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What John Stuart Mill got wrong about freedom

Mill's famous vision of freedom is compelling—but of its own time. Instead of focussing on the individual, we should seek freedom through our responsibilities to others

By Graham Tomlin  

Mill's vision of freedom made sense in the context of Victorian Britain, but less so in our age of increasing loneliness and anxiety. Photo: PA

You can tell what a society values by what it goes to war over. In the 17th century, we fought our wars over religion. In the 19th, it was empire. In the 20th and 21st, we fight our wars over freedom—either defending our own or trying to export our version of it to other parts of the world.

We tend, of course, to assume we…

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