Which freedom is more important? - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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Which is more important?

Freedom "to"
Freedom "from"
There are two concepts of liberty. Which is more important? Freedom to act or freedom from restriction?

Example 1:

The government does not prevent me from going on strike. I can do so at any time - refuse to work and try to use that leverage to get a better salary. The government doesn't stop me from trying to recruit others to join me: we have freedom of association and speech, and no one can legally impede on either. However, I am an individual that lives paycheck to paycheck. I cannot afford to not work, or to strike, and barely have time to organize or express speech. No one is stopping me from doing it, but I don't have the ability to do it.

Example 2:

The government restricts my ability to speak information contrary to their Covid vaccination policy. The government limits the freedom of movement in and out of the country by shutting down borders, and mandates all inhabitants have a vaccine. However, because of this, I have the freedom to go about my daily business safetly, without risk to my health. There are no need for lockdowns or other ornerous measures. I've lost my freedom of speech, and I've lost my bodily autonomy - but I've gained the freedom to go about my business, socialize, and so on.
Trying to decide one is always over the other in this case is oversimplification.

In example 1 the "from" is more important than the "to", because the "to" thing is more controllable by individuals.

In example 2 the "from" (as the OP claims) is restricted because it affects other people. It can still be said that the "from" is more important than the "to" in this matter, but it's more about "freedom from catching the disease".
I voted other. Anyone that votes for either of the examples isn't thinking. This poll is designed to invoke some dumbshit triabalist sort of reaction.

Framing this as either/or is flawed. I voted other because this framing here forces us to vote for extremes, which is stupid. It also builds in assumptions that should not be assumed. Life is too complex and nuanced; the world is too dynamic to have a one size fits all answer. Reality will have to fall somewhere between those two, and depends on what sorts of situations/issues are at hand. If forced to pick, I would pick example 1 (even though I selected other), because it leaves more of a door open for people to address issues case by case.

The inbuilt assumption that example 2 leads to everlasting prosperity (perfect/ideal) is stupid as well. Just as dumb as the assumption that example 1 leads to everlasting "paycheck to paycheck living" (broken, unfixable). Get real, put a better framing together.

Obviously you are trying to make some shitty point about how superior a non-specified genocidal regime is within your poll without explicitly stating it. Otherwise you would not have loaded the examples with assumptions as you have.
Nuance and complexity is suddenly very important to a few users.

It's a basic question - positive vs negative rights. Freedom from the prison of social heriarchies or freedom from the prison of material needs. Live free or die. It's been asked hundred of times by hundreds of philosophers, even on this forum.

Of course reality is more complex. The sky is blue. Which is more important to you?

I wanted to compare with previous opinion polls on PoFo on positive vs negative rights to see how the userbase has changed and so far it seems that the population has shifted into one that is more concerned by "hedging". :cheers: :lol:
I probably go the second one in part because I can see the imposition upon freedoms as having an important social function. I see it in the same vein as not letting anyone have the personal freedom to poison the drinking water because they have no right to destroy something foundational to the well-being of all others. It is the same way in regards to the pandemic that I don't care for the individual's preferences where their actions have a consequence for everyone else, it's not a private matter when it results in others dying or having subpar care and so on. To cry of oppression to me seems to reek of no sense of limitation upon one's own actions and thus no responsibility for the consequences that one can foresee as a result of their own actions.
The moment you step outside the bounds of society's norms and basis of wellbeing, then you necessarily open yourself up to harsh consequences regardless how noble your intentions are.
Hegel’s idea here is that the state has made laws which are designed to avoid harm caused by unintended as well as intended consequences, and the subject who steps outside of the law, if they are a rational agent, must take responsibility for consequences which they, lacking the historical wisdom of the state, did not foresee. On the other hand, if a subject acts in a way which is consistent with law and custom, then they cannot be blamed for unintended and unforeseeable consequences of their action. If serious unintended consequences transpire, this may be an occasion to make a new law.
When there is a bad law, or a bad government, people break the law as part of challenging the status quo. Does the martyr do good if for example a bad law is repealed or a bad government falls as a result of their criminal action? History will answer that, but Hegel does insist that in breaking the law, the criminal must recognize that the punishment they receive is part of their own action, and as such is just. That is the price of civil disobedience.

