Social Freedom

November 7, 2020 Sociocultural Issues No Comments

Individual freedom is a fundamental human urge. In an increasingly complex society, it may clash with the human being’s urge as a social being. This clash may shape humanity in the near and distant future.


Pondering about freedom. [see: “The Goal: Freedom“]

Individual freedom is vital to any organism as an ‘agent,’ separating it from non-living material. It runs deep. Therefore, you have to look at it also symbolically, at least. Any freedom that people clamor for has a deep underlying counterpart. In modern times, people have a challenging relationship with freedom ― probably more so than most of us are consciously aware of.

One should not downplay the depth part of freedom. One should not overextend the merely conscious part of freedom. Doing so, one may hugely misinterpret many things going on in sociocultural and political life worldwide.

Some examples

Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to carry a gun, freedom to protect one’s family and oneself, freedom to spend one’s money as one wishes, freedom to go where one wants to go, and freedom to relate to others, of course, to be social. [Note that a COVID lockdown diminishes the freedom to go out and relate. If people don’t get the reason why, they protest.]

We punish wrongdoers by restricting their freedom for a while. This is a physical restriction and also, of course, a symbolical. A self-imposed physical restriction can have a very different, even opposite meaning.

Social context

Since we are with so many, society cannot function in total individual freedom for everyone. A more complex society makes restrictions more necessary. How do people respond?

On the one hand, people want to be social. We are social organisms. On the other hand, people want to be free. We are organisms. How to reconcile this may be the most politically important question of all times. Can one at the same time be social and individually free?

Well, can one actually be social and un-free?

Being coerced to be social – relating and personally caring for others – is a contradiction. For instance, one cannot give if what one wants to give has already been taken in order to have it be given by others to others in ways that one cannot personally decide. Even with the same end-result, something goes missing in the second option. That is the freedom to give socially. The taking away is – a bit idiosyncratically – called ‘socialism.’

Freedom comes with the possibility to be a-social.

In ‘socialism,’ to many, lies the idea that all kinds of freedom are taken away, such as concerning the examples above. Combine this with the notion that some untrustworthy elite will decide what to do next, and hmm. Might this elite be corrupt or just alien to life and genuine human feelings?

“Nobody knows.”

As in other animals

Animals in small cages tend to get very stressed, especially if deprived of what is socially important to them, such as a nest or natural contact with others. A present-day example: minks in mink factories, being bread with thousands in very stressful conditions.

Note that a variant of human COVID-19 has recently been detected in these poor animals. Not surprisingly, the virus has found yet another niche of stressed-out mammals, as it has found us before. [When are those at the decision buttons going to realize that this is not a viral issue but a virus-mind-body issue?]

Most humans are not living in physical cages. However, are many not increasingly caught in psychological ones? It’s in the interpretation, something in which we humans are exceptionally efficient. We interpret ourselves into heaven or hell. That’s the world we live in. It gives us a lot of fear and anxiety. [see: “Difference between Fear and Anxiety“]

Underlying anxiety to lose freedom

The anxiety to lose freedom is existential. This is, it is fundamental to life. Any living organism wants to be itself. Eventually, this is what it means, ‘to be.’ An organism wants to be, and for this, it needs to be free. Being coerced, losing freedom, means losing oneself as an entity, being dead while living.

Although sometimes challenging to grasp, anxiety is two-sided. [see: “Anxiety“] Here, it is the anxiety from unrealized, as well as realized life. We saw the former. The latter is the fear of the immense power that can be unleashed by life. One needs to reckon with both. Otherwise, meddling with an anxiety-ridden situation can readily be personally dangerous.

A strongman can take advantage of this anxiety to rally people – who are hoping to attain or regain their freedom in safe mode through this – behind him. One can blame the strongman, but whence the anxiety? Whence the clamoring, by many, for a strongman?

Symbolically, this is a question of life or death.

To be, or not to be.

Whence the energy behind? Here, you have it. It’s life itself. Quite an enemy, if you make it so.

Being pro-life accords to this ― eventually having little to do with some book. It runs much deeper. Being pro-freedom-to-carry-guns also accords to this. Even if the gun leads to death, the energy behind this freedom is life-related. The same with other freedoms. Even incarcerating many convicts is a life matter for those outside jails. Even executing some is a life matter for potential future victims, being everyone.

‘Socialism’ versus ‘non-socialism’

Two different ways to build society.

In ‘non-socialism,’ society has a challenging job. It needs to make freedom possible through law and order to prevent chaos. Look where it comes from. Laws pose restrictions that anybody can easily see. One can freely decide to trespass them, become an outlaw, and possibly face the consequences within this story.

The other story is one of the rules and restrictions that – rational as they may be – are upon life itself. For instance, you earn money. Much of that is taken away before you can do anything about this. That’s your ‘socialism.’ The same with other freedoms.

‘Socialism’ is most frequently not the best friend of freedom of religion.

You may notice my writing ‘socialism’ between parentheses. I don’t see it as being quite social. It is, indeed, just quite a bunch of rules. Some good-meaning fellow – or many fellows – may concoct these rules in an elitist fashion. Our fellow may think these rules are the right ones because he believes they are, possibly even after thinking a lot. Still, they are life-sucking rules as long as life itself is not at their core.

Not rules are essential, but the life for which rules are made.

For instance, in COVID times, imposing rules is tough if life is not put first ― within the rules themselves. People are not motivated by rules, but by life.

Direct experience shows that conceptually rational experts don’t get this, leading to awkward responses to the present life-or-death challenge.

‘Socialism’ is not readily about social freedom.

‘Non-socialism’ is not readily social.

I guess we have to do it ourselves.

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