ing the mid-19th century, there had developed a vigorousrnmovement to use the criminal law to enforce public moralityrnin matters like sexuality, literary censorship, and the consumptionrnof alcohol. Then as now, this puritanical movementrnoriginated in the United States but spread throughout thernWestern world. To reinforce resemblances to our own day. thernVictorian plague of righteousness to which Mill was reactingrnwas also fueled in large measure by feminist sentiment andrnrhetoric.rnThough Mill’s work is far more complex than a simple attackrnon attempts to prohibit alcohol, it is the political aspirations ofrnthe Temperance movement that provided him with his mostrneffective ease-study of majoritarianism. His conclusion is wellrnknown: that individuals should have the right to do what theyrnwish, as long as this behavior does not adversely affect others inrnthe community, a distinction that leads Mill to support lawsrnthat restrict public drunkenness or that require the registrationrnof poison sales. On the same grounds, this celebrated libertarianrnmight have favored gun control in contemporary conditions,rnbut that is debatable.rnWhat is less well known about On Liberty is that the workrnoffers one of the finest accounts available of the psychology ofrnthe would-be morality police, a complex of attitudes and prejudicesrnthat Mill dissects with superlative skill. He focusesrnspecial venom on the doctrine of “social rights,” the claim byrnTemperance advocates that there were secular philosophicalrngrounds for prohibiting behaviors such as the drinking of alcohol.rnIn this view, the private vice of another person “destroysrnmy primary right of security, by constantly creating and stimulatingrnsocial disorder. It invades my right of equalit … it impedesrnmv right to free moral and intellectual development.”rnFor Mill, this implied a claim “that it is the absolute social rightrnof every individual that every other individual shall act exactlyrnin every respect exactly as he ought: that whosoever failsrnthereof in the smallest particular violates my social right andrnentitles me to demand from the legislature the removal of therngrievance.” The principle is “monstrous”: “there is no violationrnof liberty which it would not justif’; it acknowledges no rightrnto any freedom whatever, except perhaps to that of holdingrnopinions in secret, without ever disclosing them.” It may be superfluousrnto add that the “social rights” doctrine has nowrnachieved near-canonical status in American political orthodoxyrnand is applied ruthlessly not merely to matters of substancernabuse but to relations between genders and ethnic groups.rnOver a century before “political correctness” became a cliche,rnMill had isolated and described the virus. “The doctrine ascribesrnto all mankind a vested interest in each other’s moral, intellectualrnand even physical perfection, to be defined by eachrnclaimant according to his own standard.”rnMill was addressing not merely the flaws of legislation butrn”the limits to the authority of society over the individual [myrnemphasis].” He well recognized the stultifying power of socialrnpressures to conform, even if they were not actually codifiedrninto law. In our own day, it is a nice question whether therngreater dangers to indi’idual liberties come from legislaturesrnand bureaucracies or the pressure groups that demand uniersalrnconformity to their particular interests, all in the name ofrn”social rights,” “social responsibility,” “communitarianism,” thern”politics of meaning,” or whatever Clintonesque cant is devisedrnto impose the fads of the New Puritanism. As the 20th centuryrnends, do we really have to refight the libertarian battles ofrnthe mid-19th? crnTHE SOUTH WAS RIGHT]rnNEW! Second Edition by the Kennedy Brothers of Louisiana*rnPelican Publishing Co, and Old South Books announce ‘rnT H E S O U T H W A S R I G H T ! – 44? pages, 42 photographs, over 6OO footnotes, hardback.rnREAD ABOUT:rnir SOUTHERN SLAVERY: The truth, not abolitionist lies. Testimonies from slavesrnand black leaders who tell the truth about life in the Old South.rn• CULTURAL GENOCIDE t Why the victors of the War of Northern Aggressionrncontinue their attacks upon everything Southern.rnFirst 1,000 copies from O.S.B. signed and numbered by authors.rn$22,50 plus $2.00 book rate, or $4.10 first class postage.rnOrder from and make check payable to:rnOld South Books, EO. Box 46, Dept. CC-1, Simsboro> LA 71275rnAlso available from Old South Bookst Hawle’s A View of the Constitution.rn’Secession as Taught at West Point Academy,’ $13,90 first class mail.rnJULY 1994/23rnrnrn