capitalism in terms borrowed from the objurgatory vocabulary of Marx and Lenin. They emphasize that they abhor capitalism much more passionately than communism, and they justify all the unsavory acts of the communists by referring to the “unspeakable horrors” of capitalism. In short:  they pretend to fight communism in trying to convert people to the ideas of the Communist Manifesto.
What these self-styled “anticommunist liberals” are fighting against is not communism as such, but a communist system in which they themselves are not at the helm. What they are aiming at is a socialist, i.e., communist, system in which they themselves or their most intimate friends hold the reins of government. It would perhaps be too much to say that they are burning with a desire to liquidate other people. They simply do not wish to be liquidated. In a socialist commonwealth, only the supreme autocrat and his abettors have this assurance.
An “anti-something” movement displays a purely negative attitude. It has no chance whatever to succeed. Its passionate diatribes virtually advertise the program that they attack. People must fight for something that they want to achieve, not simply reject an evil, however bad it may be. They must, without any reservations, endorse the program of the market economy.
Communism would have today, after the disillusionment brought by the deeds of the Soviets and the lamentable failure of all socialist experiments, but little chance of succeeding in the West if it were not for this faked anticommunism.
What alone can prevent the civilized nations of Western Europe, America and Australia from being enslaved by the barbarism of Moscow is open and unrestricted support of laissez-faire capitalism.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Liberty And Western Civilization

The critics of the legal and constitutional concept of lib­erty and the institutions devised for its practical realization are right in their assertion that freedom from arbitrary ac­tion on the part of the officeholders is in itself not yet suf­ficient to make an in­dividual free. But in emphasizing this indisputable truth they are running against open doors. For no advocate of liberty ever contended that to restrain the arbitrariness of officialdom is all that is needed to make the citizens free. What gives to the indi­viduals as much freedom as is compatible with life in society is the operation of the market economy. The constitutions and bills of rights do not create freedom. They merely protect the free­dom that the competitive economic system grants to the individ­uals against encroachments on the part of the police power.
In the market economy people have the opportunity to strive after the station they want to attain in the structure of the social division of labor. They are free to choose the voca­tion in which they plan to serve their fellowmen. In a planned economy they lack this right. Here the authorities determine each man’s occu­pation. The discretion of the superiors promotes a man to a bet­ter position or denies him such promotion. The individual de­pends entirely on the good graces of those in power. But under capitalism every­body is free to challenge the vested interests of everybody else. If he thinks that he has the ability to supply the public better or more cheaply than other people do, he may try to demonstrate his efficiency. Lack of funds cannot frustrate his projects. For the capitalists are always in search of men who can utilize their funds in the most profitable way. The out­come of a man’s business activities depends alone on the conduct of the consumers who buy what they like best.
Neither does the wage earner depend on the employer’s arbi­trariness. An entrepreneur who fails to hire those work­ers who are best fitted for the job concerned and to pay them enough to prevent them from taking another job is penal­ized by a reduc­tion of net revenue. The employer does not grant to his employ­ees a favor. He hires them as an indis­pensable means for the success of his business in the same way in which he buys raw materials and factory equipment. The worker is free to find the employment which suits him best.
The process of social selection that determines each in­di­vidual’s position and income is continuously going on in the market economy. Great fortunes are shrinking and fi­nally melting away completely while other people, born in poverty, ascend to eminent positions and considerable in­comes. Where there are no privileges and where govern­ments do not grant protection to vested interests threatened by the superior effi­ciency of newcomers, those who have acquired wealth in the past are forced to acquire it every day anew in competition with all other people.
Within the framework of social cooperation under the divi­sion of labor everybody depends on the recognition of his ser­vices on the part of the buying public of which he himself is a member. Everybody in buying or abstaining from buying is a member of the supreme court which as­signs to all people—and thereby also to himself—a definite place in society. Everybody is instrumental in the process that assigns to some people a higher, and to others a smaller, income. Everybody is free to make a contribution which his fellowmen are prepared to reward by the allocation of a higher income. Freedom under capitalism means: not to depend more on other people’s discretion than these others depend on one’s own. No other freedom is conceiv­able where production is performed under the division of labor, and there is no perfect economic autarky of everybody.
There is no need to stress the point that the essential argu­ment advanced in favor of capitalism and against social­ism is not the fact that socialism must necessarily abolish all vestiges of freedom and convert all people into slaves of those in power. Socialism is unrealizable as an economic system because a so­cialist society would not have any possi­bility of resorting to economic calculation. This is why it cannot be considered as a system of society’s economic organ­ization. It is a means to disintegrate social cooperation and to bring about poverty and chaos.
