"The real guarantee of freedom
is an equilibrium of social forces in conflict,
not the triumph of any one force."
Max Eastman
(1883-1969) American writer, poet, political activist
Reflections on the Failure of Socialism, 1955
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Reader comments about this quote:
There is no real guarantee of freedom; and, before any semblance of conceptual freedom can be achieved, it must first be defined. Americans, with many social forces in conflict, call themselves free after they: pay a slaves token to their masters, get permission from their master before they drive from their place of abode to a grocery store, go to their master's public schools where history books defining morality and freedom are band, and after the possibility exists that they may be imprisoned, at any time, even after committing no harm or injury.
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
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     -- Joe, Rochester, MI      
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US      
    Whether freedom-loving people like it or not, liberty guarantees a multiplicity of interests particularly with regard to the management of the 'common wealth.' Therefore we have right and left, up and down, and everything in between. Should any one wing get control, we would fly around in circles.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    Archer, your statement is absolutely right on but, it is reverse to the quote. Freedom protects equilibrium within flight (social forces in conflict) Equilibrium of social forces in conflict, not the triumph of any one force does not guarantee freedom, it only pursues an aimless wondering of civility.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Real freedom is not available in this world.
     -- David L Rosenthal     
    Our way has become where the 51% or more can force their way on the other 49% or less. The constitution was meant to protect the fewer from the more, but they call this a democracy.
     -- cal, lewisville, tx     
    Mike what are you talking about "getting freedom to go to the grocery store". Mike seeks a dictatorship of Natural Law (compelled compliance) and he is more than glad to tell us what his Natural Law is. He is a would be Surpreme Leader of Natual Law. Cal the 51% and 49% change members constanly, you or I are not stuck in one position or the other and reasonable men agree sometimes and disagree sometimes. Disagreeing on occaison does not mean that we have to be disagreeable persons our entire lifetime. Wisdom has shown that it is better to adhere to the rule of the 51% over time even if on occasion the 51% are wrong. It is their priviledge to be wrong, that is why democracy is not perfect just better than anything else. Now Mike has the perfect system Natural Law and he is more than gald to tell us what it is and force it upon us, as the triumph of one force with him as the Supreme Ayotollah! Now it seems illogical to accept this idea of equilibrium rather than to clutch for the golden ring of perfection as Mike and some try to do but I submit that history and wisdom have shown this quote to be the better way.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
    I suppose it might be how you read the quote. It could be that the "equilibrium of social forces in conflict" represents the ability to agree to disagree without either party's rights being violated, and that the "triumph of any one force" represents the ballot box wherein the strength in numbers of the majority triumphs over the rights of the minority.
     -- Bryan Morton, Stuart, FL     
    Yes, Mike and Bryan, the quote has its limits of course. The real guarantee of freedom is the inviolable respect for the natural born rights of man, period, there can be no compromise.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    The guarantee of freedom is the common knowledge of what freedom truly is and that is the absolute anarchic state of the individual in nature free of ANYONE who would seek to control that natural state. When another or others are added to the equation the respect of that same state of freedom each has for the other determines the laws that punish for either or any who violate that natural anarchic state. In other words anarchy is lawful as long as one doesn't violate another's right to be the same way as all are born that way. That's freedom and by voluntary agreement men use their own moral self restraint on their anarchic abilities to abide by the law that respects the rights of another and so avoid criminal punishments provided by the natural laws that are protected with the Constitution. From that point the differences between freedom and slavery are self evident. The quote is way off base in that it implies good can't exist without the bad. Granted we learn the good by experiencing the bad but I think we're all supposed to learn from the bad and not repeat the same bad mistakes. This is what people do not grasp and so the the ever changing "equilibrium of social forces in conflict" remains the rut historical societies were stuck in and ours still is despite the opportunity to rise out of the rut with the great experiment of our founding fathers.
     -- Anon     
    Waffler, a quick thought for you, I am happy to tell you what natural law is. 2 examples, gravity and bankruptcy. I'm planning to take over the world and be its Supreme Leader with such natural laws. I'm going to compel everyone to stay on the ground unless they get in a plane, elevator, or .... and, I'm going to compel bankruptcy on everyone that has more debt than they can possibly pay back (unless they come up with another option). Oh wait, as an added bonus, I just may throw in a reinstatement of allodial freehold. That will be my cap stone for taking over the world with natural law. hmm, way to go Waffler, you figured me out.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Waffler, PS. Because of fear of your master, you having no personal rights (you gave them up as a faculty of birth to the mob), you had to obtain a special privilege to drive yourself to the store (I am sure you have a driver's license)
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    We cannot continue to exist in the ever present, tumultuous conflicting contest. We must be searching for that  binding middle grounded resolution. This is the solution to moving in the life preserving direction of forward. 
     -- Fredrick William Sillik, Anytown     
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