We all want our freedom!!
What’s that actually mean?? Can we ever be completely free? I think not.
If we live with other people then freedom is a compromise. One person’s freedom infringes on others.
If we live alone with nature that too has its limitations. The creatures and plants have rights every bit as much as you. Some of them have nasty habits that might well limit what you can do. Then there are other limitations such as the weather.
What is this idea of freedom? Isn’t it often confused with licence?
A few definitions might help – ‘the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants.’ Or ‘the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.’
That seems simple enough until you start to analyse it.
To act, speak or think as one wants. Pretty straightforward. I want that. But then I am someone who is not prone to violence or abusing others. What if I was a person who enjoyed punching people, setting dogs on fire or raping children? Should I have my freedom? Supposing I was someone who enjoyed intimidating others with weapons or thought that bullying was fun. Should I have my freedom? Or if I liked to take whatever I wanted from anywhere I wanted? What if I liked shooting endangered species or chopping down trees, or throwing my waste in next door’s garden? Or if I owned a company and wanted to make more money by selling dangerous goods or dumping pollutants in the river?
What is this freedom? It’s a bit of a moot point. In all human communities, there are laws to prevent people from doing harm to others.
Is freedom merely a question of where we place the boundaries for those laws? How much should the state become involved with a person’s freedom? Should it insist that all children have to attend school? Should it set the limits on drinking and driving? What about drugs? Should individuals have the right to choose? Should eight-year-olds be allowed to use heroin?
What about guns and knives? We see the madness in the USA. There were 39,707 deaths from firearms in the U.S. in 2019. I wonder how many were injured? In the UK there were In 2020/21 there were 235 homicides involving a knife or other sharp instrument in England and Wales. Should the state say that it’s too dangerous for people to have knives?
What about the right to speak – to say what we want? Elon Musk has just bought twitter. He says it is to promote the right for people to say what they want. Should we be allowed to say what we want?
I was watching some old episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. It was hilarious but………………. there were a number of scenes with people blacked up and expressing racially stereotyped views that were highly derogatory. It made me cringe. Society has moved on. But should the racists and fascists have a platform to intimidate, demean, threaten and bully? Should they have the right to take away the rights of whole races of people and create a society with institutional racism that generates second-class citizens on the basis of their colour, religion or race? Isn’t that promoting hatred and division, depriving society of many skills and artificially creating a hierarchy that doesn’t exist?
We say Trump, Johnson and other populists using Twitter and other social media to spread lies, fake news and false information. They undermined experts and scientists for their own ends and in so doing spread misinformation and conspiracy that generated hatred, division and even death. It has resulted in thousands of deaths from covid, the storming of the seat of democracy, racial hatred, the spread of ridiculous conspiracy theories, a disillusionment with all politicians, an undermining of democracy, the spread of superstition, the undermining of science, the ridiculing of the media and the spread of propaganda on the internet.
Now there is no doubt in my mind that politicians need holding to account, that the media lies, that democracy is a sham and scientists can be bought by big business ….. but do we want to replace experts with snake-oil merchants? Replace science with superstition and propaganda? Replace democracy with fascism?
That is what is happening.
Then we have the right to think as we like. That seems reasonable. Do we have that right? No. Definitely not.
In Putin’s Russia the views of the bulk of the electorate are controlled by the state. The only information they have is what they are told. The same in China. But is it any different here? We have a media run by the establishment spewing out propaganda and polluting minds. It is so obvious with the likes of the Daily Mail, Sun and Daily Express but it’s the same with The Telegraph and Times and the rest are not much better. Even the BBC is far from impartial.
The establishment owns the media and while the propaganda is less draconian the effect is the same. That is why we have the political system we have. That is why a party that only really represents the top 5% gets elected. That is why the non-establishment parties have to become establishment parties in order to be elected. The media controls minds.
Those who chose to get their news from the internet are in an even worse situation. The right-wing have that sewn up. They pump out even more extreme propaganda under the guise of free speech and unbiased news. A lot of it is pure hate and put out to stir up division.
If you live in any society your mind is not your own. NOBODY is immune to the constant drip of propaganda. We are not as free in our heads as we might think we are. Even our cultural (and religious) upbringing is simply brainwashing. Our own families are probably the worst source of brain control.
Unless you’ve been brought up by wolves you have already been indoctrinated.
The Hell’s Angels seem, in one sense, to epitomise personal freedom. Their hedonistic lifestyle is the very essence of freedom. Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll, freewheelin’, out on the highway doing what they like. Except when you scratch the surface and you find misogyny, racism, violence and intimidation. Their freedom comes at the expense of others. They remind me of the robber barons of long ago who would ride in, slaughter, rape and steal. They thought they were free too.
I think I might move on to not being enslaved or imprisoned.
Well you get imprisoned if you break the law. For the most part that is for serious stuff like killing, stealing, raping or violence. That seems reasonable. But I’ve known people harassed, fined and imprisoned for possessing marijuana. It’s these grey areas that seem to cause the most problems. What should be illegal and who should decide. In places like Russia you get locked up for opposing Putin, opposing the war or being against the state.
In Britain we supposedly allow protest (though they are trying to take that right away) and can call out our politicians as lying criminals. That is not against the law.
We do not have slavery – or do we?? We all know about the laws and also know that many people are still be held in slavery – girls brought over for the sex industry, the drug gangs holding people, illegal factories. Slavery takes many forms.
Isn’t work really a form of slavery? We have to work to live now that our natural way of life has been taken away. We sell our time and bodies. It’s all a question of degree. I certainly am not free when much of my life has been tied in to having to work. Someone else has been demanding I do as I am instructed for a good part of my working week.
We all want our freedom!! Getting it is something else!!
For me I am satisfied if I have the right to live how I want, wear what I want, practice whatever religion I want, believe what I want, vote for whatever political party I want, drink and eat what I want, read what I want, go where I want and say what I want.
I would like a few more liberties but I am aware that I have a pretty liberal existence. I don’t mind having laws to prevent people hurting others; I don’t mind having laws to stop me (or anyone else) from inciting hatred and violence; I’m glad we have laws to protect the weaker members of society and the environment.
For me freedom is about compromise. It is a question of getting the degree of compromise right.