Power & Freedom

Ten years ago, I came up with the idea that it was not that Power gave you Freedom but exactly the other way round: Freedom gives you  Power. But as with any other concept, what are we talking about, when we talk about Freedom?

It’s imperative to gain some level of agreement, in particular in times when in the name of Freedom, there are all kind of demonstrations, which include the widest range of claims. Freedom shouldn’t be considered just “doing or saying whatever one feels or thinks”.

I distinguish as a first approach, at least three levels of Freedom for the idividual: Fredom of thought, of speach/expression and of action. They are obviously related with each other, but they are not exactly the same, and I want to state that from my point of view, they cannot be considered indistinctively.

Freedom of thought:

The mother of all other freedoms, for there are absolutely no outer restrains to achieve it, but to me, it’s the most difficult to exercise, since the limits for this freedom are within ourselves and, thus, they are “second nature” and imperceptible to ourselves.

If you don’t exercise this, it’s absolutely no use in speaking and /or doing anything. As Ludwig Wittgenstein would say: “A nothing is as good as a something about which nothing can be said“.

We definitely need to think for ourselves in the first term, to proceed to the following steps. It’s not needing any guidance from outside, having your own compass to find your own direction. You will need great doses of self-criticism, self-awareness, leaving behind any previous beliefs and pre-conceptions, and to some extent even acquired knowledge.

Once you’ve become sure to have your concepts neatly ordered, only then it might be time to transmit them to others.

Freedom of speech / expression:

We could think that obstacles to freedom of speech are dictatorships, tyrannies, despotism, all of which actually are, but not only. Our fears are as strong limitation to our expression as all the latter.

When you know exactly what you think, all difficulties disappear, vanish. You suddenly may find yourself as if you were “being spoken”, like you need not even to consider what you are saying, for words are spontaneously selected, phrases organized and structured according to ideas you are transmitting, and moreover, you can even change the style of your speech, according to who you are addressing your message to.

When you are convinced you are right, you are not affraid to use any words, if they accurately describe reality. It doesn’t mean, again, that you will be saying whatever comes first to your mind, but just the opposite.

You will not either need to shout. You will be patient, and self-assured. Your ideas are under control and so is your speech.

Freedom of action:

Probably, the most linked to your outer world, and therefore, the most circumstances dependent freedom.

But again, you will also need to examine your strategy to act, not to be biased by reality, since it will be exactly as important, to do something as what is it that you are doing and if it’s being  faithful with your principles, ideas, thoughts and with what your previously said, as well. Therefore, freedom under this approach, is not acting following your plans no matter what, but mostly choosing the best course of action to achieve your goals.

Theodor Adorno used to reject his students demands for him to say “what had to be done” at any given circumstance, since he was not convinced that “action in any way”, could guarantee by itself, any desired result. We could therefore say, that part of this freedom is the freedom of NOT ACTING, as a way to act coherently with your convictions.

Another example I can think of, is that of animals being icons in flags, shields, and all kind of corporate identity, expressing “agressiveness”, “determination”, “leadership”, “sharpness”, “accuracy”, and other attributes assigned to the species chosen. Nothing as far from reality, since animals don’t perform as described or perceived by human, because they chose so. They are instinctively and naturally bond to those fixed patterns of behaviour. They are anything else, but not FREE.


6 Responses to “Power & Freedom”

  1. John Stott Says:

    I oft think of freedom and its true meaning. None of us are totally free. I feel only anarchy offers unbridled freedom for a human being, for having no particular care for outcome of any action can be termed a free state.
    I personally have experienced this state three or four times in my life, all in war. It is a terrifying but liberating experience and, I would argue, the best way to an early grave!
    My freedom now comes from my faith. My confidence, my self worth and my abilities to evolve as a man revolve around this. Freedom also comes from respecting, and as Voltaire taught us, defending another mans viewpoint.

  2. Thanks for your comment.

    It sounds strange to me, your testimony of associating anarchy with situations you experienced in war, for that must have not been anarchy but chaos (I assume…).
    It’s true that freedom is not everyone doing as they wish, but Anarchy, for me, doesn’t mean that either.
    In Anarchy, means something rather closer to brotherhood, where respect and freedom go hand in hand.
    The opposite is any political and government system we are inheriting from the past.

    Thanks again. Your thoughts are truly welcome.


  3. John Stott Says:

    I feel my interpretation of anarchy was not explained clearly, for which I apologise. Anarchy, to me, is a chaotic and dangerous existence.
    War on the other hand, where my experiences lay, is indeed chaos, but there is an overall plan and goal. Except where command has broken down and rape, looting and all order have left a previously disciplined body or individual.
    I suppose much lies in interpretation and experiential existence of each individual, for I truly struggle with the concept of anarchy being a state in which a human can exist and flourish!
    Still, as I say to many I speak to, our own history is filled with periods of anarchy. Maybe it is an inbuilt fear of an unknown for me, I fear age and faith require a degree of self discipline and order in which to survive, still as I find daily, I am still in a process of learning and questioning!

  4. I think you’ve explained your idea of Anarchy very well. Probably it’s more that mine doesn’t match with yours.

    I feel Anarchy has been given a political side, related to lack of order and control. I have to say, that in my experience, even in private companies, the more horizontal a structure becomes, when properly laid, the better the results, far better than in hierarchical ones.

    Modern life and technology had a tremendous impact in the way people live, work, study in the last 15 years, and, hopefuly soon, society management itself will also fall in the sphere of technology and Internet, with less and less interference from intermediate representatives, those who supposedly should hold responsibility for success/failure in societies.

    I’m awfully sorry that you experienced times of war. I haven’t. My perception of society is that in which, although having not gone through a war, dictatorships and fake democratic leaders, have had all of us. This is basically what I would want no more for any human being on Earth.

    • John Stott Says:

      Thank you Ricardo, I can identify strongly with “flat hierarchy”. I agree with you that, my interpretation being accurate, society can evolve without the need for intrusive and domineering government. This is however dependant on a sea change in how we conduct our affairs. Governments and their corporate controllers will have other plans I am sure!
      For myself and my family / group of friends, a more agrarian, self reliant and local structure seems the way forward. One way at least. Technology does not always move the way we would want it, a life without it, at times is indeed attractive and desirable. I associate with many who see even the internet as evil, they are at odds with how to live alongside science, technology and its impact. I see both sides of this quandary, however my innate fear for the internet reformation is its abuse by corporate and government interests. A matrix of evil.
      Who knows? Maybe the future can be different, for that I feel we must wait and see where fate takes us all.

      • I’m too convinced that “they” have their plans. That’s why I liked you said about “resistance”.
        About Technology, it’s not my view that it will solve all our problems, but it’s turning into a unique tool for communication, networking, all around the world, IN REAL TIME.
        That potential is what seduces me so.
        I could have answered to your comment only 5 seconds after you posted it, from my mobile, if I wished!! That’s amazing. It was hard to believe such thing, only ten years ago.

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