Chapter: 11th Political Science : Chapter 3 : Basic Concepts of Political Science


The importance of liberty is introduced by briefing the meaning and various views of exponents of liberty.


Introduction to Liberty


You have liberty to enjoy the freedom sanctioned as per law. The business of law is to safeguard the liberty of an individual. In the safety of an individual lies the status of one’s freedom. The law and liberty are twins and are connected to each other to sanction equal treatment equally for all. Here we all know that, it is the objective of the state to safeguard the liberty of its citizens.


Do you know something that the law of the state propels a reasonable restriction on every individual? That doesn’t mean the privileges of citizens are compromised. The main objective of the state is to protect, What is due for him as his right. And in the process care for the equality of an individual becomes an agenda of state.

Shall we take a journey into the world of liberty, we intend to enjoy

In a classroom setting, the liberty of a student varies. In the view of some student, some teachers are strict and some are liberal, in terms of liberty and freedom he/she enjoys in the classroom. Teachers have a privilege to sanction reasonable restriction against student’s undue advantage in a classroom. The sanction of reasonable restriction by teacher is actually for the smooth conduct of a student and as well for the effective learning in the classes. Understanding the concept of liberty begins in the classroom by the conduct and attitude of student towards his teacher and his classmates. Raising questions to clarify doubts to his class teacher is his/her right, but the sanction of it becomes liberty. Liberty is just the sanction of law and the restrictions imposed are also a kind of liberty. Conducive learning environment of classroom, conditions the student to understand the meaning and the purpose of liberty.


Learning Objectives

·              The importance of liberty is introduced by briefing the meaning and various views of exponents of liberty.

·              While learning the classification of liberty students, are actually introduced to different forms of freedom and they way state views liberty.

·              The concept of liberty is so important that it helps every citizen realize the value of freedom in a society where state is empowered with constitutional authority.

·              Students are given a direction here that some form of restrictions such as law are also a form of liberty.

·              The safe guards of liberty especially democracy and independents of judiciary are few key factors that inculcates the value of liberty.

Liberty remained an essential element for both man and state for progress. History records very well the cruelty of absolute monarchy that ignored the claims of liberty in ancient and medieval ages of England. People could no longer tolerate and rose in revolt against the absolute monarchy. The struggle continued until Emperor John had to bow down and ensure freedom for his subjects. Attempt of emperors after Tudor and Stuart, and the continued absolute monarchy resulted in civil war. King Charles was beheaded and even during the period of Cromwell people could not attain freedom.

French Republics refer to a succession of republics after the proclamation of the French revolution in 1792. There have been Five republics in the history of France: French first Republic (1792-1804), French Second( 1848-1852), Third Republic (1870-1940), Fourth Republic(1946-1958), Fifth Republic was formed on October 5, 1958. The Fifth Republic emerged replacing a weak and factional parliamentary government with a stronger centralized democracy.

This resulted in the famous “Glorious revolution” in England in the year 1688, containing the absolute monarchy for some period and later led to the outbreak of French revolution in 1789.

However it had not given a desired liberty. The successors of Napoleon behaved like monarchs. The fall of Napoleon III, resulted in establishing the

Third Republic. After the fall of Third Republic in 1940 and Fourth Republic in 1958, Fifth republic was established. Struggle against countries that colonized got liberated after a long struggle for independence. Italy in nineteenth century and India in twentieth century made untold sacrifices for attaining national liberty.

Historical Context

v   Response to the rationalism of the Enlightenment

v   Response to the French Revolution (1789)

v   The revolutionaries in France fought for “liberty, equality, and fraternity”

v   Ideas of the French Revolution influenced writers in England — they were inspired by the fight for democracy and the common man

v   Response to industrialism

v   Longing for nature and simplicity


Meaning Of Liberty

The term ‘liberty’ has been derived from the Latin word ‘Liber’ which means free from all shackles. The Latin word ‘Liber’ denotes the absence of all restraints. It means one can do whatever one likes, regardless of all conditions. Liberty does not permit a person to do whatever one likes. The basic fact of liberty is that law is the condition of liberty. According to Professor Barker “Liberty is possible only in an ordered state, a state where the legal and political aspects of sovereignty coincide or nearly coincide. Laski believes that ‘Historical experience has evolved for us rules of convenience which promote right living and to compel obedience to them is a justifiable limitation of freedom.”

Exponents views on Liberty

v   “Liberty is the positive power of doing and enjoying those things which are worthy of enjoyment and work”-Gettel

v   “Liberty is the freedom of the individual to express without external hindrances to personality”-Professor G.D.H. Cole.

v   “ Liberty does not means the absence of restraint but it lies in development of liberty”- Mahatma Gandhi

v   “Without right then cannot be liberty, because without rights, men are the subjects of law unrelated to the needs of personality”.-Harold. J. Laski


Two Phases Of Liberty

Positive liberty: Positive liberty mean freedom to do something that the individual should have rights and opportunities to develop his personality.

