To do good, the free will be bound

a bait ball

C. S. Lewis on Liberty

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive,” wrote C. S. Lewis, the Oxford/Cambridge scholar best known for his Christian apologetics and the Chronicles of Narnia book series. “It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

May those toiling for the improvement of society in New Zealand and around the world give these words sober contemplation.

Improvement need not be bought with the loss of our freedom. Who would lead us will learn the difference between them.

(Thanks, Keith.)

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5 Thoughts on “To do good, the free will be bound

  1. As a matter of good form, can you please provide a reference for these quotes. In which of CS Lewis’ books are they found?

    • This is a bad sign — replying to my own posts… According to my searching, the leading quote is from “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment,” in the collection, God in the Dock.

    • Yes, so I should attribute it, David. I threw this up quickly as it appealed so greatly, but you’re right, it ought to be sourced.

      I’ll check when I have time, but I’ve seen other names associated with it. Thanks.

      UPDATE: It seems to be Lewis, though I would cede to a proper scholar. It is in any case agreeable.

  2. Flipper on 03/09/2010 at 8:46 am said:

    Check these out:

    “C. S. Lewis on Mere Liberty and the Evils of Statism,” by David J. Theroux (, 8/23/10)

    “Economic Science and the Poverty of Naturalism: C. S. Lewis’s ‘Argument from Reason,'” by David J. Theroux (Journal of Private Enterprise, Spring 2008)

    • OT (and I shouldn’t encourage this, but if necessary I’ll start a thread for it!): I’ve now read the first of your references; I found it most agreeable. The second is much longer and possibly more abstruse and difficult, though I am intrigued by the abstract and first few paragraphs. Since the existence of a spiritual dimension to the universe appears to be necessary, and since the characteristics of the Christian God quite clearly demand an overhaul, these topics make attractive research. Thanks, Flipper.

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