Liberalism was born here. But its values are now under attack.
On the Subjection of Women is also a classic he wrote with Harriet Taylor. True liberalism is truly about human rights, women and men, in opposition to democratic tyranny of the the majority. I used to think Liberal Democracies were safe. That we merely needed to work out that balance of rights and freedom and safety. As Fukuyama suggested, History had finally arrived. But autocracies and autocratic thinking on the left and the right seem now to be sprouting like mushrooms. Truth now seems a pale light beside the blazing fire of power and fraudulence. Lie big, lie loud, punish those who resist.
Especially as US politics continues to polarize and those on both ends reach ever more quickly for the status of victim, the harm principle is as important a guide as it ever was. Autocratic leaders and movement opt for laws forbidding offense to religious beliefs and sensibilities; universities enshrine the idea that to give offense is to, as so many put it, "actually" harm the person(s) presumed by arbiters to be the targets of speech; and Christian conservatives lament the harm done them when they no longer able to pull the levers of public policy to ensure themselves a moral public square in which to reside. I hate to admit it, but it's almost enough to make me think Ayn Rand had a point when she insisted that all the movements of her mid-twentieth century were, at root, execrable competitions for victimhood. Even if I didn't have any other beef with "my people," the authoritarian identity progressives, I cannot forgive them for making me reevaluate that psychopath, Rand.
As a young man of 20 or so, I believed (mostly) free elections were the ultimate safeguard of liberty. I now look on such thinking as an argument for raising the voting age at least to 25 and preferably to 35. The separation of powers and the checks and balances incorporated in the Constitution went a long way toward blocking a tyranny of the majority, but they seem to be under assault now. The one remaining bulwark is the Bill of Rights and the way it simply takes certain subjects off the table. I feel sure that for much of our history, a majority would have supported the establishment of a state church; absent the First Amendment, the only thing that would have saved us was the impossibility of agreeing on _which_ church to establish. What alarms me is the widespread acceptance of majoritarianism mislabeled "democratic", most notably in the current debates over Senate procedures and recently, the Electoral College.
One reason the US Constitution has such strong protections for freedom assembly and freedom of speech is because the founders had been on the "business end" of these types of ideas created by the powerful in Britain at the time, about who gets to assemble and speak, especially when someone's ideas don't jibe with the those of the powerful.