Some time ago my young son informed me in a spirit almost of tolerant correction — as if this was something he sensed I hadn’t fully grasped — that "liberty is when you get law and stuff". Admittedly, reality was not strictly the context, but rather a bewildering digital game of strategy in which I’d exhibited a disappointing inadequacy. Though based on dynastic history and its grandees, for me the game involved a too extravagant rehashing of all that in marshalling potentates and subjects towards a winning objective. Liberty was a value you could choose or disavow — and it was more likely the latter, it turned out. "Most people don’t go for liberty," my son advised knowingly, "mainly because of the tax." Intuitively, this seemed a jarring proposition (which I elected to keep to myself), but on reflection I recognised the testing contradiction that the taste for freedom can be spoiled by the price, which in the real world might roughly be described as "law and stuff".Almost universa...

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