Saturday, July 30, 2011

John Stuart Mill -- Terrorist?

The best essay I've yet seen on the mad killer in Norway is this one, by Caroline Glick in the Jerusalem Post, certainly worth reading in its entirety. She warns of the dangerous tendency of the illiberal left to use attacks perpetrated by rightwing extremists to demonize and try to silence anyone who political opponents.

We saw this in the cases of Tim McVeigh and Jared Loughner, and now Anders Breivik. Breivik cited the great libertarian and economist John Stuart Mill as an inspiration, so I suppose now Mill's work is now suspect and should be stifled. Perhaps this is a good time to see what Mill himself said on the subject. How about this...

We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavouring to stifle is a false opinion; and even if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.

and this...

Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.

and this...

If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.

J.S. Mill -- his words should indeed strike terror in the hearts of totalitarians everywhere.

Thank you for referring me to this essay!
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