"Excessive liberty leads both nations and individuals into excessive slavery." Cicero.Is Cicero correct? How so?

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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One graphic example of what may happen when "liberty runs rampant" can be framed like this: Imagine that there are no rules of the road, no driving lanes, no set direction for traffic to take. If there are no rules and everyone can drive however they want, the road might become very chaotic and dangerous. 

This chaos, as a norm, would keep many people from driving. Driving would be too dangerous. In this case, the freedom to drive is nullified by the danger of driving. The excessive liberty, in this case, would become a clear danger to life, making people slaves to a certain chaos. 

We might also consider rules governing speech. It is illegal to yell fire in a crowded place. This is true because one person's liberty (yelling fire because he wants to) limits the safety of others. The right to safety supercedes freedom of speech in this case.

We refuse, as a society, to be slave to the despotism of violence and chaos for reasons that are exemplified in cases like these. 

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