Sunday, July 1, 2007
You Mean Freedom Isn't Free???
This is the time of the year when Americans celebrate their freedom gained through independence from Britain when the Declaration was written 231 years ago. Over the years, the world has changed, and since we bear little emnity towards our former colonial masters, Americans instead use this holiday to celebrate the notion that the USA is pinnacle of freedom in the world and to idolize the uniformed working class members which supposedly defend that status.
In the glut of speeches and writing associated with this day, one of the catchphrases frequently employed by politicians and patriots is that "Freedom Isn't Free". What they probably don't realize is that they are right, but not in the sense that they intend! While they try to get us to believe that freedom entails some kind of sacrifi ce on our part, and thus has a price, they don't realize that they are letting the cat out of the bag concerning its true nature. See, the whole concept of freedom only makes sense in an environment where someone has the power to take freedom away.
All we can do is hope for the good graces of those who hold this power - no one seems to find it the least bit ironic that constitutional freedoms are enforced by the very same body we are supposed to be protected against. In a republic, we place our trust in elected offi cials to ensure our rights are not infringed by power, yet those same protectors usually use their postions to ensure plenty of freedom for themselves at the expense of the rest of us. They become part of the power structure, and even those with working class backgrounds quickly forget their roots.
Where no such power to take away freedom exists, such as in the animal world, freedom either has no meaning or takes on one completely different from the one applied to humans living in societies. As long as there are rules or laws imposed on us by someone else, we are not really free!
We humans began our existence as a species as close to free as one can get, and have been getting considerably less free as time has gone on. As the first cities formed around agricultural land, and classes evolved from the privatization of property, people's ability to do as they please started to be restricted by laws and the violence that backed them up. The concept of ownership enabled some people to withhold the means of survival from others and dictate to how they would continue to live – by trading their labor. This relationship of owner to worker has the fundamental effect of making the vast majority of the population not very free. In fact, most of us today, even in the democracies of the west, are slaves - to a wage! Life would be very difficult or impossible without it.
Since freedom in the truest sense of the word does not exist anymore, when a politician or patriot starts to talk about freedom s/he necessarily has to frame his/her message in relation to the varying degrees people living inside national boundaries are oppressed. They defi ne your freedom in terms of how much less you are oppressed than people living somewhere else! One often hears the term "human rights" when talking about current events, but the nature and extent of these rights are in direct relation to the society in which people live and the power that the ruling class has to infringe upon those rights. Yet they continue to plead, protest, and petition governments to grant them protection, even when the government is the one oppressing them!
We humans began our existence as a species as close to free as one can get, and have been getting considerably less free as time has gone on.
True freedom in the eyes of a socialist doesn't need coercive structures such as the state to guarantee it. We aim to abolish the institutionalized instruments of enslaving the working class: private property, wages, and government, and replace them with the democratic administration of a world held in common. We wish to someday celebrate independence from bosses, whom have spent thousands of years accumulating the wealth of the planet and keeping it locked up from the rest of us. No longer will we see anyone denied the means of survival because he/she can't pay for it, and we will finally be able to choose fulfilling, socially useful work that benefits all of society rather than those seeking profits.
Then we can finally say "Freedom really is Free"!