Friday, 26 December 2008

Liberty, power

According to Hazlitt, 'The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.' [Political Essays, 1819] There's a truth in this. But of course, the opposite can also be agued: some people may genuinely love liberty primarily in order to disencumber themselves of the oppressive attention of others; and some people may genuinely love power for the good the powerful person can work in the world. In fact, I wonder whether these aren't now the main valences of 'liberty' and 'power' in the post-Romantic age ... perhaps the ideological effort ought to be made to return us to Hazlittian understandings of these two crucial terms.

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