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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 48 of the 1964 Harper Torchbooks edition of Karl Popper’s profound 1957 book, The Poverty of Historicism:

Simpsons-MobThe old idea of a powerful philosopher-king who would put into practice some carefully thought out plans was a fairy-tale invented in the interest of a land-owning aristocracy.  The democratic equivalent of this fairy-tale is the superstition that enough people of good will may be persuaded by rational argument to take planned action.  History shows that social reality is quite different.

DBx: Freedom is not a synonym for the right to vote in fair and open elections.  Fair and open elections with a wide franchise might – might – be a useful instrument for promoting freedom.  But contrary to much shallow thinking, the right to participate in such elections is not itself “freedom.”  Freedom is the right to choose and act as you please, with this right bound only by the equal right of every other peaceful individual to do the same.  (Or to quote Thomas Sowell, “Freedom … is the right of ordinary people to find elbow room for themselves and a refuge from the rampaging presumptions of their ‘betters.'”  I would add that freedom requires also elbow room from the rampaging presumptions – and from the enviousness, ignorance, myopia, and even the good intentions – of one’s peers and, indeed, from those of everyone.)

In practice it is sometimes difficult to identify the detailed locations of the boundaries that best ensure equal freedom for everyone.  This reality, however, neither renders the goal of equal freedom of choice and action for everyone less desirable nor makes this definition of freedom less serviceable.