One can also respect liberty as a policy and a concept,
without believing that people are innately good.
One line of reasoning goes like this:
1: People have the capacity for great evil, and indeed some
of them do actively seek to hurt other people.
2: People often misunderstand what others want and need.
Therefore: A person is more prone to damage another person
than s/he is to damage her/himself.
3: The only alternative to giving a person power over
him/herself and/or responsibility for him/herself, is to
give that power and/or responsibility to another person
Therefore: Less damage comes from letting these imperfect
creatures make their own choices, than results from letting
some of these imperfect creatures decide who others should
I guess that I naturally come from this perspective.
Though it is pretty clear that people happen to have a great
capacity for wisdom and goodness -- I see the evidence every
day before my eyes in the community at Sudbury Valley. But
I don't want to trust that capacity far enough to call it a
"propensity" for goodness, and so stick to the position that
the "safest" government is self-government (aka democracy
with a respect for personal liberty).
On Tue, 22 Jan 2002, Karen Locke wrote:
> >Angela wrote:
> > I'm very interested in looking at the roots of this oppression and how
> >an evolving democratic structure will help and/or hinder the efforts of
> I think part of the root of oppression is the viewpoint that people in
> their natural form are evil. Therefore the job of the school is to train
> this evil tendency out of us. My assumption is that children are naturally
> good, wise creatures, who will learn what they need to know if they are
> allowed the freedom to do it and aren't guilted all over the place. We do
> have rules and penalties because we are an organized society, and we need
> to come to some common agreement about what behaviors are acceptable
> in our group. But we don't need to micromanage because learning is innate.
> I'm not sure what you mean by an evolving democratic structure. If you
> mean each school in its evolution, I would think that as these schools work
> out ways to make and enforce their own rules, we can point to these
> successes as evidence that children aren't the wild, mean beings that lots
> of adults would expect them to be in a free atmosphere.
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