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Essay on “Liberty is Meaningless without Bread” Complete Essay for Class 9, Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Liberty is Meaningless without Bread


The struggle between subjects and authority is a most conspicuous phenomena of world history. In olden times this con-test was between some classes of subjects and the government. By liberty was meant protection against the tyranny of the political rulers. The rulers were conceived, except in some cases, antagonistic to the people whom they ruled. They consisted of a governing individual who did not hold power at the pleasure of the governed and whose authority people did not consent to. Their power was regarded as necessary, but also highly dangerous as a weapon which they could use against their subjects. To prevent the weaker members of the community from being preyed upon by the unnumerable vultures, it was necessary that they should be an animal of prey stronger than the rest commissioned to keep them down. But as the king of the vultures was as much eager to prey on the flock as any of the other individuals, it became necessary to be in continuous posture of defence against his weapons of attack. The aim of the people today, mostly, is to set limits to the power which the rulers should be allowed to exercise over the com-munity, and this limitation is what is called liberty. This limitation is justified in many ways and, therefore, when liberty is licensed, it does not necessarily mean that dictatorship is near.

Usually liberty is licensed by providing a few immunities called political liberties or rights. According to John Stuart Mill, liberty can be licensed in two ways; first by obtaining a recognition of such immunities called political liberties or rights, which it was to be regarded as a breach of judgment in the rules of national and in-ternational law to infringe, and which if he did infringe, specific existence of general rebellion, was held to be justifiable. A second, and generally a later expedient, was the establishment of constitutional checks by which the consent of the community or of a body of some sort, supposed to represent its interests, was made a necessary condition to some of the more important acts of the governing power.

In recent centuries, in most of the countries, monarchies or other ruling powers have been compelled to submit to basic liberties and fundamental rights. Most of the constitutions that have been evolved during the last two centuries provide for fundamental rights for citizens which the ruler is supposed to respect.

During the 18th century, the democratic wind started blowing. Time came in the progress of human affairs when man ceased to think it a necessity of nature that their governor should be an in-dependent power, opposed in interest to themselves. It appeared to them much better that the various executive authorities of the state should be elected by them, and removable from office at their pleasure. In that way alone, it seemed, that people could have complete security, and the powers of government could be secured from being abused. By degrees, this new demand for elective rule became the prominent object of the popular movements, and superseded the previous political thought. As the struggle proceeded for making the ruling power emanate from the periodical choice of the ruled, some persons began to think that too much importance has been attached to the limitation of the powers itself. That was an excuse against rulers whose interests were habitually opposed to those of the people. But when the rulers came to be identified with the people and their interest became the interest and will of the nation, the rulers became effectually responsible and trustworthy for utilisation of powers. The people became more and more amenable to their popular leaders and were prepared to give them more and more powers, divesting themselves of many of their own privileges. It was presumed that their power was but the nation’s own power, concentrated and in a form convenient for exercise. This mode of thought was common in the last generation of European liberalism. Those who admit any limit to what a government may do were, in those days, brilliant exceptions among the political thinkers of the Continent. The notion that the people have no need to limit their power over themselves, seemed axiomatic when popular government was a thing not yet realised in practice, but such thought was disturbed by aberrations as those of the French Revolution. Gradually, the system of democratic republic came to occupy large portions of the earth’s surface and made itself felt as one of _the most powerful members of the community of nations. Elective and responsible government came into being, and most of the monarchies became out of date, and even if they continued to exist for some or other reason, the powers of the rulers were greatly limited by the mandate of the people.

The emergence of the concept of welfare state, socialism and communism, gave a great fillip to the strength of public opinion in all countries. The institution of monarchy, landlordism and capitalism suffered a severe setback. although these concepts implied_ more and more limitation on the individual’s power and freedom, they were designed to look after the interests of the larger bulk of the populace. While the liberties of the landlords and capitalists, which told upon the liberties of the common masses, were thereby augmented because of their general impact on their way of living, eradication of institutions of slavery, serfdom, privileges of the richer classes etc. The democratic republics that came into being conferred on the common man fundamental rights. in their constitutions, and regarded the welfare of the majority of the populace as the main objective of their governments. The superiority of some individuals was derecognised and all men were to be treated as equals in the eyes of law. The state policies were redesigned to enhance the well-being of the common masses and guarantee to them certain minimum standards of living. In a way, liberty was licensed with a view to provide greater liberty to the larger masses of the people. In view of the basic contradictions in the interests of different individuals and classes in society, regulation of human activity by certain fundamental principles—called the Constitution—was ensured.

