522 words short essay on liberty


Liberty means absence of restraint. It means free choice. However, it is not negative. It does not mean absence of law and regula­tion.

If it were so, it would lead to anarchy and license; and social life would become impossible. Restraint is implied in the gregarious nature of man. Liberty therefore means, in its positive sense, the regulation of social life in a manner that each citizen can find an opportunity to express the latent natural faculties and capacities so that he can develop his perso­nality freely and fully.

This means that individual should be guaranteed opportunities necessary for such development and fulfillment of one’s personality. As Maclver says. “There should not be surrender but fulfillment of personality, not an imposed social order but a free social order which is responsive to the inmost nature of every man.


This would mean creation and maintenance of material conditions of life necessary for such fulfillment.” Thus in the words of Laski, ‘liberty is enjoyment of right.

Since all citizens are equal, every citizen must be guaranteed equal rights. Thus liberty must ensure equality. However, equality does not mean uniformity, it simply means equality of opportunity. To Lord Acton and Tocqueville, liberty and equality are antithetic.

They, however, base their conclusion upon a misunderstanding of equality. As stated above equality does not mean uniformity or identity of treatment. Men are different in their wants, capacities and needs. There can thus be no uniformity of treatment.

However, what equality means is an equality of opportunity and hence the removal of distinctions based on caste, religion, birth or class. Let every citizen have an access to political power, economic liberty and civil rights. Let no one suffer disabilities. If a citizen has no vote, he shall be subjugated to political rule of another person. It would frustrate his personality.


Let him have a vote and right to election. He shall be elected only if he can win the confidence of his fellow voters. Similarly, the absence of economic liberty would render illusory any hope of a harmony of impulses. There shall be no liberty if rights of some depend upon the pleasure of other.

No person should be in a position to exploit others. Similarly, the absence of civil liberties of speech, press, association etc., would mar the spontaneity of personality.

Therefore, equality means that every citizen has the right to mini­mum rights before superfluity can be granted to the few. Thus the urgent claims of all must be met before we can meet the particular claims of some. These particular claims also need to be justified on social needs. The provision of adequate opportunity is, therefore, one of the basic conditions of equality.

Therefore, it does not also mean equality of function. Different persons will perform different functions according to their capacity. It will also not mean equal reward for different functions. Reward of wages would differ according to the functions.


Thus equality is most largely a problem in proportions. After the basic needs are fulfilled, the superfluity becomes a problem of social needs.

Thus equality and liberty are not anti-thetic but complementary to each other.

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