Liberty, Order, and Equality: Three Indispensable Values

Ranking Liberty, Order, and Equality is a very difficult exercise because these three values are indispensable to one another. Liberty (freedom) means the absence of force, it is the ability to carry out my will without being subject to government coercion.[1] Order is the arrangement and enforcement of duties and rights in a society so that people may live in harmony and peace.[2] It is the government’s responsibility to sustain order, yet it is the right of the individual to live free of coercion. How, then, do the values of individual liberty and government order rank among one another?  A person without ordered freedom is free to do as he or she pleases irrespective of the rights of others. Freedom without Order leads to societal chaos, moral license, and could end in tyranny. Thus, Liberty without Order is no Liberty at all. The founders never intended individual liberty to mean limitless freedom to do whatever I please irrespective to the rights of my neighbors. While Liberty without Order may very well lead to license and chaos, Order without liberty is tyranny. Equality alone leads to socialistic/communistic government that demands equality of outcome over individual liberty. The aim of a good government is to enable a society to have a high degree of liberty, order, and justice.[3] To do this, a balanced government is required. By justice we mean equality. Equality under the rule of law and equality of opportunity for every person is necessary for a person to truly be free. Equality under the rule of law requires government order. Equality of opportunity requires freedom from government coercion. In ranking these three values, Liberty would be the foundational principle upon which order must be established, followed by equality of opportunity and equality under the rule of law. These three values are the bedrock of our nation and must be kept in harmony with one another to ensure Liberty.

[1] McClellan, James. Liberty, Order, Justice: An Introduction to the Constitutional Principles of American Government. Liberty Fund, Indianapolis.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid. pp 5

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