Autonomy equals independence, a sphere of thought, behavior and action within which an individual can freely express himself. But liberals have stretched this thesis to the point where even the United Nations regards immigration as a basic human right, Magyar Hírlap columnist Ervin Nagy writes.
Liberal philosophers think – quite distinctly from liberal politicians – that the less our individual actions are restrained, the happier our lives will be, thus individual autonomy is the ultimate happiness we should strive for.
In this liberal illusion “good” equals the individual’s unrestrained right for action. This “meliorist principle”, an expression coined by English liberal philosopher John Gray has the implication that any society and economic order can be improved through increasing the autonomy of the individual.
Pierre Manent may be right in saying that freedom of thought is the cradle of autonomy, but we should expand our field of inquiry beyond politics and look for a wider definition of well-being.
Liberal thinkers want us to believe that all-pervasive liberty will lead to a better future.
But liberty should not only be defined in the negative (non-interference) sense, but also from a positive, pro-active stance. To give an example for both: no one should interfere in my religious devotion to a pile of stones in my back yard symbolizing my choice of God as long as it doesn’t interfere with my neighbor. So let us also see an example for the latter: should I lose my job, it is not enough for the state to leave me be and eventually starve – positive action is required in the form of a job search office and social assistance.
So let us examine the United Nation’s position from this perspective. Experience shows that an increased degree of autonomy and liberty does not make for a happier life. Let’s just have a look at the so-called migrant countries where the effects of the right to migration are beginning to show and ask ourselves: who benefits?