Responsibilities of Freedom

Whenever one begins to write down "rules" and develop structures and social thories invariably a cry comes out about limiting freedom. This cry is often ignored, we do not wish to ignore it, it deserves an answer, though not a particularly polite one.

Individualism Is Oppression:

Freedom, along with many other words we use in political debate, has been twisted by rhetoric and spin to the point that it is almost simply propaganda. The "freedoms" we talk about almost invariably require that others provide for our actions. We rarely speak of the freedom to walk down the street, or the freedom to grow our own food, we often speak of the right to housing (which must be built) or food (which must be harvested), or this that or the next thing. Insofar as our "freedoms" require the work of others they are not liberatory, they are oppressive, they are privileges, not rights, and in the interest of justice they require our equitable participation and labor.

To attempt to disclaim responsibility for this work, for the labor which must be expended to have "freedom" by necessity denies freedom to others, it is no less oppressive then slavery or war, it is in fact the tacit demand for both.

Responsible Freedom:

We could claim the right to the freedom to do whatever we are capable of, and some people do this. It would be difficult to argue that claiming the right to all that is possible is in any way conducive to justice. If it were so injustice would be impossible, and it would not be an issue. This is clearly not the case.

What then do we have the just freedom to do? What actions does justice grant us the right to perform? Can we construct a just freedom which is not, in fact, a responsibility as well?

We have the just right to the freedom and means to perform at least as much labor as we require to provide for ourselves as well as the freedom to demand and hold responsible all others to the same criteria. We further have the just right to not be oppressed, not oppress, and not permit oppression.

It is commonly claimed that choice is necessary for freedom, and this is to some extent true, but only within limits. Are we free to choose not to be free? Are we free to choose not to respect the freedoms, rights, and responsibilities of others? Clearly we can not justly claim boundless freedom of choice, we must constrain our right to choice to the point that they do not infringe upon the freedoms or rights of others, either though action or inaction, and that this responsibility extends beyond the obvious to the consequences of all which we actively or tacitly support.

It is a common tenant of law that malice is more damnable then neglect. Justice leaves us no such sanction, inaction is only possible to the dead. Only the ridiculous oversimplifications of law allow for the assertion that one did nothing. if one simply breaths and eats one requires that food is grown. By consuming that which has been made available through human labor, one becomes fully culpable for the consequence of the act of non-contribution.

Since we are justly responsible for what we do, and to equitably contribute to what is done for us, and as we must eat, breath and have shelter in order to live, justice then require that the living must act and contribute. We must therefor accept that their is no just freedom without this responsibility, that "freedom" without this responsibility is not freedom at all, but the act of enslavement of others.

To any question of "rules" we should then ask: Is this rule non-conducive to justice? can we honesty act contrary to this rule without contributing to the oppression of others? If we can not answer these questions in the affirmative then we must accept that these "rules" are statements of responsibilities, responsibilities which we already have, weather we have been living up to them or not.

Page maintained by AnarCorp, last updated Oct 20 2003
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