However, I do think the comparison is slightly off in that the second example is in my mind about social good justifying restrictions while the first option is simply about the abstractness of rights in liberal capitalism where I do think there is a great wrong done to the mass of workers and the abstractness of rights is a point of condemnation of the bougeosie revolutions and ideals, that they did not go far enough and in sense are to be changed because they cannot provide the substantive change needed for a better society based upon it's productive power.
The implementation of such a genuine, substantive freedom of course would require “despotic inroads117 on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production,” something Marx already wrote earlier, in The Communist Manifesto (Manifesto of the Communist Party, MECW 6:504). It would neither be a realization of bourgeois freedom nor would it even be commensurate with, or justifiable on the basis of, bourgeois freedom and equality, even as it is bourgeois production which makes this substantive freedom first possible. In the reformist struggles of workers under capitalism, we see a first inkling of how this genuine, substantive freedom comes into conflict with formal, bourgeois freedom.

Where liberalism emphasizes the individual choice without consideration to it being substantive, and even sets ideological limits on what plurality of choice can exist.
This is what the distinction between “formal” and “actual” freedom ultimately amounts to: “formal” freedom is the freedom of choice WITHIN the coordinates of the existing power relations, while “actual” freedom designates the site of an intervention which undermines these very coordinates. In short, Lenin’s point is not to limit freedom of choice, but to maintain the fundamental Choice — when Lenin asks about the role of a freedom within the class struggle, what he is asking is precisely: “Does this freedom contribute to or constrain the fundamental revolutionary Choice?”

We are here at the very nerve center of the liberal ideology: the freedom of choice, grounded in the notion of the "psychological" subject endowed which propensities s/he strives to realize. And this especially holds today, in the era of what sociologists like Ulrich Beck call "risk society," 3 when the ruling ideology endeavors to sell us the very insecurity caused by the dismantling of the Welfare State as the opportunity for new freedoms: you have to change jobs every year, relying on short-term contracts instead of a long-term stable appointment. Why not see it as the liberation from the constraints of a fixed job, as the chance to reinvent yourself again and again, to become aware of and realize hidden potentials of your personality? You can no longer rely on the standard health insurance and retirement plan, so that you have to opt for additional coverage for which you have to pay? Why not perceive it as an additional opportunity to choose: either better life now or long-term security? And if this predicament causes you anxiety, the postmodern or "second modernity" ideologist will immediately accuse you of being unable to assume full freedom, of the "escape from freedom," of the immature sticking to old stable forms... Even better, when this is inscribed into the ideology of the subject as the psychological individual pregnant with natural abilities and tendencies, then it's as if I were to automatically interpret all these changes as the results of my personality, not as the result of me being thrown around by the market forces.

It is rather the specificity of the standard authoritarianism to refer to some higher Good ("whatever your inclinations are, you have to follow my order for the sake of the higher Good!"), while totalitarianism, like liberalism, interpellates the subject on behalf of HIS OWN good ("what may appear to you as an external pressure, is really the expression of your objective interests, of what you REALLY WANT without being aware of it!"). The difference between the two resides elsewhere: "totalitarianism" imposes on the subject his/her own good, even if it is against his/her will - recall King Charles' (in)famous statement: "If any shall be so foolishly unnatural as to oppose their king, their country and their own good, we will make them happy, by God's blessing - even against their wills."(Charles I to the Earl of Essex, 6 August 1644) Here we already encounter the later Jacobin theme of happiness as a political factor, as well as the Saint-Justian idea of forcing people to be happy... Liberalism tries to avoid (or, rather, cover up) this paradox by way of clinging to the end to the fiction of the subject's immediate free self-perception ("I don't claim to know better than you what you want - just look deep into yourself and decide freely what you want!").

The reason for this fault in Beauvois's line of argumentation is that he fails to recognize how the abyssal tautological authority ("It is so because I say so!" of the Master) does not work only because of the sanctions (punishment/reward) it implicitly or explicitly evokes. That is to ask, what, effectively, makes a subject freely choose what is imposed on him against his interests and/or propensities? Here, the empirical inquiry into "pathological" (in the Kantian sense of the term) motivations is not sufficient: the enunciation of an injunction that imposes on its addressee a symbolic engagement/commitment evinces an inherent force of its own, so that what seduces us into obeying it is the very feature that may appear to be an obstacle - the absence of a "why." Here, Lacan can be of some help: the Lacanian "Master-Signifier" designates precisely this hypnotic force of the symbolic injunction which relies only on its own act of enunciation - it is here that we encounter "symbolic efficiency" at its purest. The three ways of legitimizing the exercise of authority ("authoritarian," "totalitarian," "liberal") are nothing but the three ways to cover up, to blind us for the seductive power of, the abyss of this empty call. In a way, liberalism is here even the worst of the three, since it NATURALIZES the reasons for obedience into the subject's internal psychological structure. So the paradox is that "liberal" subjects are in a way those least free: they change the very opinion/perception of themselves, accepting what was IMPOSED on them as originating in their "nature" - they are even no longer AWARE of their subordination.

