Common Sense Comes to Town!

Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have. (Descartes)

The Myth of Freedom

Posted on | November 7, 2010 | No Comments

Right-wing populist speeches being fashionables these days, the concept of freedom became a convenient and comfortable flag in which each and everyone wraps himself as they make their claims, as preposterous as they can be.

The concept of freedom which we so ardently try to force down our thoughts lately is oddly enough not targeting the opening of new possibilities, new rights but rather the disappearance of old restrictions. Chiefly we protest against income taxes and other various levies of all kinds. It is hard to object – after all, nobody likes to forward a chunk of their income to the government. However, the intrinsic motivations are only superficially involved with freedom, and have more in common with individual comfort.

Thus we should have private roads, private health care, private schools, and so on. The proponents of “freedom” across the board would only pay for the services they actually use. Of course, their actual quality of life should not be lowered. Everyone thus forget that personal comforts relies mainly on the work of others; that personal riches depends on infrastructures developed collectively, paid collectively, the risk managed collectively as well. Private schools are staffed with teachers who have their own needs; their children for instance could be afflicted with rare diseases that could not be affordably cured outside the public healthcare system. Given the scarcity of doctors, making the access to education more costly would be detrimental to everyone’s health, poor and rich alike.

These are crude examples that only begin to illustrate the interconnectedness between all members of society. There is nothing new in the following words, but freedom can only exist if it is resting on responsibility. Should everybody refuse to acknowledge this, we wouldn’t be in a democracy but in anarchy. When only a few refuse to see it, we can call it selfishness. These people want to have their cake and it eat to, and have you foot the bill.

Total freedom is a myth that should have been dispelled by grade school. A few politicians should try to remember it.


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  • Photographie par Patrick Meunier

    Tous droits réservés, Patrick Meunier, 2010

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