- Capitalism and Alternatives -

The 'Freedom to, freedom from' issue

Posted by: David ( USA ) on October 31, 1999 at 18:00:09:

In some previous posts there came up the issue, most notably defined by monsieur Stoller in href="http://www.mcspotlight.org/debate/capitalism/messages/8861.html">this post, regarding the meaning of freedom and the differences and incompatibilities with inherent in the freedom to do something and the freedom from something.

To begin with, I will dissect the two phrases into their meanings and roles:
The freedom to do something (build a house, cook some food) is being at liberty, either by sanction or default, to perform an action.
The freedom from something (being killed, bonked on the head with a copy of Das Kapital)is being exempt or liberated from an action or the consequence of an action.

Stoller, judged by his professed sentiments, appears to be of the position that these two 'freedoms' are contradictory.
Were we living in a vacuum, I would agree that these two statements could be contradictory in some instances. The reason why I emphasize "could," is that the owning of a firearm does not necessitate some other person having their "freedom from firearms" infringed upon.

My position is that "freedom to" and "freedom from" are compatible if those freedoms are based on the concept of individual rights (the horse is back for another flogging).
Now, to avoid any confusion on the concept of individual rights, allow me to add the perfunctory excerpts from celebrated American author and philosopher (thunderclap, drumroll), Ayn Rand.

"'Rights' are a moral concept--the concept that provides a logical transition from the principles guiding an individual's actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others--the concept that preserves and protects individual morality in a social context--the link between link between the moral code of man and the legal code of society, between ethics and politics. Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law." [italics hers]

"Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal," Ayn Rand, page 320

And Again:

"...The right to life is the source of all rights..."

Ibid. page 18

Third time's the charm:

"The concept of a "right" pertains onto to action--specifically, to freedom of action. It makes freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.
Thus, for every individual, a right is the moral sanction of a positive [italics hers]-- a freedom to act on his own judgement, for his own goals, by his own voluntary, uncoercedchoice [italics mine]. As to his neighbors, his rights impose no obligations on them except of a negative [italics hers] kind: to abstain from violating his rights."

Ibid. page 322

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