1. Natural Liberty:

It is the liberty which men enjoyed in the imaginary ‘state of nature’ when civil society did not exist. It is generally identified with unlimited and unrestricted freedom. Rousseau was the chief exponent of the concept of natural liberty. In his opinion, man lost natural liberty with the emergence of the state or civil society. But such a concept of liberty is illusory. It is license, not liberty.

Liberty, in the political sense, cannot exist prior to state. Liberty, as a political concept, is based on a system of rights. It is the state which guarantees rights. It is, therefore, impossible to conceive of any liberty in the ‘state of nature’. This is a misconception of liberty.

The concept of natural liberty is a contradiction in terms because law or authority is the essential condition of liberty but the same was conspicuous by its absence in the ‘state of nature’. In the ‘state of nature’ liberty was enjoyed only by the strong. Might was right. In a civil society, on the other hand, liberty is the common possession of all.

2. Civil Liberty:

It implies freedom enjoyed by the people in civil society. It denotes the civil rights guaranteed by the state. Civil rights consist in the right to life, liberty, property, speech, press, association, education etc. The more the civil rights, the greater the civil liberty.


It has both positive and negative aspects. In the negative sense, it means freedom or the immunity of an individual from interference on the part of others. In the positive sense, it implies the right to free action, the opportunity of self expansion and self expression.

According to Gettel, ‘Civil liberty consists of the rights and privileges which the state creates and protects for its subjects”.

3. Political Liberty:

Political liberty implies rights to determine government and share in authority of the state. It is essentially associated with democracy. Without political liberty, neither, state can be demo­cratic nor the individual can enjoy full civil liberties.

Civil liberty is meaningless if people do not possess the power to compel the government to accept their view-point. Political liberty is variously defined by different philosophers.


Leacock defines it as the right of the people to choose their government which should be responsible to the general body of the people”. Laski defines it as “the power to be active in affairs of the state. Political liberty is identical with constitutional liberty which means democratic rule.”

The political liberty revolves around the following points :

(a) The Right to Vote:

The right to vote to all adults to elect their representatives who constitute the legislatures. This right has now been granted by all the democratic states to its citizens irrespective of caste, sex or economic status.


(b) Right to be Elected:

The right to be elected to all the representative offices in the state irrespective of discrimination.

(c) Periodical Election:

The accountability of the legislature to the electorate necessitates periodical elections.


(d) The Right to Criticize the Government:

This is provided by the right of speech, public meeting, publication and association.

4. Economic Liberty:

It means reasonable material security. Civil and political liberties become meaningless in the absence of economic liberty. Economic liberty docs not imply free competition in the eco­nomic sphere.

It lies in the absence of gross inequalities of wealth that may enable some to obtain an unfair control over the lives and happiness of others by the mere fact of their economic superiority. It implies a socialist or socialistic system of economy. It may not mean economic equality but it means removal of wide economic disparities.


It further means that material needs do not become a hindrance to the growth of human personality. Therefore, not only it implies right to work, but also right to a decent wage, right to leisure and right to social insurances like old age, sickness, disablement and unemployment insurances.

It further implies that no person or a body of persons should be in a position to exploit other citizens. Thus the ownership of means of production by the community is the condition precedent of economic liberty. Private property must not become an institution of exploitation but of social good. It must be earned and socially justifiable.

5. National Liberty:

It implies that every nation has a birth right to be free from political domination of others. It is synonymous with national independence or Swarajya. It is based on the principle of self determination. Every nation has a right to regulate its national life according to its own will.

Freedom is the necessary condition oif devel­opment of every nation. No cultural social, economic or political devel­opment is possible so long as one nation is ruled by another. It is only when freedom is achieved by all nations of the world that a real international community can grow and possibilities of permanent peace can arise.

Points To Remember

1. The word ‘liberty’ is derived from the Latin world ‘liber’ which means freedom. Liberty has two aspects—negative and positive. Negative liberty means the absence of restraints a id positive liberty lies in the creation of equal opportunities. Negative liberty was favored by the Anarchists and the individualists.


The working classes emphasize the positive aspect of liberty. The doctrine of negative liberty now stands exploded. Laski defines positive liberty as the absence of restraints upon the existence of those social conditions which in modern civilization are necessary guarantee of individual happiness.

Forms of Liberty:

(a) Natural Liberty:

It is the liberty which people enjoyed in the imaginary ‘state of nature’. Liberty in fact cannot exist in the absence of the state.

(b) Civil Liberty:

It is the liberty enjoyed by the people in civil society. It is the direct outcome of civil rights.

(c) Political Liberty:

It is derived from political rights. People share the authority of the state through political liberty.

(d) Economic Liberty:

It lies in reasonable material security and freedom from want.

(e) National Liberty:

It implies the birthright of every nation to be free from external control or domination.