Monday, March 08, 2010

Does freedom matter?

by David Warren - March 7th, 2010 - The Ottawa Citizen

The short answer to that question, when I have asked various acquaintances of what I would call a "mildly liberal," or middle-of-the-road disposition, is: "Yes, but ..."

This "but" may correspond to any of many suggested qualifications, and that is the first instructive thing. At best it is freedom versus order, or freedom versus equality, or freedom versus social security.

Seldom has the position been thought through. Nor is the need for thought acknowledged.

Under cross-examination, most appear to be seeking some kind of balance between freedom and the tyranny of the state. On the moral level, a balance between good and evil; on the [aesthetic], between beauty and ugliness; on the philosophical, between truth and the socially and legally enforced big lies of political correctness.

"Yes, freedom is important, but it has its place," said one of the more thoughtful victims of my inquisition, which has been going on for some years now. (For I like to play at Socrates sometimes, the greatest of all Inquisitors, and try to establish what people really believe.)

Or to put it the other way round: "Yes, we should be herded like sheep, but within the limits of common sense."

The whole idea of freedom has fascinated me for some time. My own position is what I am trying to work through as I write my book, which I have titled "Freedom Warriors". It is, I think, exactly what the TEA Party movement is all about. Suddenly, a huge number of Americans have woken up to the reality that we are throwing our freedom away. They have become afraid of what life will be like if they have to live under the rules they are perfectly willing to make others live under. The illusion has become that we can be free ourselves and deny freedom to others. As we wake up to the fact that it is an illusion, we start to understand the consequences of our actions.

Does freedom matter? Yes, but... Yes, but...

I think the pause... and then the rejection of the "but" starts just as soon as "the people" start to realize the "but" is empowering government to go after "them", not some nebulous "other".


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