Apr 15 2015

Liberty versus Equality

We assert that, “all men are created equal” and that liberty is an “unalienable right”. In 1787, Alexander Hamilton said, “Inequality will exist as long as liberty exists. It unavoidably results from that very liberty itself.”

But the assertion of equality pertains to equal rights and was never meant to imply equality in every factor or for ever. And liberty implies the extra ingredients of responsibility and accountability that go beyond simple freedom.

When these powerful words are used without a careful understanding of their limitations, all forms of perversions become likely.

There is, in fact, a manly and lawful passion for equality which excites men to wish all to be powerful and honored. This passion tends to elevate the humble to the rank of the great; but there exists also in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to attempt to lower the powerful to their own level, and reduces men to prefer equality in slavery to inequality with freedom.
—Alexis de Tocqueville

Liberty is not the chief and constant object of their desires; equality is their idol: they make rapid and sudden efforts to obtain liberty, and if they miss their aim resign themselves to their disappointment; but nothing can satisfy them except equality, and rather than lose it they resolve to perish.
—Alexis de Tocqueville