The Concept of Freedom.
July 18, 2019 at 3:46 PM - Views: 127 #88432
David the GnomeMember@davidthegnome
- Total Posts: 1,498
In a land that has grown increasingly authoritarian over the decades, there are many who now question what “freedom” actually means. There are many accused of taking it for granted – and many (myself included) who laugh cynically at the notion that we are free. Consider that not too long ago, under the Bush occupation, operation “Iraqi Freedom” was anything but – and meant to accomplish anything but. Even the basic, very old notion that “All men are created equal” is frequently rejected by academics, philosophers, world leaders and the powers that control them. In an age with fewer Gods than were found before, those that have come to be worshipped in their place are billionaires. Academics, Scientists, perhaps money and science itself. Which is not to say that there is anything wrong with science – unless you remove the human element from it completely and have only contempt for emotions, higher thinking, philosophy and so on – and many intelligent people do.
To put it into simple words, “The right to life, liberty – and the pursuit of happiness”. Do we all have such rights? Well, no. It is considered that a convicted criminal has given them up by committing a crime. It is in the way that ex-cons lose the right to vote. It is in the way that nearly all electronic communication is now monitored by government agencies with seemingly endless data. It is seen in the terribly named “Patriot act”, or, as it has become, the “USA freedom act”. These titles are almost certainly created for the sake of irony, by those who are either incapable of understanding words like patriot or freedom, or by those who mock them from behind the scenes.
All in all, freedom has been sacrificed for perceived safety. The power to commit acts of war without congress has been the President’s for quite some time. Yes, Trump deserves blame for what he has done – but so do all of those who came before him, who pretty blatantly ignored the fact that war must be declared – and that only congress has the authority to declare it.
Even more simply – in my not so humble opinion, any chance of true freedom and democracy vanished the instant the “Citizens United” act passed. For it was not united citizens, nor for their sake that it was past. It was for the sake of the wealthy few, to increase their ownership of capital, their influence over government, elected officials, legislation… and us, the Citizens of the USA.
What does freedom mean to those without adequate housing, food, clean water? What does it mean to those who live and die on our streets? To the millions not counted, who have fallen through the cracks in every way conceivable? We cannot save and protect everyone – but when a Nation stops even making the attempt to… it loses its right to claim honor and justice, let alone freedom – for freedom is a pre-requisite for such things to exist. Monitoring the world’s communications, spying on leaders, without regard for status, ally or enemy – disrupting global markets like they’re a god damn video game. Deliberately – quite deliberately – draining the world’s resources, further polluting it and increasing the effects (both immediate and distant) of climate change – all while fudging the numbers, deliberately silencing scientists. All the while, doing so for the sake of power and wealth.
Those are the leaders we have. Meanwhile, your average wage worker barely gets by, if they get by at all. The disabled, the elderly, the homeless, the hungry, the sick – all of these people have fallen through so many cracks in our society’s so called safety net. All, regardless of status, are targeted by predatory capitalism, lending companies, drug companies, law offices, rehab centers, even seemingly legitimate doctors and nurses and healthcare professionals.
Our Nation that has boasted so proudly of freedom has very little left. Enough, perhaps, for some among us to live for the most part as we best can, entitled, still, to some personal freedoms – but not privacy. Not the right to honestly have grievances addressed by their leadership. Not the right to protest where and when we please. Not the right, even, for desperate people seeking asylum and some measure of peace… to even be given a safe place until their status can be determined.
We have become a Country that tortures the innocent, the refugee, the impoverished immigrants, even children. We have become a Nation that punishes kindness and generosity – like leaving water for people crossing many miles who could otherwise die of dehydration. A Country that while, on the one hand, points its fingers at other Nations and calls them brutal regimes, yet simultaneously invades others, drops bombs and sends invasive drones for attack and scouting. A Nation that allies itself with the likes of Saudi Arabia, yet spits on Cuba and Venezuela. A Nation that has so far fallen that politicians who are pedophiles come within touching distance of our higher offices. A Nation in which they achieve them.
For all of our history, there are things to bring pride and shame – yet, at the time, it seems that the shame is overwhelming. Actions have consequences. We are little trusted throughout the world, even among our allies. Our government and the corporations it protects have brought epidemics down upon our heads, such as the addictions to opioids and benzodiazepines and all the fun that comes with it. Health insurance is not a right or a guarantee – and neither is actual healthcare. Yet, for all the depressing and stressful circumstances (that, as clinically proven, weaken overall physical health – hospitals and physicians of all kinds charge more for their services than the majority can afford.
