Focusses on the concepts of positive and negative liberty introduced in the 1950s by Isaiah Berlin. Curtis briefly explains how negative liberty could be defined as freedom from coercion and positive liberty as the opportunity to strive to fulfil one's potential. Tony Blair had read Berlin's essays on the topic and wrote to him in the late 1990s, arguing that positive and negative liberty could be mutually compatible. As Berlin was on his deathbed at the time, Blair never got a reply. The programme begins with a description of the Two Concepts of Liberty and Berlin's opinion that, since it lacked coercion, negative liberty was the safest of the two concepts. Curtis then explains how many political groups that sought their vision of freedom ended up using violence to achieve it. For example, the French revolutionaries wished to overthrow a monarchical system which they viewed as antithetical to freedom, but in doing so they ended up with the Reign of Terror.

The Trap - We will force you to be free

BBC

War Politics

59 minutes.

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