In dealing with the liberty issue one does not refer to the es­sential economic problem of the antagonism between capi­talism and socialism. One rather points out that Western man as differ­ent from the Asiatics is entirely a being ad­justed to life in free­dom and formed by life in freedom. The civilizations of China, Japan, India and the Mohammedan countries of the near East as they existed before these nations became acquainted with West­ern ways of life certainly can­not be dismissed as barbarism. These peoples, already many hundreds, even thousands of years ago, brought about mar­velous achievements in the industrial arts, in architecture, in literature and philosophy and in the de­velopment of educa­tional institutions. They founded and orga­nized powerful empires. But then their effort was arrested, their cultures became numb and torpid, and they lost the ability to cope successfully with economic problems. Their intellectual and artistic genius withered away. Their artists and authors bluntly copied traditional patterns. Their theologians, phi­loso­phers and lawyers indulged in unvarying exegesis of old works. The monuments erected by their ancestors crum­bled. Their empires disintegrated. Their citizens lost vigor and energy and became apathetic in the face of progressing decay and impover­ishment.
The ancient works of Oriental philosophy and poetry can compare with the most valuable works of the West. But for many centuries the East has not generated any book of im­por­tance. The intellectual and literary history of modern ages hardly records any name of an Oriental author. The East has no longer contributed anything to the intellectual effort of mankind. The problems and controversies that agitated the West remained unknown to the East. In Europe there was commotion; in the East there was stagnation, in­dolence and indifference.
The reason is obvious. The East lacked the primordial thing, the idea of freedom from the state. The East never raised the banner of freedom, it never tried to stress the rights of the indi­vidual against the power of the rulers. It never called into ques­tion the arbitrariness of the despots. And, consequently, it never established the legal framework that would protect the private citizens’ wealth against con­fiscation on the part of the tyrants. On the contrary, deluded by the idea that the wealth of the rich is the cause of the poverty of the poor, all people approved of the practice of the governors of expropriating successful business­men. Thus big-scale capital accumulation was prevented, and the na­tions had to miss all those improvements that require con­siderable investment of capital. No “bourgeoisie” could develop, and consequently there was no public to encourage and to pa­tronize authors, artists and inventors. To the sons of the people all roads toward personal distinction were closed but one. They could try to make their way in serving the princes. Western so­ciety was a community of individ­uals who could compete for the highest prizes. Eastern so­ciety was an agglomeration of subjects entirely dependent on the good graces of the sovereigns. The alert youth of the West looks upon the world as a field of action in which he can win fame, eminence, honors and wealth; nothing ap­pears too difficult for his ambition. The meek progeny of Eastern parents know of nothing else than to follow the rou­tine of their environment. The noble self-reliance of Western man found triumphant expression in such dithyrambs as Sophocles’ choric Antigone hymn upon man and his enter­pris­ing effort and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Nothing of the kind has been ever heard in the Orient.
Is it possible that the scions of the builders of the white man’s civilization should renounce their freedom and volun­tar­ily surrender to the suzerainty of omnipotent govern­ment?  That they should seek contentment in a system in which their only task will be to serve as cogs in a vast ma­chine designed and op­erated by an almighty planmaker?  Should the mentality of the arrested civilizations sweep the ideals for the ascendancy of which thousands and thousands have sacrificed their lives?

Friday, August 1, 2014

The “Bourgeois Prejudice” Of Liberty

The history of Western civilization is the record of a cease­less struggle for liberty.
Social cooperation under the division of labor is the ulti­mate and sole source of man’s success in his struggle for sur­vival and his endeavors to improve as much as possible the ma­terial conditions of his well-being. But as human nature is, so­ciety cannot exist if there is no provision for preventing unruly people from actions incompatible with community life. In order to preserve peaceful cooperation, one must be ready to resort to violent suppression of those disturbing the peace. Society cannot do without a social apparatus of coercion and compulsion, i.e., without state and government. Then a further problem emerges:  to restrain the men who are in charge of the governmental func­tions lest they abuse their power and convert all other people into virtual slaves. The aim of all struggles for liberty is to keep in bounds the armed defenders of peace, the governors and their consta­bles. The political concept of the individual’s freedom means:  freedom from arbitrary action on the part of the police power.
The idea of liberty is and has always been peculiar to the West. What separates East and West is first of all the fact that the peoples of the East never conceived the idea of lib­erty. The imperishable glory of the ancient Greeks was that they were the first to grasp the meaning and significance of institutions war­ranting liberty. Recent historical research has traced back the origin of some of the scientific achieve­ments previously cred­ited to the Hellenes to Oriental sources. But nobody has ever contested that the idea of liberty origi­nated in the cities of an­cient Greece. The writings of Greek philosophers and historians transmitted it to the Romans and later to modern Europe and America. It became the essen­tial concern of all Western plans for the establishment of the good society. It begot the laissez-faire philosophy to which mankind owes all the unprecedented achievements of the age of capitalism.
