Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Liberal Values Part V: Protection from Arbitrary Authority

Our multi-part series to explore liberal values based on the definition from that we promote here at TTGSIMH:
Liberalism: A political theory founded on the natural goodness of humans and the autonomy of the individual and favoring civil and political liberties, government by law with the consent of the governed, and protection from arbitrary authority. [Also a] 19th-century Protestant movement that favored free intellectual inquiry, stressed the ethical and humanitarian content of Christianity, and de-emphasized dogmatic theology
So what do we mean by "protection from arbitrary authority"? You know me, I like to start with definitions before I get too far.

  1. Determined by chance, whim, or impulse, and not by necessity, reason, or principle: stopped at the first motel we passed, an arbitrary choice.
  2. Based on or subject to individual judgment or preference: The diet imposes overall calorie limits, but daily menus are arbitrary.
  3. Established by a court or judge rather than by a specific law or statute: an arbitrary penalty.
  4. Not limited by law; despotic: the arbitrary rule of a dictator.
    1. The power to enforce laws, exact obedience, command, determine, or judge.
    2. One that is invested with this power, especially a government or body of government officials: land titles issued by the civil authority.
  1. Power assigned to another; authorization: Deputies were given authority to make arrests.
  2. A public agency or corporation with administrative powers in a specified field: a city transit authority.
Ok, so protection from unneccessary, unreasonable, unprincipled, despotic laws, governments, and government officials.

Well, duh. Who doesn't want that? No, no, don't answer that question. We're here to discuss the intrinsic values in the words liberal and liberalism. Let's not get sidetracked.

To me the phrase "protection from arbitrary authority" brings to mind the protection of the essential freedoms and the Bill of Rights. Is it any wonder that Thomas Jefferson (liberal) was such a proponent of that bill? This is a classic American "value" and is liberal through and through.

1 comment:

  1. Moved from HaloScan:

    Well said!
    StealthBadger | Homepage | 01.18.06 - 10:56 pm | #