|The state in the free economy (Part Two): A state for all or a state for a few?|
|The Labour Movement-Economy|
Freedom and a System of Values
Freedom is already a value and, moreover, one of the most fundamental. It belongs of its very nature within a system of values, as, in any event, does every value. If it cannot be integrated into this system, then it is not a value, but a lack of value –chaos.
The concept of 'value' always has a moral and accrediting basis - moral at least for its era. Every value is a referentiality to the whole and to transcendence and this is its true nature. If it does not have such a basis, then it will not be a value but a distortion of the concept of value, such as a will to power or voluntary handing over of oneself to power – the voluntariness here does not justify either the one who exercises power or the one who subjects himself to it, because both are contrary to the true and inalienable nature of beings. This latter is an issue of philosophical thinking, and in the depths of all views on whatever subject a philosophical position is inherent, even if unconsciously.
Consequently, this freedom may either be a value, and for that reason indissolubly tied up with a broader system of values, or simply an unadmitted facility for the acquisition of power. The latter would refer us more to animal instincts rather than to human values. Perhaps, it is lower than animal instincts, because in their case the need for power arises, more usually, from a real need, whereas in man it comes from fantasy, of which animals are incapable. Fantasy as error or irrational imagination is inferior to instincts as well, despite the fact that it is closely involved with them by making use of them, because the cause of this involvement is non-rational and does not belong within any system of values.
Systems of values may be either for survival (if the time is appropriate) or moral (among rational beings capable of making distinctions). The suitability of the time is a decisive factor for the determination of the use of a characteristic as evolutionary or involutionary, as of the instincts. When the time is unsuitable, this will be a case of fantasy, because time, apart from the simplistic observation that it flows on unimpeded and inspires us with a fear of death, has chiefly an evolutionary function, and, for that reason, regression, as, for example, our becoming animals again, is an absurdity and degradation.
All values are connected - regardless of what way they are in our interests as individuals - with all the other values of the same level and it is in this connection that their true meaning is to be found. There is a system of values and not isolated values, in spite of the fact that in every age they may be selectively stressed. Selectivity in the matter of values, with the rejection of some, can lead to individual and social disaster.
Nor should we forget that, as Plato said in his Laws, and elsewhere, ideas are not all of the same value or level – and here a problem arises: how are we to link ideas of the same level and leave out values of lower levels as secondary - if, of course, such as choice presents itself as necessary. For example: parliamentary democracy is a secondary value when compared with freedom; nationality is a secondary value when compared with love and unity; faithfulness in marriage is a secondary value when compared with love; discipline is secondary when compared with consciousness in itself. Secondary values are more bound up with form and objective organisation, whereas the primary ones are more bound up with consciousness and subjective nature and referentiality.
But what could that system of ideas be which puts freedom in its right place?
To begin with, we should note that man needs –as do all beings– security and freedom.
These two pillars of life are based upon a familiar trilogy of ideas, though it is not clear whether in the age when it was proclaimed this function was distinct among them. This trilogy is: Liberty - Equality - Fraternity. Naturally, the fact that they were proclaimed in the French Revolution does not mean that these concepts were not known before that.
If, then, we look carefully, we shall discover that Equality and Brotherhood are those values which support security, and on which, in its turn, the welfare state which provides the desired security is based.
Rousseau, in his theory of the Social Contract, thought that human beings exchanged their freedom for equality as a foundation for their formation into a political and social body, and so, in essence, they preserved it in the juristic framework of the social contract. Rousseau gives emphasis to the fact that it is only by equality that initial freedom of human individuality or personality could be institutionally expropriated, and that no lesser value or principle could perform this fundamental political transubstantiation or alchemy. This observation of Rousseau can be linked in a fundamental manner with the assertion as to the double natural inequality which, as human beings, we wish to counterbalance, for example, by education or by the distribution of the natural resources of life in short supply, and so we come to the important observation of Aristotle that rareness or shortage imposes the necessity of justice, hence, in the last analysis, the foundation relation between equality and justice. So, in all this the connecting link of responsibility and collectivity is inherent.
Equality is proclaimed by most constitutions. Brotherhood, however, is apprehended as an emotional, and, therefore, partly senseless concept. But this is not the truth of the matter. Brotherhood derives from the shared origin and joint purpose of beings. Nevertheless, instead of fraternity, other, substitute, concepts have been used, such as collectivity and society, which are dictated by the need for survival yet – without this cancelling out the thinking of Rousseau quoted above. If we accept only the substitutes, we must of necessity accept the competition which it involves, and its oppressiveness. If, on the other hand, we accept the unified state of the Self as nature, we have a right over the environment, but we also undertake responsibility for it. This difference is due to the fact that we will then accept that every principle applies the same to everyone. It is only then that principles, values, and morality have a real basis. Sadly, this is something which man has never accepted.
Nonetheless, in the above triptych or group of ideas let us also analyse its internal operation; how, that is, these concepts are defined by one another, so that they take on their true meaning.
Equality in reality contains the principle of Justice. It does not mean that all are equal in place and time. That would be an error and wrong. By virtue of the law of causal connection and results which holds good in life, everything brings about its results. Consequently, the quality which we express directs our actions – which brings about its results. This is also one kind of justice, that the results are related to quality. Furthermore, in legal science, the causal connection between the action and its result is fundamental. This correspondence is due to the concept of equality. Equality does not mean that foolish demand, in a state of envy, that all should be considered unconditionally equal. That is to say, equality has first an internal function (within man) and then an external one, operating between human beings.