The purpose of all modern political and judicial institu­tions is to safeguard the individuals’ freedom against en­croachments on the part of the government. Representative government and the rule of law, the independence of courts and tribunals from interference on the part of administra­tive agencies, habeas cor­pus, judicial examination and redress of acts of the administra­tion, freedom of speech and the press, separation of state and church, and many other insti­tutions aimed at one end only: to restrain the discretion of the officeholders and to render the in­dividuals free from their arbitrariness. The age of capitalism has abolished all vestiges of slavery and serfdom. It has put an end to cruel punishments and has reduced the penalty for crimes com­mitted to the minimum indispensable for discouraging of­fenders. It has done away with torture and other objec­tionable methods of dealing with suspects and lawbreakers.
It has repealed all privileges and promulgated equality of all men under the law. It has transformed the subjects of tyr­anny into free citizens.
The material improvements were the fruit of these reforms and innovations in the conduct of government affairs. As all privileges disappeared and everybody was granted the right to challenge the vested interests of all other people, a free hand was given to those who had the ingenuity to develop all the new in­dustries which today render the material con­ditions of people more satisfactory. Population figures multi­plied and yet the in­creased population could enjoy a better life than their ancestors.
Also in the countries of Western civilization there have al­ways been advocates of tyranny—the absolute arbitrary rule of an autocrat or of an aristocracy on the one hand, and the subjec­tion of all other people on the other hand. But in the age of En­lightenment these voices became thinner and thinner. The cause of liberty prevailed. In the first part of the nineteenth century the victorious advance of the princi­ple of freedom seemed to be ir­resistible. The most eminent philosophers and historians got the conviction that historical evolution tends toward the establish­ment of institutions war­ranting freedom and that no intrigues and machinations on the part of the champions of servilism could stop the trend toward liberalism.
In dealing with the liberal social philosophy there is a dis­position to overlook the power of an important factor that worked in favor of the idea of liberty, viz., the eminent role as­signed to the literature of ancient Greece in the educa­tion of the elite. There were among the Greek authors also champions of government omnipotence such as Plato. But the essential tenor of Greek ideology was the pursuit of lib­erty. Judged by the standards of modern institutions, the Greek city states must be called oligarchies. The liberty which the Greek statesmen, philosophers and historians glo­rified as the most precious good of man was a privilege re­served to a minority. In denying it to metics and slaves they virtually advocated the despotic rule of a hereditary caste of oligarchs. Yet it would be a grave error to dismiss their hymns to liberty as mendacious. They were no less sincere in their praise and quest of freedom than were, two thou­sand years later, the slaveholders among the signers of the American Declaration of Independence. It was the political lit­erature of the ancient Greeks that begot the ideas of the Monar­chomachs, the philosophy of the Whigs, the doctrines of Althu­sius, Grotius and John Locke and the ideology of the fathers of modern constitutions and bills of rights. It was the classical studies, the essential feature of a liberal educa­tion, that kept awake the spirit of freedom in the England of the Stuarts, in the France of the Bourbons, and in Italy subject to the despotism of a galaxy of princes. No less a man than Bismarck, among the nineteenth-century states­men next to Metternich the foremost foe of liberty, bears witness to the fact that, even in the Prussia of Frederick William III, the Gymnasium,the education based on Greek and Roman literature, was a stronghold of republicanism.*  The passionate endeavors to eliminate the classical studies from the curriculum of the liberal education and thus virtu­ally to de­stroy its very character were one of the major manifestations of the revival of the servile ideology.
It is a fact that a hundred years ago only a few people antici­pated the overpowering momentum which the anti­libertarian ideas were destined to acquire in a very short time. The ideal of liberty seemed to be so firmly rooted that everybody thought that no reactionary movement could ever succeed in eradicating it. It is true, it would have been a hopeless venture to attack freedom openly and to advocate unfeignedly a return to subjection and bondage. But anti­liberalism got hold of peoples’ minds camou­flaged as super­liberalism, as the fulfillment and consummation of the very ideas of freedom and liberty. It came disguised as socialism, communism, planning.
No intelligent man could fail to recognize that what the so­cialists, communists and planners were aiming at was the most radical abolition of the individuals’ freedom and the establish­ment of government omnipotence. Yet the immense majority of the socialist intellectuals were convinced that in fighting for so­cialism they were fighting for freedom. They called themselves left-wingers and democrats, and nowadays they are even claim­ing for themselves the epithet, “liberal.”  We have already dealt with the psychological factors that dimmed the judgment of these intellectuals and the masses who followed their lead. They were in their subconscious­ness fully aware of the fact that their fail­ure to attain the far-flung goals which their ambition impelled them to aim at was due to deficiencies of their own. They knew very well that they were either not bright enough or not industri­ous enough. But they were eager not to avow their inferiority both to themselves and to their fellowmen and to search for a scapegoat. They consoled themselves and tried to convince other people that the cause of their failure was not their own in­feriority but the injustice of society’s economic organi­zation. Under capitalism, they declared, self‑realization is only possible for the few. “Liberty in a laissez-faire society is attainable only by those who have the wealth or opportunity to purchase it.”*  Hence, they concluded, the state must interfere in order to realize “social justice”—what they really meant was, in order to give to the frustrated mediocrity “ac­cording to his needs.”
