Is freedom as an ideal viable?

Posted: 20/11/2011 in Democracy, Education, Freedom, War
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“Even freedom is only a relative, not an absolute concept, since it tends constantly to become broader and to affect wider circles in more manifold ways.” from Chomsky on Anarchism.

Inherent in this description of freedom is the reason for its failure as a raison d’etre for society. Freedom like many religious concepts cannot be defined – as soon as there is a defining structure freedom becomes limited. It is in religious terms an absolute. If you asked a Buddhist what is the ultimate search in life many would say Nirvana, and some would describe this Nirvana as absolute freedom – freedom from samsara (the cycle of birth and death) – but still freedom. The very reason for its broadening and wider circles is this absolute. Does this absolute prevent anarchism as a social system from being a possibility? In some ways it does because the absolute cannot be attained by all, but having this freedom does not prevent Buddhism from being a flourishing religion, because working towards Nirvana is an appropriate and compassionate way of living. Accepting an ideal for a religion is a long-practised approach but is it appropriate as a social system? Is it acceptable to have anarchism as a social system?

I would argue that it is. Whilst we do not have democracy in any social system that exists, we do have the majority of the world accepting that there is a need for democracy. When democracy is discussed as an ideal, it is discussed as the government for the people by the people. Whilst the dominant practice of democratic governments has been a capitulation to economic control by a superclass, this does not stop those same governments from espousing the democratic ideal as the basis of government. When people are argueing against the current manipulated systems, they do not argue against the ideal of democracy, they argue that the system of representative democracy is not a genuine democracy. It is neither for or by the people, it is for the 1% who through different manipulations have engineered control of the voting process by ensuring puppet candidates, and at the same time have developed financial incentives within the corridors of power to ensure that the legislative process facilitates the appropriation of wealth by the 1%. In the US this is overt through the use of lobbying, elsewhere the process is more disguised but government is not open and accountable remaining manipulated in backrooms to keep the profits rolling in for the few. As we practice it now democracy is for the 1% and by puppets.

Yet the 1% and their puppets go as far as using democracy as a cause for war – to increase their profits. My point here is that just because freedom is an ideal that does not prevent freedom from being the dominant ethos in a society, societies can be established with a motivating ideal. In fact it could be argued that the principle of freedom for all is inherent within the democratic ideal. How can any form of society that is for people and by people be anything other than free? No genuine society motivated to help all its people could possibly wish to enslave others in whatever way that slavery would occur. Key here is education, education for a caring society for all its people. What has to be understood first and foremost is that we cannot judge freedom as an ideal based on our current education model. Inherent within our schools is a competition and greed that is totally personally oriented. Where is there an educational motivation that would induce students to seek freedom for all as an ideal and promote a caring society as an objective? (To be fair there are many teachers who advocate such objectives but the power of the system prevents their ideals from affecting policy and the majority of practice.) Our current education system can only be a judge of how we can teach our children to be motivated for greed, for the appropriation of money as a raison d’etre for the few who become a success. Because I recognise the fundamental unity in humanity there is encouragement in the power of education, if our education system can so successfully be perverted by the interests of the 1% then educating for a free and democratic society can be far from impossible. However, how we would arrive at a situation in which the dominant powers would actually want a free and democratic education system I have no idea; any efforts to achieve this have been suppressed or diverted in the past.

(added to freedom page)


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