From metawiki
None of us are free until all of us are free

American libertarianism is obsessively transfixed with the notion of maximizing freedom, and is the favorite political philosophy of many of the most most powerful people in the world. As such it will serve as a reference point in the discussion of freedom on this page.

Freedom and Free Will

What is freedom without free will? If free will is an illusion then freedom must also include instilling people with a full sense of their possible choices. We cannot want what we have never been exposed to, so a robust education is necessary to achieve personal freedom and maximize the range of our free will.

The Illusion of Freedom

How do we Measure Economic Freedom?

Libertarian politics, popular with crypto-bros, purports to maximize individual freedom by limiting the number of involuntary actions a citizen must take in their life. As the theory goes, anything you do within the capitalist marketplace is a contract that you can decide to enter into or not, while government action is required and you can be sanctioned for non-compliance. Therefore, the free market cannot limit your freedom because everything is voluntary.

Of course this simplistic theory completely ignores the market forces that make people enter into contracts they don't agree with, face limited selection, depressed wages, and inflated prices due to monopolies. Without strong democratic institutions, the rich will have enormous power and the people will have no way to balance it.

If we were to propose a Gross National Freedom measurement (GNF), then maximizing this value would involve some measure of economic and political equality. If monopoly powers are able to seek rents without adding value, the extra money that everyone is forced to pay is just as detrimental to their freedom as taxes, except with even less benefit and recourse to the payer.

And economic GNF would require that both taxes and rents are minimized and wages are maximized. This is the only way to ensure the libertarian-utilitarian goal of the "most money for the most people."

How do we Measure Political Freedom?

The Libertarian non-aggression principle is actually a pretty decent meterstick of political freedom. As mentioned above, it falls far short on economic grounds, but the notion that any action that does not harm another person or their property should be legal is a fairly decent starting point. Things like freedom of speech, religion, a fair judiciary, etc. are all basic requirements of a free society.

Where the simplistic view falls short is in terms of regulations. Libertarians will argue that regulations encroach on freedom by burdening people with cost, paperwork and delays. These burdens can be onerous, and should be minimized for sure, but this is the cost of prevention and trust. We need to be able to trust that our food, drugs, cars and airplanes are safe, that your apartment building won't collapse in an earthquake or trap you in a fire. That trust didn't exist before regulatory agencies were created to ensure it. And without it, you don't have the freedom to eat unadulterated food, take drugs with known ingredients, have seatbelts, or live in safe buildings.

Lack of trust in institutions is debilitating. It causes people to live in fear. It limits our freedom of choice, because if you can't trust product safety you will only choose things you have tried before and know to be safe.

Having a building fall on you is pretty bad for your freedom as well.

What Is Freedom? Interviews with People from Around the World

Does Freedom Rock?

Yes. Yes, it does.

Rage Against the Machine - Freedom