While the larger masses of the people enjoyed, more power in the matter of electing the leaders to run their national and state affairs, their privileges were confined to their election. After the election, the leaders so elected were given more and more powers so that they could work without fetters and feel free to run the ad-ministration as efficiently as they could, without serious handicaps in day-to-clay functioning. Of course, the powers of the elect were restricted in practice, owing to the next elections, or becoming subject to regulations of impeachment. But, on the whole, the powers of the executive have tremendously grown in the past more than half a century. Almost half of the world is at present governed by communist regimes where there is acute concentration of power, and day-to-day liberties of the individuals are highly licensed. But these communist regimes have come into existence by the popular will of the people, and they are designed to bring about scientifically rapid advance in material achievements so necessary for raising the standard of living of the masses. Some of the communist countries have, in actual practice, achieved good results and the common man over there is, definitely a well-to-do man in material aspects. He may not have enough freedom of speech and movement, but he has plenty of opportunity for his development within the limitations imposed by the state. He may be required, by law, to be more discreet in his public statements and speeches and behaviour but, on the whole, he is a beneficiary of the system and finds himself much better off than his predecessors were fifty years ago when slavery was rampant and capitalism was brute.

Even in semi-socialist states, where there is a greater elements of freedom for the individual than in the communist states, there are certain limitations on individual behaviour particularly in respect of such spheres which have a practical bearing on the economic activities in the country.

In socialist countries also, the liberty of the people is licensed to a considerable extent, to enable the state to run political and economic institutions in such a way that there is adequate regulation of public activity. There are limitations on individuals in the matter of exercising their freedom to run businesses. Industrialists can participate in the economy in certain fields, while the state owns and runs the major part of economic activities. Although the private sector is allowed to function, the predominant role is played by the state directly. The liberty of the individual is curtailed so as to minimise adverse effects on the common man. But, on the whole, sufficient liberty is enjoyed by individuals in their private life.

There is a rightful limit to the sovereignty of the individual over himself and over other individuals of the society. Though the society is not founded on a contract, there are social obligations which every individual has to meet—every individual who receives his protection from society owes a return for the benefit he derives. The fact of living in a society renders it indispensable that each individual should be bound to observe certain rules of conduct towards the rest. In a socialist society, the conduct consists first in not injuring the interests of one another. Second, each person enjoys  his share which is fixed on some equitable principles of labour and sacrifice in regard to running of social institutions, defending the society or its members from injury and molestation. Since a socialist state undertakes unnumerable common activities for the good of the society, all these need contribution of all individuals. Since a person’s conduct affects prejudicially the interests of others, the state has jurisdiction over him and may punish him if he or she does a wrong. Everything gets decided by the question whether the general welfare is promoted by putting restrictions on the liberties of individuals.

In a socialist society, there is need for greater increase in disinterested exertion to promote the good of others. In a socialist society, education works by conviction and persuasion as well as by compulsion, while the self-regarding virtues of individuals recede to secondary importance. By its very definition, socialism implies the holding of the interest of society as superior to the interests of the individuals and accordingly, the rights and obligations of citizens towards society are regulated and controlled by the state.

Although socialism and communism have lately come to achieve importance and are in vogue in most of the countries, particularly in Afro-Asian countries which won freedom during the current century, individualistic and capitalistic systems still prevail in most of the western countries. But the old style of capitalism and individualism does not exist any longer. Even in free market economy countries like the United States, the state enjoys supreme authority over the individual in all inter-individual dealings. There is large scale legislation that has been enacted to regulate the activities of the individuals in relation to society. No doubt, there is great individual freedom in private life in these countries as com-pared to socialist-and communist countries; yet, there is adequate regulation in the field of industries and business, particularly where the relationship between the employers and employees is involved. In the USA, since the Second World War, the public sector has expanded tremendously, partly owing to the necessity of larger defence allocation and space exploration. In the United States, government is the largest employer with almost nearly half of its total employed under its charge. Even the remaining employees working in the private sector are provided adequate protection by the State through necessary legal provisions. Industrialists are required to provide minimum amenities to their employees and workers in the matter of health, education, accommodation and other facilities.  Even the salary scales are usually determined by the Government in consultation with the trade unions and labour unions that have become an all-pervading source  of influence on business dealings and industrial relations.

Such being the position in different types of systems that exist in the world today, it is inevitable that there should be some sort of licensing of individual liberty. Although in socialist and communist countries there is a tendency for the elected governments to proceed towards dictatorship of some sort, such exercise of supreme authority is necessitated by the very system which can provide efficient administration for their respective systems.


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