Liberty & Freedom are worthless

24 Apr

Liberty and Freedom are worthless words. The ideas those words used to represent are still invaluable, but we no longer have words to represent those concepts.

In George Orwell’s 1984 there is the important concept of “double speak“. Double speak is the deliberate distortion of language in the hopes of making meaningful discussion impossible. Controlling language, just like controlling history, is an extremely powerful weapon. If you can debase and alter the very language of a debate, you can frame it any way you want. Your opponents will become victims of their own language.

We see this happening in America today. In the past, conservatives successfully altered the connotationĀ  of the word liberal. They turned it into something dirty, a crime, a perversion. What did liberals do? They cowered and switched to progressive. Now the right is hammering away at progressive as hard as they did liberal to try and make that a dirty word too.

Liberty & Freedom have fallen victim to the same war. What do those words mean? I don’t know what they mean now. I see them constantly being used by people who would, if elected, severely restrict who could marry who, what women could do with their bodies, where women and blacks could work and go to school, who could serve in the military, what religion the government would favor, who could enter this country in search of a better life. The people using the words Liberty & Freedom would make a lot of decisions controlling the actions and choices of other people. Is that what Liberty & Freedom mean?

There was a time when those words, like liberal and progressive meant something different. There was a time when Liberty & Freedom meant the lack of control. Liberty and Freedom were words feared by people who sought to coerce and control others. People uttering those words were to be quickly and mercilessly put down by the authorities.

Now those who would take away people’s ability to do what they please use these words to describe their cause. Liberty & Freedom are now worthless words.

2 Responses to “Liberty & Freedom are worthless”

  1. Marc with a C April 29, 2010 at 6:13 pm #

    If you’ve never read it, try Dalton Trumbo’s “Johnny Got His Gun” sometime. One of the most powerful anti-war, internationalist texts I’ve read.

    My favorite part is towards the end, when the deaf, dumb, blind quadriplegic soldier is lying in the hospital and having a stream-of-consciousness monologue. Specifically:

    “If there could be a next time and somebody said ‘let’s fight for liberty’ he would say ‘mister my life is important. I’m not a fool and when I swap my life for liberty I’ve got to know in advance what liberty is and whose idea of liberty we’re talking about and just how much of that liberty we’re going to have. And what’s more mister are you as much interested in liberty as you want me to be? And maybe too much liberty will be as bad as too little liberty and I think you’re a goddamn fourflusher talking through your hat and I’ve already decided that I like the liberty I’ve got right here the liberty to walk and see and hear and talk and eat and sleep with my girl I think I like that liberty better than fighting for a lot of things we won’t get and ending up without any liberty at all. Ending up dead and rotting before my life is even begun good or ending up like a side of beef. Thank you mister. You fight for liberty. Me I don’t care for some.'”

  2. knightofhopex July 24, 2010 at 10:11 pm #

    If you’d like to be taken on in what you’ve said, I’d like to direct you to my blog post.

    http://conserveyouth.wordpress.com/2010/07/24/what-is-liberty/

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