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"Freedoms" redirects here. For other uses, see Freedom.

Political freedom (also known as a political autonomy or political agency) is a central concept in history and political thought and one of the most important features of democratic societies.[1] It was described as free of oppression[2] or coercion;[3] the absence of disabling conditions for an individual and the fulfillment of enabling conditions;[4] or the absence of life conditions of compulsion, e.g. economic compulsion, in a society.[5] Although political freedom is often interpreted negatively as the freedom from unreasonable external constraints on action,[6] it can also refer to the positive exercise of rights, capacities and possibilities for action, and the exercise of social or group rights.[7] The concept can also include freedom from "internal" constraints on political action or speech (e.g. social conformity, consistency, or "inauthentic" behaviour.)[8] The concept of political freedom is closely connected with the concepts of civil liberties and human rights, which in democratic societies are usually afforded legal protection from the state.

Views[edit]

Various groups along the political spectrum naturally differ on what they believe constitutes "true" political freedom.

Left wing political philosophy generally couples the notion of freedom with that of positive liberty, or the enabling of a group or individual to determine their own life or realize their own potential. Freedom, in this sense, may include freedom from poverty, starvation, treatable disease, and oppression, as well as freedom from force and coercion, from whomever they may issue.

Friedrich Hayek, a well-known classical liberal, criticized this as a misconception of freedom:

[T]he use of "liberty" to describe the physical "ability to do what I want", the power to satisfy our wishes, or the extent of the choice of alternatives open to us ... has been deliberately fostered as part of the socialist argument ... the notion of collective power over circumstances has been substituted for that of individual liberty.[9]

Anarcho-socialists see negative and positive liberty as complementary concepts of freedom. Such a view of rights may require utilitarian trade-offs, such as sacrificing the right to the product of one's labor or freedom of association for less racial discrimination or more subsidies for housing. Social anarchists describe the negative liberty-centric view endorsed by capitalism as "selfish freedom".[10]

Anarcho-capitalists see negative rights as a consistent system. Ayn Rand described it as "a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. To such libertarians, positive liberty is contradictory, since so-called “rights” must be traded off against each other, debasing legitimate rights which, by definition, trump other moral considerations. Any alleged "right" which calls for an end result (e.g. housing, education, medical services) produced by people is, in effect, a purported "right" to enslave others.

Some notable philosophers, such as Alasdair MacIntyre, have theorized freedom in terms of our social interdependence with other people.[11]

According to political philosopher Nikolas Kompridis, the pursuit of freedom in the modern era can be broadly divided into two motivating ideals: freedom as autonomy or independence; and freedom as the ability to cooperatively initiate a new beginning.[12]

Political freedom has also been theorized in its opposition to (and a condition of) "power relations", or the power of "action upon actions," by Michel Foucault.[13] It has also been closely identified with certain kinds of artistic and cultural practice by Cornelius Castoriadis, Antonio Gramsci, Herbert Marcuse, Jacques Ranciere, and Theodor Adorno.

Environmentalists often argue that political freedoms should include some constraint on use of ecosystems. They maintain there is no such thing, for instance, as "freedom to pollute" or "freedom to deforest" given that such activities create negative externalities. The popularity of SUVs, golf, and urban sprawl has been used as evidence that some ideas of freedom and ecological conservation can clash. This leads at times to serious confrontations and clashes of values reflected in advertising campaigns, e.g. that of PETA regarding fur.

John Dalberg-Acton stated that "The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities."[14]

History[edit]

Hannah Arendt traces the origins of the concept of freedom to the practice of politics in ancient Greece. According to her study, the concept of freedom was historically inseparable from political action. Politics could only be practiced by those who had freed themselves from the necessities of life, so that they could attend to the realm of political affairs. According to Arendt, the concept of freedom became associated with the Christian notion of freedom of the will, or inner freedom, around the 5th century C.E. and since then, freedom as a form of political action has been neglected, even though, as she says, freedom is "the raison d'être of politics."[15]

Arendt says that political freedom is historically opposed to sovereignty or will-power, since in ancient Greece and Rome, the concept of freedom was inseparable from performance, and did not arise as a conflict between the "will" and the "self." Similarly, the idea of freedom as freedom from politics is a notion that developed in modern times. This is opposed to the idea of freedom as the capacity to "begin anew," which Arendt sees as a corollary to the innate human condition of natality, or our nature as "new beginnings and hence beginners."

