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Whether anyone who thus rules unjustly, or otherwise improperly, can be regarded as truly understanding and hence truly controlling his situation is a question not limited to these circumstances.
The shift from the more political to the more individualistic view of liberty may be seen in how the constitutional guarantees with respect to speech and the press are typically spoken of in the United States.
Vital to this approach is the general opinion about the nature and sanctity of the human soul.
This general opinion provides the foundation of a predominantly new, or modern, argument against censorship—against anything, in fact, that interferes with self-development, and especially such self-development (or, better still, “self-fulfillment”) as a person happens to want and to choose for himself.
Whereas it could once be maintained that the law forbids whatever it does not permit, it is now generally accepted—at least wherever Western liberalism is in the ascendancy—that one may do whatever is not forbidden by law.
It is tempting, in such circumstances, to adopt a radical subjectivism that tends to result in a thoroughgoing relativism with respect to moral and political judgments.
Restraints upon speaking and publishing, and indeed upon action generally, are fewer now than at most times in the history of the country.
This absence of restraints is reflected as well in the very terms in which these rights and privileges are described.
What would once have been referred to as “freedom of speech and of the press” (drawing upon the language of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States) is now often referred to as “freedom of expression.” To make much of freedom of expression is to encourage a liberation of the self from the constraints of the community.
It may even be to assume that the self has, intrinsic to it or somehow available to it independent of any social guidance, intimations of what it is and what it wants.