The habit of choosing one’s own course for oneself

This is how Alfred Marshall, in the last editions of his Principles of Economics published in 1920 (in para 4), described “the fundamental characteristics of modern industrial life”.

There is no one term that will express these characteristics adequately. They are, as we shall presently see, a certain independence and habit of choosing one’s own course for oneself, a self-reliance; a deliberation and yet a promptness of choice and judgment, and a habit of forecasting the future and of shaping one’s course with reference to distant aims.

This is what freedom means, and it is a burden. Not everyone can bear the weight. It is the struggle between those who value freedom and independence against those who wish to be told what to do and given their daily bread like a household pet that has been at the centre of the great political divisions for the past five hundred years.

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