Right Wing Freedom
It aint too pretty
I do get it when it comes to freedom used in a colloquial sense. I like to do what I want to do, and I don't like being constrained. Especially I don't like being constrained by other people. That kind of constraint feels like oppression in a way that being constrained by the edge of a cliff does not. I've been a remarkably free man all my life. I've been able to do what I want a lot. Especially now that I'm retired. I have not felt oppressed. But that's using freedom in a colloquial sense.
But when I look at the idea from a philosophic perspective I find the idea to be incoherent and even pernicious.
I think that the idea of autonomy captures the colloquial idea of freedom without incoherence or the pernicious baggage.
I'm pretty autonomous and to a large extent do things for my own reasons.
I'm able to balance competing influences and embark on a course of action to attain my goals.
Being autonomous requires that I be sensitive to the expectations of my society.
And in general we negotiate those expectations as easily as we avoid trees when we walk through the woods.
And nothing is guaranteed to work. Situations can just blow up in your face.
Such is life.
Embedded in the idea of human freedom is the idea of free will. The idea of free will, at base, assumes that we can do things without reasons for doing them. This idea might seem silly, and I think it is, but it's an idea at the base of a lot of ideas in our culture. For instance, there is this idea that since we are free we can do and become whatever we want. I remember getting a lot of propaganda about that in high school when we were all trying to decide on careers and stuff. And we could certainly choose, but things rarely worked out as expected.
Human societies are stratified with some people having way more power than others.
I'm thinking of people like kings who were way more personally powerful than other people.
They seemed to be free. They could push people around and the people couldn't push back (in general). Now of course they weren't really free. They had lots of constraints but these were not generally seen by the common folk. And when kings were finally overthrown, freedom came to be seen as a human right.
Freedom also emerges from the idea of a deity.
The deity I'm most familiar with is the Christian one who is seen to be all knowing and all powerful and all loving.
Such a being is seen to be absolutely free; able to do anything, the creator of reality after all.
Now that's freedom!!!
And people each had a slice of that divine freedom - we call it free will.
When I was in art school people were very concerned with 'authentic' freedom. And if there were reasons for what people did then it was hard for them to show that their freedom was authentic. As you can imagine this lead to all sorts of strange behavior.
Lately we've seen a very strange phenomenon. Due to the pandemic we are now required to do things like wear masks and to not gather in large groups indoors The evidence of the effectiveness of those measures against covid 19 is pretty solid. (One interesting fact is that those measures has reduced the transmission of other flu strains to about zero) They make sense and most people comply without a problem. But for some people those public health measurements are an attack on their 'freedom'. There have been cases of rage where people have been assaulted or even shot. There have been death threats against politicians and medical experts who have mandated the social distancing measures. It's been deplorable actually.
I'm talking about the right wing here. People on the left have their own concept of freedom. And lately pretty large disturbances of the peace have been associated with left wing demonstrations.
But the left wing didn't attack the capitol howling for the heads of politicians.
The right wing did
Let's face that.
What do you think?