However, I am of the sentiment that whilst securing the common good materially or whatever is important, material satisfaction isn't sufficient for freedom, it can replace the economic limitations that express itself in many other limitations with a bureaucratic kind, the individual with no more agency necessarily.
The original impetus towards the rationalisation of modern society lay in the emergence of a coherently rationalist world-view. However, the rationalisation of society soon acquires its own momentum. The fragmentation of modern society, and the rationalisation of its separate spheres, constitutes an ‘iron cage’ which imposes a formally rational orientation to action on its participants in each relatively autonomous sphere. Thus market competition imposes rational behaviour on every participant in economic life: the capitalist can only remain a capitalist if he subordinates his activity to the goal of profit maximisation. If he runs his firm on the basis of principles of brotherly love he will soon go bust. Similarly the worker has to subordinate herself to the work ethic, and rationally calculate her household budget in order to make the most of her scarce resources. The bureaucrat is similarly constrained by bureaucratic rules and procedures to conduct her business in accordance with the canons of bureaucratic rationality, and those subject to the rules have to calculate their consequences.

Within a capitalist society the anonymous rule of the market and inequalities of wealth tend to secure the dominance of the economic sphere, so that value conflicts tend to be resolved in favour of economic rationality. Political and hierocratic organisations, writers, artists and intellectuals, have to have as much regard to their economic viability as does the capitalist enterprise, while the power and patronage of the rich helps them to secure the dominance of their interests in all social spheres. However socialism, far from resolving the contradiction between the formal rationality and the substantive irrationality of modern society, threatens to develop this contradiction to its ultimate limits in supplanting the dominance of economic rationality by the dominance of bureaucratic rationality, sacrificing the economic rationality and relative political freedom of capitalism for the ultimate nightmare of a totalitarian bureaucratic tyranny.
But unlike Marx, Weber could not get to the roots of this contradiction in the alienated forms of social labour because he saw such forms of labour as rational. Thus he remained trapped within a dualistic theory of capitalist society in which the individual subject confronts an objective social world which is indifferent to meaning and impervious to action, whose objectivity is defined functionally, in relation to ends which have become detached from their individual foundations and embedded in the social structure.

I follow the development of Amartya Sen in which noting the ability for people to have a critical voice and participate meaningfully within the political organization and direction of the projects which impact them is a better sense of freedom than material wealth which is still but a proxy.
o reflect the fact that recognition as an equal participant in the social and political life of a society still leaves the person trapped within dominant customs, beliefs and modes of living, which for example, may include misrecognition of their personality or unjust constraints on their activity, Sen introduced the term ‘critical voice’.

This concept of critical voice is thus the fifth in a series of determinations of advantage: wealth, functioning, capability, voice and finally, critical voice. Critical voice is the capacity of a person living ‘inside’ a society to form views available from a position ‘outside’ that society:

... virtually every society tends to have dissenters, and even the most repressive fundamentalist regimes can ‒ and typically do ‒ have dissenters .... Even if the perspective of the dissenters is influenced by their reading of foreign authors, the viewpoints and critical perspectives of these members are still ‘internal’ to the society. (Sen, 2002a, p. 476-77.)

Critical agency refers “not only to the freedom to act but also to the freedom to question and reassess.” The answer to the question Sen asked in 1980 ‒ Equality of what? ‒ seems increasingly to be ‘critical voice’. This does not imply that the demand for equality of critical voice necessarily has traction as a normative demand, any more than does equality of wealth. But ‘critical voice’ does more truly determine the essence of human need and is the true measure of inequality in a society. Critical voice is both instrumental, in that it is needed in order to sustain the other elements of well-being, and constitutive, in that only the person with critical voice is truly free.

That which is the means to well-being, not just apparently, but essentially, comes to be an end in itself, constituent of well-being. Thus, for example, while education is valued initially for its contribution to job-seeking, over time it comes to be valued for itself. Conversely, that which is formally the end, can only be real to the extent that it is supported by appropriate means. Thus, for example, even though everyone in a parliamentary democracy formally has an equal voice, without an adequate capability set, without an adequate functioning and wealth, this right is no more than formal.

