Archive for Freedom
“Counterfeiting & piracy cost 1000s of #jobs yearly. Americans rightfully expect to be fairly compensated 4 their work. I’m optimistic that we can reach compromise on PROTECT IP in coming week.” (Senator Harry Reid said in Twitter).
I simply don’t get it.
Hypocrites, they express concern for thousands of jobs lost yearly, presumably due to “piracy”, and want to vote a law to control Internet sharing and, in the end, individual freedom.
Meanwhile, MILLIONS are losing their jobs and are sent to unemployment worldwide, and seems that the situation does not deserve any kind of regulation to the financial markets.
An era that lasted hundreds of years is about to end, we can wait for the change to take whatever time is needed, or we can make it happen right away.
Let’s stay alert.
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.
“Man must be free, free and brave. Free even from the definition of freedom itself, without any restrain that is not brought from his own constitution. Brave, for fear always is founded in ignorance. It’s a shame for man that his ease in a dangerous time should come from the assumption that, as children and women, he belongs to a protected class; or that he’d seek a temporary peace, setting his thoughts aside from politics and troublesome issues, hiding his head like the ostrich, inside bloomed bushes; sneaking through the microscopes or translating verses, like a kid whistling to keep his courage in the darkness. What I must do is what concerns me, not what people think. This rule, as difficult in the practical life as in the intellectual, can be used to establish a complete distinction between greatness and mediocrity. It is hard to follow, since you will always find people that think they know what’s your duty, better than yourself.” (Ralph W. Emerson).
Total freedom is also total loneliness, but joyful and glad. Although it might be better – given the bad press loneliness has – to speak of complete “oneness” or “maximum” existence autonomy. That one who thinks himself as part of the infinite universe, even being alone, he/she cannot ever feel sadly lonely, knowing everything needed to be happy is within him/herself.
However, it would be too ambitious to believe a finite human being would not need outer things, and that he/she satisfies him/herself for everything. We are not islands. We are part of the human continent, Humanity. And the most urgent need for a free man, after having found complete happiness, is to find a soul mate, a friend, equally free, to share happiness with, and together, be able to multiply it.
This was marvelously expressed by Spinoza, believing the words of a “someone” called Blijembergh, merchant fond of philosophy, who used to say being committed to the seek of truth, and thinking that he – at last! – had found a true friend, he gives himself in, clearly moved, with these words: “Of all the things beyond my power, I have the most esteem for anything but the honor of setting bonds of friendship with people who sincerely love truth. In fact, it is impossible to destroy the love they mutually have for each other, being that love founded in the love each one of them have for the knowing of truth, so as not to embrace truth once it’s been perceived. This love is, too, the major and most pleasant that can be given to things outside our control, since anything, apart from truth, is capable of unifying completely different senses and spirits.”.
Should you forgive me revealing a secret, when I was young and a believer, I would ask God only two things: wisdom and friendship.
Regarding the first, I have found enough and sufficient to be free and happy. Nobody would say so, if to judge my life for the outer things that happened to me, that would make unhappy almost everyone else. As for the second one, I have plenty relationships of friendship with people who I love sincerely, but admittedly, I haven’t found a true friend yet.
Friendship is a prodigy that appears unexpectedly, and I, even not believing in miracles, haven’t yet lost hope of finding it. Because a friend makes your life happier, and you can count on him to improve yourself.
Fine so far, absolutely agree with every word, but, what response would the typical pessimist give, who “hadn’t been able to see”? Something like: “No one can be free, nobody can opt for what he/she wants. With the system that takes us over, it makes us having less and less things of our own each time, being it from the spiritual or the material point of view. For instance, no one communicates by letters anymore, instead a technological mean is required. No one cuts her/his hair, needs someone else to do it, no one can solve her/his own problems her/himself: needs a superior or another person to assist. That’s the way Society lives a completely fictitious world, that anybody knows anymore if what they are living is true or a lie, they only live things, without questioning what’s happening and why those things are happening. Everyone is just trying to run over their own lives, saying “I do as I want”, but they don’t realize that as soon as they are taken away the leastest thing they possess, they feel defenseless without knowing what to do, unable to apply so worshippingly their “freedom”. Thus, as a conclusion, I remark: what’s the purpose for man to ask himself whether he is free? In a simple question, thousand implausible answers rise, and many more plausible”.