As long as the problems of socialism were merely a matter of debates, people who lack clear judgment and understand­ing could fall prey to the illusion that freedom could be preserved under a socialist regime. Such self‑deceit can no longer be nur­tured since the Soviet experience has shown to everybody what conditions are in a socialist commonwealth.
Today the apologists of socialism are forced to distort facts and to misrepresent the manifest meaning of words when they want to make people believe in the compatibility of socialism and freedom.
The late Professor Laski—in his lifetime an eminent mem­ber and chairman of the British Labour Party, a self-styled non­communist or even anticommunist—told us that “no doubt in Soviet Russia a Communist has a full sense of lib­erty; no doubt also he has a keen sense that liberty is denied him in Fascist Italy.”*  The truth is that a Russian is free to obey all the orders issued by his superiors. But as soon as he deviates a hundredth of an inch from the correct way of thinking as laid down by the authorities, he is mercilessly liquidated. All those politicians, officeholders, authors, mu­sicians and scientists who were “purged” were—to be sure—not anticommunists. They were, on the contrary, fanatical communists, party members in good standing, whom the supreme authorities, in due recognition of their loyalty to the Soviet creed, had promoted to high positions. The only of­fense they had committed was that they were not quick enough in adjusting their ideas, policies, books or com­posi­tions to the latest changes in the ideas and tastes of Stalin. It is difficult to believe that these people had “a full sense of lib­erty” if one does not attach to the word liberty a sense which is precisely the contrary of the sense which all people always used to attach to it.
Fascist Italy was certainly a country in which there was no liberty. It had adopted the notorious Soviet pattern of the “one party principle” and accordingly suppressed all dis­senting views. Yet there was still a conspicuous difference between the Bolshevik and the Fascist application of this principle. For in­stance, there lived in Fascist Italy a former member of the par­liamentary group of communist deputies, who remained loyal unto death to his communist tenets, Professor Antonio Graziadei. He received the government pension which he was entitled to claim as professor emeritus, and he was free to write and to pub­lish, with the most eminent Italian publishing firms, books which were ortho­dox Marxian. His lack of liberty was certainly less rigid than that of the Russian communists who, as Professor Laski chose to say, “no doubt” have “a full sense of liberty.”
Professor Laski took pleasure in repeating the truism that liberty in practice always means liberty within law. He goes on saying that the law always aims at “the conference of security upon a way of life which is deemed satisfactory by those who dominate the machinery of state.”*  This is a cor­rect description of the laws of a free country if it means that the law aims at pro­tecting society against conspiracies intent upon kindling civil war and upon overthrowing the govern­ment by violence. But it is a serious misstatement when Professor Laski adds that in a capitalistic society “an effort on the part of the poor to alter in a radical way the property rights of the rich at once throws the whole scheme of lib­erties into jeopardy.”**
Take the case of the great idol of Professor Laski and all his friends, Karl Marx. When in 1848 and 1849 he took an active part in the organization and the conduct of the revo­lution, first in Prussia and later also in other German states, he was—being legally an alien—ex­pelled and moved, with his wife, his children and his maid, first to Paris and then to London.*  Later, when peace returned and the abettors of the abortive revolution were amnestied, he was free to return to all parts of Germany and often made use of this oppor­tunity. He was no longer an exile, and he chose of his own ac­cord to make his home in London.**  Nobody mo­lested him when he founded, in 1864, the International Working Men’s Associa­tion, a body whose avowed sole pur­pose was to prepare the great world revolution. He was not stopped when, on behalf of this association, he visited various continental countries. He was free to write and to publish books and articles which, to use the words of Professor Laski, were certainly an effort “to alter in a radical way the property rights of the rich.”  And he died quietly in his London home, 41 Maitland Park Road, on March 14, 1883.
Or take the case of the British Labour Party. Their effort “to alter in a radical way the property rights of the rich” was, as Pro­fessor Laski knew very well, not hindered by any ac­tion incom­patible with the principle of liberty.
Marx, the dissenter, could live, write and advocate revo­lu­tion, at ease, in Victorian England just as the Labour Party could engage in all political activities, at ease, in post-Vic­torian Eng­land. In Soviet Russia not the slightest opposi­tion is tolerated. This is the difference between liberty and slavery.