"On Liberty" is John Stuart Mill's Most famous work and one of the finest and most moving essay on liberty in English.
In "On Liberty" Mill thought that the evolution of government from tyranny to rule of the people would not necessarily solve the problem of liberty, because tyranny has less means of escape. Therefore protection against political tyranny is not enough ànd also protection against tyranny of prevailing opinion and feeling.
According to Mill Society is completely free when: absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment is guaranteed.
Silencing the opinion of a minority is wrong and harmful, because the other idea might be true.
“All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility”.
The human brain and human experience/knowledge is limited and can only grasp some aspects of truth. Therefore Mill holds that liberty is not complete unless there is no discussion possible. Every opinion is useful.
Always question and discuss what truth is, never take it for granted to keep truth vital and let it survive.
Three grounds for the necessity of freedom of opinion according to Mill:
1. Any opinion we silence may be true and when you silence it we assume our own infallibility.
2. If the silenced opinion sounds completely wrong, it may be partly true, because rarely any pinion is completely true.
3. If the prevailing opinion is the complete truth, it still needs the challenge of free discussion.
Truth is always unfinished, tentative, and temporary, subject to new data and experiences. = dynamic process of colliding opposites
Liberty: everyone can interpret experience in his own way and moral faculties. This is why Mill thinks that variety is as important as freedom.
Industrial civilization creates a uniformity that makes it difficult for people to remain individuals. “Genius” people who can improve the world will be held back, so liberty is essential to societal progression.
Mill thinks that liberty is needed for a strong state because the worth of a state is no more than the worth of the individuals composing it.
Mill was a utilitarian and pragmatist He felt he was not qualified to commit himself to any economic perspective. He would base his choice between capitalism and socialism on which one will give the greatest amount of human liberty and spontaneity.
In regards to individual property Mill holds in "On Liberty" that everyone should own property. Ultimate form: the means of production are not property, but the collective owning of the capital with which they carry on their operations. Working under managers they choose themselves and they can remove themselves.
Problem of socialism according to Mill:
Mill saw that socialism would fail if it gave up its liberal heritage and embraced the philosophy of the all-powerful state. In "On Liberty" Mill only regarded British and French socialists. Mill ignored doctrines of revolution and dictatorship ànd idealist socialist.
Socialism would demand a higher moral and intellectual level of the people than capitalism.
Mill thinks that an economically all-powerful state cannot be politically liberal in relation to the individual. Cooperation within working places and competition between working places.