Campaigns/Elections

"Freedom Is About Authority"

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Another fun speech from the 1990s surfaces, this one from Rudy Giuliani:

We look upon authority too often and focus over and over again, for 30 or 40 or 50 years, as if there is something wrong with authority. We see only the oppressive side of authority. Maybe it comes out of our history and our background. What we don't see is that freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.

Rudy's entire career, going back to his days as a U.S. attorney and Justice Department drug warrior, has been about accumulating more power for government, and fostering an authority fetish in the governed. Odd as a statement like "freedom is about ceding to authority" sounds, I don't doubt that Rudy actually believes it. 

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  1. Was that Rudy or Putin,I can’t tell them apart.

  2. The first thing that sprang to mind when I read this quote was “All men are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

  3. I’m scared, as it looks like it’ll be Hillary vs. Rudy? Yikes. I’d rather have Obama (who’s not too bad), Bloomberg (dumb smoking ban, but he’s not a quasi-fascist like Rudy), or even Romney (moronic flip-flopping dumbass, but even he’d be better IMO than Hillary or Rudy).

  4. That quote is some scarey sh*t, or at least it’s scarey to me. Anyone else ?

  5. Got it!!!! “Freedom is about giving up freedom.”

    Yes, Orwell would be proud.

  6. We have always been at war with Eurasia.

  7. Typical prosecutor mindset. That’s why I’ll never vote for a former prosecutor, excepting Bob Barr, maybe.

  8. Rudy is technically correct that without at least some submission to authority, you can’t have a free society. Even libertarians demand a certain amount of it – unless you think that I can’t be arrested for stealing your property, etc.

  9. Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose . . .

  10. Words fail me on this one.

    And Dan T., you are correct in that libertarianism is most certainly not anarchism. However, Generalissimo Rudy’s comments here go way the fuck beyond anything recognizable as libertarianism.

  11. Dan T.: exactly right. So Giuliani should have said, “Freedom can’t exist without some submission to authority.” Instead, he said that freedom is about authority.

  12. Dan T’s right, but Rudy’s track record and statements indicate that he does not value personal liberty at all, and he doesn’t value ceding to authority i.e. respecting other’s rights in the sense which Dan T states.

  13. Dan T.: exactly right. So Giuliani should have said, “Freedom can’t exist without some submission to authority.” Instead, he said that freedom is about authority.

    True. I can’t really come up with a defense for that one.

  14. Are you sure that speech was from the 1990’s and not from 1984?

  15. Paging DONDEROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  16. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.

  17. Now, later in the speech Rudy does sound a little more libertarian:

    We’re going to come through this when we realize that it’s all about, ultimately, individual responsibility. That in fact the criminal act is about individual responsibility and the building of the respect for the law and ethics is also a matter of individual responsibility.

  18. DONDEROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    Esplain how this quote, from 1994 no less, indicates that Rudy is like TOTALLY FOR FREEDOM ZOMG !!!!!!!!!!11111one1111!!!!!!onetwo!!!

  19. For the love of God, lets all hope Il Duce isn’t elected president.

  20. Adam W.,

    I would just like to say that Bloomberg is worse than Rudy. This is the guy that sent out PI’s to gun stores in other states to make straw purchases, and then sicced the ATF on the stores for something that they have no control over.

  21. Dan T,

    Rudy’s idea of individual responsibility is “if I or my minions arrest/prosecute/kill you, it’s your fault.”

  22. Hillary or der Rudi?

    oh god

    I think at this point I’m reduced to hoping the transparent phony wins: make mine Mitt! He doesn’t believe the plop he flings.

  23. “Rudy is technically correct that without at least some submission to authority, you can’t have a free society. Even libertarians demand a certain amount of it – unless you think that I can’t be arrested for stealing your property, etc.”

    Sure, but he’s confusing the cost of freedom with freedom itself.

    Even in an ideal libertarian utopia, there will certainly still be plenty of things a free citizen would be prohibited, by a governmental authority, from doing.

  24. Hillary or der Rudi?

    Hmmm, Il Duce or the Uber-nanny? What a choice.

  25. The whole idea of ‘limits’ is when your actions infringe on someone else’s rights and freedoms,nothing more.Rudy being a big supporter of the drug war,patriot act,ect. is certainly not talking about the freedom on which our country was founded.

