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In this quote, W.E.B. Du Bois is comparing the costs of liberty versus the costs of repression. He is saying that it is less costly to allow people liberty and freedom than it is to repress them and restrict their freedoms.
The “cost of liberty” refers to the potential downsides, challenges, or negative consequences of allowing people freedom and independence. The “price of repression”, on the other hand, refers to the costs, both financial and social, of actively suppressing people’s freedoms and liberties through repressive or authoritarian policies and actions.
Du Bois’s point is that while liberty may come with some costs or difficulties, the price paid for repressing people through force or oppression is actually higher in the long run for a society and a nation. So in short, the quote advocates for liberty over repression based on the relative costs and consequences of each approach.