Wednesday, 1 February 2017

What is this Freedom Anyway

What is this Freedom Anyway

Lots of talk on Face book and other Social Media about the Trump election and of course the Brexit out election, so I think this is a bit of a different take.

When I listen to my American friends, who voted Trump it’s all about abortion, and along with that an anti what they would call libertarian swing, when you listen to the Brexiters, it’s about freedom from the shackles of the EU, jobs, and the fact that the elite have ignored us and what we really are saying and wanting.  There are so many similarities in the reasons in both countries.

I am sure that I will not be the first to say this or the last but is it a cry for freedom, freedom from the elite, the professional politicians, freedom to as they say in Brexit so that we can be in charge of our own destiny as a nation, (fat chance of that).

So what I will not be first in saying is I wonder if the libertarians have overplayed their hand. If I ask myself where I sat, I am sure many people would put me in the libertarian camp.  I don’t think I have the right to tell other people how to live, act, sexual preferences, dress, even politics.  

However I do object to being told that I must agree with what I don’t agree with, that I am not allowed to express views that are different to what has been deemed by the liberally lobby to be politically correct.  

I do object to having to make cakes with slogans on that I don’t agree with.  I do object to being told to be silent because that what I think , be it on sexuality, marriage, politics, education family or whatever is different to yours.  That is where the hand has been overplayed.

Now I do want you to be able to express your opinion, even if I don’t agree with it, I want you to put forward your argument even if I think you are wrong, I don’t want you to make a cake expressing my opinion which you disagree with if you don’t want too. I even want you to be able to have platforms to speak on, I don’t want universities and the like banning speakers that they don’t agree with that is not grown up students studying that is childish.  But that is where we have got to.

And so to the ballot box and now I have the chance to vote for what you don’t want and won’t like because that is my last chance to express a view that is different to yours.

Yes I know that ultimately it will hurt me, but I have been cornered. It is a bit like what happens in riots, we burn down the buildings that serve us, accommodate us, help us, not at all sensible but for a very brief moment it makes us feel better, even if long term it makes us worse off than where we started.

It all comes back to that freedom that we feel has been taken away, Socrates said in that first treaty on politics way back in 399 BC that democracy is about equality and freedom and we all want to be equal and freedom is that we can all do as we like.  

We could argue about where that equality has got us to but let us look just at the freedom.  We can all do as we like, the problem is that currently you can do what you like but I am not allowed to say I don’t agree with you!

It’s an old chestnut, but we do not understand freedom.  We cannot do as we like there are rules, not just governmental rules, and Gods rules if you like, or you probably will call them rules of nature.

You can’t jump up in the air and keep going up; the law of gravity makes sure you come down.  Saying you don’t believe in the law doesn’t not work, so if you jump of a tall building hoping to go up you might but not in the way you intended.

The same principal applies to governmental laws in certain situations, so in the UK the rule, law, of the Road is drive on the left, if you chose to ignore it and dive on the right, you will end up a mess pretty quickly.

Now tell me this, here are two inexperienced climbers, they both arrive at their chosen challenge, one says I am free to climb this mountain and I will do it by myself.  The other say I am free to climb this mountain and he hires the best guide he can find, who ties him by rope to himself and they both climb together, and come down together.  The free climber dies on the mountain side.  Which was free to climb?

So are you free, well if that means you can do as you like I doubt it.

There is a time recorded in the Old Testament part of the Bible in Judges 18 and 21 which says ‘and every man did what was right in his own eyes’  actually it was chaotic and awful.

When we think that everything we want to do must be right, because we want to do it is very dangerous, to society but to us as an individual also; There are many things if you want to do it, I can’t really stop you, but please don’t make me agree with you, or silence me or stop me from saying something opposite to your opinion – when you do that what happens in a democracy is that there is a back lash and you get what we have in two recent elections.

Dylan says in one of his great songs, whoever you are you have got to serve somebody, and he is right. The Bible puts it a different way, but it’s really saying the same thing it say whoever commits sin is a servant of sin, (John 8:34.) I know sin is not a politically correct word, but there you go again, and I know many don’t believe that it exists, it just a different behaviour model. 

Of course Jesus said something else about serving somebody He said to those who were following him, there to serve him, I no longer want to call you servant but rather friends because I want you to know what I am doing.(John 15.15) 

Maybe being his friend we could climb that mountain.

Free, well just what is freedom?

