A somewhat pedestrian philosophical discussion.
I said I was going to do this yesterday, but yesterday was the state of the union, and I decided that it was more important to write about that than to simply work some intellectual gymnastics. What I said I was going to do was this:
“…examine in depth exactly what kind of freedom we have in this nation, and the misunderstandings that arises when we think of freedom and democracy as one in the same, when they clearly aren’t the same thing, and the misunderstandings that similarly arise when we think of egalitarianism and freedom as being one, when they also aren’t the same.
With maybe the difference between freedom and license.”
Now I don’t know that I am going to do quite that here. In large part due to my inability to word precisely what I wanted to do in the first place. Silly me. First off I think we know what kind of freedom we have in this nation. Freedom to vote, to speak, freedom of religion, etc. It’s laid out in our founding documents. Pretty simple to state what we have in that vein.
Secondly, explaining the “differences” between “Freedom and democracy” seems a simple exercise. Freedom is the natural state of the mind of mankind in nature. Democracy is a form of government. Simple, no? Now does Democracy guarantee freedom, in and of itself? No. Why no? “Tyranny of the majority” is a term you need to acquaint yourself with to understand why. We are and have been a democracy from the outset here in the U.S.A., yet it took a war after 80 years of existence to free the African American slaves. Ask the great great grandsons of those slaves how free their ancestors were. Ask the generations who came after who, while technically free, had their rights curtailed, and could do as they pleased, only so long as they didn’t anger the white people around them. Read up on lynchings. Ask the American Indians about freedom.
Freedom and democracy only go hand in hand if you happen to be in the majority.
Thirdly, explaining the difference between “Freedom and Egalitarianism” is just as easy as the last exercise. We already know that freedom is the natural state of humanity, while egalitarianism is the supposition that all humans should be treated as equals. Again, fairly simple on it’s face. For a brief view of egalitarianism, click here. The egalitarian wants to be equal with everyone. Question: Who decides what is equal? Equal for whom? Equal in what? Who loses what so that everyone can be equal where and who gains and who loses? It is nice to use the ideal when trying to level the playing field in some particular circumstance, but it will be unfair to someone. Equality can be unfair and can damage and diminish freedom.
It’s cute, but it can’t really work, not outside of the classroom or some similar small group within a limited framework, where you are working using those egalitarian beliefs there. In this it has much in common with the laffer curve and supply side economics.
I am not saying you don’t try to fight for equality if you are not equal, my thought here is that you fight for what will make you an equal so you can fight fairly for what is yours, not to become superior to others. If you do, you are simple trying re-create inequality, with someone else on the short end of the stick, and you aren’t fighting for equality after all, but superiority.
What else…. Oh yeah! Freedom and License. Hmm… perhaps another time. That one needs a post of it’s own.
Plus, I am free to end this silly damnable thing when I see fit, am I not? 🙂
That’s it for me. Later!
Today’s nuggets, by Isaiah Berlin, via wikiquote: The fundamental sense of freedom is freedom from chains, from imprisonment, from enslavement by others. The rest is extension of this sense, or else metaphor.
Those, no doubt, are in some way fortunate who have brought themselves, or have been brought by others, to obey some ultimate principle before the bar of which all problems can be brought. Single-minded monists, ruthless fanatics, men possessed by an all-embracing coherent vision do not know the doubts and agonies of those who cannot wholly blind themselves to reality.