Sunday, April 9, 2017

Monbiot Considers The Problem With Freedom

As I've lamented before, my passion for writing about these issues is at the bottom of my real life duties and expectations priority list.  The spring-time jobs are coming in fast an' furious, three posts laying there waiting for some free time.  I did notice an interesting read worth sharing while I'm out on assignment.  Once again George Monbiot nails it.
Posted: 07 Apr 2017 01:05 AM PDT
Freedom is used as the excuse for ripping down public protections on behalf of the very rich.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 5th April 2017

Propaganda works by sanctifying a single value, such as faith, or patriotism. Anyone who questions it puts themselves outside the circle of respectable opinion. The sacred value is used to obscure the intentions of those who champion it. Today the value is freedom. Freedom is a word that powerful people use to shut down thought.
When thinktanks and the billionaire press call for freedom, they are careful not to specify whose freedoms they mean. Freedom for some, they suggest, means freedom for all. In certain cases, this is true. You can exercise freedom of thought and expression, for example, without harming other people. In other cases, one person’s freedom is another’s captivity.

When corporations free themselves from trade unions, they curtail the freedoms of their workers. When the very rich free themselves from tax, other people suffer through failing public services. When financiers are free to design exotic financial instruments, the rest of us pay for the crises they cause.

Above all, billionaires and the organisations they run demand freedom from something they call “red tape”. What they mean by red tape is public protection. An article in the Telegraph last week was headlined “Cut the EU red tape choking Britain after Brexit to set the country free from the shackles of Brussels”. Yes, we are choking, but not on red tape. We are choking because the government flouts European rules on air quality. The resulting air pollution frees thousands of souls from their bodies.

Ripping down such public protections means freedom for billionaires and corporations from the constraints of democracy. This is what Brexit – and Trump – are all about. The freedom we were promised is the freedom of the very rich to exploit us.

To be fair to the Telegraph ...

... This drives the leading Brexiters berserk. As a result of the Pollution Paradox (the dirtiest corporations have to spend the most money on politics, so the political system comes to be owned by them), politicians like Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have an incentive to champion the freedom of irresponsible companies. But it also puts them in a bind. Their primary argument for deregulation is that it makes businesses more competitive. If it means those businesses can’t trade with the EU, the case falls apart.

They will try to light the bonfire anyway, as this is a question of power and culture as well as money. You don’t need to listen for long to the very rich to realise that many see themselves as the “independents” Friedrich Hayek celebrated in The Constitution of Liberty, or as John Galt, who led a millionaires’ strike against the government in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged. Like Hayek, they regard freedom from democracy as an absolute right, regardless of the costs this may inflict on others, or even on themselves.

When we confront a system of propaganda, our first task is to decode it. This begins by interrogating its sacred value. Whenever we hear the word freedom, we should ask ourselves, “freedom for whom, at whose expense?”.


Anonymous said...

I voted for Trump because government meddling in the lives of Americans is out of control. I voted for Trump because I want more freedom - not just for billionaires, but for poor people like myself. Government is destroying millions of lives - just the welfare programs and the rot they create among certain segments of the population are a huge cost to America.
The cost of permits to build a house cost in the ballpark of $40,000 for a single family home here where I live in the Pacific NW. That does not count the costs embedded in building code requirements and no, they are not all useful requirements.
Government meddling has destroyed health care in the USA by making it unaffordable.
Government threatens the lives of millions of citizens by taking our rights to self defense away - a right given to us by our creator and confirmed in the 2nd Amendment.
There is a place for government regulation, but our government is now a destructive monster, choking our ability to start and run businesses, and taxing us to death with an army of many millions of bureaucrats to enforce all the regulations which are so numerous that at any particular time you are most likely violating some of them.
This is one reason why Trump was elected. Other reasons are immigration and terrorism - and those reasons are also why Brexit happened. The people have had enough - we spoke and are starting to wake up.

citizenschallenge said...

Anonymous on 6/1/17

Where should I start with something like that?

You sound like you want to blame everything on the government without giving any thought to all the complexities or other factors besides the government leading to our problems.

A healthy Democracy demands an informed and engaged public - instead we’ve devolved this sort of angry shallow barroom talk.

What about your acceptance of misinformation, lies, and slander rather than rational review and constructive discussion of the issues at hand?

You sound like you, just like that Trump clown, are more into scapegoating than in understanding causes and problems.

You make Trump out to be a hero when a sober review reveals the man’s an utter simpleton, he knows self-aggrandizement, bullying and blaming all his perceive problems on others - never ever reflecting on his own faults.
An amoral man who will tell anyone anything they want to hear to further his own interest.

What about the problems caused by corporates obsessive focus on maximizing profits at the expense of all other considerations? Why turn a blind eye to that?

What about self-interested corporations becoming bigger than god and governments? Why aren’t you fearful of public manipulation machine the Koch’s have put together?

Why can’t you acknowledge our country as become crowded country and how depleted the biosphere (that nature thing that provides our life support system, don’t you know. Do you know? Do you ever think about it?)

Instead you want to wrap yourself in some make-believe world that never was and never can be in a world where so much that is of critical importance is dismissed with stupid disregard and ridicule such as that simplistic nonsense you wrote up there.

So sad, you are among those that make plain how tragically hopeless our future will be.

Oh as for Terror your terror delusion - it is idiotic to think you can defeat Terror by inflicting more Terror on innocent civilians.
We ourselves created the Taliban and ISIS you fool, and now this Trump and CO. be will be sowing the seeds for even more hideous blowback - but flag waver fearful, unthinking, angry people are so, so easy to manipulate.

A Democracy demands and informed and engaged citizenry and we are failing that big time.

citizenschallenge said...

Whatever happened to the proud children of the intellectual enlightenment,
why have you collectively allowed the sort of dark ages drivel (like my pal up their shared) to flourish?

:- (