Thursday, September 23, 2010

What is Freedom?

Its been while since I've posted, so I'm going to cut right to the chase (after this bit of nonsense).

Freedom is the strength to resist. (Yes, this is simplified to the max.)

Oppression can be from any source: governments, corporations, shiny advertising, etc.  Anything that would cause you to do something that you otherwise would not.

But the irony of it is that unless you plan to live as a hermit, with no contact with anyone else you're going to need help to make yourself strong and keep yourself that way.

Those choosing to living on their own will mostly likely hit the Hobbesian wall of having this lives cut nasty, brutish, and short.

So, what is strength?

Strength is not just physical power.  Really living in a modern western democratic society, I'd say that physical and military strength (see also gun rights) is probably the least important factor in the resilience of a democratic citizen.

Education, health, and wealth are the three most important factors in ensuring that citizens are as free as they can be.

All else being equal no one can deny that:

One who is healthy is stronger than one who is ill.
One who is educated is less likely to be duped than one who is not.
One who has financial stability is more willing to resist than one who has nothing.

This is why strong citizens demand that these three things be provided to them by the government.
This is why these are the first things that strong governments take away from their people.

If I am educated, then I can recognize that which threatens me.
If I am healthy, then I can oppose any force that threatens me.
If I am financially stable, then I have the time and resources to make my opposition meaningful.

"Freedom from government" is the largest and most successful ruse that has ever been pulled on a democratic society.  It takes the fears and realities of 250 years ago and applies them to today, convincing people that the very things that are good for them are poisonous.

In colonial America, the biggest threat to freedom were foreign and domestic governments, who through the power of armies and navies could come and seize your lands and enslave you to their will.  Today, domestic democratic government is the tool of citizens to enable their freedom.  It does seek to enslave its populations as it once did because it doesn't make sense.  Such a system is far too expensive to maintain, and doesn't generate anywhere near the wealth and power that would be necessary to maintain themselves.

The freest democratic countries in the world are those that have universal healthy care, inexpensive and excellent educational programs, and low disparities between rich and poor.  This figure is even more apparent when you take away net financial growth figures, that artificially keep countries such as the USA higher on the chart than their status actually warrants. (

Freedom means having the strength to demand that the government provide the means to strengthen citizens against them.  It means demanding that the government direct its power to prevent powerful interests from manipulating and poisoning us with lead infested toys, false and misleading advertisements, under priced goods made by slave labour and so on.

Freedom is using government, and the fastest way to lose it is to be 'liberated' from it.


  1. Freedom means having the strength to demand that the government provide the means to strengthen citizens against them. It means demanding that the government direct its power to prevent powerful interests from manipulating and poisoning us with lead infested toys, false and misleading advertisements, under priced goods made by slave labour and so on.


    "Freedom is giving away your right to determine your destiny to someone else?"

    Freedom is "demanding the government direct its power against you."

    Who decides, for example, what "powerful intersts" to control?

    What always amazes me is that even as liberal-leaning people make these sorts of statements, they will at the same time attack Stephen Harper for doing just that. Seeking to dilute "powerful interests" that he deems damaging.

    Do you really want to discard true "freedom" for the willingness to trust the state to decide for you who gets to be heard or not?

    There was a time where Adoph Hitler and Benito Mussulini were seen as, at worst,benign influences on their citizens - and, in fact, were in many respects celebrated by "progressive" groups in Europe and North America.

    No sane person advocates anarchy or pure libertarianism - but the notion that "OUR" government is some inherently trustworthy institution is grossly misplaced.

    Freedom means personal responsibility. And the fastest way to lose it is to ask the government to take it.

  2. *rolls eyes*

    Since when does demanding the tools to determine your own destiny lead to an inability to do so. Are you less free by having had a government subsidized education (which if you were educated in Canada you did), or by there being universal health care to cover at least part of your and your employees medical expenses?

    The government does not control my life by providing these services to me. I choose which schools to attend and what field to study. I choose who my doctor is going to be. I choose what I'm going to spend my money on. A demand that the government provide these things to its citizens is a determination of one's own destiny (and their wider community, which you continue to show ambivalence towards).

    I don't trust the state to determine who can and cannot be heard, and I acknowledge that I have a limited means of control over them. However, I have even less power over business interests, my only means to prevent them from manipulating the choices I make and thus determine my destiny are through those mean that the government provides to me. (regulation, legal recourse, etc)

    I'm always amazed at how quickly conservatives pull out the fascism card. It equally amuses me how they forget that conservatives we equally if not more enamoured with Hitler and Mussulini because of the power they used to bully worker interests into submitting to their will. Fascism developed out of the extreme right, it was governed by individuals who didn't give a damn about the rights and basic dignities of individuals.

    This is not the same as asking the government to use citizens' tax dollars to benefit citizens well being. Rather, it is more akin to demanding that the government provide tax cuts to a powerful/wealthy group, while placing the same burden on the powerless and impoverished. Your analogy is misleading, demonstrably false, and insulting.

    If freedom means personal responsibility then it must also mean accepting and internalizing the costs for the harm that the powerful and wealthy extract from the larger population.

    The opportunities provided by this country have been made possible by the democratic and progressive institutions that existed in the past, to ignore your current responsibility to maintain those for the current and future generations is to ignore your personal responsibility to repay that debt to your country and fellow citizens.

    As for Harper, all he has done is submit to powerful business interests, provide them considerable tax cuts (while increasing the tax burden on ordinary citizens), and thus weaken the people and government vis a vis those same business interests.

    There needs to be something to keep powerful interests in check and whether you like it or not the only option available to individuals is the government.

  3. Seriously, I'm doubting this guy's credentials as a lawyer. First, he couldn't accurately state the issue before the court in the Canadian Blood Services case. Now, he demonstrates his total ignorance of the concept of sovereignty - easily analogous to "freedom" more generally - a concept which he should be familiar with from even the most rudimentary introduction to international law.

    Yes, total freedom includes the ability to cede some of that freedom should you so choose. This is well established and accepted.

    I think the only law he's actually familiar with is Godwin's Law.