More or less, what could be teh answer? Well, we could start by saying the comment comes certainly from a melancholic being, that cannot see life is a wonderful symphony of order and beauty. Even the comprehension of ugliness is beautiful and understanding the causes of sadness, brings joy. But Nature loves concealing the unseen harmony, highly superior to the seen one. I would suggest him to read Heráclito, who shines through the most valuable jewels of Philosophy.
Life is not meaningless. It’s ruled for a deep reason that few are concerned in reaching, for instead of diving in its’ depths, the majority follow popular poets and take them as masters of truth. That is a huge mistake. It’s common to everyone of us, an intelligence able to guide us through that road that men had forgotten and leads us to the most perfect fulfilment.
To be happy is to be wise. And it’s wisdom too, to seek for harmony between the opposite tensions that feature life. If discord has Nature appearance in a skin-deep existence, that moves in the implacable flow of time and mortality, there’s a sea of serenity beyond the waves of clashing passions that tyrannize us. But off-shore, in the abyssal floor, there’s an oceanic calm perfectly powerful and beautiful.
Opposite to what most people believe, that is where Freedom is. But to reach it you must first feel the need for it, and have the courage to face it. That is why every human being, as Emerson said, must be free, free and brave.
Spanish original version:
“El hombre debe ser libre, libre y valiente. Libre hasta de la definición de libertad, sin impedimento alguno que no nazca de su propia constitución. Valiente, pues el temor nace siempre de la ignorancia. Es una vergüenza para el hombre que su tranquilidad en una época peligrosa se derive de la presunción de que, como los niños y las mujeres, pertenece a una clase protegida; o que busque una paz temporal, apartando sus pensamientos de la política o de las cuestiones engorrosas, ocultando su cabeza como el avestruz en los arbustos floridos; atisbando por los microscopios o traduciendo versos, como silva un niño para mantener su valor en la oscuridad. Lo que tengo que hacer es lo que me concierne, no lo que la gente cree. Esta regla, tan difícil en la vida práctica como en la intelectual, puede servir para establecer una distinción completa entre la grandeza y la mediocridad. Es muy difícil de seguir, porque siempre hallaréis personas que creen saber cuál es vuestro deber mejor que vosotros mismos.” ( Ralph W. Emerson )
La libertad total es soledad total, pero jubilosa y alegre. Aunque tal vez sería más correcto -dada la mala prensa que tiene la soledad- hablar de unicidad “completa” o “máxima” autonomía existencial. Quien se sabe parte de un universo infinito, aunque “esté” solo, no puede “sentirse” tristemente solo jamás, porque sabe que todo lo que necesita para ser feliz está en él.
No obstante, sería demasiado pretencioso creer que un ser humano finito no necesita cosas exteriores a él y que se basta a sí mismo para todo. No somos islas. Formamos parte del continente humano, de la Humanidad. Y la necesidad más apremiante para un hombre libre, después de hallar la felicidad plena, es encontrar al menos un alma gemela, un amigo/a del alma, igualmente libre, con quien compartir su dicha y, juntos, poder duplicarla.
