From the introduction:
Political institutions certainly have a significant effect on freedom, but so too, I will argue, does ideology. The virtues of tolerance and neighbourliness are paramount in a securing a free society. Genuine liberty requires an acceptance of styles of life different from our own, combined with some degree of social trust and fellow feeling, and can thus only flourish between the oppressive communitarianism of the tribe and the paranoid individualism of the Hobbesian jungle. There is, in one sense, a tension between these two virtues: tolerance can easily become apathetic and neighbourliness can easily become meddlesome. I will argue, though, that avoiding both intolerance and apathy is not a matter of finding the correct balance between two extremes on a single dimension. Humanistic concern for the welfare of others is not a moderated form of paternalism, and tolerance is not a moderated form of indifference. It is possible to simultaneously have high levels of the good sort of community and the good sort of individualism.
Unfortunately, the bloated and hyperactive forms of government which today dominate the developed world are prone to produce both the worst sort of community and the worst sort of individualism. Political action forces us to take undue concern—and ultimately coercive action—in the private lives of others, while government provision of services crowds out the institutions of civil society which serve to bind people together in mutual interdependence. Big government undermines both tolerance and community.
Thanks, Independent Institute!
Filed under: libertarian