Adrian Hawkes
Edited K. Lannon
W. 1118

24TH January 2017


  1. Timothy Sipp
    In a world full of liars to tell the Truth is to deceive. ;-)>

  2. Christopher Chessum
    I think what you mean to say is that there is no such thing as absolute freedom. There has to be an element of give and take. This is where it's interesting to read what Rousseau has to say on the subject in The Social Contract. The way to maximise freedom is by means of orderly constraint.

    Christopher Chessum
    Christopher Chessum With regard to the climbers, you ask which one was free? Answer is they both were. The fact that one died because he was inexperienced and foolishly tried to climb the mountain on his own and got himself killed in the process, doesn't mean he wasn't free. It was still his choice to climb that mountain on his own even though it wasn't a wise decision.

    I don't really understand your point about Brexit. Freedom as nation to make our own decisions and choose our own destiny. You say "fat chance of that." Why?

    1. Fat Chance - well I think all trade agreements with whoever take away certain freedoms. Agin it is a perception of what Freedom is. If I get married I am no longer free to be single. So the freedom of once choice takes away the possibility of another choice. Secondly I think that governments of whatever ilk are constantly eroding our freedom. So there is an illusion of freedom but it's
      not really what people think it is. i.e their expectations of how freedom works.


  3. Christopher Chessum
    Adrian, I think you are confusing lots of different issues here. That’s partly because you are looking at the concept of freedom in very absolutist terms and therefore you see freedom as something illusional. Most religious people, particularly those of the more fundamentalist brand, tend to view life in similar absolutist terms. Everything is black and white, whereas in reality, life is actually different shades of grey. Freedom is not an absolute concept: it’s a relative one. (I’m not necessarily saying you’re a fundamentalist by the way; but like me, you have had a certain background in that type of theology).

    Back to the concept of freedom. Yes, if you are married, you are no longer free to be single. That’s almost a rather frivolous tautology and it misses the point, which is that people are free to make choices in life. You and I live in a society where we can choose whether to be married or single. That’s a relative freedom that I very much appreciate. In some societies, people (particularly females) do not always have that choice. They are forced to marry whether they want to or not, and do not even have the choice of partner to whom they end up being married. Again, freedom is relative, not absolute. But at least we can value the freedom we have to choose whether to get married and to whom. In a western, liberal, secular democracy; that’s at least one freedom we can cherish.

    There are many other relative freedoms we enjoy too. Freedom of expression; again within certain boundaries of course. This has to be balanced against things such as libel for example. But then I’m sure you would appreciate the freedom not to be libelled as well as the freedom to express and exchange ideas. Sometimes freedom TO do something has to be balanced against the freedom FROM something. Once again, I come back to this point: freedom is relative, not absolute. I am not free to commit murder: the law prohibits me from doing so. Why? Because your freedom from being subjected to murder and violence is perceived to be of greater importance than someone else’s freedom to commit these kind of violent acts. Again, I come back to the point; freedom is not illusional as you seem to suggest. Freedom is real; but it’s relative, not absolute.

    With regard to trade deals, I’m not sure what kind of freedoms you had in mind that we would be expected to give up in a trade deal. Can you explain? Personally, I’m not quite as fixated on trade deals as some Brexiters and Remainers are. We don’t actually need trade deals to trade. We currently trade with the US and China and we don’t have a trade deal with them. It’s no great problem.

  4. I am not sure that I do see things in black and white despite training. I also do not think I am confusing things, what I do think is that many people, maybe most of us never stop to ask the question what do I mean by Freedom. They certainly do not think in terms of Freedom from means to be linked to ... whatever and thus that perceived freedom is curtailed. To quote Dylan again, ‘you have got to serve somebody – or something’ and that serving will prescribe our / your freedom. So no I don’t think I am absolutist, but I do wish to challenge people emotional response to freedom. I do agree that your freedom to punch things should end at the tip of my nose. Or visa versa. In terms of trade deals, well that is more complicated to answer, but just listening to the rhetoric re the potential new trade deals with India, I noted that the deal from and Indian perspective included a much greater freedom of movement in an out of the UK for their citizens. Haven’t I heard that somewhere else in another context. And allowing trade freely has other consequences, so last week I had an interesting conversation with a guy, I asked him what he did, he told me he was and engineer and had worked for a small company designing things for satellites. Very highly skilled; however he went on a large American company came and bought us up, too all the intellectual knowledge and made us redundant, that’s how trade works sometimes. I guess his freedom to work was then somewhat diminished wouldn’t you say.