Everybody talks about freedom. What is it and who has it? The present generation is unable to give a clear cogent definition, because in the postmodern world words are meaningless. The word “freedom” has lost its meaning over the past couple of hundred years. It must have because I often hear people say, “I have my freedom.” It sounds like they are not under restraint. Freedom is sometimes associated with self-determination. However, the average person probably takes the meaning of the word freedom in a general sense. Then freedom is an individual right to do anything that does not harm or interfere with someone else.
The Puritan revolt in England during the 17th century significantly contributed to an increase in political thinking and political theory in the public sector. Political theory captured the attention of philosophers like Thomas Hobbs and John Locke. Hobbes was an advocate of a sovereign state. Locke argued for a limited government. Both of these philosophers find common ground in the American style of democracy. However, like freedom, the definition of democracy has been distorted by the postmodern interpretation of language. Furthermore, the American form of democracy being volatile as it is, has enslaved its constituents to public opinion as the measure for truth. Freedom, like any other concept, is not measured by public opinion. Any such idea is foreign to the Puritan mind and an enemy to the Puritan republic. Americans would do well to study freedom from a Puritan perspective and particularly Puritan political philosophy.
Allan Bloom in his book, The Closing of the American Mind, reasons that “although every man in democracy thinks himself individually the equal of every other man, this makes it difficult to resist the collectivity of equal men.” This however is another danger in the American democratic system. Democracy (rule by the people) easily slips into egalitarianism (all people are equal and therefore deserve equal rights). The logical conclusion of egalitarianism as a worldview is that a man has the right to be a woman and a woman has the right to be a man.
The result of two centuries of American democratic federalism has produced the statism (the state is the god of its people) of our present day. Statism is the world and life view which gives the state all sovereignty and authority over its “collective equals.” Webster defines it as “the principle of policy of concentrating extensive economic, political, and related controls in the state at the cost of individual liberty.” The state then becomes the savior of those collective equals. Individual freedom is then ultimately destroyed. The democracy (demo = people; arche = rule, thus mob rule) did not stand against the infectious, monstrous federalism that eventually consumed individual freedom.
Do we have freedom?
In most places we don’t have the freedom to build a home until we obtain a permit from the government. You do have the freedom to obtain a permit, if the home meets the conditions established by the government. You do not have the freedom to keep your (?) house, unless you pay the government the taxes they may require.
We do not have the freedom to drive a car, unless we obtain a license from the government.
We do not have the freedom to decide how to spend our income on benevolences, because the government takes the money from us and distributes it to an unknown welfare roll.
We do not have the freedom to act responsibly and buckle up a seat belt in the car because the government has taken that freedom from us.
The list is almost endless. We are slaves of the state and must live our lives according to the hodgepodge of laws and regulations established by the democracy and enforced by an ever swelling bureaucratic system.
The road you decide to travel (democracy, statism, egalitarianism) will have consequences that will affect your freedom.