Liberty and Independence
In the post below, I wrote how the concept of liberty is rarely understood and found so seldom in human history. Slavery is the ultimate loss of liberty but being nominally free, in a legal sense, isn’t enough to say that one possess liberty (as we’ve seen in 20th century communism and fascism.) Often when a nation is fighting for independence journalists will write that the people are fighting for freedom even though in many impoverished nations they are only substituting local tyranny for foreign rule. Fifty years ago most of the nations of
Through out history, nations have gone to war to help establish or maintain the dictatorial rule of one hereditary dynasty in the face of the threat of another tyrannical ruler. The rulers exploited fear, patriotism, avarice, and divine retribution (or reward,) to motivate the oppressed into defending their oppressor. But national independence rarely brought liberty for the individual who lived in these societies.
A recently published book by John Lewis, Solon the Thinker: Political Thought in Archaic Athens, describes how the distinction of liberty and independence first came about. In the Iliad, “Freedom means living under King Priam’s rule, and slavery means being taken in personal bondage to work in a far off land. This is not political freedom; it is independence from foreign takeover.” But “[f]or Solon a free man is an Attic-speaking male whose personal autonomy inside the polis is protected from attacks by his fellows.”
Today, the notion of liberty (inherently individualistic) and mere independence (sovereign rule) is blurred by the dominant leftist notion of self-determination. For a leftist, self-determination is inherently collectivistic and applied to “a people” or nation and embedded in the institution of democracy. To this mindset, you have self-determination when you have to wait for millions of other people to agree with you on some Tuesday in November. Call what you want but liberty it is not.