Definition: being free all the while being constrained by the need to be civil and non-violent.
Sure, with ‘civil liberties’ there’s relatively little violence (just like in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World) but what’re the consequences? In many ways the foundation of our modern society on “civil liberties” is a horrible yoke under which we reside.
The most heinous injustices which exist as a natural and necessary consequence of the other aspects of our system must be beyond reproach. In fact, the foundation of our society upon the principle of “civil liberty” presupposes that there exists no injustices so egregious which cannot be resolved within the system and thus presupposes that all injustices caused by the system are actually not injustices at all.
This is the foundation of the debate between the left and the right – Between the communists and the conservatives. It is not that the conservatives do not see a place for the amelioration of humanity and the resolution of (certain) injustices. Rather, it’s just that conservatives, according to the father of their philosophical tradition, Edmund Burke, must abhor the notion that the system in which we operate – this system founded upon ‘civil liberties’ is in anyway flawed at the systemic level itself.
So, in order to accept the conservative view of the world, we also accept that while there are minor imperfections in society, overall we as a species have absolutely mastered the art of existence. Thus there is never a justification for violence and never any need to resort to force.
So I ask you:
-If you learned that in the European Union, every cow received $2.50 every day in government subsidies all the while 75% of Africans live on less than that — would you say the system is working alright?
-If you learned that over 1 billion people lived on less than $1 per day and over 2 billion people lived on less than $2 per day all the while the richest 1% owned more than all of these 2 billion people combined — and that this inequality was INCREASING not decreasing — would you say the system is working alright?
-If you learned that more than 70% of the world’s population has never heard the dial tone on a telephone all the while Canadians were bitching because their income trusts just got taxed at rates comparable to other businesses — would you say the system is working alright?
-If you learned that over 30,000,000 people in Africa alone are living with AIDS, and that there ARE pills which can help them, but that there is more money for pharmaceutical companies to give a North American an erection than there is to save an African life — would you say the system is working alright?
If ours is the best that civilization can offer, then we truly are living a nightmare.
“But Lenina was crying. ‘It’s horrible, it’s horrible,’ she kept repeating. ‘And how can you talk like that about not wanting to be a part of the social body?’”
Brave New World