So it is not just a question of Sen having ‘changed his mind’, and abandoned an economic conception of well-being and a paradigm of distributive justice in favour of a political conception of justice and a recognition paradigm. Each step in the further determination of well-being both overcomes and maintains the previous determination, including it within a yet deeper determination.

Thus advantage conferred by command over commodities is by no means done away with in the determination of well-being in terms of critical voice ‒ witness the influence exerted in academia, the media and the legislature by big business! The capability to choose the functioning of one’s own choice retains functioning as the substance of well-being. The voice needed to secure an adequate capability for oneself is actualised only in the enjoyment of that capability. And conversely, voice can only be exercised to the extent that a person enjoys a wide capability set, of which the exercise of voice turns out to be the essential component.

So command over commodities or material wealth is an important condition of being able to meaningfully participate in politics at any level and set the direction for a people with the support of those people. But of course many workers are poor materially and are pressed to spend most of their time working and preparing for work such that each day is short in time to do anything but work and survive. But they do have the great potential to get organized into groups and Dexter themselves in spite of a lack of material wealth, but material supports can of course help in assisting this end.

BLah blah I'm tangentially rambling but overall I seek substantive rights, the freedom to, in the west a lot of liberal freedoms from have been achieved but are only guaranteed for the well off. As such the ideal of such rights can be quite distant from reality.
ANd when I think of freedom to being based in certain freedoms from as the option 2 exemplifies, restrictions allow other freedoms in protecting peoples health. I do think of what is the common or public good, because the individual's agency is heavily dependent on the social conditions of their existence. If you make absolute the freedom of individuals then it does turn into the anti or at least social shit show of me me me, with no responsibility or regard for one's place within the whole. Some are in a sense freer because of the social relations which better support them materially. A great example of an extremely unfree condition in the US as everyone who lives here experiences is the extremes of health insurances and pharmaceuticals, healthcare is extremely oppressive even where it grants you a small piece of access to care.
In Kerala, life expectancy is 74, infant mortality 1.4%, fertility 1.8, female:male ratio 1.06, literacy at age 7+ 88% for women and 94% for men, per capita household expenditure R810 pm and the economic growth rate 5%, while the percentage of population living below the poverty line 18% and 15% are poor by ownership of durable goods.

In Haryana, life expectancy is 64, infant mortality 7%, fertility 3.4, female:male ratio 0.86, literacy at age 7+ 56% for women and 79% for men, per capita household expenditure R770 pm and the economic growth rate 3%, while the percentage of population living below the poverty line 15% and 11% are poor by ownership of durable goods.

Thus according to standard economic measures, there is less poverty in Haryana, but how can this be squared with the fact that in Kerala, people live 10 years longer, their fertility has fallen to that of a Western European countries and everyone can read, while in Haryana, female children fail to reach adulthood, infant mortality five times as high, and illiteracy is rife, even among men?

In the course of reading this book, we learn a lot about the history and public policies of Kerala, and also Himalcha Pradesh, which have allowed them to provide a decent quality of life for their citizens, by many indices as good as any comparable country in the world, while ill-health, ignorance and injustice prevail in many other states. The State Domestic Product (SDP) has some, but a relatively minor impact on the divergent quality of life enjoyed in the different states of India.

What we learn about Kerala includes the fact that Kerala was not subsumed under the British Raj and tackled the problem of elementary education 100 years ago, that a substantial proportion of the population followed matrilinear inheritance and in general women have always had a greater say in Kerala. A succession of governments, including both Communist and non-communist, have instituted progressive land reforms and built impressive education and public health systems.

In Kerala and Sri Lanka “the common heritage of less unequal gender relations, less male-dominated property rights, and a greater prominence of women in influential economic, social and political activities) appears to be a causal factor of major importance.” [p. 273]

Thus, with even a much smaller level of wealth, a citizen of Kerala has access to public health and education, and is able to achieve a much higher level of functioning than their sisters and brothers in Haryana or neighbouring Uttar Pradesh.

Thus, in very clear and practical terms, the distinction between wealth (understood in the narrow economic sense of the word) and functioning is made clear. The distinction is made good in Kerala, and other states like Himalcha Pradesh, chiefly in the form of well-functioning social services. It cannot be precisely measured, but measures of longevity and literacy, functionings which every human being aspires to, give more or less unambiguous indications which are sufficient justification for appropriate public policies. In could be noted that a decade earlier, the comparison of growth rates in Haryana and Kerala were reversed, with Haryana (4%) showing superior growth to Kerala (2.3%), so it could be said that in addition to the intrinsic value of the functionings achieved in Kerala, they served an instrumental value as well, in achieving higher growth a decade later.

