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.