Thursday, 6 August 2009


In the west, the concept of freedom is held up as an ultimate ideal. Moreover, as a population, we generally understand ourselves to be free. What duplicity!

Most of us are wage slaves. We work in jobs that are tedious, tiring and soul destroying. Such jobs take up most of our energies. This in part explains our love affair with the concept of freedom.

Freedom is a negative value. It deals with lack of constraint, lack of domination etc.

Of course, there are different types of freedom. We may have 'freedom of expression', 'economic freedom' or 'physical freedom'. When each kind of freedom plays out, there can be consequences that seem contrary to the very notion of freedom.

For instance, the freedom one acquires through great wealth can have untold consequences that is not always apparent. It is a fallacy to maintain that anyone can be rich because everyone can not be. If everyone was rich, this would mean that there would no service industry to speak off. Only volunteers would work in care homes, drain sewage systems and generally do the dirty jobs.

The idea of freedom of expression is normally contained with a specified sphere. Equal opportunity laws, while in general a good thing, curtail political expression within the work place. It is a nonsense to say that in the west we enjoy such a freedom, without noticing that political space is already well defined.

While we are said to have physical freedom, this too needs further consideration. It is true that with a passport, we can enjoy international travel etc. In most cases, however, due to economic necessity, most of our weeks are spent in jobs. Our ability to travel and explore the globe is constrained heavily by economic considerations.

As a negative value, freedom does not normally prescribe what one should do. We hanker after what we think we have already obtained.

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