Negative Liberty: For J.S. Mill liberty means Negative liberty He submitted that there should not be any restraint imposed upon man and his actions. He also asserted that there should not be any hindrance in the path of man.


i. Natural Liberty

The concept of Natural liberty indicates unrestrained freedom to do what ever one likes.

Natural liberty means absence of all restraint –an unrestrained freedom to do whatever one likes.

“Everyone has a vague notion of liberty of some kind and a desire for it, but among ten people using the word, perhaps no two will be able to say exactly what they mean, or if they do so say it, win agree with each other in their definitions. This general unscientific use of the word we may call Natural Liberty.”-Professor R.N. Gilchist.

Arguments On Liberty

JohnLocke: In the state of Nature people enjoyed the rights to life, liberty and property.

Critic: It is absolutely incorrect because it is only the state that guarantee the enjoyment of these rights . In the state of nature people possessed not rights, but the power of animal.

Rousseau: “Man was born free, but every where he is in chains”

Critic: Rousseau does not appear sound because there is no scope for the growth of human personality. According to social contractualist, liberty looks like a license than a liberty. If he is allowed to do whatever he likes, there will be only chaos in the society.


ii. Civil Liberty

The concept of civil liberty reflects “Rule of law” civil liberty indicates the liberty man enjoyed in the society it prevails in the state. It denotes the enjoyment of our rights within the limits of law. The protection of civil liberty is guaranteed by the laws of the state.


iii. Political Liberty

The concept of political liberty means liberty of citizen to participate in the political life and the affairs of the state. Leacock calls political liberty as constitutional liberty and Gilchist consider political liberty as a concept synonymous with democracy. Political liberty includes minimum rights. These rights are the right to vote, the right to contest elections, the right to hold public views and criticize the government and right to petitions.


iv. Personal Liberty

The concept of personal liberty means the availability of those conditions in which the individual can act as he pleases without being under any type of arbitrary and illegitimate restraint. It also means that every individual has the right not to permit any other individual to interfere in the affairs of his personal life . Every individual should have the the liberty to dress, food, standard of living, marriage and education of children etc. The state should not interfere in the personal matters of the individual such liberty is essential for the free development of human society .


v. Economic Liberty

The concept of economic liberty means the liberty to earn one’s daily bread. Beyond the distingtion of caste, colour, creed and gender every individual should have liberty to earn his daily bread by fair means.

“By economic liberty I means security and the opportunity to find reasonable significance in the earning of one’s daily bread I must be free from the constant fear of unemployment and insufficiency which perhaps more than other inadequacies’, sap the whole strength of personality . I must be safeguards against the wants of tomorrow” - Harold.J. Laski


vi Fiscal Liberty

According to this principle; there should be no taxation without representation. It was the slogan given by middle classes who claimed that they should be allowed to decide as to how and on whom their money was to be spent. Both civil and fiscal liberty were related to property and the rights of their owners . It was felt by the middle classes that without fiscal and civil liberty they would not be able to exist and be exploited by arbitrary rulers.


vii. Domestic Liberty

It covers equal right for women and children. They need to be protected against maltreatment, cruelty and exploitation. They were also have the right to education.


viii. National Liberty:

It means the liberty of the nation or the country. National liberties exist where the nation or the community is independence and sovereign. National liberty can otherwise also called as National sovereignty. Every nation wishes to stay independent and without this independence the progress of the nation or the state is not possible. Liberation remains an ultimate slogan for all those nations enslaved by imperialistic forces. Nations colonialized by imperialist force struggled against foreign empire until freedom is restored.

The struggle of Italy against Austria, England against Hitler and Napoleon struggle of African counties against imperialist forces and Indians struggle against England are few example where struggle was made ultimately for restoring the liberty of the Nation. When India was attacked by China in 1962, and by Pakistan in 1965 and 1971 the Government of India made all efforts to safeguard the freedom of nation.

‘Liberty does not descend upon a person. People must raise themselves to liberty. Liberty is a blessing that must be earned in order to be enjoyed’ engraved on the building of central secretariat New Delhi .


ix. International Liberty

This concept implies peace and international cooperation and the formation of world federation of states. Liberals were opposed to the use of force as an instrument of national policy. capitalism needed peace and international cooperation for the free flow of goods from one country to another and they needed all political and other barriers to be removed that stood in the way of the development of world resources.

Perspective of various ideologies on Freedom by Andrew Heywood


Liberals give priority to freedom as the supreme individualist values. While classical liberals support negative freedom, understood as the absence of constraints or freedom of choice, modern liberals advocate positive freedom in the sense of personal development and human flourishing.

Conservatives have traditionally endorsed a weak view of freedom as the willing recognition duties and responsibilities, negative freedom posing a threat to the fabric of society. The new right however, endorses negative freedom in the economic sphere, freedom of choice in the market place.