In Arendt's view, political action is an interruption of automatic process, either natural or historical. The freedom to begin anew is thus an extension of "the freedom to call something into being which did not exist before, which was not given, not even as an object of cognition or imagination, and which therefore, strictly speaking, could not be known."

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hannah Arendt, "What is Freedom?", Between Past and Future: Eight Exercises in Political Thought, (New York: Penguin, 1993).
  2. ^ Iris Marion Young, "Five Faces of Oppression", Justice and the Politics of Difference" (Princeton University press, 1990), 39-65.
  3. ^ Michael Sandel, Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010).
  4. ^ Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom (Anchor Books, 2000).
  5. ^ Karl Marx, "Alienated Labour" in Early Writings.
  6. ^ Isaiah Berlin, Liberty (Oxford 2004).
  7. ^ Charles Taylor, "What's Wrong With Negative Liberty?", Philosophy and the Human Sciences: Philosophical Papers (Cambridge, 1985), 211-29.
  8. ^ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"; Nikolas Kompridis, "Struggling Over the Meaning of Recognition: A Matter of Identity, Justice or Freedom?" in European Journal of Political Theory July 2007 vol. 6 no. 3 277-289.
  9. ^ Friedrich August von Hayek, ‘Freedom and Coercion’ in David Miller (ed), Liberty (1991) pp. 80, 85-86
  10. ^ Anarchism FAQ
  11. ^ Alasdair MacIntyre, "The Virtues of Acknowledged Dependence", Rational Dependent Animals: Why Humans Need the Virtues (Open Court, 2001).
  12. ^ Nikolas Kompridis, "The Idea of a New Beginning: A Romantic Source of Normativity and Freedom" in Philosophical Romanticism (New York: Routledge, 2007), 32-59.
  13. ^ Michel Foucault, "The Subject and Power" in Paul Rabinow and Nikolas S. Rose, eds., The Essential Foucault.
  14. ^ Acton, John D. (1907). The History of Freedom and Other Essays. London: Macmillan. p. 4. 
  15. ^ Hannah Arendt, "What is Freedom?", Between Past and Future: Eight exercises in political thought (New York: Penguin, 1993).

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_freedom — Please support Wikipedia.
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17841 news items

 
Reason
Tue, 26 Jan 2016 04:09:10 -0800

In recent years, plenty of commentators expressed concerns about the future of political freedom. As late as last year, Freedom House's "Freedom in the World" survey found that autocrats "now increasingly flout democratic values, argue for the ...

Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal
Thu, 14 Jan 2016 16:45:00 -0800

Taiwan goes to the polls Saturday, and there isn't much suspense about the outcome. The next president will almost certainly be Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who leads by double digits in the polls. Behind this turn are a weak ...

World Policy Institute (blog)

World Policy Institute (blog)
Tue, 26 Jan 2016 10:56:15 -0800

Life, said Martin Luther King, “is a long and desolate corridor with no exit sign.” He must have said that when his spirits were flagging, as most of the time he was optimistic about making the world a better place. I was reminded of this quote when ...

NDTV

NDTV
Mon, 25 Jan 2016 19:33:45 -0800

Phnom Penh, Cambodia: America's top diplomat, John Kerry, will meet Cambodian leader Hun Sen on Tuesday with concerns over political repression and human rights topping the agenda as the kingdom's strongman looks to extend a three-decade ...

Khmer Times

Khmer Times
Tue, 26 Jan 2016 11:04:21 -0800

United States Secretary of State John Kerry met yesterday with several top Cambodian political leaders and civil society members to discuss the political situation in Cambodia and the economic ties between the two countries. In a press conference ...

Huffington Post

Huffington Post
Thu, 11 Feb 2016 16:00:00 -0800

In one sense, this would be good from a political freedom point of view but in the short term would have big economic consequences, like the IMF or the World Bank would have to provide loans to the new government. But we'd likely end up with economic ...

Greater Kashmir

Greater Kashmir
Fri, 12 Feb 2016 02:18:45 -0800

“The way the justice-loving people of India and its intellectual class are raising voice in favour of the oppressed Kashmiris and are supporting our stand makes it clear that the political freedom of nations cannot be suppressed for long,” Shah said in ...

Hyperallergic

Hyperallergic
Thu, 11 Feb 2016 16:30:19 -0800

Hugo's poems celebrated liberty, linking the Ancient Greeks with the modern world and embedding freedom of artistic expression into political freedom. Their influence is plainly seen in this and other paintings by Cabanel, like “Albaydé” (1884, not ...
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