This doubly operating equality has an evolutionary meaning, that is, man must have the capability of improving himself and his relationships – unless one accepts the lack of this capability of improvement, which is convenient for every kind of absolutism and competition. The hindering of this function, for example, by the imposition of unfavourable or adverse living or educational conditions (e.g., illiteracy, hunger, lack of freedom of thought or choice in religion, corruption, etc.), is contrary to the principle of Equality. If the principle of Equality were implemented in reality, the political and cultural situation in each country and world-wide would be entirely different. Every infringement of principles has as its purpose precisely the violation of these three: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.
Fraternity, of course, is the basis for all of them, and non-acceptance of it leads to narrow interpretations of Equality and Freedom. Inherent Unity expressed as Brotherhood is something over and above social organisation undertaken for reasons of need and desire, which can take the form of racism, religious intolerance, nationalism, localism, or any other form. On the other hand, this does not mean that every organisation should be indiscriminately vulnerable to chance and imposition from without, which would be the case if it were attempted to implement brotherhood prematurely and inappropriately in a maximalist manner – given that its meaning is not as obvious as it might seem. What was said above about the unsuitability of the time does not apply only to retrogressive ideas, but to those radical ones which lie within both premature and erroneous interpretation of ideas, and the precocity of their application, when the receptiveness of reality is overlooked. The evolutionary nature of time has a rhythm and does not make leaps without the necessary contribution of consciousness. In addition, the aim which directs an action is a definitive guiding factor for the whole unfolding of a plan. If the aim is the imposition of a higher idea out of fanaticism or intellectual arrogance, even if it is correctly understood, it is not evolutionary. For example, it is obvious that the above trilogy of great ideas was not suited to the level of human understanding during the French Revolution.
Concepts, as the apprehension which we have about ideas, should not involve chaos, but, on the contrary, should lead to an open and evolving order. This, of course, is not attainable if one thinks only in terms of competition and superiority.
Freedom as a concept does not involve chaos (as is often thought) neither submission in the face of desire – this is contrary to its nature. Every concept should be correlated to the Whole, which means order without submission, but with freedom, and it is only in this perspective that its value and power should be controlled. Anything without reference to the Whole has no connection either with freedom or the fundamental concepts of existence. This does not mean submission of the part to the Whole, and a fortiori it does not mean submission to some great totality, but neither does it mean opposition to these things for the confirmation of a supposed freedom and self-worth. A strange balance is called for between the two poles of existence (which are both qualitative and not quantitative), and that is why humanity is not yet ready, as it falters tragically between the two.
The freedom provided by globalisation is largely a hoax, because it has been centred chiefly on material goods, and while wealth has the greatest scope for movement into other countries not particularly connected with some country, the majority of mankind does not have that capability. In reality, this freedom in the nature of things was established for capital, which in this way had the scope to 'remove' into other countries with more profitable terms of taxation and other obligations, whereas the ordinary citizen remained attached to one country, subject to his financial obligations, and thus serving as a tied source for the collection of revenues, the use of which he cannot, of course, control, as when, for example, the bail-out packages for the banks were collected from the world's peoples.
In the above case, the freedom was false, not only because it didn't hold good for everyone - a fact which was concealed - but also because it has constituted a power factor through the expansion of profits, which is something that is incompatible with the very meaning of freedom.
It may be that we do not talk about the spiritual facet of ideas or values, however each of these should reflect the spiritual aspect in the field of phenomena and should not be a pawn of man's greed. The usual use which we make of ideas is at the least ridiculous and lies outside any rational analysis. Its force is due simply and only to the ignorance of the masses and their inertia of thought.
For example: in the Soviet regimes, great emphasis was placed on 'security' as welfare (though it does not seem to have been as successful as the visionaries of socialism imagined), but freedom of every kind was eliminated in a kind of stifling totalitarianism and exercise of power. In the Western regimes, great weight has been attached to 'freedom', but an effort has been made gradually to reduce the welfare aspect of security. Globalisation has attempted to remove the welfare aspect completely and to leave security as policing and, in the end, the deprivation of freedom. But, in the last analysis, without the security of welfare, freedom doesn't exist either. It exists only for the powerful, as power.
We see in the end that historically the isolation of one of these three fundamental ideas ends in totalitarianism. This should be of concern to those who are involved in planning in the field of governance, but also that of theoretical engagement with the ideals of the age. These ideals should have a rational affinity with the self-existent systems of ideas and not be arbitrary conceptions which serve situations in the short term and the fanatical and arrogant fantasies of the planners.
The self-existence of ideas robs man of the futile conviction that he himself is free to create and abolish ideas; this conviction is delusion. Furthermore, their self-existence is a saving feature, because, if it were in human hands (in the sense of the world of phenomena), the conclusion of human efforts would be more tragic than it is today. This self-existence, which is the basis of the inalienable, is troubling, but, if we bear in mind that man does not even know himself, then it can cease to frighten him, since his own self is independent of fantasy, which haunts him in the field of phenomena.
To sum up: without the apprehension of unity and equality, there can be no correct and true apprehension of freedom –and vice versa. The age of pardonable naivety and ignorance has now passed. It is time for responsibility.