Sunday, December 13, 2015

Restrictions on liberty or protection of the liberty?

Liberty not always is violated by the authorities, no matter whether they are political, religious or economic. There exist many other elements in the overall body of the society that too attempts endlessly to rob you from your individual liberty. Attempts of the parents to make their child “cultured” of their own estimate, force their ideas upon him which they have accumulated from the society and so-called heritage. In schools too kid is bombarded with the values those are thought to be superior over other societies, to make him nationalist, culturist and if possible religious citizen of best kind. The out sided forces are so much so that they in some or other way try to control your thinking process, politically or religiously which means restriction of the freedom of the individuals to think and act independently. If the process of enslaving the kid to make a good citizen out of him begins so early, what liberty would mean to him?

Just talking of political liberty or tyranny of majority may not be enough when we dream for real liberty. Conditioning of human mind from childhood by the parents and society is equally dangerous to the concept of liberty. If mind is conditioned notions of the liberty too will be conditioned and hence the liberty will always be tainted with the slavish sentiments. Talk on Liberty thus becomes just a fashion to enchant the intellectuals which rather prefers limited liberty, accepting some restrictions for the harmonious co-existence.

However, if closely investigated, we will find that our definitions of the liberty are problematic because they are made by the people those have grown up in the problematic conditions. Solutions to the problems they have faced or facing may seem liberty to them but it may not cover all the aspects of the liberty.

People are ultimately grown up in the environment where purposely their mind is conditioned right from childhood. Freedom from X or Y is felt when they counter them and decide X or Y are the obstructive to their freedom. To remove X or Y from their way they think leads them to the freedom. Freedom to them thus becomes political, economic or religious in nature. The institutions they think are hindrance in their way to their “free” action they think are tyrant. Any institution for that matter is always tyrant to some or other extent. The gravity of the felt tyranny changes with what the people feel about the institution. In a way concept of liberty becomes secondary because it does not come into existence in absence of tyranny, real or false.

Coming back to the starting point, why parents desire to make their child “cultured”? Culture in a way is collective subconscious activity of the people that reflects in people’s actions. The culture varies with time and geography. The cultural ethics and practices too vary, significantly, with people to people and region to region. Making a person “cultured” would mean making him able enough to cope up with the accepted social norms while aspiring for well being of his self, family and the society he lives in. He should not create any nuisance, treason or any harmful act that will cause disturbance in the smooth functioning of his society. The liberty too is set within the circle of such norms.  Liberty thus has the guidelines, many a times tending to go in contrast with the very concept of liberty.

This way liberty would mean one thing at front door and other, may be opposite, when at back door. Norms may change with society to society and time to time. There is nothing like absolute liberty in the world because no matter how the definition of the liberty is widened it always will be restricted by some guidelines, laws and institutional rules. Liberty to an American and Indian, that too depending on to which class, caste, sect or religion he belongs, would not mean the same, no matter how carefully it has defined. The words convey differently to the different people belonging to the different sections and the different environments they have grown up with. The conditioning of the mind, deliberate or not, decides what one may take the liberty as! The fact is the society is the first factor that begins encroachment on the liberty of its newcomer citizens. It begins with the restrictions. The restrictions of the law are secondary about which we mostly always are sensitive, but what our approach is towards the society?

Would this mean the liberty always be shadowed by some kind of self sanctioned slavery? Wouldn’t it mean that the liberty our thinkers are seeking is the liberty restricted by, whether less or more, laws? Why absolute liberty would be impossible, because absolute liberty may mean anarchy…lawlessness? Would it mean to have a society without any social obligations?

Politically liberty may mean anything depending upon the philosophies and understandings of the liberty they have under their arms. Leftist or rightists or socialists may claim how they desire to protect the liberty of the individuals, but indirectly it becomes enforcement of restrictions on the liberty. The government is not only law maker but a machinery to enforce them. Most of the time people feel that the laws no more protect their liberty; instead they restrict their freedom to think and act rationally. Direct and indirect restrictions even in libertarian social systems are so much so that the meaning of liberty has become more and more ambiguous and obscure. Liberty has become, in a way, dream song for a person who is governed by many forces against his will.

The questions will arise here that whether man is afraid of liberty, whether by nature he likes to be governed, does by nature he likes to govern others while being governed? Forces governing to the government could be abstract in nature, but they still do exist and even topple the governments at times. When people desire for the government of some nature that does only mean that they inherently need a government that can enforce power upon them to maintain law and order. And at other end people, individually, strive for the liberty! It is a kind of paradox, with which our society is shrouded.

We have to go to the roots of the human nature. Is liberty mere a hypothetical concept that everybody dreams for but do not want it in practice? Is liberty thought to be just for individual without his caring for the equal liberty of the other individuals? Is liberty a force that is applied to restrict others liberty and not protecting it?

Parents are at liberty as to how to nurture their kid. They are at liberty to mend their kid with teaching the values they feel best to their understanding. They may even plant their unfulfilled dreams in their kids mind, inspiring him to walk in that direction to achieve them. Parents have that liberty. But as far as kid is concerned, wont it be restriction on his liberty by imposed values and dreams? Would he be at his own liberty to make his own choice of the values and dreams? May be that he manages somehow to obtain his freedom, when grown up, but to what extent? The values taught at home and in school and in colleges keep on haunting the individuals for their life forcing him to define liberty in restricted sense.

However, liberty just is not a hypothetical concept, it has the practical implications. Hence it has to be dealt with utmost care. Also we will have to think whether restricted liberty is needed or protection to the individual liberty is expected from the governments. And the last and main question will be whether at all government is needed that somehow restricts the liberty or we need just an institution (not government) that will perform the role of protector of the liberty and nothing else?

(To be contd.) 

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