The idea of Positive Liberty is usually held by those on the left-wing of the political spectrum, such as Marxists, whereas Negative Liberty is most important for those that lean towards libertarianism. Positive Liberty is often described as freedom to achieve certain ends (or sometimes: freedom to participate in the decision making process), while Negative Liberty is described as freedom from external coercion.
Berlin was deeply suspicious of the concept of Positive Liberty, noting that totalitarian regimes such as Stalinist Communism claimed to be the true deliverers of self-mastery or self-realization, even though the individual was by no means free. Berlin argued that the concept of Positive Liberty could lead to a situation where the state forced upon people a certain way of life, because the state judged that it was the most rational course of action, and therefore, was what a person should desire, whether or not people actually did desire it. Berlin said:
Positive Liberty can also be seen as the ability to participate in the process of government, though this idea is also open to criticism, since oppressed minorities may (for example) have as much right to vote as anyone else, and therefore have this Positive Liberty, but not the more common-sense kind.