Spinoza lo expresó maravillosamente cuando, creyendo las palabras de un tal Blijenbergh, comerciante aficionado a la filosofía que decía estar consagrado a la búsqueda de la verdad, piensa que ha encontrado un amigo verdadero, ¡por fin!, y se confía emocionado con estas palabras: “De todas aquellas cosas que están fuera de mi poder, nada estimo más que tener el honor de trabar lazos de amistad con gentes que aman sinceramente la verdad; porque creo que nada de cuanto hay en el mundo podemos amarlo con más tranquilidad que a tales hombres. En efecto, es tan imposible destruir el amor que ellos mutuamente se profesan, por estar fundado en el amor que cada uno de ellos tiene por el conocimiento de la verdad, como no abrazar la verdad una vez percibida. Este amor es, además, el mayor y más grato que puede darse hacia cosas que están fuera de nuestro poder, ya que nada, fuera de la verdad, es capaz de unir totalmente distintos sentidos y espíritus”.
Si me perdonáis una confidencia, cuando yo era joven y creyente, pedía a Dios sólo dos cosas: sabiduría y amistad.
Respecto a la primera, he hallado la necesaria y suficiente para ser libre y feliz. Nadie lo diría, si juzgare mi vida por las cosas exteriores que me han ocurrido y que harían desdichados a casi todos. Respecto a la segunda, tengo muchas relaciones de amistad con personas a las que amo sinceramente, pero aún no he hallado un amigo verdadero.
La amistad es un prodigio que surge de tarde en tarde, y yo, que no creo en los milagros, aún no he perdido la esperanza de encontrarla. Porque un amigo te alegra la vida y puedes apoyarte en él para perfeccionarte.
Muy bien por todo lo anterior, estoy completamente de acuerdo pero, ¿ qué respuesta nos dará el típico pesimista que “no ha sabido ver”?. Algo así como: “ Nadie puede ser libre, nadie puede llegar a optar por lo que quiere. Con el sistema que se apodera de nosotros, hace que cada vez tengamos menos cosas a poder nuestro, ya sea desde el punto de vista espiritual como material. Por ejemplo, ya nadie se comunica por carta, necesita de un medio tecnológico para hacerlo. Ya nadie se corta el pelo por sí solo, necesita de otra persona para poder hacerlo, ya nadie puede resolver sus propios problemas, necesita a un ser superior u otra persona que lo ayude. Es así que la sociedad vive en un completo mundo ficticio, es así que no saben si realmente es verdad o mentira lo que viven, solo lo viven, sin cuestionarse que es lo que pasa o por qué pasa lo que pasa. Simplemente tratan de llevarse por delante la vida, diciendo “yo soy de hacer lo que quiero”, pero no se dan cuenta que apenas se les quita algo de su posesión se sienten indefensos sin saber qué hacer, sin poder aplicar tan venerablemente su “libertad”. Es asi que, como conclusión, recalco, ¿para qué el hombre se gasta en preguntarse si es libre?, en una simple pregunta, resaltan miles de respuestas inverosímiles, y muchas más verosímiles.”
Más o menos. ¿Qué se puede responder?. Bueno , podríamos decir que el comentario viene ciertamente de alguien melancólico que no puede ver que la vida es una sinfonía maravillosa de orden y belleza. Hasta la comprensión de la fealdad es bella y entender las causas de la tristeza, alegra. Pero la naturaleza gusta de ocultar su armonía no manifiesta, muy superior a la manifiesta. Le aconsejaría que leyese a Heráclito, en quien relucen luminosas algunas de las más valiosas perlas de la filosofía.
La vida no es un sinsentido. Está regida por una razón profunda que muy pocos se preocupan de alcanzar, pues en vez de zambullirse en sus profundidades, la mayoría siguen a poetas populares y los toman por maestros de verdad. Es un grave error. Es común a todos una inteligencia capaz de guiarnos por ese camino que los hombres han olvidado y que nos conduce a la dicha más perfecta.
Ser feliz es ser sabio. Y también es sabiduría buscar la armonía entre las tensiones opuestas que caracteriza a la vida. Si la discordia tiene carta de naturaleza en una existencia superficial, que se mueve en el flujo implacable del tiempo y de la mortalidad, hay un mar de serenidad más allá del oleaje de pasiones encontradas que nos tiranizan. En la playa no se percibe sino la marea que sube y baja, y las olas que nos hacen zozobrar. Pero mar adentro y en el fondo abisal hay una calma oceánica perfectamente poderosa y bella.
