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Is Every Society Capable Of Being Free?  
User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (8 years 2 months 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 1417 times:

Freedom is not always an easy concept -- either to understand or to implement. There are plenty of societies through the ages that have either never been free, or, once free, could not handle the responsibilities associated with it.

Do you think that rhetoric we often hear that everyone in the world desires to be free is actually realistic? Aren't there people who would prefer not to be free, and if so, why shouldn't they be "free" to make that choice?

Thanks in advance for your considered answers.  

[Edited 2006-05-18 23:15:29]

10 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineJGPH1A From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (8 years 2 months 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 1409 times:

People don't necessarily want to be free - after all the same freedom to become a millionaire is also that freedom that allows people to starve in the gutter. Freedom by itself is completely abstract. What people mostly want is to be left alone.

User currently offlineMt99 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 6568 posts, RR: 6
Reply 2, posted (8 years 2 months 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 1402 times:
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You need to define what freedom is first


Step into my office, baby
User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (8 years 2 months 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 1396 times:

Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 1):
What people mostly want is to be left alone.

There are some who would rather have others care for them, as well, wouldn't you agree?

Quoting Mt99 (Reply 2):
You need to define what freedom is first

"Freedom" as used in the kind of rhetoric I mentioned is usually defined as political and personal freedom -- the ability to vote, to determine one's personal destiny, etc., without interference from governments or others.


User currently offlineJGPH1A From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (8 years 2 months 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 1388 times:

Quoting AerospaceFan (Reply 3):
There are some who would rather have others care for them, as well, wouldn't you agree?

How is that incompatible with freedom ? I live in France, I have fully socialised medicine, access to free education, state-owned railways and utilities, cradle to grave state support and yet I am completely free. I am in no way constrained by any activity of the state, indeed I am free to move across the whole of Europe from the Azores to the North Pole without a passport. Yes I pay income tax, but the I suppose, so do you.


User currently offlineBobster2 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (8 years 2 months 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 1369 times:

Try reading Erich Fromm's "Escape from Freedom".

User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (8 years 2 months 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 1359 times:

Quoting JGPH1A (Reply 4):
How is that incompatible with freedom ?

Because in some cases, this is taken to the extreme. I'm not referring to France as an exemplar of nonfreedom; closer to such would be places like Soviet Russia (which no longer exists as a Communist country).


User currently offlineBDKLEZ From Ireland, joined Jun 2005, 1735 posts, RR: 10
Reply 7, posted (8 years 2 months 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 1336 times:

What we must understand is that the idea to be free may not necessarily be the same as the people in the country for which we wish freedom.

Many countries traditions, local loatalties, history etc., cannot and never will be influenced by others.

The way forward is is try to understand these differences and not to attempt to "convert" other countries to a western perception of democracy and freedom.



Trespassers will be shot; survivors will be shot again!
User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (8 years 2 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 1317 times:

Quoting BDKLEZ (Reply 7):
The way forward is is try to understand these differences and not to attempt to "convert" other countries to a western perception of democracy and freedom.

Wise words.

I am reminded, as well, that those who promote "human rights" all around the world are sometimes subject to the same criticism. Has America been correct to criticize human rights abuses in other countries under this and previous Administrations? It depends on one's view of whether any one concept of "human rights" is truly universal, I suppose.

And by the same token, does the UN have the right to criticize "human rights abuses" at Guantanamo Bay?

If freedom is not a universal constant, then why should human rights, I wonder?

[Edited 2006-05-21 05:06:29]

User currently offlineDerico From Argentina, joined Dec 1999, 4292 posts, RR: 12
Reply 9, posted (8 years 2 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 1310 times:

You can't answer this question objectively since different societies have different views on what 'freedom' is.

To many in the United States, freedom is liberty to own firearms, to have religious involvement in the life of society, to respect life before birth. To others in the same country, it is the freedom of choice for women, to have a non-religious environment in public settings, to impose higher taxation on activities that they deem harmful to the environment.

In Europe freedom to many is the secularism of political life, the legal rights of all citizens regardless of sexual orientation, the piece of mind of a social safety net. To others freedom is the choice to keep their own system of currency and measurements, to seek independence for their cultural realms...

That is the problem. Some add 1 and 1 and get 11 because they think of freedom as a construct of their personal belief system and a wider system of beliefs of their society, and any other people's that do not wish that are 'incapable' of freedom. This may be and is a valid way of thinking within the individual society, but becomes very narrow in the global sense.

For example, Western people and Arab people. Many in the 'west' simply cannot reconcile the differences in the societies and assume Arabs cannot 'achieve' freedom, because some of their customs are radically different, when in reality they can and do wish it. Just NOT in the way the West constructs freedom as. Ethnocentrists in the west will come out and say that the way the West constructs freedom is the only correct way, but of course they are narrowmindedly mistaken.



My internet was not shut down, the internet has shut me down
User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (8 years 2 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 1306 times:

I always enjoy reading your messages, which are invariably highly cultured and sophisticated. The one you just posted is no exception.

Quoting Derico (Reply 9):
To many in the United States, freedom is liberty to own firearms, to have religious involvement in the life of society, to respect life before birth. To others in the same country, it is the freedom of choice for women, to have a non-religious environment in public settings, to impose higher taxation on activities that they deem harmful to the environment.

I think that we must return to first principles, however. The idea of political freedom is unique because it is a fundamental precept without which a great many others in society, such as abortion rights, are meaningless. Indeed, just as the concept of political rights is logically necessary for the existence of all other protected rights, the concept of protected personal freedom is meaningless unless combined with political freedom.

I'm glad you brought forth the abortion controversy because I think it is a classic case wherein freedom of choice is misused. There is no politically protected freedom of choice unless the political institutions that protect it deem it to exist. The importance that pro-choicers place on "choice" rests on their advoacy of the protection of the mother's "right" to exercise the personal "choice" of killing her fetus. Nevertheless, while that choice may be an exercise of personal freedom, it has nothing to do with political freedom, which is necessary in any meaningful discussion of the political "right" to an abortion. The proper reference as relates to abortion is to the right to privacy. Pro-choicers aren't asking for the protection of freedom as they are for the exemption of their choice based on the right to keep from the public realm their ability to kill unprotected fetuses.

To see this, you need only consider that fetuses, in the eyes of many pro-choicers, have no political rights and therefore no freedom. If fetuses had political rights, then it would be a matter of the weighing of comparative freedoms -- the freedom of the fetus to continue to live, versus the "right" of the mother to kill him.

I think that this kind of analysis would reduce the number of different meanings of "freedom" that matter in the public realm. If the political origins of freedom are not determined, then one can easily be said to have the "freedom" to murder; one has no such freedom, because the people, through the state, decides that this must be so.

Quoting Derico (Reply 9):
In Europe freedom to many is the secularism of political life, the legal rights of all citizens regardless of sexual orientation, the piece of mind of a social safety net. To others freedom is the choice to keep their own system of currency and measurements, to seek independence for their cultural realms...

Many thanks for your comments. I think that society's freedom must be separated from an individual's claim to rights of action. Thus, arguably, a claim that privacy protects certain sexual practices is essentially a political claim, but the mere ability to engage in those practices is not so much freedom as mere actualizable capability.

[Edited 2006-05-21 05:51:16]

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