  26. Meh. I’ll have to turn in my ring for this one, but I don’t think RG’s comments are beyond the pale. It makes some sense to say that freedom can only work withing a framework defined by the rule of law. This is political theory 101 stuff: in order to escape the state of nature, people trade some freedom of action for some degree of stability and security.

    Of course, the fact that RG was simply expressing Hobbesian sentiments (poorly) does not mean that he’s not an asshole. It simply means that he’s not saying anything particularly novel or offensive.

  27. If I may offer from unsolicted advice, it probably does not help the libertarian cause to instantly stick every politican who is even slightly more authoritarian than what you’d like with nazi/fascist labels. Not every shade of gray is black.

  28. Rudy’s non-thinking is similar to a lot of people who want to legalize then regulate drugs.

  29. Someone needs to make a Dondero Magic summoning card. Like this

  30. My reading is similar to yours, No. 6. It’s perhaps poorly articulated, but fairly basic theory: without granting some one or some thing authority to arbitrate–to have a legitimate monopoly on coercion–freedom isn’t so great. Because while, sure, freedom over one’s body and personal property may be a “right” in whatever your conception of rights is, it’s a right you can’t much enjoy in the state of nature. Enter authority to protect it.

    Now in all likelihood, we’re giving Rudy too much credit here; his idea on what constitutes legitimate use of that authority probably differs from ours fairly substantially. But the quotation you’ve excerpted here is pretty straightforward and unobjectionable.

  31. If I may offer from unsolicted advice, it probably does not help the libertarian cause to instantly stick every politican who is even slightly more authoritarian than what you’d like with nazi/fascist labels. Not every shade of gray is black.

    I can feel my soul burn as I type this, but…

    I agree with Dan.

  32. Legate–

    Theres associating everyone with fascism. Then theres associating Rudy with fascism. The former is not appropriate, but you can make an argument for the latter.

  33. I dunno, I find Hobbesian sentiments pretty offensive. It’s the “every single human being ceding to authority” bit that gets me, really.

  34. his phrasing is indeed precious:

    “Freedom is about authority.”

  35. I see the candidates on more of a continuum.

    Want to vote for:
    1 answer (hint: he’s popular at reason)

    Would vote for:
    1 answer (hint: I give away his identity below)

    Might theoretically vote for, but I wouldn’t be proud of it:
    1 answer

    Won’t vote for (vote LP):
    7 answers

    Will vote against, regardless of opponent:
    2 answers

    Available candidates:
    Clinton
    Obama
    Edwards
    Richardson
    Romney
    Guiliani
    McCain
    Huckabee
    Paul
    Gore
    Bloomburg
    Thompson (the one who hasn’t started, not the one who quit)

    Not exactly a bell curve, but it doesn’t involve pointing at Richardson and saying “OMG!!! He’s the suxxorz!” when in fact he’s my favorite non-RP candidate.

    Also, Cesar, I agree with you word for word. The fact that I brought it up in a RUDY thread was a coincidence, not an inference.

  36. non-RP meaning “non-Ron Paul”

  37. “Respect my authoritah!”

    – Eric Cartman

  38. I’m not so sure I buy the “he’s just talking Hobbes” argument. At one point in the speech he’s interrupted by someone in the audience and responds by saying “You have free speech so I can be heard.”

  39. Freedom is about respecting the authority of your boss. Obey or leave; if you actually try to accomplish something he doesn’t want in the workplace, you are against freedom.

  40. Want to vote For: Ron Paul

    Would vote For: Bill Richardson

    Might theoretically vote for, but I wouldn’t be proud of it: Eh, though one. I guess Obama. I’d still have to take a shower, after leaving the booth, however.

    Won’t vote for (vote LP):
    Everyone else

    Will vote against, regardless of opponent:

    On the fringe end, Tom Tancredo. I’d vote for just about anyone over him.

    One the mainstream (haha) end, Hillary and Rudy. If God forbid they both get it, I vote for Bloomberg (if hes running) and take a long, hot shower afterwards.

  41. I think Rudy’s most recent few statements, to my genuine shock, make him clearly worse than Clinton.

    That’s fucked up, right there.

