It is hard to define liberty in definite terms since it is used in a variety of senses. It conveys different ideas to different persons. With a capitalist or an industrialist, liberty lies in his freedom to earn as much profit as possible and exploit the labour of the workers to the maximum.
A factory worker, on the other hand interprets liberty in his freedom from the exploitation of the factory owner. A landlord wants freedom to have as much share of produce from the landless peasant as possible but a landless peasant can see the image of liberty only when he is freed from the blood-sucking exploitation of the landlord.
An intellectual interprets liberty in his freedom from dogmatism and conventionalism. A spiritually inclined person while explaining liberty lays emphasis on the freedom of the soul from the bondage of flesh. We may multiply the number of examples and show that liberty is interpreted by every individual in the context of circumstances in which he lives.
The concept of liberty has also changed from age to age. Plato and Aristotle, the two great philosophers of ancient Greece, interpreted liberty only in favour of citizen-class or slave-owning class which constituted only a small fraction of the total population. Feudal lords in Middle ages monopolized liberty in their own favor and denied the same liberty to the landless peasants.
Even the Slogan of liberty shouted by the French revolutionaries was confined to the interests of rising industrial and commercial classes. Liberty defended by the Individualists or the philosophers of laissez faire was meant to suit the interests of the new classes of businessmen, industrialists and free entrepreneurs. In the present century, liberty is interpreted by the workers and the peasants in their own favour.
They give a positive concept to liberty. In their opinion, liberty lies not only in their emancipation from the exploitation of their labour but also in the creation of those conditions in which one could justify the ends of his existence.
All this means that there is the liberty of the individuals and of classes. Then there is natural liberty, civil liberty, economics liberty and national liberty.