John Milton and Freedom

I personally love Milton. Paradise Lost is one of the most beautiful things in the English language. But Milton was more than a mere poet. He weighed in on some very controversial political matters of his day, including a riveting defense of free speech in opposition to censorship. His arguments on this issue were made more famous by John Stuart Mill who essentially restated them in his essay On Liberty.

I have a paper on Milton’s Areopagitica in Libertarian Papers for anyone interested.

Abstract: This article draws general economic arguments against central planning, state licensure and regulation from Milton’s Areopagitica, a 17th Century pamphlet on free-speech. Though Milton’s work was written primarily as a defense for moral man and a warning against religious encroachment by government it provides some of the best and most foundational general arguments, both moral and practical, against government intervention in any field. Milton’s accessible and persuasive style and his ability to combine practical and moral arguments made his work a monumental case against censorship. However, the work has more to offer than a defense of free-speech. Libertarian economists can find in Milton many compelling arguments against central planning, licensure and regulation which have been and should continue to be reiterated.

Check it out.


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