Free to do.. what?

True individual freedom is a fantasy in a world of billions.

No one who can't determine hir moral structure and limits can be said to own hirself.

This quote comes from here, and seems to be implying that collective struggle and revolution will lead to a cessation of freedoms for people.

While I have little sympathy for the tyranny of the majority, I have been talking fairly extensively about this with friends recently, and the more I do so the more I am convinced that a concept of individually-constructed morality not only fails as a means of creating more freedom, it is a major step in the road towards the restriction of freedom for all but a few.

I don't think the kind of freedom outlined above where you are 'free' to chart entirely your own course without restriction from others is possible in the long term, because you cannot be truly free in any but the meanest sense if you are impinging on the society around you to do so.

To take one example, a morality of absolute freedom of movement means that you can push into line at the supermarket if you have decided it is your right. But to do that cuts down on the freedom of others - it forces the little old lady who was there first to wait longer in line to accommodate you which clearly, she doesn't want to do. On the wider level, this expression of 'greater' freedom is meaningless, it is merely the stealing of other people's freedom to satisfy yourself.

True freedom is not something central only to only the individual, it is the amalgamation of the need for freedom of billions who have to rub along together. In order to grant the greatest possible freedom to all, we have to acknowledge that we are a part of a greater whole where everyone is equally entitled to their share.

It limits what we can do as individuals, all the way up from jumping in at the line to murder, but conversely, it is also what guarantees the greatest freedom for everyone - because fighting over who has most is the surest way to reduce freedom for all but the 'winners'.

Posted By

Rob Ray
Oct 25 2007 08:31


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