Contrariamente a lo que cree todo el mundo, es ahí donde está la libertad. Pero para alcanzarla hay que sentir su necesidad y tener el valor de afrontarla. Por eso el ser humano, como dijo Emerson, debe ser libre, libre y valiente.
I have recently read a comment in a blog, about democracies and government system for countries and the possibility of building a Multinational Democracy, in which the resigned opinion of the person commenting was that a “Benevolent dictatorship” turned out to be the most effective one for countries.
To me, a “benevolent dictatorship” is plainly an oxymoron: Dictatorship could eventually include positive actions, but shouldn’t be categorized as “benevolent” for it is intrinsically omitting freedom as a substantial aspect of the individuals, as well as freedom of society itself as a whole. What that assertion might have implicit, is the fact that today democracies in the World do not take individual freedom into account either, so being that the case, it would be much more transparent a dictatorship. Too bad to realize, but the sooner the better.
Therefore, it comes to my mind a new one oxymoron which I would put into words as: “tolerable slavery”.
In a tolerable slavery, you are not totally free, nor totally slave, to the extent that the benefits you get constitute a threshold, a good option against any other possible social structures. You are given a certain range of alternatives from which you can “choose” but you are not completely free to discuss and/or reject them, under the risk of being “tagged” as “anti-systemic”. Even to propose alternatives is banned, for that is the task of politicians and governments.
When I try to discuss with friends and acquaintances about the “big” issues that are nowadays affecting our societies, I usually end up hearing with sarcasm: “well you know, we’ve been fixing the world”, meaning that it’s pointless to discuss global matters that we’ll never be able to solve, to which I answer with a new question on whether we should discuss small scale issues, that are attainable but absolutely useless, instead.
On the other hand, I always believed that your thoughts determine the way you act. So, if you support the statement that the reason for the current crisis is just that common people got mortgages way beyond their possibilities, you are dismissing banks, control and surveillance organisms, governments and central banks from any responsibility. So, when next systemic collapse occurs, you will need to find another factors and causes to explain it, or simply believe the new official story the mass media will sell us.
Opposite to this approach, if you think that in the best case scenario, systemic risk has been underestimated by all the institutions mentioned in the previous paragraph,or that this has been a “designed” crisis, in the worst case scenario, you will probably not have more chances to change things, but at least when the next crisis comes you will already be aware of it, and may be, even make sounder decisions when voting in elections or in referendums.
Our need to believe and make our own lives bearable, make us think that we want the life we have – that’s a way to define “happiness”. We accept “gifts” given to us by civilization, as if we are entitled to them, and under the frame that we, thus, get some satisfaction in exchange for our sacrifices. But the truth is that, by means of getting prizes for our “achievements”, we are actually being bribed more than rewarded. Those prizes are: TV, sports, credit cards, cheap credit (well, not anymore haha), nice vacations, all kinds of gadgets at reach of our hands, even Internet (something that will be adjusted sooner or later, as long as it’s not limited to entertainment/superfluous information).
Try, instead, to demand more or better education, more or better public health system, more or better cultural channels. We know already what the answer will be.
When slavery was a natural status of Society (we must deal with this fact – that scarcely 200 years ago, there was explicit possession of human beings), I suppose slaves accepted gifts from their owners, but they surely never took that situation as “natural”. They surely knew those gifts didn’t make their freedom to be a single millimeter closer.
There’s a kind of “one-way valve” being installed in the financial system and, thus in the economic one as well, so money flow will basically move in one only direction. We can therefore expect that “gifts” will be less and smaller each time. By the time we want to react, after realizing that we do not decide our own reward, it will be too late.
We just have to be aware of this slight difference. That one between accepting and choosing.
It shouldn’t come as surprise if in the next years, a new and reinforced outbreak of religion shows up in societies around the world.