This is going to be a long article that may have to come in several parts, so brace yourself!
Written By J
In any revolutionary movement, at all points in its course (successful or not), there are two overriding questions that divide, unify and perplex us:
How might we free ourselves, and stemming from that; what does freedom mean?
There are differences in opinion and tactics on both questions, and many believe that they have already been answered in full. It is my belief that they have, indeed, been answered, though in many parts by many different people. Bringing together all I know from different sources and viewpoints, I will attempt to put together a little of this jigsaw myself, although I may not complete it all. There is every chance it will take me far longer than I originally anticipated.
What Does Freedom Mean?
Before we get into specifics and theories about achieving freedom we first have to decide on a definition (however fluid) we can work with and hold as a goal.
The most important property of freedom should always be its universality, that is, that it applies equally to all at all times. Without this property it cannot truly be considered freedom, as it’s exclusivity would mean there would be people without freedom and thus it would perpetuate the existence of the unfree and not be freedom at all, but instead privilege.
There are three elements of freedom which are pretty self-explanatory but on which I’ll go into further detail later on:
Why only three? Because I don’t want to “over classify” the subject and render the discussion unclear. Also, they are simple and cover most, if not all, cases.
Fairly simple; everyone is equal, from the youngest child born last second to the oldest human alive. That means hierarchical systems violate this. Debt violates this. Currency also violates this, as it can be accrued and as it is not a certain good and can instead be used to buy resources, those with more money have more power. If you can think of something that places one person in a position of power over another without conscious choice then it violates the element. Before people get mad and say “What about parenting! What about teachers! What about the army! etc.” I want to point out that if you hold a position of power over someone and they resent it, it’s probably time to let go of that power. By the time your child or pupil starts to resent your power over them, it’s probably time to start empowering them and treating them as more of your equal based on the responsibility they are willing to take. In the army it’s different and, yes, it’s wrong. No person should hold so much authority over another that they can force them into a situation that would lead them to their deaths. If the world’s armies were less (or not at all) hierarchical then we would see far fewer deaths in the field. Perhaps if soldiers had a role in choosing certain strategic moves or even whether to engage at all we would see an end to most conflicts. I don’t know the answer and therefore cannot give it, but I can speculate.
Patriarchy is a huge violation of this element, as is organised religion (note the use of the words “organised religion” and not “faith”). For different reasons they render those within the system they control totally unequal and are abhorrent.
Without self-determination freedom cannot exist. The freedom to choose for oneself is one of the most potent elements of freedom and no society can claim to be fair and just without it. However, self-determination should not violate the freedoms of others, as that would violate the equality element.
Very simple, yet very important. Safety includes physical, mental and emotional safety. Safety means access to adequate resources, adequate shelter and a means of survival. Without the safety element a society would fall apart into a violent and desperate system, a true Darwinist ecosystem.
These elements tie together and interweave to create a robust definition of freedom. Violation of any of them means violation of freedom. By this we can measure systems, actions and decisions and many other things to determine if they are “free”.
Stay tuned for Part 2: How Might We Free Ourselves?