  42. I’d rather have Obama (who’s not too bad)

    Might theoretically vote for, but I wouldn’t be proud of it: Eh, though one. I guess Obama.

    Don’t forget about Obama and his belief in fair pay.

  43. Rudy is technically correct that without at least some submission to authority, you can’t have a free society. Even libertarians demand a certain amount of it – unless you think that I can’t be arrested for stealing your property, etc.

    It is telling that the left seem to more sympathetic to the most extreme right wing politicians like Guiliani, than more liberal politicians like Ron Paul who oppose the Iraq war, the war on drugs, the Patriot act, etc.

    This kind of relates to the Nazi-Socialism thread… Guiliani supports government funded health care and a wide variety of social programs… some token socialism is all it takes to get the so-called “left” to rally around right-wing causes.

  44. joe, the problem is that most people do not have the wherewithal to leave the authority of the US president. I hate it when people try to equate homeowners associations or the workplace with governments. HOAs and bosses don’t have a ready supply of armed enforcers and prisons to deal with the malcontent and undesirable. I was in the Army, so I know something about respecting authority, but blind obedience to bad leadership is irrational. Even privates know this, and the UCMJ has provisions to protect them from it. The problem is that a government can change the rules to remove those protections (see the gradual erosion of the bill of rights, and the constant battle to restore them)

    Unless you are being sarcastic, which I sincerely hope.

  45. Rex, have you ever, in your life, actually bothered to read anything from the liberals you seem so comfortable pontifficating about?

    I actually read liberals blogs. You find some nice things about Ron Paul on there. Guiliani, on the other hand, is the devil.

  46. On the other hand, Ramsey, the U.S. president has much less influence into my life than my boss.

  47. joe,

    I actually read liberals blogs.

    Really. I would have guessed from the volume of comments here that you worked full time reading H&R

    😉

  48. Freedom is slavery.

  49. “It is telling that the left seem to more sympathetic to the most extreme right wing politicians like Guiliani, than more liberal politicians like Ron Paul who oppose the Iraq war, the war on drugs, the Patriot act, etc.”

    Wha..?! You’re flat out wrong on this Rex. Just flat out wrong. Where, oh where, did you get this information? It’s not true about media outlets or activists. A quick check with Alternet and about 15 of the blogs they link to makes me wonder if you’re talking about the left wing in general or a few left wing friends you have who think pro-choice means left wing.

  50. I have the feeling this was kind of taken out of context. You do need to cede some freedom in order to have a free society, because there are limits to what you can do to other people. I don’t have the “freedom” to off someone. I think Rudy was more talking like if a cop stops you on the street when you’re not doing anything wrong, you don’t bolt away, you let the cop speak his piece and figure it out with him with some sort of order.

    That said, I think the guy’s a douche. Paul’s my man, though I’d vote for Kucinich. I’d be “The Hot Wife Appreciation PAC Vote”

  51. On the other hand, Ramsey, the U.S. president has much less influence into my life than my boss.

    I doubt this is true. The between the veto power of the presidency and presidential appointments, the prez has a rather large amount of influence on the content and enforcement of federal law, which not only governs a great deal of the terms of your employment and workplace conditions and how much compensation your ultimately end up receiving, but also what you can buy at the store, how much it costs, what you see on TV, the characteristics of the car you drive, how fast you can drive it, what your kids get taught in school, and every other pie the federal gov’t has its fingers in. Your boss would probably have more influence in libertopia, but with the current hypertrophied state of the federal government, you have more to fear from the person in the Whitehouse than the corner office.

    Plus, your boss is constrained by what you personally will not put up with and quit in response to, whereas the president is constrained by what about 50% of the population, which may not include you, will not put up with and will vote him out for.

  52. On the other hand, Ramsey, the U.S. president has much less influence into my life than my boss.

    Thank your lucky stars for that! The real question is why you think you would be better off if Dubya had more influence into your life than your boss?

    Or do you think when the federal government takes over healthcare, micromanages education, and engages in widespread economic central planning and social engineering, that only liberal Democrats that you approve of will win elections?

