Q. 1. Explain the concepts of Liberty.
Distinguish between ‘Negative Liberty’ and ‘Positive Liberty.’
Ans. Liberty is essential for the development of the personality of the individual. Montesquieu remarked that no other word left so indelible an impression on the mind of the individual as the word liberty. The term liberty is derived from the Latin word ‘liber’ which means ‘free’. In other words, liberty means freedom to do whatever a man likes to do. Liberty is understood in two different ways — negative aspect of liberty and positive aspect of liberty.
1. Negative aspect of Liberty. The negative aspect of liberty means absolute freedom of the individual or it means that the individual has the freedom to do anything. Absence of all restraints is the meaning of negative liberty. According to J. S. Mill, liberty means absence of all restraints. J. S. Mill divided man’s sphere of activity into ‘selfregarding’ and ‘other-regarding’ and State interference is justified only in other-regarding activities in case his action amounts to an intervention into the domain of the freedom of his fellow-beings. Herbert Spencer, Bentham and Adam Smith also supported negative aspect of liberty. According to Prof. Barkar, “Liberty is immunity from interference.”
2. Positive aspect of Liberty. Real liberty has a positive connotation. It does not mean the absence of restrictions. On the other hand, true liberty exists only when every citizen enjoys the opportunity for self-realisation and the State maintains those rights and opportunities which help the citizens to develop all that is best in them. “The true test of liberty lies in the extent to which the law of the land helps the citizen to develop all that is good in him.” The positive aspect of liberty includes the right of man to do or enjoy something that is worth enjoying. Laski says, “Liberty is the eager maintenance of that atmosphere in which men have the opportunity to be their best selves.” In brief, it means enjoyment of certain important rights, such as freedom of life, freedom of thought and freedom of worship, etc.
Nowadays liberty cannot be accepted in the absolute form. Liberty can be accepted in its positive aspect. An individual is allowed to do all those things which are not harmful to others and which are essential for the development of his personality. Many writers have defined liberty and the most important definitions are given as under :
1. According to Prof. Seeley, “Liberty is the opposite of over-government.” Prof. Seeley is of the opinion that true liberty lies in the existence of a right type of government. The individual cannot enjoy liberty under absolute rule.
2. According to Gettell, “Liberty is the positive power of doing and enjoying those things which are worthy of enjoyment and work.”
3. According to T.H. Green, “Freedom consists in a positive power or capacity of doing or enjoying something worth doing or enjoying.”
4. According to Laski, “I mean by liberty the absence of restraints upon the existence of those social conditions which in modern civilisation are the necessary guarantees of individual happiness.” Laski further says, “By liberty is meant the eager maintenance of that atmosphere in which men have the opportunity to be their best selves.”
On the basis of these given definitions, we can say that liberty does not mean absence of all restrictions because unrestrained or unrestricted liberty cannot be given to anybody in society. It means that no unjust restrictions be imposed on the liberty of the individual because they hamper the growth of individual’s personality. Liberty means power to do anything that does not injure others. It does not mean licence. Some restraints are necessary for the healthy social life and liberty implies freedom of thought and action within those restraints which are necessary for the larger good of the society.
From liberty we understand the following things:
1. Liberty does not mean absence of all restrictions.
2. Liberty means absence of unjust and tyrannical restrictions.
3. Liberty means legal, moral and reasonable restrictions on the functions of man.
4. Liberty is an essential condition for the development of individual personality.
5. Liberty means the rights of the individual to do things which are not harmful to others. 6. All the individuals are entitled to liberty equally. Kinds of Liberty
Q. 2. Discuss the kinds of Liberty.
Ans. The term ‘Liberty’ conveys a wide range of ideas, and one can speak of different types of liberties. R.M. Maclver observes in his The Modern State (1950): “Liberty itself is not one but manifold. To have a clear idea of liberty as understood in various capacities, it is necessary to examine the different types of liberty.”
1. Natural Liberty. As generally understood, natural liberty implies to complete freedom for a man to do what he pleases. Natural liberty existed in the State of Nature which existed before the birth of society. Contractualists like Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau speak in terms of a State of Nature in which there were no restraints. In his social contract theory, Rousseau stated that man enjoyed true liberty only in the State of Nature. But it must be remembered that the State of Nature was pre-social and prepolitical and it is difficult to visualise liberty that existed in the pre-social period of history. It must had been governed by the law of the jungle and liberty must have implied “Might is Right”. Prof. Gettell has rightly said, “In a State of Nature, each person would possess natural might, but not natural right.” But natural liberty is no liberty. Liberty can be enjoyed only in a society.
2. Moral Liberty. Moral liberty is of great importance in the life of an individual. Moral liberty means freedom to do things according to the dictates of one’s conscience. The ideas of Green, Kant and Bosanquet have supported the idea of Moral liberty. Moral liberty is not at all concerned with the State. It is concerned with the individual’s own self.
