With Mill’s values, I for my part find myself in complete agreement. I think he is entirely right in emphasizing the importance of the individual in so far as values are concerned. I think, moreover, it is even more desirable in our day than it was in his to uphold the kind of outlook for which he stands. But those who care for liberty in our day have to fight different battles from those of the nineteenth century, and have to devise new expedients if liberty is not to perish. From the seventeenth century to the end of the nineteenth, “Liberty” was the watchword of the radicals and revolutionaries; but in our day the word was usurped by reactionaries, and those who think themselves most progressive are inclined to despise it. It is labelled as part of “rotten bourgeois idealism” and is regarded as a middle class fad, important only to whose who already enjoy the elegant leisure of the well-to-do. So far as any one person is responsible for this change, the blame must fall on Marx, who substituted Prussian discipline for freedom as both the means and the end of revolutionary action. But Marx would not have had the success which he has had if there had not been large changes in social organization and in technique which furthered his ideals as opposed to those of earlier reformers.
What has changed the situation since Mill’s day is, as I remarked before, the great increase of organization. Every organization is a combination of individuals for a purpose; and, if this purpose is to be achieved, it requires a certain subordination of the individuals to the whole. If the purpose is one in which all the individuals feel a keen interest, and if the executive of the organization commands confidence, the sacrifice of liberty may be very small. But if the purpose for which the organization exists inspires only its executive, to which the other members submit for extraneous reasons, the loss of liberty involved may grow until it becomes almost total. The larger the organization, the greater becomes the gap in power between those at the top and those at the bottom, and the more likelihood there is of oppression.
Russell, Bertrand. Portraits From Memory. “John Stuart Mill”. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956