Yet, we still have these intellectual deformities screaming at us about austerity, freedom aint free, trust our President, hell, put him in the bible. We should never dare criticize Israel or those who lead it – and we must be cautious even in criticizing our lovely politicians. How long until to dissent becomes a crime? How long will it be before immigrants, abused and neglected in our detention centers, die off in greater numbers? Or worse, are put to forced labor for pennies instead of dollars?
I am sad to say, the concept of freedom is dead in America. Few remember it – few can conceive of the reality of what it means – of the ACTUAL kind of sacrifices it requires. It has ever been so – that it can only be bought by suffering, by humility, by facing our worst enemies – ourselves, and those we have allowed to mislead us.
It is fair to say, I think, that Yellowstone will erupt, the oceans will rise, the temperatures will increase – and most of humanity will die, before the most important lessons of our history are remembered.
In my not so humble opinion, freedom is the highest ideal – and we have lost it.
July 18, 2019 at 4:06 PM #88436
- Total Posts: 701
Excellent essay, as we’ve become accustomed to seeing from you, David.
If you give a man enough rope, it will be six inches too short. This is not the nature of rope- it is the nature of man.
July 18, 2019 at 4:22 PM #88442
- Total Posts: 8,766
Excellent essay, and of course recommended for the Daily Radical. @deadpool , here you go.
Freedom itself is a dual thing. If one has freedom, what does one have freedom from and what does one have the freedom to do? The devil is always in the details.
We Americans still have the freedom to criticize our political leaders and to seek redress of grievance. Your post itself is proof of that. We still, mostly, have the freedom to vote, even though there are active efforts to suppress that freedom or to cheat on the results. We mostly have freedom from religion and to practice whatever religion or lack thereof we have.
The members of the oligarchy have the freedom to do damned near anything they please, including exploiting sex slaves for fun and profit most of the time. Employers have the freedom to work their employees like dogs, and then fire them on a whim. Health insurance corporations have the freedom to deny life-saving treatments to their customers. I could go on, but I know you get the point.
Most Americans do not have economic freedom, much less freedom in the workplace, which is usually an absolute dictatorship. We have the freedom to quit, but not the freedom from anxiety that would be ours if we knew we were guaranteed a job with a living wage. Capitalism is completely incapable of delivering us economic freedom; only socialistic policies can do that.
So when Mitch McConnell and his Fascist ilk, which includes much of the Democratic establishment BTW, say that the next election will be a choice between freedom and socialism, it is important to remember that they are defending the freedom of the oligarchy to do whatever the fuck it wants to do to the rest of us, not to mention the freedom for the government to put selected groups of Others into concentration camps.
They are very much opposed to the idea of giving us economic freedom, or even of giving the biosphere the freedom to survive.
We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.--Franklin Delano Roosevelt
With Bernie Sanders, we have the receipts. --Nina Turner
July 18, 2019 at 4:55 PM #88453
- Total Posts: 1,725
Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought. Lord Acton
Tell me, great captain, how do the angels sleep when the devil leaves his porch light on? Tom Waites
July 18, 2019 at 10:02 PM #88551
- Total Posts: 2,784
July 18, 2019 at 11:35 PM #88583
- Total Posts: 4,262
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
” those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Our people will not truly be free as long as their lives are seen as commodities by insurance and pharmaceutical companies. We must pass Medicare for All and finally remove the profit motive from health care in America.
The human race has few (if any) problems that couldn’t be solved by massive wealth. And we’re literally surrounded by it, like a fly in amber. Now if we only had brains… —Ben Bova
July 22, 2019 at 1:35 AM #89488
- Total Posts: 752
I suggest you start submitting some of your work to be published. Just a thought.
Animals know more than we do.
July 22, 2019 at 4:11 PM #89658
- Total Posts: 457
Man’s law changes with his understanding of man. Only the laws of the spirit remain always the same. – Crow
"I welcome their hatred" Franklin D Roosevelt
October 3, 2019 at 3:48 PM #172483
July 22, 2019 at 4:42 PM #89676
- Total Posts: 215
Freedom certainly means different things to different people. I’ve talked to individuals that consider Medicare for all to be the ultimate anti-freedom just as I’ve talked to others who believe Medicare for all to be the ultimate freedom. Some reject collectivism as other reject individualism.
The only “Concept of Freedom” is that which a single citizen deems it to mean to them. Your freedom is not my freedom is not some else’s freedom. So the idea that we have or haven’t lost freedom depends on who you ask.