  53. Want to vote For: Ron Paul

    Would vote For: Bill Richardson

    Might theoretically vote for, but I wouldn’t be proud of it: Obama. I disagree with him on a few things, but I could see him being reasonable (esp. compared to the other choices). Bloomburg, we need an eccentric billionaire president.

    Won’t vote for (vote LP):
    Romney, Clinton, Huckabee, McCain, Edwards, Thompson, Gore.

    Will vote against, regardless of opponent:

    Tom Tancredo.

    Between his authoritarian streak and his insane foreign policy, Rudy is now on this list. I never thought I’d say this, but if Rudy runs and it’s close in my state, I’m voting for Hillary.

  54. MattXIV,

    I don’t dispute that some of what the President has a degree of influence on those things, but a small one.

    My boss, on the other hand, has a much larger degree of influence on what I earn and what I experience at work.

  55. er, “…some of what the President DOES had a degree…”

    Or do you think when the federal government takes over healthcare, You mean health insurance, and the only difference will be that federal bureaucrats won’t be as burdensome as HMO bureaucrats…micromanages education, Like virtually all liberals, I oppose the federal government micromanaging education. and engages in widespread economic central planning and social engineering, Tell it to the Socialist Workers Party. You’re talking to a Democrat here.

  56. You mean health insurance, and the only difference will be that federal bureaucrats won’t be as burdensome as HMO bureaucrats

    OK, so you think that when Dubya (or Guiliani or whatever Republican will eventually be President) runs your health insurance, that the Republican will do better job than your current insurance provider?

    As a side note, if you think that a federal beurocrat will be more reasonable than an HMO, just try renewing your passport!

    Tell it to the Socialist Workers Party. You’re talking to a Democrat here.

    Are you telling me that Democrats don’t support price controls on oil? Are you telling me the Democrats don’t support a ‘National Service Program’? Are you telling me that the Democrats don’t support stricter government regulation of almost every aspect of the economy? Are you telling me that Democrats don’t support banning or restricting many kinds of political speech, and directly regulating the media? Are you telling me that Democrats don’t support a whole slew of new social programs?

    Do you really believe that Democrats don’t support a massive expansion of state power? And if you realize that Democrats want a massively expanded government, then you must be confortable with the fact that at some point that massively expanded government and regulation infrastructure will fall in the hands of Republicans and people like G.W. Bush.

  57. I’d like to interrupt this scene with a brief monologue delivered directly to the audience:

    If the Fairness Doctrine gets reinstated, only joe and one select opponent will be allowed to post here anymore. Maybe Rex, maybe John. Depending on what the opposite of joe is.

    Okay, continue.

  58. it sounds like he’s sort of trying to paraphrase Locke – liberty of man in society being defined as having a common set of rules to live by which apply equally to every member of society and are determined by legitimate legislative authority, or something like that.

    of course, since it’s Giuliani we’re talking about, I’m sure what he means by “lawful authority” is not “the law”, but “rudy giuliani”

  59. of course, since it’s Giuliani we’re talking about, I’m sure what he means by “lawful authority” is not “the law”, but “rudy giuliani”

    L’?tat, c’est Rudy Giuliani.

  60. Mo,

    Those are some tough calls. Personally, if faced with the H. Clinton/R. Guiliani choice, I’d probably choose J. Daniels.

  61. That’s nonsense.

    And a complete, intentional statement of what the Puritans were talking about.

    They said that the purpose of political freedom was to be better able to submit yourself to God’s authority, free of the interference of the king.

    Only Guiliani would say that the purpose of freedom is to give more of your freedom up to … Rudy G.

  62. “Only Guiliani would say that the purpose of freedom is to give more of your freedom up to … Rudy G.”

    Yep. You should take a look at the original source of that speech, and note the very next thing he says… a heckler interrupts him and he says: “You have free speech so I can be heard!”

    Yep. That’s why we have free speech, all right: So we can shut up and listen to whatever Rudolf wants to say.

  63. Dan T, you are really missing the point. I voted for Rudy, twice. But if people think authoritarian Rudy has “Presidential” qualities, you have no idea what you will get with a VINDICTIVE, authoritarian, cronyism-loving Rudy as your President. Just what NY needed (for a brief while). Absolutely dangerous as a President.

  64. It is still early yet, Condi Rice might still get drafted.

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