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The Meaning of Freedom

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Today’s Wall Street Journal’s editorial page reflects how differently libertarians and conservatives view the meaning of freedom. For libertarians, freedom entails the right of people to live their lives any way they choose, so long as their conduct is peaceful. For conservatives, freedom entails the right of government to do just about anything it wants, even if its conduct is violent. The Journal’s editorial begins with “The war on terrorism has already given Afghans a taste of long-suppressed freedom.” Only conservatives would believe that people who are now ruled by a gang of murderers and rapists (the Northern Alliance) rather than a gang of murderers and women abusers (the Taliban) are getting “a taste of freedom.” But of course didn’t conservatives celebrate the “liberation” of the Czechs and Poles from Nazi tyranny in World War II so that they could “get a taste of long-suppressed freedom” under the Soviet Union, another glorious ally of the U.S. government? And correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t it conservatives who openly embraced Osama bin Laden and his terrorist cohorts as American “freedom fighters” in the 1980s? Also on today’s WSJ editorial page is an article by noted conservative William J. Bennett that promotes the U.S. government’s decades-long war on drugs; ironically, it’s a belief that conservatives share with the Taliban — that governments should be free to severely punish their citizenry for ingesting unapproved substances.

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    Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.