Freedom and Self-government by George Kinney
Freedom, I suppose, is the condition of
being free. Of course terms ought to be clearly defined if they are intended to
be clearly understood, yet often the pedantic conformity to this axiom only
serves to obstruct clarity rather than to enhance it.
fundamental characteristics of the term ‘freedom’ for the purposes of this
brief essay, or, in modern terms, this blog, so that readers may have a better
chance to understand just what I am trying to convey.
connotations of the term ‘freedom’ work quite well in understanding what I mean
when I say the word.
another word for nothing left to lose,” one might infer that freedom means an
absence of something rather than a presence of something.
means to not have it. That sounds right, but it could easily get sticky if one
then inferred that freedom meant something is lacking, and thus be extended to
mean a generally negative condition. What if we are free of freedom? In that
case and beyond, the message can get very confusing and even contradictory.
Thus, the pedantic conformity gets in the way of the flow of ideas and concepts
that one might be trying to convey.
free lunch. It supposedly can’t exist in reality because everything has some
cost, either a cause or a consequence that may be hidden from immediate sight,
but that will reveal itself later, after the fact of the eating.
stand alone as a self-supporting concept. It needs another half; it needs a yin
for its yang or vice versa.
something. Compensation is some form must accompany it.
of constraints? Sure. Here we must clarify something, though. The economic
connotations must be separated from the philosophical connotations, at least
superficially and temporarily. I think that we will find that even that
separation doesn’t really need to be made in the final understanding of the
ideas I present here, but let’s not get superfluous in our digressions. Let’s
just say for now that we are talking about the more philosophical and humane
aspect of the concept of freedom rather than, or at least more specifically
than we are the economic aspects of the term.
works for a huge list of ideas. Freedom of religion, freedom to bear arms,
freedom of speech…all these ideas depend on a basic understanding that freedom
implies an absence of constraints.
restraints? What keeps this supposedly beneficial idea from leading to exactly
the opposite condition…that of totally repressive constraints, dictatorial
political rule, and slavery?
Without an equal and constant application of responsibility, freedom becomes
anarchy and without responsible constraint on freedom, the physically powerful
dominate the weak and force upon them their private, selfish wills. That has
been the case throughout history and is the case today.
express this concept particularly well In the U.S., the Republican party calls
for deregulation for most businesses, a general governmental hands off approach
to economics. Free enterprise is taken to mean that the gloves are off. Let ‘em
have at it and the best will emerge…this is the heart of social and economic
Darwinism. Sounds great, but it has one fatal flaw. For true free enterprise to
work, for government regulations to be obsolete and unnecessary, individuals
would have to voluntarily and willfully integrate an equal and constant amount
of responsibility into their transactions. Personal applications of restraint,
cooperation and compassion would have to replace overly aggressive greed and
contempt for the less able or less fortunate.
Thus, the Wall Street disaster, the failing housing market, the export of jobs
oversees, etc. Freedom just doesn’t work without responsibility. And by
neglecting to exercise such responsibility, the conservatives have given the
left wing huge momentum in implementing more and more government control of our
reverse. By insisting on radical left wing extremism, ignoring personal liberty
in many instances, and striving to over regulate business to the point of
destroying the great economic machine that has propelled the world into the age
of technological genius and prosperity, the democrats have opened the door to
even more accumulation of wealth at the top 1% of the population in the U.S.
The great failure of Marxism can be found in the famous adage by Carl Marx
himself: “From each according to his ability; to each according to his
need.” Sounds perfect, right? But wait.
One HUGE problem: Who decides what ones abilities and needs are? The politburo?
No way Jose.
establish a nation of laws, laws that were designed by the people for whom they
applied and enforced so as to equalize the opportunities for all citizens. The
rulers were to rule by voluntary consent of the people.
of freedom and personal liberty, but the application of an equal and constant
responsibility, both quantitatively and qualitatively, quickly began to
dissolve, leaving he new nation on an inevitable pathway to discontent and
ultimate failure. But the inevitability is only applicable if the pathway
remains away from balance between freedom and responsibility. At any time
conscious, compassionate, genuinely cooperative responsibility can be
reintroduced into the system and at such time the nation (ours or any other)
can reestablish this balance and regain freedom and liberty, both collectively
and for individual citizens.
to achieve this lofty balance, both as individuals and as citizens of a
collective community. An entirely new and evolutionary innovative modification
of our worldview is required. Aggressive competition must be superceded by
compassionate cooperation. This metamorphosis is the essential element of what
self-government is all about.
that people get to rule themselves through a democratic form of government,
either directly or more realistically through representatives. While this may
be true and necessary, the key idea here reduces to the most elemental common
denominator…the individual. Simply stated, each individual citizen must rule
his or her self. That means that it is the responsibility of each citizen to
identify and enhance the aspects of oneself that best serves the most
beneficial evolution of ones own soul and is therefore and necessarily in
resonance with the will of the soul of humanity.
can be obtained and sustained, being it its strongest and most productive
state, that of balance. Freedom, balanced every time, and everywhere by compassionate
and cooperative responsibility, is the perfect cultural environment for
self-government to flourish. The result is peace.