"Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other
to live as seems good to themselves, than
by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest."
John Stuart Mill
(1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
On Liberty, 1859
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Reader comments about this quote:
Are there flaws in a capitalistic society? Absolutely. Capitalism is merely justice. A perfect utopian society does not exist, nor can it be forced. Regardless of what form of government there is in place, there will always be criminals, terrorists, greedy-money-mongering thugs, and just plain-ol'-rotten-good-for-nothing-lazy-stupid people. You cannot legislate or force these types of people out of society, no matter how many laws are made. This is why socialism doesn't work. While capitalism is only justice, it at least makes mercy possible -- socialism denies justice by using unlawful coercion, and in the process destroys mercy before it was ever a thought. Mercy (or rather, charity) cannot be forced.
 -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    That is an absolute truth.
     -- me again     
    I get the point, but it is still a partial falacy. People too often think that they could be happy by achieving or obtaining. Mankind could only be satisfied and contented by living the way they were designed to live by the Creator. It takes some people a lot longer to realize this, and some never do.
     -- David L. Rosenthal     
    Well said Logan, where good is allowed, or even encouraged to flourish (as measured by the 'golden rule' and enforced by 'where my nose begins your rights end') none are compelled.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    The "Golden Rule" is actually completely wrong headed... it is backwards... real tolerance and kindness is to "treat others as they would have you treat them"... the key here is that the reciever should define what they want/like, not the giver. So do not force upon me the hateful rules of Your Creator, but rather let me live by those of mine.
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
    Excellent. John Stuart Mill's statement needs no adornment. (And, Logan, 'capitalism is justice'? LOL! Man, I think you've got your wires crossed.)
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Reston, I like your take on the Golden Rule. Indeed kindness is to give someone what they want, not giving them what you want for them. But the Golden Rule is a 'rule' -- kindness is not a rule, it is a gift. So as a rule, we are not expected to treat anyone any differently than we would treat ourselves. But of course, kindness, compassion and love cannot be 'legislated'. The Common Law is based on the inverse -- Don't do anything to anyone you wouldn't do to yourself. The law cannot tell us what to do, only what we may not do. That is what makes a virtue a virtue -- acts of kindness without coercion.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Too arbritary! It depends on who the individual is and what seems good to him. Mankind was not better off suffering what felt good to Saddam Hussein. The same could be said of George W Bush. Mill is saying Mankind would be better served with no laws governing behavior.
     -- Jack, Green, OH     
    Men are unjust. They offend because they do not measure their acts before committing them, and they fail to measure because they do not care about others. Of course, all takes place in greater or smaller degrees, but that is the way it is. And since men are unjust, in order to attempt something like order in society, laws must be written and enforced, in order to deter crime. If men were all taught to be considerate, crime would still exist, but not to the extent that we have today. Cease to impose morals and you cease to deter crime.
     -- David L Rosenthal     
    Try convincing a religious or ideological person of this idea.

    I mean, read the comments.
     -- anonymous     
    Live and let live is the point.
     -- jim k, austin tx     
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    jim, I agree. anonymous, I agree with you also. Probably the strongest religious example I could give that screams today is the religion of socialism (communist to fascist / liberal to conservative / progressive to neo-con, etc.) By way of example; the vast majority of church goers that I've been acquainted with openly and vehemently reject the laws of God and Christ's teachings for the priesthood (government) of men.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    The Liberty of Freedom.
     -- Bob Leavitt, Charlotte, VT     
    There is always the lower side of the tracks. Seedy if you will !
    If you marry into socialism, which we have. You pick up all their bad habits. Plenty of food, and idle time, the down fall of Sodom. And there came two angels to Sodom. History does repeat itself. But to a greater degree, will be our changes to come. Just like our Creator and his laws of nature, if you get to close to the edge of the cliff , you will fall ! Last time I looked, man does not grow wings. Well said logan , David and Mike.
     -- Ron w13, Or     
    I agree with John Stuart Mill.  Makes me think of Ayn Rand's "Objectivism."
     -- Cal, Lewisville     
    It's still "Live and Let Live".
     -- jim k, Austin     
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