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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/7966/john-lilburne-the-first-english-libertarian/

John Lilburne: The First English Libertarian

March 28, 2008 by

John Lilburne is a name that deserves to live on the in the future, writes Peter Richards, not only to be remembered as a champion of liberty but also as one of the very first libertarians of England and indeed the world. In his own day, he was described as a Leveller, a term he did not like. He usually preceded it with words like “falsely so called” or “commonly (though unjustly) styled” to make his point. As one historian points out,

“Lilburne always coupled liberty and property. Freedom to live unrestricted entailed freedom to possess: no passionate defender of the rights of individual could argue otherwise. It was ‘liberty and propriety,’ not ‘communitie and levelling,’ for which the Levellers stood.”



Sue Maynes March 28, 2008 at 7:18 pm

John Lilburne is a direct ancestor of mine through my mum and her Scottish dad.

I am part of a larger group in Australia that is currently fighting against exactly the same issues John was battling – to live with rights and without governments’ draconian controls.

Australia has returned to the Star Chamber in its courts and has removed the semblance of liberty from its government. The people are once again enslaved.

350 years after Freeborn John, the work is to be repeated.

Paul Marks March 29, 2008 at 11:46 am

Nicholas Reed either did not understand or has misinterpreted the documents of Lilburne and his friends.

Far from being put into practice, their ideas have been utterly subverted.

For example, point one states that neither people who are given alms or servants are to have the vote (also people who supported the King’s side in the Civil War are not to be allowed the vote – but that is a different matter, although a matter of some historical interest).

Today most voters in Britain are either servants of the government (i.e. they work for it) or they are given alms – not private gifts but taxpayer financed benefits.

Lilburne and the others hoped that democracy would serve the cause of liberty – it has not worked out that way.

For example, does anyone still believe that making the square mile “City of London” democratic would lead to more limited government?

KinkyKathy March 29, 2008 at 12:14 pm

An intelligent and civil comment? Tall order for a goof like me. Let me just say that the Brits have strayed far afield from this man’s good sense–and truly great mustache. I love freedom. I love any and all attempts to kill a federal BAC for DUI convictions.

Richard Allan April 1, 2008 at 7:16 am

I wonder if Peter Richards will be joining the newly-founded UK Libertarian Party (lpuk.org), although the Libertarian Alliance doesn’t believe in the need for such a thing.

Either way, thanks for posting this excellent article!

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