I’m actually surprised the USA has lasted as long as it has, but I do not expect it to last another 200 years. Too much difference of opinion on what is and isn’t freedom.
October 3, 2019 at 3:41 PM #172477
Cold Mountain TrailMember@coldmountaintrail
- Total Posts: 5,532
“individuals that consider Medicare for all to be the ultimate anti-freedom”
–Are they 65 or older & if so, do they use the Medicare?
and possibly you’re exaggerating when you use “the ultimate anti-freedom” to describe their take?
October 3, 2019 at 11:34 AM #172236
- Total Posts: 3,066
Kicked and recommended to the max! Well done, David!
I would like to remind you that U.S. health insurance companies do not contribute anything to health care. They are only a PARASITIC middle man receiving an undeserved cut of "FREE MONEY".
October 3, 2019 at 3:34 PM #172472
- Total Posts: 879
Not sure how this got bumped, but whatever …
Good essay, but I would put forth the counterpoint that, if you are arguing that the concept of freedom no longer exists in US society, then I’d argue that even if that is true, the concept of freedom endures in places outside the US. And people come to the US from those places, bringing with them foreign ideas and values that enrich the US. In addition, the US is not a proverbial island, but is influenced by other societies culturally, politically and economically.
It is true that, at least when considering threads that proliferate on tabloid websites, there are lots of people who hate due process and liberal society. How many of those haters are rich? It’s a useful question here. Change – of all kinds – threatens Establishment success stories. Ergo, most all Establishment voices are authoritarian, Republican, conservative, what have you. If freedom for little people becomes a casualty in the march on the path towards global domination, who cares.
The opinions and personal views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and should never be taken seriously.
October 3, 2019 at 3:44 PM #172479
David the GnomeMember@davidthegnome
- Total Posts: 1,498
I think there are plenty of people for whom (who? eh, screw it) the concept of freedom very much exists. The problem is that most of them are in no position to actually do anything with that concept beyond understand it – and be miserable that there is evidently so little of it in practice. Of course, our political and corporate overlords don’t give a damn – and why should they? The current system works great for them, it rewards wealth, ruthlessness, ignorance and even cruelty. It keeps giving more to those who are already at the top, yet works awfully hard to stomp down on those who are not.
Also, I think plenty of democrats and neo liberals love things just the way they are – and would probably fight to defend the status quo.
October 13, 2019 at 5:07 PM #184428
- Total Posts: 804
This may go over here at JPR like a fart in a small church but:
I generally do not quote Thom Hartmann but he often makes the statement that a necessituos man is not a free man.
That statement, (which should include the word woman btw), is in agreement with your observations-observations I agree with as well.
Somehow I got lucky, somehow the gods smiled on me and I was granted a 100% military related disability.
That disability means I get a nice check each month and full medical/dental coverage.
Sure, I have wants and desires like everyone else, sure my monthly government checks cover little more than my actual needs but i am not a necessituos man.
My point? Think about what life might be like in our country if EVERY CITIZEN 18 OR OLDER, poor or rich, working or retired, (hell lets even add in those who are in jail), recieved that same check with no strings attached.
Would this solve homelessness?
In my darkest hour it arrived in time to keep me off the streets. It literally saved my life.
Multiply my story by hundreds of thousands of Veterans across our country and the only conclusion one can make is HELL YEAH IT WORKS!
Others here and elsewhere argue against the very thing I recieve, they claim I am championing Yang’s UBI.
No! I could not survive on Yang’s UBI, not even close.
Multiply his UBI by three and throw in full medical/dental and that will work.
Who pays for this? Why we do with our tax dollars.
The quick answer is to point out that such a program would cost us less than current Military Industrial Complex expenditures…
…but throw in the astonishing savings we would reap from our taxes no longer being thrown out the window for: social services to feed clothe and house the homeless, our taxes taking care of their current ER medical expenses and the reduction in crime/legal expenses, jail expenses..well l can not say the words “astonishing savings” enough!
So what is in it for the citizenry? Less crime, less homelessness; less worry about health/dental care; less worry about financial matters.
This reduction impacts every single citizen and we can afford it.
In a country of by and for it’s citizenry, we have it in our hands to no longer tolorate any citizen being necessituos.
We just need visionary leaders…maybe we need to create those leaders by not fearing the very changes we know that we need.
If we demand change loud enough, I predict that those leaders will show up.
Just my 3cents.
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