Saturday, April 19, 2008

On freedom

Freedom is not a solitary journey through a desert, where every error and deviation may be fatal; it is found between the hedges and walls of a populous land, defining sovereign islets that combine in mutual defence and succour.

Like a musical string, its harmony relies on bounds. It is the tension between tyranny and anarchy, a common land affording refuge from public and private oppression. It is not lawless. Liberty is to defy another's rule; freedom, to obey one's own; free doom, the "freo la3e" of La3amon's Brut. No law, no freedom.

And now, confusedly and perhaps too late, we must begin to defend our freedom. Here in the once United Kingdom, our self-rule is fragmenting and being sold piecemeal to an unlicked bear-whelp of an aggregated foreign power; in the United States, many of the people and a handful of their representatives are calling for a rally around the principles of the Constitution, while the government becomes forgetful of its foundation. In both, there is economic mismanagement and perilous concentration of wealth. The Big Brother of a political power cutting itself free from popular franchise has his arm round the shoulder of Big CEO, whose business no longer depends on the community from which it sprang. The land will be cleared or peopled at its masters' pleasure; they will move us between their pastures for their profit. The movement will show us that the earth is not ours. We shall be rootless. We shall be dispossessed, wanderers, desperate hired men, like the landless Gregora of Scotland.

This is where we were some two centuries ago. It must all be fought for again, but perhaps, like the valiant tailor, we shall again find a way to overcome the rich and powerful who ravage our lands. Long before the battle, the American Revolution began to assemble its forces among a rabble of pamphleteers, philosophers, dissident clergy, smallholders, inventors, dreamers and adventurers. Every voice, however small, adds to the chorus.

My brother became an American citizen yesterday. Part of the ceremony was a homily, in which the presiding official said (was it a quotation from Jefferson?) that liberty was not passed down to one's children by nature, but by one's actions.

Although my brother has his own views on religion, and although I feel that America has, and has always had, much to learn in its foreign relations, it is without irony that I wish a blessing on America and the American people, and my newly American family.


Not Jefferson:

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."

Ronald Reagan 40th president of US (1911 - 2004)


dearieme said...

Jefferson was the Dr Goebbels of his day: if you must pick a hero from those tiresome Founding Fathers, I'd recommend Geo. Washington.


My brother tells me the quotation was from Ronald Reagan, a man underrated by liberals blinded by their hatred for what they think he represents. I fell for the lazy anti-Reagan propaganda, of course - Woodstock: "Ronald Ray-guns-ah", "drug store truck-drivin' man" and all that. The more I read about Communism in practice (rather than aspiration), the more I think his instincts on that subject were right, even if he wasn't as academically clever as the right-on.

hatfield girl said...

'This is where we were some two centuries ago. It must all be fought for again, '

You sum it up S, as well as making every word you write carry a weight of meaning supported by extensive reference that asks more than one reading of this post.

In the advanced capitalist world it does seem to be only the United Kingdom that has undermined its own laws and freedoms, too. We might not like other states' systems in comparison with what there used to be in the UK, or we may admire them greatly (the Americans have the finest, though it fits a giant federal power rather than our country; and the Swiss have a responsive and local-based democracy within a federal system that is to be envied; other European states have embedded democracy and the rule of law in more workaday institutions, with curate's egg qualities - German trade union statuses and roles, for instance, are very well done, while Belgium is more than shaky on its federation), but we have been left with nothing since New Labour's vandalism in the name of their Project.

Once the force of convention was denied and then invalidated, the country has fallen to bits, as have our freedoms.

The constitutional flexibility that seemed our strength has become our greatest enemy; an essentially authoritarian party has achieved power by vote but now manipulates any expression of democracy either within parliament or outside it in hauntingly recognizable, if adjusted for local conditions and modern, New Post Democratic politics, ways.

We are being herded into the EU Federation without a constitution or democratic institutions of our own, naked as is no other member state. And subjected to mass surveillance and regulations for social control that are unthinkable under any other member state's social contract with its people.

Economic and financial gale-force winds might yet bring them down, but what a price to pay for lack of vigilance, caused, ironically, by content with our country and its ways.


Thank you for your contribution, HG. Yet again, as you say in your last paragraph, we seem to have to wish immediate ill on our country, for longer-term improvement.

Semaj Mahgih said...

The land will be cleared or peopled at its masters' pleasure; they will move us between their pastures for their profit. The movement will show us that the earth is not ours. We shall be rootless. We shall be dispossessed, wanderers, desperate hired men, like the landless Gregora of Scotland.

You OK, Sackers? You've suddenly come over all brilliant. Not that you weren't before but ...


Thank you, James, occasionally I feel moved to prophesy. Your kind words encourage me to try again.

Schadenfreude said...

Ah yes freedom. It would be nice to taste freedom. Sadly I must toil for the banks that own the deeds to my home. Apparently it is worth £350,000. Which is strange when you think it cost only £50,000 to build, 22 years ago. It's the land it sits on you see. The land my forefathers fought for, apparently. It seems they fought and died for it, but somehow someone else ended up owning it. It's only 1/10th of an acre. You would have thought I could have it for free. After all, if my ancestors fought to stop the Germans having any of it, then surely they were entitled to expect at least some of it in part payment? Ah, if only they had woken up and said "OK wealthy people, we'll fight to save YOUR property from the Germans, but only if you give us 5% of it in return". Two wars later and my ancestors didn't even own the roof over their heads. Sad really.

So the banks own the deeds. And they tell me I can have a huge mortgage, because I'm prepared to work 25 years to pay them back for it. Which is great. It means I can compete with all the other people taking out huge amounts of debt to pay for their £50,000 homes. We can all work together to push the prices up and make the banks lots of lovely money. If we are lucky, the whole thing will run smoothly and we will actually pay off our mortgage. Which is fantastic! Because what with house prices being so high, our kids won't be able to afford to buy. But we'll be able to take out a debt secured on our property to help them out! But we have to hope that the economy runs smoothly. If it doesn't then the banks might be forced to repossess our homes. Then we lose everything. So to keep our economy running smoothy, our governmnet is making us pay more tax, too, so that we can keep the economy running smoothly, help out those nice banks and keep on paying our mortgages. That's nice of them isn't it? Clearly they have our best interests at heart, just like all our lovely British governments.

Anyway, must dash. So much work to do.....


Thank you for this and other comments, S. I think you're quite right, it's not the theft, it's then re-thieving that's intolerable. To think that in the Stone Age all you had to do was chase the bear out and "job done", now it takes 25 - 30 years of your life to chase out the bank.