Is liberty or equality the central value of democratic life?Is liberty or equality the central value of democratic life?

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brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Equality is the value I would choose. Equality in the eyes of the law, equal access to education, equal opportunity in the pursuit of jobs or housing.  Equal voting rights.  Democracy and egalitarianism are inexorably joined, they depend on each other to function.

Liberty tends to follow equality, just as injustice and oppression tends to follow inequality.

cburr's profile pic

cburr | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Having just taught a unit on the Industrial Revolution and the so-called "Gilded Age" -- not to mention having just lived through the recent excesses of Wall Street et al -- I have to take exception to #5's glowing portayal of the wonders of unfettered capitalism.

 

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

"Give me liberty, or give me death!" Patrick Henry delivered these words in a speech to the Virginia Convention in 1775 as citizens of the then British "colonies" on the American continent were deciding upon waging war against the motherland or not.  It seems that liberty was most important in the democratic society...the ability to pursue happiness.  The freedom to act as one chooses.  The right to be involved when laws were made regarding the lives of the citizens.  This makes perfect sense since those who work hard and set goals to work toward are usually successful. At any rate, they don't quit.  They keep trying to reach those goals.  Look at Abraham Lincoln for that...the man walked miles to borrow a book to read and ran for office many, many times before actually being elected. On the contrary, those who sit and wait for success to fall in their laps watch everyone else pass them by and then complain that life isn't fair.  These are the same people who complain that there should be multiple social programs to support them since they can't or won't pull their own weight. These are the people who expect the new US President to pay their mortgages and their taxes for them.  They have opportunities at academic scholarships and education that others do not due to Affirmative Action, yet many of them don't take these opportunities.  They have the freedom/liberty to choose to work or not in one of the richest countries in the world, but they choose not to be equal by their blatant inaction and attitude of entitlement.

pmiranda2857's profile pic

pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Liberty or freedom provides the individual the right to pursue, like the Declaration of Independence states, 'Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."  Liberty is the cornerstone of happiness, providing opportunity for the individual to pursue success and material wealth and comfort through the efforts of his labor.  Hard working people use their liberty to make their lives and their families lives safe, happy, providing both the necessities of life and some luxuries.

Equality is far different.  Equality I would argue is a very subjective term.  Equality with what?  Equality with whom? If we are talking about financial and social equality then freedom or liberty is not part of that discussion.  Then you are talking about Socialism.  In the Socialist state people are all equal, all poor, all miserable.  Prevented by lack of freedom, to pursue, based on their own ambition and motivation, the rewards of hard work, life is controlled by an authoritarian government.

In Britain, there are Socialist policies that have contributed to making more people poor than rich.  If you believe that there is a great divide between the rich and the poor, then it is not the result of freedom and democracy, but due to the restrictions placed upon the people by a controlling government that regulates and over-regulates business, squashing prospertiy in the name of equality. 

True freedom, which, right now in America is threatened by our new President's Socialist views, is the only way that the creativity, ingenuity and entrepreneurship of the people provides true prosperity.  The more successful people there are in business, due to freedom from government burdening restrictions, the more and more all people will have better lives.

In strangled economies dominated by Socialism, businesses are suppressed, taxed and taxed, regulated and regulated, these measures lead to job reductions and lower profits.  Profits create opportunity, which creates jobs and prosperity.        

 

enotechris's profile pic

enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

How are you defining "democratic life?"  Are you referring to democracy as a political theory or as it is practiced?  Are you specifically implying democracy as practiced by a specific country? More details, please...

frizzyperm's profile pic

frizzyperm | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

Liberty or freedom provides the individual the right to pursue, like the Declaration of Independence states, 'Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."  Liberty is the cornerstone of happiness, providing opportunity for the individual to pursue success and material wealth and comfort through the efforts of his labor.  Hard working people use their liberty to make their lives and their families lives safe, happy, providing both the necessities of life and some luxuries.

Equality is far different.  Equality I would argue is a very subjective term.  Equality with what?  Equality with whom? If we are talking about financial and social equality then freedom or liberty is not part of that discussion.  Then you are talking about Socialism.  In the Socialist state people are all equal, all poor, all miserable.  Prevented by lack of freedom, to pursue, based on their own ambition and motivation, the rewards of hard work, life is controlled by an authoritarian government.

In Britain, there are Socialist policies that have contributed to making more people poor than rich.  If you believe that there is a great divide between the rich and the poor, then it is not the result of freedom and democracy, but due to the restrictions placed upon the people by a controlling government that regulates and over-regulates business, squashing prospertiy in the name of equality. 

True freedom, which, right now in America is threatened by our new President's Socialist views, is the only way that the creativity, ingenuity and entrepreneurship of the people provides true prosperity.  The more successful people there are in business, due to freedom from government burdening restrictions, the more and more all people will have better lives.

In strangled economies dominated by Socialism, businesses are suppressed, taxed and taxed, regulated and regulated, these measures lead to job reductions and lower profits.  Profits create opportunity, which creates jobs and prosperity.        

 

Wow! Where to start? Firstly, your post contains several unsupported absolutes...

  1. Liberty is the cornerstone of happiness.
  2. If we are talking about financial and social equality then freedom or liberty is not part of that discussion.
  3. In the socialist state people are all equal, all poor, all miserable.
  4. [the rich / poor gap] is not the result of freedom and democracy.

Your post is a blank insistence that unfettered capitalism is the only model which can produce freedom and material wealth for the widest number of people. You don't say why, you just say that it is. You reject Socialism (which I am almost certain you are confusing with Communism) as some sort of devilish creed doomed to absolute failure, but don't say why. etc etc

I could write a very long post deconstructing all this, but I think it would be more effective to reply to your 'four legs good, two legs bad' portrayal of the unblemished wonders of unrestrained capitalism in a one simple question...

"Have you ever heard of The Credit Crunch?"

andlilitt's profile pic

andlilitt | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Democratic life as it is practised here in the uk, concentrating on the values of democracy

 

frizzyperm's profile pic

frizzyperm | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

On paper, they are very similar. 'Liberty' is the same as 'freedom'. 'Equality' means everyone has the same rights no matter their race sex religion etc etc. 'Freedom' is a very very abstract thing. Equality is more measurable.

If society is not equal then some people are not free. If some people are not free they have no liberty. If you only provide liberty to some people your society is not equal nor democratic. Liberty and equality are two sides of the same coin.

In reality, in the UK we try to have liberty and equality, we are a democracy, but we are not a perfect democracy at all. There is still a lot of inequality in the UK. There are very big differences between rich and poor. The rich have much better education, healthcare, opportunities etc etc. The poor have much fewer life chances. Perhaps no matter how hard you try to make an equal society, the natural selfishness of people will always make it unequal.

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