Epitaph for Molly

Over at OurKingdom, John Jackson posts a touching epitaph to his Scottish friend Molly, who passed away in early January aged 93 having spent her life in domestic service. The case of Molly, like so many others who become accustomed to labouring in the service of others, demonstrates why “we must not require people to ‘trade’ liberty, or any part of it, in return for livelihood.” The argument would have been familiar to the republicans of the English revolution, as Quentin Skinner did a fantastic job of reminding us at the Convention. Although servants may be free in the “negative” liberal sense of the term in that their freedom of action is not being directly curtailed, they are nevertheless dependent on the arbitrary will of another, their “master”, who may interfere in their lives at his discretion. This condition of dependence is a condition of servitude which breeds servility. As John says: ”If we truly believe in  liberty and all that goes with it, we must insist on a society that reflects those values.”

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