Socialists have generally understood freedom in positive terms to refer to self- fulfillment achieved through either free creative labour or cooperative social interaction. Social democrats have drawn close to modern liberalism in treating freedom as the realization of individual potential.

Anarchists regard freedom as an absolute value believing it to be irreconcilable with any form of political authority. Freedom is understood to mean the achievement of personal autonomy, not merely being ‘left alone’ but being rationally self-willed and self-directed.

Fascist rejected any form of liberty as nonsense. ‘True’ freedom, in contrast, means unquestioning submission to the will of the leader and absorption of the individual to the national community.

Ecologists particularly deep ecologist, treat freedom as achievement of oneness, self-realization through the absorption of the personal ego into the ecosphere or universe. In contrast with the political freedom, this is sometimes seen as inner freedom, freedom as self-actualization.

Religious fundamentalist see freedom as essentially an inner or spiritual quality. Freedom means conformity to reveal the will of god, spiritual fulfillment being associated with submission to religious authority.

Heywood, Andrew. (2004) Political Ideologies: An Introduction , 4th ed. New York: Macmillan


How are liberty, sovereignty and law are related to each other?

Anarchy doesn’t mean chaos or disorder, it means freedom from an oppressive centralised authority with a monopoly on force.

Liberty does not mean the complete absence of laws. Liberty exist only in a state in order. The state makes law and the sovereign state operates through these laws. There exist a close relationship between liberty, sovereignty and law. The anarchist and syndicalists wanted to abolish the states. They are of the opinion that if state is more powerful then individual liberty will also be curtailed.

Individualist views

They regarded the control of the state as harmful to the individual and therefore supported the confinement of the authority of the state. Though this doctrine resulted in dangerous consequences in England. It is now universally accepted that laws are the protectors of liberty. Liberty ceases to exist in the absence of law.

Idealist view

Liberty ceases to exist in the absence of laws. Obedience to law is obedience to real will according to Idealist.

How does law protect liberty?

i.         Provides congenial atmosphere for the smooth running of civilized life in society. Law punish criminal and defends the rights of the individuals.


ii.      Law guarantee the enjoyment of individual rights and duties and protect them. The state punishes the individual who causes harm to others and hinders path of others .


iii.    Constitution is custodian of liberty and it confines the authority of the state and protects the fundamental right of the people.

How liberty is safeguarded?

i. Democracy

Liberty is safer in democracy than in any other form of government. Democratic governmentisthegovernmentofthepeople where as in other forms of government like monarchy and dictatorship all power are centralized in the hand of one person or a group of person. Opposite parties are given due respects in democracy and criticism of government is accepted and tolerated in democracy.

ii. Constitutions

Authority of the state dwells in the constitution of the respective nation.

Let us read the Preamble of our Constitution very carefully and understand the meaning of each of its key words.

The Preamble of Constitution reads like a poem on democracy. It contains the philosophy on which the entire Constitution has been built. It provides a standard to examine and evaluate any law and action of government, to find out whether it is good or bad. It is the soul of the Indian Constitution.

iii. Fundamental rights

Fundamental rights confines the authority of the state. Fundamental rights assure us that the state cannot interfere in the matters of personal life .

iv. Decentralization of powers

Decentralization of power is required for the safeguard of liberty. Power should be divided into central, provincial and local government and such decentralization leads to efficient administration.

v. Independent judiciary

Safeguard of Liberty depends upon the independence of judiciary. It should be free from the control of the executive. In the communist countries or in the countries which have dictatorship, fundamental rights are given to the people but judiciary is not free from the influence of the executive. In such countries, the safeguard and security of fundamental rights, liberty and constitution is not possible.



The constitution of India makes provisions for the independence of judiciary because only independent judiciary can safeguard the rights and liberties of the people, can protect the supremacy of the constitution

i.  An impartial method has been adopted for  the appointment of the judges

ii.  High qualifications have been fixed for the judges

iii.  The judges of the Supreme Court stay in office till 65 years of age and of High courts till 62 years of age


vi. Economic security

Economic security is a condition to liberty.“Where there are rich and poor, educated and uneducated, we always find a relation of master and servant”. – Laski

Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings. - Nelson Mandela


vii. Rule of law

Rule of law is established in England, USA and India Rule of law mean that there should not be any distinction of caste and creed colour and race . In the eyes of law all are equal and all are liable to be punished if they commit crime.

The rule of law was further popularised in the 19th century by British jurist A. V. Dicey. The concept, if not the phrase, was familiar to ancient philosophers such as Aristotle, who wrote “Law should govern”.


viii. Political education and eternal vigilance

Permanent safeguard of liberty is possible. Educated are acutely aware of their rights and duties. Eternal vigilance is the prices of liberty and in it absence one can act according to his will whenever the government crosses the barrier of its authority and interference in the personal life of the people, may rise in revolt against the government.

“It is the proud spirit of the citizens, less than the letter of the law, that is the most real safeguard” - Harold . J. Lask


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