Thursday, 24 July 2008

Against a Strange Belief

“Freedom is a secular state of grace which exists in permanent tension with tyranny and which we can claim for ourselves only if we never, ever, seek to deny it to others.” [1]

Apart from wet sentiments, I cannot see to what the above statement refers. It is plainly not the case that we can claim freedom from something or to do something only if we do not deny the same to others; for it is not merely that, insofar as we have the power to deny it to others, we have the freedom to do so: we may claim even more freedom from their power by doing so. Against the strange belief that freedom for others ensures freedom for us, or freedom for us ensures freedom for others, one might consider that the freedom of some men means the restraint of others, and vice versa. The trouble with talk of freedom is that it has become a habit to assume only good connotations for the word and only good effects for the reality, whereupon one speaks in its favour without any clue as to what it might mean in effect, apart from that it will bring approval from one’s fellows. Perhaps no other word but “truth” is more apt to lead to a confusion of what it is with what one wishes it were, nor indeed is more concealing of a man’s true interests.

[1] Martin Bell, “Freedom v tyranny”, Comment is Free (The Guardian’s weblog), 4th July 2008.

1 comment:

Gerard said...

You're right. It is garbage.

The kind of brain-dead garbage that feels good to write.