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Perché la libertà

Anno XXIII, n. 100, gennaio-marzo 1988
Centro Einaudi


Why Liberty?

The author sets out to justify the choice of a free society against socialist collectivism. In order to be persuasive, the justification of a free society must be based on a consequentialist ethic which contemplates the well-being of a group. Utilitarianism may be logically compatible both with individualism and with collectivism. In practice, however, it may be demonstrated that the only sure operational test of whether a given change is an improvement in utilitaristic terms is the consensus of those involved. Interpersonal redistribution is justified precisely by this hypothesis, it is, therefore, probable that it causes collective happiness to fall rather than to grow. Classical liberalism hence specifies the political means that are to be avoided at all costs, whereas socialism specifies the political ends to be achieved at all costs. Socialist ends may be shared by liberals, but the means used may not. The foundations of socialism are psycho-emotive rather than economic-scientific. This is why it resembles a worldly religion. Liberalism, on the other hand, can only be a theory of means: and this is why the individual liberal must be able to suggest respectable ends and to take socialist ends seriously.