"The only purpose for which power can rightfully be exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. ... Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign."
John Stuart Mill
(1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
On Liberty (1859)
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Reader comments about this quote:
I could not agree with Mill more on this.
 -- cal, lewisville, tx     
  • 3
    There is not enough information here to make a real accurate comment. On its face, the first sentence gets a thumbs down and, the second an absolute 5 stars a multiple of times. The ability to prevent harm or the rightful use of power on others would fall under property rights (clean air, water, etc., deprivation of allodial ownership, etc., the exercise of inalienable rights, etc.) and immediate danger (someone attacking a family member, etc.). Other than, and in harmony with that, all compelled compliance, enforced victimless crimes, imposed licenses, illegal drug determinations, etc. directly oppose freedom, liberty, and the exercise of inalienable rights. To exercise justice is also another purpose for which power can rightfully be exercised.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
  • 4
    Mr. Mill sounds like he may have been a Libertarian, if so, good for him. The libertarian Party is the only political party that truly believes in limited government. The dems and repubs are two sides of the same coin.
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
  • 3
    By way of further clarity - different standards, at law, are applied to different scenarios. The stewardship of parenting consists of an authority that may implement power over over an incapable third party (for mental maturity or otherwise). For example, preventing a toddler from burning themselves or entering a busy street. That same rightfully exercised power does not extend to individual sovereigns of majority age, responsibility or stewardship. To exercise power over a civilized community for the purpose of preventing harm is criminal, not lawful or right - AND/WHILE such acts also define degrees of slavery, usurpation and tyranny.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
  • 1
    Yes, but the word "prevent" is a very ambiguous term. And, is more often than not abused.
     -- robert, somewhere inthe USA     
  • 1
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