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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Is Freedom Truly Possible?

So I just picked up and skimmed through an old book of mine, F.A. Hayek's classic Road to Serfdom, and came to an interesting thought that I'd been meaning to write about for a while.  There is a section about freedom v. organization.  It says basically that they are contradictory, that you can't have organization and freedom together, that organization is the culprit.  I see where he is going, he is saying if you want to organize things then whoever is doing the organizing is collectivizing objectives and outcomes.  This in turn would inherently mean that individual freedom was infringed upon.  Ok, fair enough, if you think about everyone, how can you not alienate someone as we are all different individual people.

But what about freedom, the other way around?  If one person has the freedom to do whatever they want, doesn't that automatically impinge upon everyone else's freedom?  Inherently, if I do something, that effects another person.  If I stand on a spot, you can't stand there.  If I have the freedom to do as I wish, that means you can't do something, it takes away your freedom.  I have the freedom to yell as loud as I want, but doesn't that take away your freedom to live in peace and quite?

The bottom line to me is that freedom can not exist for all but one individual or entity.  There can obviously be varying degrees of freedom from there, but one person's freedom is another person's infringement.  There is no way around this.  We live in a social world and could only be 'free' in a vacuum devoid of anyone else.

So then what does this mean for us today?  It means that our whole political debate on civil liberties and 'freedom' is completely off base.  We talk of all the freedoms we have, how this is our ultimate goal/achievement.  But again, one person's freedom can very easily take another person's away.  Not always, but if they are contradictory actions, such as the noise example above, one person has freedom and another doesn't.  Then once you add social or judicial laws in, we actually only have the freedom to do as we're told, and as we are allowed to by law and/or society.  Doesn't sound like freedom to me.        

So why do we keep babbling on about freedom like it is attainable?  Hayek babble's on about community and organizing like it is unobtainable, that it is a great ideal, but that there is no possible pathway to it.  In fact, organization and cooperation is actually the only obtainable outcome available to us as social beings that must share our worlds with others.  We must compromise our surroundings in order to find a balance that is acceptable to all.  If we all had freedom to do as we pleased (which is logically unobtainable), the world would be chaos .  Why strive for this?  Why act as if it is the ultimate achievement?

In fact, compromise and cooperation amongst people, and the world they live in, is the actually the only possible endeavor and really the ultimate achievement.  Living with people and working together, not as individuals privately working for their own means...  Cooperation.  This is what society need to be based upon, not freedom.  

1 comment:

  1. Government and media advocate individualism to perpetuate the false freedom we experience. An awakening must take place. We are all connected ,animals,nature and insects. Abundance would be a start for freedom. If food was in abundance,one would not need to steal or go hungry. That metaphor can be applied to many subjects.


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