It’s been fought for, died for and somehow ironically we still are fighting for it. The much-hyped word that I debate with is Freedom. How free are we really? If one were to look at it philosophically, then the word would never exist. Freedom is an essential part of anyone’s being. From freedom of choice to freedom of expression, the list is endless. Freedom is one of these terms that cast a spell on people’s minds. People seldom pause to ask whose freedom? Utopically, freedom is right to information and expression. Freedom is an equitable and reciprocal two-way communication. A mask laid over turbulent truth.
Intellectual freedom is essential to human society – freedom for open-minded and unfearing debate and freedom from pressure by officialdom and prejudices. Freedom of thought is the only guarantee of the feasibility of a scientific, democratic approach to politics, economy and culture. However, freedom of thought is under a triple threat in modern society from the opium of the mass culture to cowardly egoistic and narrow-minded ideologies. Economically and politically we face the threat of being liquidated.
Take the media for instance. The freedom of the media is neither an exclusive instrument of the governments manipulating and prompting its unpopular policies, nor the private property of newspaper proprietors who own the press and business of the enterprise. At best the newspaper is a trustee and instrument of the citizen’s exercise of his fundamental right for freedom of expression guaranteed under democratic constitutions. But, alas freedom of the press has been generally construed to mean freedom of the publisher or owner to print or broadcast what his whims permit. Are we truly free when acquiring or updating our knowledge base?
Our silent acceptance of repression within a constitution guaranteeing freedom is the acknowledgment of internal and international policies that turn our governance into puppets with empty sockets. Are we free when budgets are allocating more to the defense sectors and reducing educational benefits in terms of finance and reach? Look at it this way, education under government control, universal free education, ‘possible’ representation of women in parliament, eradication of disease, technology booms – all these may be great achievements of social progress. But everything has a reverse side. In this case it is excessive standardization, which limits discussion, questioning, and intellectual boldness. Where would we all be if we could no longer question how our lives are taking turns – how do we explain the cloning of the human being?
Modern technology and mass psychology constantly suggest new possibilities of managing our norms of behaviour, the strivings and convictions of masses of people. Biochemical processes today can control birthrates, psychic processes and brain waves. If we are truly free, why tranquilizers, antidepressants and illegal narcotics?
Of course without a doubt nothing can threaten freedom like war, poverty and terror. Analyzing our growth – the violence, disparity and difference has only increased. Apart from this there are indirect influences that threaten to overturn this. One of these is the stupefaction of man by commercially motivated lowering of our right to think and our intellectual level and content. As we approach another year of progress, let’s look at the larger context within which we exist and finally see that to be free is to have the right to know, exercise that knowledge and make an informed choice. Complacency will only kill.