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Freedom of people in history

 
 
Reply Wed 13 May, 2009 04:56 am
It is a surprising fact, from the perspective of today, to note how widespread the practise of human slavery was in the not so distant past. Slavery existed in Europe until the nineteenth century as it did in America.

Before that time there was no concept of any rights of "the people". The people were considered worthless; they were peasant farmers and the distance between the majority of people and the educated nobility was great. Only the very few were educated and well fed while the majority lived in squalor, disease etc. just as the "third world" poor live today.

But across Europe and finally in America the status of that majority of people slowly changed. Parliments were created and the notion of a rationally governed society replaced the notion of a society based upon birth right and hereditary rule. The former slaves were granted representation in the decision-making processes of the governments.

Nothing demonstrates the idea of political revolution better than this process of enfranchisement of the masses of the earth. This idea was first born in the minds of European political philosophers like Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant and many others.

One of the ways that I first learned about the idea of freedom in history was from noting the aspect of how wars were waged prior to the enfranchisement of the people and how war was waged afterward.

Before the people had their freedoms, the wars waged by the aristocracy were done by a select group of soldiers and generals. But after the people had gained their freedoms wars were waged on a much greater and wider scale. Part of Napoleon's early success was due to the fact that he managed to enlist the majority of Frenchmen to fight in his "wars of liberation". It was the superior numbers of sodiers that allowed him to win so many victories.

This same phenomenon of mass mobilization was also on display during the American civil war. The American civil war is often cited (due to the historically high numbers of casualties) as a harbinger of the first two world wars. Finally technology did merge with mass mobilization of people to produce the astonoshing numbers of deaths in those wars.

One integral feature within the concept of revolution and freedom was the idea, put forth by philosophers, that the bible and biblical teaching was false. This concept, ironically, was advanced by some within protestantism after the wars of religion were over and nationalism begun to show its head.

The idea is that there are no micacles and that the teaching of super-naturalism in the bible were false teachings. This was considered revolutionary for obvious reasons. But the world of science showed pursuasively that the super-naturalism of the bible was incorrect. Simply stated the world of science, which relies upon evidence to produce its great power, implies that the man Jesus could not be a God. The conflict arose between Jesus and his miracles on the one hand, and the great powers of scientific advancements on the other hand. This is a pivotal dilemma in the modern concept of freedom and revolution (not so much in Europe today but certainly in the U.S.).

Another problem facing the freedom of the people is the question of what are we to do now that we are free. Does freedom ultimately mean that man is a consumer of commercial goods? Or is there some higher dimension to freedom, some goal other than consumption? It is said that there are no more metaphysical goals within the west; so what is the use of progress and freedom then?
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xris
 
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Reply Wed 13 May, 2009 01:38 pm
@Pythagorean,
I dont know what question this really poses, well for me that is.
I think the advancement of the conditions of the lower classes did not come from the academics as you suggest but by those who had suffered the most.The Tolpuddle martyrs are a good example of that struggle and the rise of revolution was by necessity rather than some high ideological reason.
Nationalistic tendencies still stir even in the most ardent revolutionary and manipulative men of history abused those human characteristics.If the flag of liberty was waved at those who attached value to its intention, they would sacrifice all for its cause.Napoleon,Stalin.Mao all abused that desire for change by the common man and turned it into monsters.
nameless
 
  1  
Reply Wed 13 May, 2009 04:50 pm
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean;62807 wrote:
It is a surprising fact, from the perspective of today, to note how widespread the practise of human slavery was in the not so distant past.

Perhaps 'slavery' is an evolutionary thing. Someone without the wherewithall, who would probably breed (especially if we interfere and 'help') and starve, his children starve, etc... but now their 'option' is called in, they are fed, they are clothed, they are medically cared for, and they produce. They breed and the children are similarly cared for and supported, and are 'productive'. (Much different then the workers of the world?)
Again, depending on POV, slavery might have been a 'positive' experience.

(The belief in 'freedom' is vain fantasy.)
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Pythagorean
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 May, 2009 07:59 am
@xris,
xris wrote:
I dont know what question this really poses, well for me that is.
I think the advancement of the conditions of the lower classes did not come from the academics as you suggest but by those who had suffered the most.The Tolpuddle martyrs are a good example of that struggle and the rise of revolution was by necessity rather than some high ideological reason.



But "the people" had suffered for thousands of years. And if you look at Hobbes for example, who was born in 1588, his philosophy is not one of high ideals. Quite the contrary, he extolled human nature on naturalistic grounds with his affirmations of everyday passions and wants. Modern freedom was built on low grounds. This is the only way the masses could be excused. The masses were no longer extolled to follow an impossibly high standard of virtue.

At the very least, you might agree, the philosophers ideas were necessary to inform the policies of those who eventually instituted parliments. (And parliments were wholly new inventions; instead of political ideals being informed by relgion or nobility or Gods, they were being informed upon rational grounds.)

Quote:
Nationalistic tendencies still stir even in the most ardent revolutionary and manipulative men of history abused those human characteristics.If the flag of liberty was waved at those who attached value to its intention, they would sacrifice all for its cause.Napoleon,Stalin.Mao all abused that desire for change by the common man and turned it into monsters.


I agree xris, there were certainly horrific abuses carried out by revolutionaries in the name of human freedom. I think the question is: how to modernize? how to progress from a state of backwardness to a form of justice for the many? What is the human meaning of progress and how to achieve it? These are also, in my view, philsophical questions as well as pragmatic ones.

--
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Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 May, 2009 08:10 am
@Pythagorean,
I will go as far as to make the claim that we still have slavery today. Although it is not the shackle and whip kind but instead a financial one.

The US government is encouraging borrowing instead of saving money. When interest rates are set low people naturally gravitate towards spending and borrowing because they know if they save they actually lose money.

The more incentive you have to borrow the more indebted you become. Who are you indebted to? The banks and they make large sums of money off your interest payments. If you refuse to pay it back they can come take everything you own.

So people are unknowingly walking into modern day financial slavery. This is just my opinion of course.
xris
 
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Reply Thu 14 May, 2009 08:56 am
@Krumple,
The point to be asked does society create the need for philosophical questions or do men of learning create the questions.The idea of certain freedoms has always been in mens hearts, its hearing those desires being put into words that can unite those who crave them.
Words inspire but sacrifice is the only way to salvation.If civilisation is to advance beyond this self serving economic battle field we must all learn to respect each other and the planet we live on.
As a side note there are more real slaves now than in any other time in history.
avatar6v7
 
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Reply Fri 15 May, 2009 12:20 pm
@xris,
I think that the form of slavery that we have is one based on asset poverty. The truly rich and powerful have stocks and shares, houses without mortgages and ownership of profitable buissnesses. The middle and lower classes are paid a salary, and have to incur debts like mortgages. They rarely own anything. We need things like employee ownership of corporations, elimination of the housing price bubble and small buissness funding to reverse this.
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