The Question of Freedom

By Helen Whooley

At the end of 2021, “Freedom was the catch cry of demonstrations and marches around Australia. This call for freedom is based on the rights of the individual. Individual rights are one concept of freedom that is constantly pushed on us by mainstream media and the ruling elite. They encourage us to think it is the only freedom we should consider. It is a powerful tool.

The ruling elites and mainstream media have manipulated the ideal of freedom for so long, that we only understand it as loose set of ideas such as ‘individual freedom to choose,’ or ‘freedom is the central value of civilization,’ or ‘freedom is our democracy,’ or ‘freedom is our way of life.’ 

There is nothing concrete about this sort of freedom.  What does it mean for you and me in concrete terms?

David Harvey describes it like this. “The word ‘freedom’ resonates so widely …that it becomes a button that elites can press to open the door to the masses to justify almost anything.”

Their freedom is to hold a monopoly on power and us to accept this to choose every few years, which faction is going to run the show against our interests.

The word is used in so many ways to control the way we think.

However, there is another way to see Freedom. To grow as individuals and be free, we must be free of exploitation and free from living in a world where individual profit is in command. When we have our needs met, and are free from worrying about our mortgage, and bills then we can begin to be free. Ultimately, when we are free to develop our potential as human beings.

The freedom we really need, is the freedom to develop a new society based on equality, independent sovereignty, peace, solidarity and the common good for all and these are the real values that are embodied in the ideal of freedom.

Socialists are not opposed to individual freedoms, far from it, we simply argue that under a system where profits are in command, individual real economic freedom only exists for a small minority while the rest of us have the individual right to be economically exploited