Freedom versus Freedumb
September 10, 2008 by Paul McKeever
Over on the National Post’s Full Comment blog, Gerry Nicholls has published what he wishes to be the “hidden agenda” of the Conservative Party of Canada, post election (should they win a majority). One of his wish list items is to “introduce free market principles into [Canada’s socialist health care] system”. He seeks a contradiction, of course (i.e., a “free market” in a state-imposed monopoly), but the mere mention of the term “free market” spurred individualist and collectivist readers to start into the old “debate” about the meaning of words like “liberty” and “freedom”.
The to and fro’ between Ambrose99 and IainGFoulds caught my attention, especially when Ambrose99 wrote: “I’m all with you on liberty. Our difference is whether socialism or capitalism grants the most liberty.” I just had to respond. What follows is a slightly polished version of what I posted in the Comments to Gerry’s Full Comment post.
Iain and Ambrose, clearly, are using different definitions of the word “freedom” (actually, they use the word “liberty”, but it is clear that they are not thereby excluding life or property, so I will stick to the more broad term “freedom”).
By freedom, Iain means (this is my definition, but I suspect he agrees with it): control over ones own life, liberty and property. In contrast, Ambrose is using the collectivist definition of “freedom”: control over other peoples’ life, liberty and property; also known as murder, slavery, and expropriation.
As Iain means it, “freedom” makes it possible for one to achieve ones own happiness. As Ambrose means it, “freedom” makes it possible to become comfortable numb; to nullify ones pain and suffering which, for almost every collectivist (who has rarely achieved much at all, never mind happiness), is erroneously thought to be “happiness”.
As Iain means it, “freedom” is that condition which facilitates rational conduct, and allows man’s indispensible tool of survival – his rational faculty – to perform its role. As Ambrose means it, “freedom” is that condition which makes rational conduct difficult or impossible, and which renders rational thought pointless.
As Iain means it, a “free” society is one in which all interactions between rational people are consensual. As Ambrose means it, a “free” society is one in which consent is no more relevant than rational thought.
As Iain means it, “freedom” is the natural result of loving human nature. As Ambrose means it, “freedom” is the result of hating human nature.