Support for things like education, healthcare are crucial to the freedom of the average person and makes an absurdity of the freedom of choice when people attack public or universal healthcare in a demand for choice of the market which is but the freedom for business, not for people necessarily.
Fasces wrote:Nuance and complexity is suddenly very important to a few users.

It's a basic question - positive vs negative rights. Freedom from the prison of social heriarchies or freedom from the prison of material needs. Live free or die. It's been asked hundred of times by hundreds of philosophers, even on this forum.

Of course reality is more complex. The sky is blue. Which is more important to you?

I wanted to compare with previous opinion polls on PoFo on positive vs negative rights to see how the userbase has changed and so far it seems that the population has shifted into one that is more concerned by "hedging". :cheers: :lol:

What do you mean by "suddenly" here?
Fasces wrote:
Nuance and complexity is suddenly very important to a few users.

Beats the hell out of being a mindless automaton...

"Winston Churchill said, ‘When facts change, I change too, madam.” "
Fasces wrote:I have the freedom to go about my daily business safetly, without risk to my health.

:lol: Is this under the government that created the virus in the first place, in order to put out down protest movements? Created the virus because it was an awful lot safer, for the regime's public relations image than sending the tanks into the public square. It was particularly safe when the utterly corrupt medical establishment in democratic countries had actually taken part in the fascist regime's biological weapons programme. So these corrupt lying scientists in the democratic countries had every reason to lie to defend the fascist regime.

Yes I don't this is about freedom, the freedom of the ruling party parasites to exploit and lord it over ordinary workers.
An ideal society would not go to either extreme but will find a balance between individual rights and societal responsibilities, such as allowing criticisms of vaccine policy while still mandating it. Allowing people to protest but still enforcing safety measures, etc.

Individuals should have freedoms to do things but not to make themselves an island that cares nothing about anyone else.
Fasces wrote:There are two concepts of liberty. Which is more important? Freedom to act or freedom from restriction?

I honestly think you seem to be drawing a wrongful division.

I don't see any true distinction between those two things.

Either that, or one of your examples is flawed and describes something you did not intend to.

This is how I might try to describe it.
"Freedom to" means you can wear a pink hat and not be automatically killed for doing that.
"Freedom from" means you do not have to worry about being killed, even though you didn't do anything you weren't supposed to.

Even the first one is wrong, at least you have some control over it. However, it is a form of terrorism designed to control people, unlike the second.

So overall, it is hard to say that one is clearly absolutely better than another. Especially if the first one is on a larger scale than the second.

To draw another hypothetical analogy, it might be like a room filled with 10 women and one man with a gun. In one of the scenarios the man kills one woman at random. In the other scenario, the man announces to the women that if any of them do not have sex with him he will pick a woman at random from the group who refused his sexual advances and kill that woman. The second scenario could actually be worse if a woman still dies and the others have been coerced into having sex.
It's as Pres. Abraham Lincoln put it .
The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name—liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names—liberty and tyranny.

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was a black one. Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails to-day among us human creatures, even in the North, and all professing to love liberty. Hence we behold the processes by which thousands are daily passing from under the yoke of bondage, hailed by some as the advance of liberty, and bewailed by others as the destruction of all liberty. https://www.publicdiplomacycouncil.org/2020/04/18/abraham-lincoln-on-liberty/
And to this I will add this quote from Lenin .
Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in the ancient Greek republics: freedom for the slave-owners. Owing to the conditions of capitalist exploitation, the modern wage slaves are so crushed by want and poverty that “they cannot be bothered with democracy”, “cannot be bothered with politics”; in the ordinary, peaceful course of events, the majority of the population is debarred from participation in public and political life.

Lenin, State and Revolution
So in answer to the original question , there should be an ordered liberty , in which personal freedom is counterbalanced by social good .
I voted "freedom to" before actually reading the first post.

"freedom to" is actually equivalent to "freedom from restriction"
"freedom from" is usually used to designate some restriction, not lack of restriction... it's a propaganda technique meant to make a restriction sound as if it's some form of "liberty" when it's actually the opposite!
ccdan wrote:I voted "freedom to" before actually reading the first post.

"freedom to" is actually equivalent to "freedom from restriction"
"freedom from" is usually used to designate some restriction, not lack of restriction... it's a propaganda technique meant to make a restriction sound as if it's some form of "liberty" when it's actually the opposite!

What if it is restriction on limiting freedom?
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