The corruption of freedom
To the Editor:
The best way for the powerful to protect themselves against the powerless is to convince the powerless that the rules which perpetuate their power are, in fact, immutable rules of God, economics or, ideally, both. This distortion of reality requires significant distortion of language, and no concept has been more distorted by the conservatives/libertarians than “freedom.”
Conservatives have long included freedom and liberty in the names they give their groups, i.e. “the Freedom Caucus.” They never explain that, to them, “freedom” means freedom from government involvement in their affairs. Conversely, reliance on government for anything is a form of slavery.
If “freedom” means only that the government leaves you alone, then you are, somehow, “free” when you sit moaning in an infested tenement shared with six other people, too sick to do anything but wait for death. If the government steps in to save you, you are on the road to slavery.
This definition of freedom ignores the realities of life and, as Thomas Frank noted, “helps conservatives pass off a patently pro-business political agenda as a noble bid for human freedom … a doctrine that owes its visibility to the obvious charms it holds for the wealthy and the powerful.”
As long as the people with the economic power are “free” to wield that power as they wish, ordinary people will have the “liberty” to struggle for food, shelter, health care and a life worth living. Reducing taxes to zero will not in any way free those who have no income, or are sick and have no health care. In fact, reducing the size of government makes it easy for corporations richer and more powerful than most nations to tyrannize you. There just might be a reason that the dangers of concentrated corporate power have been observed by people like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and far too many others to name.
If we accept this corruption of “freedom,” we need to amend the Pledge of Allegiance to “I pledge allegiance to the certificate of incorporation.”