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the complexity of freedom

December 21, 2011

George Monbiot makes an interesting yet surprisingly little-made point about the one-sidedness of many of the pro-free market arguments about freedom, i.e., that the state isn’t the only entity or social institution that intrudes on our liberties:

This bastardised libertarianism makes ‘freedom’ an instrument of oppression

As a result, it also begins to reveal some of the underlying contradictions that are rarely brought to the surface in these superficially seductive arguments about freedom and liberty, e.g., there’s obvious tension between freedom and equality, where complete freedom doesn’t necessarily lead to equality when some have the freedom to exploit, oppress, or otherwise take advantage of others because of their particular situation in life, and where full equality means potentially limiting or even denying some their freedom to do things that negatively impact others.

It’s contradictions like these, for example, that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution attempt to balance to varying degrees of success. Definitely broadens the argument, I think.

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