History: The Struggle for Liberty

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3. John Stuart Mill

History the Struggle for Liberty 2003

Tags World HistoryPhilosophy and MethodologyPolitical Theory

09/03/2004Ralph Raico

Mill played a crucial, but inflated, role in liberalism. Rothbard did not like Mill much. Mill was a disaster on economic freedom and international issues. Mill rejected that workers and capitalists shared interests. Mill was anti-capitalist.

Mill’s On Liberty addresses the nature and limits of legitimate power by society over individuals. Mill’s relationship with Harriet Taylor, a married woman, twisted his own mores. Mill’s liberalism had little regard for the past. John Maynard Keynes also contributed to liberalism meaning almost anything including Nazism. Keynes felt his system was more adapted to socialism and Stalinism.

But the hallmark of liberalism is that society can run itself with voluntary agreements based upon private property rights.

French liberalism involved the idea of class conflict which led to totalitarianism. This doctrine is generally associated with Marxism, but predated Marx. The French made all government offices open to all citizens. That was the essence of the French Revolution. Two main conflicting classes are producers and plunderers.

The British tradition of liberalism, as Hayek espoused, leaves out the tradition of natural rights.

Lecture 3 of 10 from Ralph Raico's History: The Struggle for Liberty.


Ralph Raico

Ralph Raico (1936–2016) was professor emeritus in European history at Buffalo State College and a senior fellow of the Mises Institute. He was a specialist on the history of liberty, the liberal tradition in Europe, and the relationship between war and the rise of the state. He is the author of The Place of Religion in the Liberal Philosophy of Constant, Tocqueville, and Lord Acton.

A bibliography of Ralph Raico's work, compiled by Tyler Kubik, is found here.