We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
As regular Maggie's readers know, Roger Scruton is in our pantheon of essayists, right up there with Dalrymple. From his recent piece on John Stuart Mill (a very smart guy but perhaps lacking in wisdom and life experience - but I detest retrospective judgements, especially when performed by intellectual inferiors like me) whose thinking evolved from utilitarianism to liberty to socialism:
Mill's defense of liberty, which was enunciated with great force and seeming clarity, soon followed the path taken by his defense of utilitarianism, and died the death of a thousand qualifications. "On Liberty" sees individual freedom as the aim of government, whose business is to reconcile one person's freedom with his neighbor's. "The Principles of Political Economy" by contrast, while pretending to be a popular exposition of Adam Smith, accords extensive powers of social engineering to the state, and develops a socialist vision of the economy, with a constitutional role for trade unions, and extensive provisions for social security and welfare. The book is, in fact, a concealed socialist tract. While "On Liberty" belongs to the 18th-century tradition that we know as classical liberalism, "Principles" is an example of liberalism in its more modern sense.
Mill's hostility to privilege, to landed property, and to inheritance of property had implications which he seemed unwilling or unable to work out. His argument that all property should be confiscated by the state on death, and redistributed according to its own greater wisdom, has the implication that the state, rather than the family, is to be treated as the basic unit of society--the true arbiter of our destiny, and the thing to which everything is owed. The argument makes all property a temporary lease from the state, and also ensures that the state is the greatest spender, and the one least bound by the sense of responsibility to heirs and neighbors. It is, in short, a recipe for the disaster that we have seen in the communist and socialist systems, and it is a sign of Mill's failure of imagination that, unlike Smith, he did not foresee the likely results of his favored policies.
Yes - in other words, a return to Feudalism. And ah, that pesky Law of Unintended Consequences. Here's the whole piece at Opinion Journal. Mill's thinking on various subjects seems as alive today, as ever. Here is a brief synopsis of his life.