Thursday, September 4, 2008

Free Society

Recently, I was going through some news portal when I found an article on free society. It reminded me of Milton Friedman's works on his point of view with regard to relationship between free society and economics. This made me feel like writing what I think about it from a non-economic angle. More than often, if not always, we all cry about India being no longer a free society. Also, people raise processions for certain other kind of freedoms and demand for a free society. However, do we really realize what it exactly takes to make it to a free society?

It is a common habit to get biased on some thing, and free society being no exception either. People forget that there are always two different sides of a coin (barring the famous 'Sholay coin' and also the one recently seen with Harvey Dent) There is no doubt that freedom is good but to what extent. To cope with it, we escape saying, "Freedom of a person should be unlimited as long as it isn't intruding his/her neighbor". Well, I believe that it is a good constraint however not an exhaustive one. For e.g. should we allow people to consume drugs or should we allow people to commit suicide? Well, we can't; actually we should not. Excessive freedom will take its toll, if not been regularized properly.

Forget about just the extent of freedom; I would also like to suggest something on the maintenance of a so-called free society. I want people to take thought about their condition and to recognize that the maintenance of a free society is a very difficult and complicated thing and it requires a self-denying ordinance of the most extreme kind. It requires a willingness to put up with temporary evils on the basis of the subtle and sophisticated understanding that if you step in to do something about them you not only may make them worse, you will spread your tentacles and get bad results elsewhere.

Talking about the obstacles in attaining free society, the fundamental threat is power to coerce, be it in the hands of a monarch, a dictator, an oligarchy, or a momentary majority. The preservation of freedom requires the elimination of such concentration of power to the fullest possible extent and the dispersal and distribution of whatever power cannot be eliminated by a system of checks and balances. But is this possible in real world? I seriously doubt because the concentration of power could never have been stopped in the past, not by any form of governance whether democracy or monarchy, not by any form of society whether capitalist or socialist and not even by any form of religion.

Another big hindrance towards attainment of a free society would be on the accountability and responsibility side of life. The inevitable result of the acceptance of determinism, of the belief that no one is responsible for anything, is the kind of whining, blame shifting, and abdication of responsibility we have all around us today. Any advocate of freedom, any advocate of civilization, has to challenge the doctrine of psychological determinism and has to be able to argue rationally and persuasively for the principle of psychological freedom or free will, which is the underpinning of the doctrine of self- responsibility.

So, I think the need of present hour is to revisit the concept of free society and see if how relevant it is; and also, look out for the possible customized version of free society for our society.

1 comment:

Quaintzy Patchez said...

--- Philo stuff ---
Seriously Philo stuff! Now whos the Idle Philosopher? ;)

On a serious note..
Free society is difficult to attain - i mean, these years of firm grounding in those values, the authority they have, the rampantness of things their perpetrators will do once we have this "free" society... the hurt it will cause others, the reactions they will have... there will b total chaos, agreed chaos is fine till a limit.. but total chaos is as bad as total authority and strictness!

Whether you agree or not! This is a comment, here it goes! :D