Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"Unless He Has His Freedom"

I posted a picture of Malcolm X on my Facebook page accompanied by one of his quotations: "You can't separate peace from freedom, because nobody can have peace unless he has his freedom". I immediately received an instant message from a...I'm not sure 'well meaning' is the right word...let's say 'generally polite' tea party sympathizer I know from high school.

"I find it hard that the guy with lenin on his cover page believes in freedom". He said.

It is true that I have a picture of Lenin as my cover page image, but I see no contradiction in a respect for Lenin and a belief in freedom. That is a conversation for another blog post, however, because the bottom line of my old acquaintance's argument was that how can I--a leftist--believe in freedom? After all, I voted for President Obama, and isn't he a Marxist? Isn't Marxism the absolute opposite of freedom?

If only President Obama were a Marxist.

President Obama is not a Marxist, and Marxism is not the opposite of freedom. If anything, Marxism--when fused with humanism--becomes synonymous with freedom.

When a right-wing American talks about freedom, they mean, essentially, allowing people to be left to their own devices. To a right wing American, a list of freedoms would be a list of things the government is not allowed to do to you, or to do for you.

That's all well and good as far as it goes, but the assumption that government is essentially malevolent, and that our class system is benevolent and naturally inclined to reward merit where it lies, is deeply flawed. 

To steal from a piece I wrote in January entitled 'The Owners Are Getting Scared":
"You are likely to die in the class you are born into. Inherited wealth gives a person an unfair advantage. Being born into a privileged class gives a person an unfair advantage.Yes, a person can rise from the bottom to the top, but what do they have to become to do so? What do they have to sacrifice? I guarantee you a privileged person who rose to the same level did not sacrifice as much. And what if you don't have the killer instinct? What if you just want to live a simple life, and not participate in the rat race? Should you have to work so hard? Yes, the man born with sand bags tied around his legs can still hypothetically 'win the race', but why not take off those sand bags and see how he does? Why not give him the option of not even running the damned pointless thing in the first place?"
True freedom is not available in the United States. Not yet. As the much maligned and misunderstood Lenin put it:  
“Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in ancient Greek republics: Freedom for slave owners.” 
Those of us in the United States who are poor are free to survive, but only just. We are free to pour our labor into machines we do not own to create products for the truly free to sell, and to gain profit from. We are free to have as many children as the labor force requires, but we are not free to be parents to those children, because capitalism is an enemy of families. In capitalism, families are production units, pumping out as many additional units as the system requires to secure the privilege of those who run the system. When we are used up, we can go ahead and die.

That is not freedom. And because that is not freedom, there will be no peace. Neither should there be.

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