3. Civil Liberty. Civil liberty is the liberty which a man enjoys in a State or civil society and it consists of the rights and privileges which the State creates and protects for its subjects. It implies the right of each to do as he chooses within the limits set down by law. It may involve protection from interference at the hands of the government. Civil liberty primarily consists of freedom of conscience and belief, freedom of opinion, freedom of action, freedom of movement and equality in the eye of the law. Civil liberty is of immense value to the individual and association in a State.
4. Economic Liberty. Economic liberty means security of one’s daily bread and reasonable opportunities for earning it. The individual must be made free from the constant fear of unemployment and insufficiency and must be safeguarded against the wants of tomorrow. Economic liberty consists in the individual’s right to work and to a minimum wage, the right to leisure by the regulation of hours of work in fields, factories and mines, the right to form unions and the right to provision against old age, sickness, unemployment, accidents and also maternity benefits. Democracy can be real only if it rests on economic as well as political liberty.
5. Political Liberty. Political liberty is considered synonymous with democracy. By political liberty it is meant that the right of the people to share in the administration of the State. It consists of (a) the right to vote, (b) the right to be elected to various legislative bodies in the State, (c) the right to hold political office, and (d) the right to make constructive criticism of the government policy. Political liberty thus can exist in democracies.
6. National Liberty. The term liberty is applied to nations as well as to individuals. A nation or people is said to be free when it has a government of its own choice and when it is not subjected to any foreign control.
National liberty exists where the State is a National State, that is, where the community is independent and sovereign. The individual can have little liberty—civil, political or economic— unless there is national liberty.
India attained national liberty in 1947. In the recent past, Bangladesh attained national liberty with the help of Indian forces. National liberty is more important than all other types of liberty.
7. International Liberty. The ideal of international liberty covers the world as a whole. It implies renunciation of war, limitation on the production of armaments, abandonment of the use of force and peaceful settlement of disputes. It also desires adequate curbs on the strength of military force so that it may not crush the liberties of the local people or of the people of any other country.
Q. 3. Describe the main safeguards for the maintenance of Liberty.
Ans. Liberty has its importance for every individual. It is regarded as very precious by all the people of the world. If the citizens do not enjoy any liberty, they will not be able to develop their faculties. Generally, following safeguards are included in the Constitution for the protection of liberty:
1. Democracy. Democracy is a Government of the people, by the people and for the people. Democracy and liberty are very closely related to each other, therefore, democratic Government should be established for guarding the liberty.
2. Declaration of Fundamental Rights. Another safeguard that is adopted is to include a bill of Fundamental Rights in the Constitution. According to this Bill of Rights, the citizens are guaranteed the enjoyment of their rights, free from all interference. Moreover, the Government cannot violate the rights so easily. This way liberty is safeguarded by the Constitution and the judiciary.
3. Independent Judiciary. There should be an independent, impartial and honest judiciary to safeguard liberty. For the protection of rights and liberties of the individuals and for equal justice between man and man and between individuals and Government, a competent and an independent judiciary is a great necessity.
4. Rule of Law. The rule of law is the most vital principle that guarantees full liberty to the individual and prevents the executive from becoming highhanded and unjust. Rule of law means equal justice for all, where no one can be tried by special courts, no one can be punished except for a breach of law and no one can plead the orders of superiors as justification for disobeying the law.
5. Equal Rights. To safeguard liberty it is quite essential that all the citizens be given equal rights. No individual or a section of people should be given special privileges. Everybody should be equal in the eyes of law. Nobody should be discriminated against on the basis of colour, creed, religion and caste.
6. Economic Equality. Economic condition of an individual essentially influences his political condition. Liberty has no meaning for a poor person. Though perfect economic equality is not possible, yet the idea is that there should be as little economic inequality as possible.
7. Separation of Powers. The separation of powers is also regarded as one of the most important safeguards of liberty. It is held that if the three branches of government in a State — legislature, executive and judiciary—are separated from one another and one does not interfere with the other, individual liberty is better safeguarded.
8. Decentralisation of Powers. Instead of centralisation, there should be decentralisation of power. This greatly helps in the promotion of individual liberty. Bryce is of the opinion that local self-government institutions should be established for promoting the spirit of individual liberty among the people.
9. Free and Honest Press. Free and honest press plays an important role in making democracy a success. In the modern age, the people come to know about all the happenings in the world only through newspapers and journals. If the news published in the newspapers are not impartial and free from pressure, then the people cannot remain well informed about the developments in their country as well as in other countries of the world. Laski has very correctly remarked, “A people without reliable news is sooner or later a people without the basis of freedom.”
10. Political Education. To safeguard liberty, the people should be politically educated. Political education makes people conscious about their rights and liberties. The people who have political education can well understand and discuss the problems of their State. The people who are politically awakened will not tolerate any interference in their liberty.
11. Well-knit Party System. Well-knit party system is the most essential to safeguard liberty. In England, there is neither separation of powers nor a comprehensive bill of rights. There, the organised political parties, in a permanent state of tension, mutually restraining one another, ensure the continuous popular enjoyment of liberty. The opposition parties keep a strict watch on the working of the government. The sword of criticism must always hang on the head of the government.
12. Eternal Vigilance. Prof. Laski says, ‘‘Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” The most important safeguard of liberty is enlightened and vigilant public opinion.